Coleus ‘Pink Chaos’

If you follow this column with any regularity, you probably recall that last month I wrote about several exciting new shrubs and perennials you’ll find at nurseries this year. With all the dreary and depressing weather, I figured you might enjoy reading about some exciting new additions to your yard for the coming year. Well, the weather has moderated somewhat, but the showers continue, so if learning about a few more new and exciting plants will raise your spirits, read on!

Now that we’re beyond Mother’s Day, it’s safe to plant annuals outdoors. At this point, the chance of a frost is extremely small—even with continued cool weather, our nighttime temperatures are now in the 40s. As you plan how you’ll fill your planters, save a spot for “Pretty Much Picasso” supertunia. First introduced last year, this trailing petunia is a great addition to sun-loving hanging baskets or patio pots. With its bright pink flowers edged in lime green, it’s a totally unique flower that will have you doing a double-take when you first see it.

[Note: unfortunately, we are already sold out of this beautiful plant–and it looks like most places are. But look out for it next year–we’ll have it in plentiful supply, along with another exciting brand new petunia!]

If you’re looking for more shade-tolerant trailing plants to spill over the edge of your containers, try Dragon Wing begonias. Like their “wax-leaf” or fibrous begonia cousin, this trailing variety can take sun to full shade and require very little maintenance. Sporting arrowhead-shaped glossy leaves and cascading sets of flowers, Dragon Wings add a unique texture to planters you can’t easily replicate.
Additionally, like another very popular “spiller” calibrachoa, Dragon Wing begonias will bloom right up to the first hard frost, giving you color for months to come.

In container gardening, there are three types of plants: so-called “thrillers, spillers and fillers.” The above plants are both “spillers”—they trail down the front or sides of your container. For “thrillers” you often see dracaena (commonly called “spikes”) in the middle of a container. If you’re looking for something new to use, though, try coleus. Today’s coleus breeders have taken the plant to entirely new dimensions. With leaf textures and color covering the spectrum of possibilities, coleus is a whole new plant. And if you like gardening to be just plain fun, try out names like “Coco Loco,” “Pink Chaos” or “Big Red Judy.” If that’s not fun, I don’t know what is!

Basil ‘Boxwood’

Now, maybe you’ve decided to try to expand your horizons this spring with some new edibles mixed into your garden or pots. Herbs are great for using in pots or mixed into a flower garden—just be sure you’ve identified what’s edible and not. This spring, I’m excited to be working with a relatively new herb: Boxwood Basil. Like all other basils, it’s great for culinary uses, but its shape and leaf size resemble a miniature boxwood shrub.

This time of year, we’re all excited to add color to our yards, yet far too many gardeners fail to follow through with proper care. To make your flowers bloom stronger and longer, the key is proper fertilizing. Miracle-Gro is okay, but at Vander Giessen Nursery, we’ve always seen better results with a product once called Peters, now labeled as Jack’s Classic. Use this water-soluble fertilizer weekly and you’ll see the difference that proper care can make in protecting your gardening investment.

Spring may be slow in getting here this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it get you down. Eventually, it will warm up and get sunny—it always does—but in the meantime, get out of the doldrums with some exciting new options in flowers for your garden, and as always, have fun!