- Guest Columnist Rachel Bond
Hot Plants for Spring Gardens
By Guest Columnist Rachel Bond
After a dreary winter comes every gardener’s favorite time of year: spring. Here are some hot plants you should try this season – some varieties fairly new, and others making a comeback:
Two unique varieties of Buddleia, commonly called butterfly bush. They are perennial and attract loads of butterflies during their long-season blooming. They prefer full sun and are heat tolerant and deer resistant. Pugster is a dwarf Buddleia variety, perfect for smaller flower beds and containers. This compact beauty grows to only about two-feet tall and wide. But don’t let the size fool you. The buds are still very large and fragrant. There are five different colors of Pugster. Grand Cascade is a full-sized Buddleia bush with enormous flower panicles that cascade in a weeping form. By enormous, I mean panicles are 12 to 14 inches long and four inches thick. The bush grows five to six feet tall and spreads seven to eight feet wide. Grand Cascade loves full sun and attracts tons of pollinators such as hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
If it’s a unique vine you want, look no further than Petrea volubilis, or Queen’s Wreath. This vigorous vine is considered a tropical, so it must be protected from frost. The draping, lavender flowers resemble wisteria. Unlike wisteria, it blooms profusely multiple times a year. Queen’s Wreath can tolerate full sun to partial shade.
For an eye-catching ground cover or “spiller” in containers, try Lysimachia nummularia Goldilocks, commonly called Creeping Jenny. This hardy perennial is sure to create a focal point, with its long, chartreuse to golden-colored strands. It prefers part to full sun and well-drained soil. Its unique growing habit, along with its bright foliage, creates a perfect contrast when planted among darker plants.
Arbequina olive trees are wonderful additions to any container, orchard or landscape. The stunning grey-green foliage is attractive and evergreen. Olives grow in well-drained soil and flourish in large containers. Turn your patio into an Italian villa using a few large pots with fruit-bearing olives. The black olives can be brined and enjoyed or left on the tree for aesthetic value. It’s important that they receive full sun and very loose soil.
Cold-hardy avocados are extremely popular edible trees. They have beautiful foliage, and who doesn’t love a perfectly ripe avocado? While there are many varieties, opt for one that is considered cold hardy down to 20 degrees. These varieties do best in Mississippi and can be grown similarly to citrus trees, either in the ground or a container. Some good varieties to try are Lila, Joey and Fantastic.
Last but not least, the showgirls of spring are petunias.The gorgeous Headliner Series is not one to miss. Night Sky looks straight out of a Van Gogh painting. Its deep purple blooms with white splotches makes each one unique. This petunia has a mounding and trailing habit and likes part to full sun.Pink Sky offers the same freckled charm in a medium-pink shade. Elevate your beds and containers with these specialty, long-season bloomers.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rachel Bond, owner of Pine Hills Floral in Pass Christian, Mississippi, contributes to Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Southern Gardening accessible at http://extension.msstate.edu/shows/southern-gardening.