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August 2017
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New plants earn high marks in summer garden trials

Winning performance — ‘Scarlet Star’ verbena thrives despite drought and neglect. Photo courtesy Proven Winners

Winning performance — ‘Scarlet Star’ verbena thrives despite drought and neglect. Photo courtesy Proven Winners

Two new plants that were on trial in the summer garden passed muster with high marks.

Just about any plant in my landscape has to survive on benign neglect. No prima donnas allowed.

Verbena ‘Scarlet Star’ lost its luster in a large container during a long dry spell with no water. The flowers dried up and turned brown, but the foliage stayed dark green.

However, with a soaking from the hose and a shot of liquid fertilizer, the plant revived to carry on through the season. This verbena has large, dense, red flowers with a white eye or star. It is hardy to about 15 degrees F, so it still looks great as I write this in early November. ‘Scarlet Star’ verbena gets about 4 inches tall with a 10-inch spread, making it perfect for containers, window boxes or as a seasonal ground cover in the landscape.  Verbenas can take about as much sun and heat as you want to give them. They can be susceptible to powdery mildew and spider mites, but neither of these pests bothered ‘Scarlet Star’ this summer. ‘Scarlet Star’ is one of seven colors in the Tukana verbena series, marketed by Proven Winners.

Shady focal point — ‘Blazin’ Lime’ iresine brightens shady spots in pots or in the landscape. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

Shady focal point — ‘Blazin’ Lime’ iresine brightens shady spots in pots or in the landscape. Photo courtesy Ball Horticulture

A showy foliage plant, which highlighted a shady spot until killed by cold temperatures just a few days ago, was Iresine ‘Blazin’ Lime.’ It has variegated medium-green, creamy white foliage with a tinge of red. The square stems are bright pinkish red. Iresine does best in shade to part shade. Too much sun fades the colors.

‘Blazin’ Lime’ gets up to 24 inches tall and about 12 inches wide. It can be pinched to control height and encourage bushiness. It is heat tolerant and can handle a bit of dry weather. The foliage gets limp when the plant needs a drink. ‘Blazin’ Lime’ works well when paired with a trailing blue Torenia or a complementary coleus. Its height makes it perfect as a centerpiece plant in a combo pot. ‘Blazin’ Lime’ and its cousin, ‘Blazin’ Rose,’ another winner, which I trialed a couple of years ago, are marketed by Simply Beautiful plants.

Look for the iresine and verbena next spring at garden centers or online retailers.

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