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Super Fall Super Plants

Supertunia Vista Bubblegum
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Supertunia Vista Bubblegum petunia is one of the most talked-about petunias over the past three to five years and one of the best petunias in landscape trials at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station. The flowers are a clear, bright pink. Over the past few years, it has been proven that Supertunia Vista Bubblegum is one of Louisiana’s most durable petunia varieties.

Supertunia Vista Bubblegum is a vigorous petunia with a 3-foot spread at maturity. It can grow 16 to 24 inches tall. Plant these petunias in full sun in well-drained soil. Petunias prefer an acidic soil in the pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. A mulch of pine straw improves the appearance of the landscape bed and minimizes upward splashing of water from irrigation while helping with weed control.

When mass-planted in the landscape bed, it is best to plant the petunias on 18-inch centers. This petunia works equally well in containers and hanging baskets where the flowering branches and shoots can cascade over the edge — a truly spectacular “spiller” plant. Always plant the transplants at the original cell pack or pot depth. You mostly see Supertunia Vista Bubblegum for sale in 6-inch pots at garden centers.

There is always confusion about the best time to plant petunias in the landscape. In Louisiana, petunias do well when planted in the fall from September through early November and in late winter and early spring from early February through mid-March. A fall planting of petunias will normally overwinter well and provide blooms until late May. Late winter- and early spring-planted petunias normally last only until early June, but if the weather cooperates, the more heat-tolerant petunias — like Supertunia Vista Bubblegum — can be oversummered successfully.

Supertunia Vista Bubblegum is self-cleaning of old flowers. Deadheading (removal of old flowers) is not needed to maintain continued bloom, but a light pruning after each bloom flush is recommended. Early morning watering is best for petunias and other bedding plants. With the vigorous growth habit of these petunias, you may need to pay more attention to water demands of container-grown plants.

All varieties of Supertunias are heavy feeders. Apply a two- to three-month controlled-release fertilizer at planting. For the best growth and flower production, fertilize these plants regularly. Water-soluble fertilizers are good for this purpose.

Homestead Purple Verbena
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The best perennial verbena for the Louisiana landscape is Homestead Purple. Even with an avalanche of new varieties on the market, this plant is still the best of the best for Louisiana. Rich purple blooms cover a 3-foot-wide canopy of foliage twice annually – peak bloom being midwinter until late spring (mid-February through May) and then another flowering during fall. Although perennial verbenas are generally planted in spring, we need to consider fall and winter planting of perennial verbenas for best performance the first year. This is the reason we are promoting Homestead Purple as a fall Louisiana Super Plant. In the landscape, spacing between plants should be 18 inches at planting, and the plants should be sheared occasionally to bring back nice, new foliage growth. They should be fertilized at planting and in each spring. Verbenas need full sun and well-drained soil for best success.

Growing information:

  • Hardy perennial across Louisiana
  • Plant early to mid-fall or late winter/early spring
  • Plant in full to partial sun; well-drained soil
  • Grows 10″-12” tall x 18″-24” wide
  • Numerous clusters of deep purple flowers
  • Long blooming season – late winter through early summer; fall months
  • Flowers rich in nectar and attractive to butterflies and bees
  • Low maintenance; deadhead after flowering

Diamonds Blue Delphinium
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Want to electrify your fall, winter and early-spring garden? Add ‘Diamonds Blue’ delphinium to your cool-season bedding plant mix.

Electric-blue flowers of ‘Diamonds Blue’ delphinium cover the plant from winter through spring. The blue color is vivid, stands out in the garden and adds a spark of color to the winter garden.

Beautiful, fine-textured foliage is a great background for the brilliant blue flowers.

This delphinium is compact growing and does not need staking.

‘Diamonds Blue’ delphinium has more vigor, more stamina and more flowers than other delphinium, making it truly a Louisiana Super Plant.

Growing information:

  • Full to part sun
  • Grows 14-16″ by 12-14″ wide
  • Space 12″ apart
  • Plant October through February

Sorbet Violas

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Want to add color to your fall, winter and early spring garden? Plant some colorful Sorbet series violas.

Sorbet violas are the best flowering violas in our trials.

Delicate, bright flowers cover the plant from late fall through spring.

Sorbet violas have the most uniform plant habit and produce masses of bright blooms on compact plants.

Excellent overwintering and cold hardiness allow planting Sorbet violas in early fall for color through winter and into early spring.

This charming plant is an early bloomer and comes in a multitude of colors.

Use this Louisiana Super Plant to add a punch of color to your winter landscape.

Growing Information:

  • Cool-season annual
  • Full sun
  • Grows 6” tall by 12” wide
  • Space 10″-12” apart
  • Plant fall through early spring

Redbor Kale
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Redbor kale is an incredible, multiuse annual for the cool-season flower or vegetable garden. It is perfectly edible and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like mustard greens.
However, Redbor kale’s attractive appearance makes it popular to use in flowerbeds. Use this edible kale for an impressive and prominent display in your cool-season garden. Plant in well-prepared, sunny beds anytime from October through February.

Redbor kale produces striking dark red-purple, finely curled foliage on plants that will eventually grow to be about 30 inches tall by early summer. Plants stay attractive until May, when they should be replaced with summer bedding plants.

Redbor Kale is a vigorous grower with good cold tolerance. It is outstanding in a tall border or as a background planting or anywhere you want to add rich color and interesting texture.

Growing Information:

  • Cool-season annual
  • Full sun
  • Grows 30” tall by 12-16” wide
  • Space 12-16” apart
  • Plant October through February

Swan Columbine
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Columbines (Aquilegia) have not been commonly used by Louisiana gardeners in the past. But these very
beautiful, short-lived perennials grown as cool-season annuals deserve a place in every flower garden.

Swan series columbines produce larger flowers than other columbines and in a wide range of colors. The attractive blue-green foliage adds interest and texture to the winter flower garden, even when the plants are not in bloom.

Swan colubines come in many different colors, and many of the colors are unique. Varieties in the Swan series are blue white, burgundy white, pink yellow, red white, rose white, violet white, white and yellow.

Growing Information:

  • Cool-season annual
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Grows 20-24” tall by 12” wide
  • Space 12” apart
  • Plant mid- to late fall for spring bloom

Amazon Dianthus
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The Amazon dianthus series was created by breeding together two species — Dianthus chinensis, Chinese dianthus or pinks and Dianthus barbatus, sweet Williams. Called an interspecific hybrid, the results are nothing short of outstanding.

The foliage is an unusually rich, deep green, and the narrow leaves form a mound at the base. Even out of bloom, the foliage provides a verdant green color in the winter landscape.

The three colors included in the Amazon series, Neon Purple, Neon Cherry and Rose Magic, are brilliant and eye-catching. Neon Purple and Neon Cherry practically glow, their colors are so intense and vivid. Because they produce colorfully dominate flowers, combine them with other strong colors such as deep purple, gold or burgundy. Or, you can tone them down with shades of blue, lavender, pale yellow, silver or white.

The flowers of Amazon Rose Magic go through a “magical” transformation as they bloom. The flowers open a bright white, age to a soft pink and finally finish up an intense rose. All three colors appear simultaneously in each cluster of flowers. Combine Rose Magic with blue, lavender, pink, silver and white flowers for an elegant effect in the garden or in containers.

Amazon Dianthus are taller than other dianthus, growing from 18-36 inches tall. Although they are relatively tall, full-grown plants are not leggy. The flowers form an almost-solid layer over the plants, and flowers stalks at the edge of a planting tend to bend over creating a full appearance. Space plants 12-16 inches apart for best show.

Plant in the fall, and they will bloom through the fall and intermittently during the winter and then put on a traffic-stopping display of colorful flowers from late February or March though late May or early June. Excellent heat tolerance means they generally bloom reliably well into early summer.

Planting Information:

  • Cool-season annual
  • Plant in full sun
  • Plant from October through March
  • Grows 18-36” tall by 10-16” wide
  • Space 12-16” apart
  • Select a site in full sun with good drainage.
  • Prepare the bed by working 3 to 4 inches of organic matter (such as compost) into the upper 6 to 8 inches of soil.
  • Fall planting is preferred as it will provide the longest flowering in your gardens as well as more spectacular blooming plants in the spring.
  • These plants are hardy into the teens and will not be bothered by average winter temperatures.
  • Deadheading will keep your plants looking fresh and attractive and encourage them to continue to bloom.

See more on LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plants at www.lsuagcenter.com/superplants.