AgCenter: Best-performing landscape plants for 2013

Each fall, trial gardens, such as those located at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station, compile results from entries and name the best-performing of the new plants for the next year.

The plants are new to the industry in the warm-season, herbaceous-annual category. Plants are listed in no ranked order. All have performed very well under south Louisiana growing conditions in Hammond since April 2012 and should be considered for planting in 2013.

A new hybrid salvia, Amistad, was very impressive and gathered a lot of interest. It will be part of the Sunset Western Garden Collection in 2013. Large, deep purple with black calyx flowers, the plant matures at 4 feet in the landscape and flowers spring through fall.

An All-America Selection winner for 2013 is Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea. This variety has been performing great in trial gardens across the Southeast this year — from the LSU AgCenter in Hammond to Texas A&M in Overton, Texas, to the Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station sites in Crystal Springs and Poplarville, Miss.

The unique thing about this new purple coneflower is the assortment of mixed colors and the fact that it is a seed-originating variety. With so many new echinacea on the market, it is sometimes hard to know where to begin. But this new variety along with the award-winning, seed-propagated PowWow White and PowWow Wild Berry varieties make great new garden additions.

The Celebration series Pennisetums are great improvements over what we used to call purple fountain grass. Fireworks is the variety that was introduced first in 2010 and is being widely used and accepted in the industry. Nice red spring growth lasts through summer and fades some in fall. The new addition to the series for 2011 was Sky Rocket — with white-and-green variegated foliage. The new cultivar in the series for 2012 release is Cherry Sparkler. This one has blushy pink foliage mixed with white and green variegated stripes.

BabyWing Bronze with White is the newest variety in the popular series of BabyWing begonias. Current varieties are BabyWing White and BabyWing Pink. These are Louisiana Super Plants. The new variety is the first in the series with bronze foliage. It has white flowers.

Purple and red are the colors in the new series of Lighthouse annual salvia from PanAmerican Seed. Annual salvia are variable in performance in the South. The Lighthouse series has shown good landscape quality from spring planting in early April through early October.

Senorita Blanca joins Senorita Rosalita as a new addition to this Cleome series. Spineless and seed sterile, they offer constant bloom spring through fall. These are cutting-propagated selections from Proven Winner.

The Monza series bedding plant begonia is relatively new. We have been pleased with the performance of four colors in the series this year at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station. Earliness of flower, large blooms and compact growth are characteristics. Nine colors are available — salmon orange, appleblossom, coral, blush, rose, pink, scarlet, white and orange scarlet.

Other promising plants include the Trend series cuphea, the new Chocolate Covered Cherry coleus and a new group of cut-flower sunflowers Vincent Fresh and Vincent Choice. These plants are some of the newest of the new, and garden centers will have some available in 2013.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by viewing the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website at Also, like us on Facebook by going to and typing Hammond Research Station in the search box. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals.

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