donnan.com
29 years on the world wide web!

Lawn & Garden Store
Purchases support this website!

  

'Picking' Flowers

The flowers that did best in our flower gardens

By: Sandy Feather ©2007
Penn State Extension


Annual review of plants in Penn State Extension's Demonstration Gardens in Allegheny County, Pa.


The South Park Demonstration Garden is located at the intersection of Corrigan Drive and McConkey Road, just down the road from South Park’s Wave Pool. The North Park Demonstration Garden is located at the intersection of Babcock Boulevard and Wildwood Road, at the Veteran's Monument across from North Park Lake.


The gardens are planted and maintained by Allegheny County's Penn State Master Gardener volunteers. The demonstration gardens' primary purpose is to show home gardeners plants that perform well in local soils and climate with minimal maintenance. We work in the gardens one night a week. Pesticide use is minimal, primarily a little glyphosate (Roundup) to control weeds prior to planting in the spring. No insecticides or fungicides are used. The gardens are planted the first week of June and the spent annuals removed when frost kills them.

PETUNIAS

The demonstration gardens focus on annual flowering plants because they remain the top selling horticultural crop. Very few perennials offer the season-long bloom that annuals provide. Both gardens also include an assortment of perennial flowers, ornamental grasses, and herbs. Each plant has a sign with its botanical name, common name, cultural information, and the name of the garden center that donated it to the garden. Each plant's status as annual or perennial is indicated by that word in the upper left-hand corner of the sign. The gardens are set up as self-guided tours, and we encourage you to stop in and visit when the gardens are in their glory next summer.

 


The Gardens

Both gardens are exposed to full sun, and are open and unfenced. We do spray the daylily bed at North Park with a deer repellent called Liquid Fence, but otherwise do nothing to control deer damage. We did spray a few plants that were severely damaged right after planting to allow them a chance to get established, but then they were on their own. Plants that are damaged by deer (or other wildlife) for three consecutive years are not planted again. The deer population forces us to try new plants every year, while keeping the tried and true. Since we have much a much worse deer problem in South Park, some of those beds have been switched over to herbs with great success. Deer and other animals often avoid plants with strongly scented foliage, and they have good ornamental value.


Growing Conditions

We had a relatively hot, dry summer this year, and the gardens were watered deeply once a week to keep things growing. The gardens were left in longer than usual because they continued to look good due to the mild weather. As a result, plants that had not sustained deer damage earlier in the season – or in past years – were eaten in early October. The hot, dry weather in late September and early October may have driven them to eat our pampered plants that were not as tough as the drought stressed plants in the wild.

These gardens could not exist without the support of our partners from Allegheny County's Parks and Public Works departments. I also want to thank the local garden centers that donate seeds, plants, fertilizer and mulch to the Penn State Cooperative Extension Demonstration Gardens: Best Feeds Garden Centers, North Park; Eichner's Farm Market & Greenhouse, Wexford; Englert Nursery & Landscaping, Bethel Park; LMS Greenhouse & Nursery, Allison Park; Quality Gardens, Mars; Reilly's Summer Seat Farms, Ohio Township; Soergel's Greenhouses, Wexford; Sugar Run Nursery, Venetia; and Trax Farms, Inc., Finleyville.

  
Outstanding Flowers!

Outstanding Performers are those annuals that bloomed all summer with minimal deadheading (removal of spent flowers) and no signs of insect or disease problems, and no animal damage. There are times when deer damage plants in one garden, but not the other. That will be noted in the individual plant evaluations.


Outstanding 2007 performers include:

‘Angelface Blue’ Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’) - bloomed all summer without deadheading; attractive foliage; good in large containers as well as beds and borders.

Serena series Angelonia (Angelonia x Serena series) – more compact than other varieties of angelonia; bloomed all summer with little or no deadheading. The first Angelonia from seed (the rest are cutting propagated). Use in beds, borders and containers.

Annual Butterfly Weed (Asclepias curassavica 'Red Butterfly') - trouble free and long blooming; attractive to butterflies and pollinators. Monarch larvae fed heavily on this plant in South Park, but that is one of the reasons we love it so much! Best in beds and borders.

Peter’s Gold Carpet Bidens (Bidens ferulifolia 'Goldteppich') – blooms from planting until hard frost with no deadheading; heat and drought tolerant. Use for edging, massing, or in hanging baskets or containers.

Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia spp.) – shrub or small tree not winter hardy in our area; can be overwintered indoors. Large trumpet-shaped, evening fragrant flowers make this a standout in late summer and fall. Use as a focal point, or grow in large containers to make it easier to move them indoors.

‘Australia’ Canna (Canna x ‘Australia’) – dark maroon foliage a great foil for deep red flowers. Use in beds, borders and large containers. Lift rhizomes in fall and store indoors for the winter.

‘Tropicana’ Canna (Canna x ‘Tropicana’) – this canna would be a standout if it never bloomed. Large leaves are striped with red, orange and green. Very showy! Use in beds, borders and large containers. Lift rhizomes in fall and store indoors for the winter.

'Black Pearl' Ornamental Peppers (Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl') - heat & drought tolerant; fruits ripen from purple-black to red. Can be eaten - VERY hot. Use in beds, borders or containers.

'Chilly Chili'  Ornamental Peppers (Capsicum annuum 'Chilly Chili') - heat and drought tolerant; fruits are not hot, which makes them safe around curious children and pets. Fruits remain showy even after they have dried on the plants. Use in beds, borders or containers.

Annual Vinca (Catharanthus roseus Pacifica series)- clean, glossy green foliage and constant bloom. Vigorous heat and drought tolerant plants. Good for massing, edging and containers.

‘New Look’ Celosia (Celosia argenta var. plumosa ‘New Look) – old All-America Selections winner that stands the test of time. Bronzy foliage sets off dark red flowers exquisitely! Dries well, too. Use in beds, borders and containers.

Spider Flower (Cleome hasslerana Sparkler series and Spirit series) - heat and drought tolerant; attractive to butterflies. More compact and less likely to flop than older varieties. Use in beds and borders.

Mystic Illusion® and Mystic Desire® (Dahlia x ‘Knockout’ and ‘Scarlet Fern’) - vigorous plants with maroon foliage that held its color through the summer; especially outstanding in late summer and fall. Dig up tubers and store indoors over winter. Use in beds, borders or large containers.

Double Purple Angel's Trumpet (Datura metel 'Cornucopia') - unusual double purple flowers and evening fragrance. Use as an accent in beds and borders, or in large containers.

'Miracle Pink' Twinspur (Diascia x 'Miracle Pink') - outstanding plants for edging, massing and containers. Blooms all season with little or no deadheading, clean and problem-free.

Golden Dewdrop (Duranta erecta ‘Gold Edge’) – Outstanding medium-sized foliage plant; gold leaf variegation does not scorch in full sun. Minor deer damage late in the season did not detract from this beauty. Use in beds, borders and large containers.

Diamond Frost® (Euphorbia x ‘Inneuphdia’) – outstanding baby’s breath effect; season long bloom with no deadheading. Use in beds, borders and containers. DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

Helena’s Blush Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Inneuphhel’) – attractive green-and-white variegated foliage, with a reddish blush that intensifies with cooler temperatures. Chartreuse flowers in early spring. Might be perennial for us – stay tuned!

Euryops (Euryops pectinatus 'Sunshine Yellow') - heat and drought tolerant; dark green foliage shows off bright yellow, daisy-type flowers nicely. Blooms right up until frost.

Qis series Gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa Qis series) - very heat and drought tolerant. Long blooming and problem-free. Excellent dried flower. Use in beds and borders.

'Dakota Gold' Helen's Flower (Helenium amarum  'Dakota Gold') - free-blooming, very compact relative of our native sneezeweed. Problem-free. Use as an edging plant, or in beds and containers.

Lantana (Lantana camara Patriot™ Classic™ ‘Desert Sunset,’‘Tropical Fruit,’ ‘Cherry Sunrise,’ and 'Peach Sunrise') - very heat and drought tolerant; non-stop blooming with little or no deadheading. Use in beds, borders and large containers. Great for attracting butterflies and pollinators. DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

Medallion Flower (Melampodium paludosum 'Showstar') - bloomed nonstop with no deadheading. Tolerant of heat and drought as well wetter weather. Powdery mildew started in late September. Use in beds, borders or containers.

Four O' Clock (Mirabilis jalapa 'Broken Colors' and 'Limelight Rose') - long-blooming heirloom flowers that tolerate hot, dry weather very well. Best in beds and borders. Flowers open late afternoon or early evening. NORTH PARK ONLY DUE TO PAST DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

‘Blue Bird’ Nemesia (Nemesia strumosa ‘Blue Bird’) – season long bloom with no deadheading. Use for edging, massing and containers.

 ‘Purple Majesty’ Millet (Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple Majesty’) – this past All-America Selections winner is still one of the best plants we have ever grown! Foliage and long-lasting seedheads remain attractive right through summer. Seedheads dry nicely, too. Use in beds, borders and large containers.

Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') - outstanding in all types of weather. Its only fault is that it is not winter hardy in our climate! Use in beds, borders and large containers.

Dog-Gone (Plectranthus caninus) – also sold as “Scaredy Cat; attractive gray-green foliage and showy flowers in summer; pungent aroma of leaves supposed to repel problem cats and dogs; seems to work on deer and other wildlife, too!

Castor Bean (Ricinus communis and R. communis 'Carmencita Bright Red') – these huge plants make a great focal point in the garden; problem-free. Tiny white flowers very attractive to pollinators. Beds, borders and large containers.

'Victoria' Mealy-Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea 'Victoria') - Very heat and drought tolerant; long blooming and problem free. Attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and pollinators. Flowers dry nicely, too. Requires some deadheading to stay attractive. Use in beds, borders and containers.

Anise-Scented Salvia (Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue') - tolerates heat and drought; long blooming. Attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and pollinators. Requires some deadheading to stay attractive. Use in beds, borders and containers.

Black and Blue Salvia

Scarlet Sage (Salvia splendens 'Flare') - Heat and drought tolerant; long blooming. Attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and pollinators. Outstanding selection of scarlet sage. Requires some deadheading to stay attractive. Use in beds, borders and containers.

Purple Heart (Setcreasea purpurea) – better known as a houseplant, but pink-purple foliage makes a good foil for flowering plants. Use in beds, borders and containers. DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

Copper Firethorn (Solanum pyracanthum) - like it or loath it, this well-armed plant is unique for the bright orange thorns that cover the stems and run down the midrib of every leaf. It is good it did not require much maintenance, because this plant is painful to work around. No wildlife damage here! Beds, borders and large containers.

Kong™ Rose Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides Kong™ Rose – Huge leaves are the trademark of Kong™ series coleus. Very tropical-looking. Regular flower spike removal required to keep plants compact and showy. Use in beds, borders, and large containers. NORTH PARK ONLY DUE TO PAST DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

Royal Glissade™ Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides Royal Glissade™) – antique shades of green and pink, and few flower spikes to remove made this one of the most outstanding coleuses we have ever grown. Maintenance-free. Use in beds, borders and large containers. NORTH PARK ONLY DUE TO PAST DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

‘Splash’ and ‘Coco Loco’ Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Splash’ and ‘Coco Loco’) – two more great sun-tolerant coleuses. Some flower spike removal required. Use in beds, borders and large containers. NORTH PARK ONLY DUE TO PAST DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyeranus) - grown for colorful foliage. Does well in hot, dry weather. Use in beds and containers. Late deer damage. NORTH PARK ONLY DUE TO PAST DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

Hybrid Verbena (Verbena x 'Temari Patio Blue' and ‘Superbena Dark Blue’) - very heat and drought tolerant; long season of bloom; clean, dark green attractive foliage - outstanding plant! We had a lovely peach-colored verbena at North Park that was also outstanding, but there was no variety tag on it, so the cultivar name is anyone’s guess. Use in beds, borders and containers.

 ‘Crystal White’ and ‘Crystal Yellow’ Spreading Zinnias (Zinnia angustifolia ‘Crystal White’ & ‘Crystal Yellow’ – long-blooming, disease resistant; excellent for edging, massing, and containers.

'Profusion White’ Zinnia (Zinnia x 'Profusion White') - this All-America Selection Gold Medal winner bloomed all summer. Very heat and drought tolerant, as well as disease resistant. Good in beds and containers.
 

 

  
Flowers that were good performers

Good Performers are those that bloomed well but required regular deadheading to keep them looking their best. Some may have experienced insect or disease problems, or minor animal damage, that did not mar their appearance badly or kill them. Others should be staked to keep them from flopping over their neighbors, especially after a storm. Still others bloom too late for us to enjoy them as long as we would like, but are nonetheless beautiful additions to the garden.

Good 2007 performers include:

Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum) – good bloomer through the summer, but when it’s done, it’s done. Good for edging, massing and containers.

Joseph’s Coat (Alternanthera ficoidea ‘Party Time’) – low growing foliage plant with shades of bright pink, burgundy and green swirled in the new growth. Outstanding in containers, cascading over a wall, or used for edging. Minor deer damage did not detract from this plant.

Red Threads (Alternanthera ficoidea ‘Red Threads’) – this unique plant creates mounds of shiny burgundy thread-like foliage. Use for edging, massing or spilling over the rim of a container. Minor deer damage did not detract from this plant.

Green Mist (Ammi visnaga) – ornamental Queen Anne’s Lace with large showy flowers; attractive to pollinators and beneficial, non-stinging wasps. Use in beds and borders. Deadheading required to keep it blooming well.

'Angelface Bicolor' and 'Angelface Pink’ Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia 'Angelface Bicolor' and 'Angelface Pink’) - bloomed most of the summer without deadheading, but when it was done blooming in August, it was done! Good in large containers as well as beds and borders.

Canna (Canna x generalis) - another good plant for adding a tropical feel to the garden. Tolerates wet soil and is often grown in ponds, but also does well in hot, dry weather. Use in beds, borders and large containers.

South African Foxglove (Ceratotheca triloba) - large plant with delicate-looking flowers. Attractive to pollinators. Very heat and drought tolerant. Should be staked. Good in beds and borders.

Angel’s Trumpet (Datura metel ‘Belle Blanche’) – large white flowers open in evening; evening fragrant. One plant covers a six-foot square plot; tolerant of poor soil; lots of deadheading, but otherwise an outstanding plant. Use in beds and borders.

‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’ Fuchsia (Fuchsia x ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’) – sun tolerant fuchsia with bronzy foliage and deep coral flowers. Late deer damage in South Park. Great in containers, beds and borders.

‘Blazin’ Rose’ Bloodleaf (Iresine x ‘Blazin’ Rose’) – Vigorous foliage plant with maroon leaves and hot pink veins and stems; best with some shade from the hot afternoon sun. Use in beds, borders and large containers. Late deer damage.

Lion's Ear (Leonotis nepetifolia) - blooms very late in season; strikingly large plant with deep orange flowers. Growth and flowering habit resemble monarda- really big monarda; should be staked. Use in the back of the border.

Tall Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) – statuesque plant with white, evening fragrant flowers; requires deadheading to stay attractive. Tolerates partial shade. Best in beds and borders.

'Zion Pink Sand' and ‘Zion Plum' African Daisy (Osteospermum x ‘Zion Pink Sand’ and ‘Zion Plum’ - clean and problem-free. Heat and drought tolerant. Exquisite flower colors, but did not bloom enough to suit us.

‘Grossersorten’ Geranium (Pelargonium x ‘Grossersorten’) – zonal geranium with dark coral flowers plays very nicely with others in containers, beds and borders.

'Vancouver Centennial'  Geranium (Pelargonium  x 'Vancouver Centennial’) - grown as much for interesting foliage as its flowers. Good in beds and containers. Compact.

Phoenix™ Pink Beard-tongue (Penstemon x ‘Phoenix™ Pink) – clean and problem-free; attractive to hummingbirds and pollinators. Could have bloomed more.

'Magilla' Perilla (Perilla x 'Magilla') - grown for colorful foliage; no maintenance except for periodic watering! Good for beds, borders and large containers. Late deer damage.

‘Gage’s Shadow’ Perilla (Perilla x ‘Gage’s Shadow’) - grown for colorful foliage; no maintenance except for periodic watering! Good for beds, borders and large containers. Late deer damage.

Intensia® Neon Pink Phlox (Phlox x Intensia® Neon Pink) – Low-growing phlox hybrid good for edging, massing and containers. Could have bloomed a little more. Otherwise, problem free.

Cape Leadwort (Plumbago auriculata ) - heat and drought tolerant. Tender shrub grown as an annual in our climate. Sky blue flower color not found in most plants combines with almost any other color. Problem free. Use in beds, borders and containers.

Stampede™Cherry Sage (Salvia greggii x Stampede Cherry™) – compact, with a shrubby growth habit; nice glossy, dark green foliage; bloomed all summer, but we wished that more flowers were open at one time; attractive to butterflies and pollinators.

Annual Scabiosa (Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Ace of Spades') – unique maroon flower color; bloomed all summer; requires frequent deadheading to look its best. Long-lasting cut flower. Attractive to butterflies and pollinators. DEER DAMAGE.

Janie series Marigolds (Tagetes patula ‘Janie Bright Yellow’ and ‘Janie Deep Orange’) – season-long bloom; requires some deadheading. Use for massing and edging, or in containers.

Princess Flower (Tibouchina urvilleana) - Soft, furry foliage tinged with red and huge reddish-purple flowers makes this plant irresistible - if only it bloomed more prolifically! No animal damage, and no insect or disease problems.

'Alaska' Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus 'Alaska') – refreshing variegated foliage; holds flowers above foliage; edible. NORTH PARK ONLY DUE TO PAST DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

'Tip Top Apricot' Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus 'Tip Top Apricot') – Clean blue-green foliage; flowers held above the foliage; edible. NORTH PARK ONLY DUE TO PAST DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

Giant Double Mixed Zinnia (Zinnia elegans Giant Double Mixed) – large, showy  flowers; long-blooming. Long-lasting cut flower. Best in beds and borders.

Magellan Mixed Zinnia (Zinnia elegans Magellan Mixed) - outstanding, compact grower; long blooming, large flowers. Disease resistant foliage. Attractive to butterflies and pollinators. Long-lasting cut flower. Good in beds, borders, and containers.

‘Thumbelina’ Zinnia (Zinnia elegans ‘Thumbelina’) – dwarf version of popular garden zinnia; attractive to butterflies and pollinators; long-lasting cut flower. Use for edging, massing and in containers.

‘Chippendale’ Narrow-leaved Zinnia (Zinnia haageana ‘Chppendale’) – attractive red and yellow bi-colored flowers; attractive to butterflies and pollinators; long-blooming. Tended to flop open. Good cut flower. Powdery mildew late in the season.

 

  
Flowers that were poor performers

Some plants performed poorly from the start, perhaps because the weather was very hot and dry immediately after the gardens were planted. Others suffered severe animal damage. A nibble here or there is one thing, but these plants were destroyed! In addition to the plants noted above, these include:

Poor 2007 performers include:

Prince's Feather (Amaranthus cruentus 'Hot Biscuits') - strikingly large; dried seeds attractive to small birds; should be staked to keep it from flopping. Good in back of the border. We have grown this plant successfully for years, but now experience severe deer damage in both gardens.

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus 'Sonata Mix') -flowers attractive to butterflies and seedheads attractive to finches. Cosmos tends to "melt out" in North Park by late summer because our soil is so rich - cosmos really is best in soils with low fertility. Use in beds and borders. We stopped growing it in South Park a few years ago due to severe deer damage.

Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea) – we have grown other Cuphea species with no trouble, but Bambi decided to take up smoking in 2007! Severe deer damage in both gardens.

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) – one of my all time favorite plants did not fare well this summer at North Park. Plants did not get off to a good start and never recovered, but deer damage was not the issue. NORTH PARK ONLY DUE TO PAST DEER DAMAGE IN SOUTH PARK.

Laguna series Lobelia (Lobelia x hybrida Laguna series) – plants did not establish well, and never really performed up to snuff. Animal damage was not a problem.

Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens ‘Cuzco Compact Yellow’) – did not get off to a good start and never recovered; possibly not the best choice for a hot, dry garden. An attractive plant, nonetheless, and we are willing to give it another try.

'New Wonder' Fan Flower (Scaevola aemula 'New Wonder') – Scaevola has always been a standout in both gardens, but that was not the case in 2007. There may have been some deer damage, but these plants did not grow well from the start.

Dahlberg Daisy (Thymophylla tenuiloba) – did not establish well this year, probably due to the very hot weather after planting. Generally blooms all summer; problem-free. Use for edging, massing and in containers.

MORE

Perennial Plant of the Year

Perennial plants A - M

Perennials plants N - Z

 

     


home | terms of use | contact | search | site map
lawn & garden store
Copyright ©2017  DONNAN.COM  All rights reserved.