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Features - Perennials

Did 'hot and new' or 'tried and true' perennials win at retail this spring?

Garden Center | July 15, 2010

Which perennials were your customers’ favorites this spring? Garden Center touched base with retailers across the country to find out which selections made the grade. Do you have these on your bench?
 


Chad Harris
The Garden Gates
Metairie, La.
thegardengates.com

“I happen to think double-flowered echinacea is the [stuff] that makes the world go round. They remind me of spaceships or shooting rockets that I dreamt of when I was growing up. They come with names like ‘Razzmatazz.’ Who thinks of this stuff? Did they call Bugs Bunny up and just didn't get the translation right from Bunny to English?”
Jeff Cooksey
Altum’s
Zionsville, Ind.
altums.com

“I immediately knew three right away: Snowcap daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Snowcap’), Nepeta racemosa ‘Little Titch,’ and Hosta ‘Fire & Ice!’ The Snowcap daisy is a cute little 10-inch mound with an abundance of full-sized white daisies that stand upright and require little care. ‘Little Titch’ catmint is also a short treasure that can hold up to what summertime temperatures are thrown at it, without falling apart. ‘Fire & Ice’ is incredibly showy.”
Alice Longfellow
Longfellow’s
Garden Center
Centertown, Mo.
longfellowsgarden.com

“It’s a toss-up between Happy Returns daylily and variegated liriope, only because we use them on landscapes. For the average customer, it would be hosta first, then heuchera and ferns. Campanula ‘Blue Waterfalls’ is a favorite to recommend.”

Photo: Terra Nova Nurseries
 
Joan Barczak
Blumen Gardens
Sycamore, Ill.
blumengardens.com

“So far this year they are Anemone sylvestris, Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba,’ Pulsatilla vulgaris, Campanula glomerata ‘Joan Elliot,’ Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain,’ Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ and Lamiastrum ‘Herman's Pride.’”

Photo: Terra Nova Nurseries

 

Bonnie Stotts & Staff
Beier’s Greenhouse
Grand Rapids, Minn.
beiersgreenhouse.com

“Our customers are cutting-edge shoppers, who are most interested in colorful foliage and highly textured plants. The plums, purples and chartreuse foliage of heucheras, huge leafed plants such as Rheum, variegated foliage of ‘Heavenly Habit’ Polemonium and silver leafed ‘Jack Frost’ Brunnera top the list for most consumers at the greenhouse.”

Photo: Terra Nova Nurseries
 
Jay Harper
Harper’s Nurseries &
Landscape Co.
Scottsdale & Mesa, Ariz.
harpersnurseries.com

“We sell lots of lantana, scabiosa, and one in particular, Russelia equisetiformis ‘Coral Fountain’—probably because it’s new and different. This is kind of a weird perennial market [here]. A lot of things that might be perennials in other places don't make it through the summer here, and some things that don't winter-over in other places and are annuals we sell as perennials. Guara has also been good.”
Tiger & Fausto Palafox
Mission Hills Nursery
San Diego, Calif.
missionhillsnursery.com

“I think salvias are one of the better selling perennials,” Tiger said, “because of the varieties, heat tolerance and low water aspects of the plant. “
 
“I would say as a category succulents would have to be the most popular,” Fausto said, “with the water issues we’ve been having, many of our customers are rediscovering the beauty of some succulents like the Aeonium ‘Zwartkop,’ Kalanchoe thyrsiflora ‘Flapjack,’ or Sedum ‘Angelina.’” 

Debi Drescher &
Steve Norman

Stauffers of Kissel Hill
Pennsylvania
skh.com

Drescher gives a nod to dianthus, “because there have been many new colors in shades of pinks, whites and reds.” Gaillardia is also turning heads—“again because of lots of newer colors: burgundy, oranges, yellows.”

Norman weighed in with this info: “Also, all the blue salvia varieties were very, very strong again this spring. The cool temps kept everything looking great!”



The grower’s perspective
Tom Watson with The Perennial Farm in Glen Arm, Md., had a great spring and a tough time nailing down the top sellers for his garden center customers. Here are a few standouts:

“We have a new line of groundcover called Treadwell, of which we sold a lot this spring. In particular, Mazus reptans, Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper), Iberis, Sagina, Thymus, Sempervivum (hens and chicks), and lots of sedums—all part of our Treadwell line.

“We’ve also been selling a ton of our basics—popular plants that we know are going to work such as Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro,’ Salvia ‘May Night,’ Nepeta ‘Walker's Low,’ Geranium ‘Rozanne,’ Leucanthemum ‘Becky,’ Pennisetum ‘Hameln,’ to name a few.

Also, an emerging trend for us this spring has been the popularity of shade plants. Hay-scented ferns have been a big seller for us, as well as autumn and tassel ferns, astilbes, ligularias, hostas and cimicifuga.



Amsonia hubrichtii. Photo courtesy of Jelitto Perennial SeedsPerennial Plant Association names 2011 Plant of the Year
Perennial Plant Association named Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas amsonia, Arkansas blue star) as its 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year. This bushy plant produces light blue star-shaped flowers and fine, feathery ¾-inch long foliage.

It blooms during April and May. The flower color lightens in warmer temperatures. University of Georgia horticulture professor Allan Armitage said the plant makes an outstanding display, particularly in the fall.