What Makes SuperCal’s so Super

There’s a fairly new flower genus that’s making waves in the industry called Petchoa. It’s a cross between Petunia and Calibrachoa (commonly referred to as Million Bells). In our January newsletter I’d written in some detail about the benefits of growing the SuperCal series of Petchoa, regardless if you’re a commercial grower or a home gardener. I’m pretty high on the SuperCal’s because the varieties combine the best traits of its two parents: Large, showy flowers, tolerance to high soil pH, excellent performance in both cool and warm environments, no sticky leaves, self-cleaning plants, and more.

What I didn’t go into detail in the newsletter article is the fact that the SuperCal’s make such great baskets and containers. For combo’s planters try growing them with SunPatiens and white Alyssum (more on SunPatiens in a future blog!). They also make fabulous baskets when paired with other SuperCal varieties. Some tested and true combo’s are Vanilla Blush paired with either Blue or Purple, Neon Rose grown with Purple, or Terracotta with Blue and Neon Rose. Frankly, they are such prolific bloomers I think they also look great just as a single variety on its own. Figure about 3-4 plants per 10” basket, adding a plant for every 2” you increase in basket size.

The SuperCal’s are not available from seed, only from vegetative liners for commercial growers. There are currently 9 different SuperCal varieties available right now: Cherry, Terracotta, Neon Rose, Pink Ice (New!), Blue, Velvet, Purple and Vanilla Blush. Terracotta is a pretty fun color, and the new Pink Ice is eye-popping. And there are more on the way – can’t wait to see them! In the meantime, try out the current SuperCal’s – they’re gaining ground with good reason. Home gardeners - be sure to ask for SuperCal by name at your local garden center.


Fun Foliage

When my interest in horticulture was developing a number of years ago, one of the projects I undertook was growing a coleus plant into an herbaceous ‘tree’. At that time, coleus was often used as a houseplant. The instructions were to take a single plant, pinch the young leaves off the top part of the plant and strip the leaves from the bottom part of the plant. Over time the base of the plant developed a slight woody stem and the upper part became the crown of the ‘tree’. It was great fun!

Of course now you see coleus used most often in gardens, landscapes and containers. It’s one of the few shade annuals around which provide a solution to many shady garden situations. More recently we’ve come to enjoy a number of new coleus varieties that’ll also tolerate partial to fun sun. That’s a great advancement in the horticultural world!

A new variety this year is a novel concept that’s combined two coleus varieties into a one pellet so that when you sow, the pellet dissolves and the seeds germinate and grow together, creating a lovely combination of color. Coleus Under the Sun is a blend of Versa Crimson Gold and Versa Lime. Fortunately the Versa varieties grow very well in both sun and shade. We grew it in a container that by summer’s end was fully filled out and gorgeous.


Winter Chill Brings Warm Thoughts of Spring Flowers

Even in January, thoughts of spring planting come to mind. Truthfully, it hasn’t been much of a winter here in Rochester so far. A few minor freezes and some snow flurries here and there. But nothing of the magnitude that we’ve come to expect from living near one of our Great Lakes. Even so, my thoughts turn to garden color with ideas of what to plant outdoors in just a few months.

We trialed a number of new varieties this summer in our Harris Seeds and home gardens, many with great success. One in particular is a new Angelonia named Serena Blue. There are a number of Angelonia varieties available, but only one series is available from seed, and it stands apart from the rest by virtue of a shorter height (10 - 14") and more flower spikes on a squatty plant habit (12 - 14" wide). I planted Serena Blue last summer in a container by itself and also in a basket paired with Begonia Dragonwing Red. Both looked great and flowered all summer long.

I believe Angelonia is a genus that is underutilized. It loves full sun, is heat and drought tolerate and tolerate a slight frost. Who wouldn’t want to grow these beauties? Give Angelonia a try this summer – Serena Blue and Serena White are my two favorites.