Southern Gardening: Gary describes his favorite 2018 plants

 

Superbells such as these Holy Moly! selections look great in containers, hanging baskets and massed in landscape beds.

Superbells such as these Holy Moly! selections look great in containers, hanging baskets and massed in landscape beds. Photo by: Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Servie

 

Gary Bachman

 

 

In Mississippi, 2018 was quite a year in our gardens and landscapes: hot and dry, humid and rainy. Every year, there are winners and losers when we garden, and such is the nature of the gardening game. 

 

As we head into 2019, you know I'm going to talk about all the latest and greatest plants at our garden centers and nurseries. But that doesn't mean we should forget about past plants we've successfully grown and come to love. 

 

Here are four of my favorites from 2018 that will be fantastic in the garden for years to come. 

 

No. 1: Cool Wave pansies 

 

I really like using Cool Wave pansies in the winter season. Cool Waves have a spreading growth habit that makes them perfect ground covers or great spiller plants in containers. These plants are well branched and fill in where they're planted. 

 

Cool Waves are available in a variety of colors and provide great color all the way to spring. In 2018, I decided to go with Lemon Surprise and Blue Skies. I really like the combination of bright yellow and subtle blues. As always, I love the whisker lines that radiate from the center and resemble the delicate strokes of an artist's brush. 

 

No. 2: Marigolds 

 

I don't think there is a bedding plant better suited for our harsh summer conditions than the marigold. Marigolds are great in-ground or in containers and add a cheerful and colorful brightness wherever they are planted. 

 

Marigolds are free flowering from early summer to frost, but you should deadhead and remove the faded flowers. The two most widely available are commonly called the American and the French marigold. The American marigold, which is also often called the African marigold, is available in many series. These plants are recognizable for their pom-pom double flowers and feature colors of yellow, orange, dark orange and even white. 

 

French marigolds are smaller in stature and have more flower variety. There are single and double flowers, and colors include yellow, orange and reds, along with stripes. French marigolds are generally less than 15 inches tall with a wider spread. 

 

No. 3: Lemon Sedum 

 

In my circle of gardening friends, one of the hottest groups of plants are the succulents. One that has caused quite a stir is the lemon sedum, a group of several selections with bright-chartreuse foliage. These sedums were selected as Mississippi Medallion Plants for 2018. 

 

Lemon Coral has spiky, chartreuse foliage that spreads 12-24 inches. Its mounding growth habit is perfect for a filler plant in a combination container. Lemon Ball is another fantastic choice that is heat tolerant and has soft, succulent foliage. This plant grows about 6 inches tall with a spreading habit. An older selection is Angelina, which I've grown for about 5 years and still think it is one of the best sedums for foliage use. 

 

No. 4: Superbells 

 

I love the funnel-shaped flowers and the great growth potential of this plant. Superbells look great in containers, hanging baskets and massed in landscape beds. These are tough plants with good summer heat tolerance. The petite, cascading flowers are great in combinations and raised beds with good drainage. 

 

One of the best selections I grew this year is Holy Moly!, which is exactly what I said when I first saw it. The bicolor flowers are stunning, and feature variable, mottled yellow and pink, and a cherry-red star. 

 

When deciding what to plant in the garden, I think it's always good to look back and reflect on what plants performed well and which ones did not. I'm glad my experiences get to help home gardeners make some of these decisions next year. 

 

Here's to growing a great garden in 2019. 

 

Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at [email protected]

 

 

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