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New plants to look for next year

Sunfinity sunflower. Photo courtesy Syngenta

As usual, I attended the country’s largest annual horticulture show, Cultivate’17, in Columbus, Ohio, in July. It’s a feast for the eyes for sure, and occasionally taste and scent. Each year, there seems to be a showstopper and an annual sunflower garnered the head turns.

Sunfinity sunflower (Helianthus hybrid) was introduced by Syngenta last year. Its booth at Cultivate’17 was loaded with this sunflower. “It is not your typical one-and-done flowering sunflower,” said Bob Humm, a field representative of Fred C. Gloeckner Company Inc., which sells to wholesale growers.

There are a lot more buds along the stems and more stems. “Obviously, this means longer flowering enjoyment.” The pollen-less sunflower would work as a tabletop arrangement, planted in a garden bed or in a large container, Humm said.

“Another attribute is it can be grown in the heat of summer. Growers can grow this plant when there isn’t much else that can be grown in hot greenhouses or out of doors,” he said. “Homeowners, too, can grow Sunfinity sunflowers during the summer when some garden plants start to fade in the heat.”

Megawatt Red Bronze Leaf Begonia. Photo courtesy PanAmerican Seed

Sunfinity gets up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Grow this premium annual in full sun. Humm said as usual with new plant intros, quantities were limited this year. This sunflower should be more readily available next year as plants and possibly seeds.

I admit I really like annual begonias and the breeding going on with these plants is just amazing. PanAmerican Seeds introduced Megawatt Bronze Leaf Red begonia this year. “It’s not just ‘Big’, it’s ‘Mega’,” the marketing material boasts.

This premium annual’s flowers are large and showy. Megawatt gets up to 28 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Its size makes it an excellent selection for shade to part shade locations. Look for plants or seeds in garden centers or online merchants next year.

Ribbon Falls sedge.(C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Breeders also are working with new varieties of ornamental sedges, a grass-like plant. New this year is ‘Ribbon Falls’, another in the Carex Censation series of perennial sedges.

‘Ribbon Falls’ has shiny, arching leaves that form a mounded fountain with a slightly cascading habit. Hardy to USDA Zone 5, this sedge can be grown throughout Indiana, in a container, in the ground or along a wall. It would make a good alternative groundcover.

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