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10 Great but Under-loved Plants

10 Great but Under-loved Plants

Contributors: Kerry Meyer
Kerry lives in Missouri with her husband and young daughter Miranda.   Many gardeners have gotten to know and love Kerry through the Proven Winners newsletter, “Winners Circle’ that she writes, often sharing her garden with us. When Kerry speaks at any of our gardening events she get tons of hugs and “Oh Kerry! It's so nice to meet you in person, I feel like your best friend!”

Kerry has 15 years pf experience in horticulture markets with a strong emphasis on hands-on research and breeding projects. She also worked for several years in research at the University of Minnesota and at Forest Lake Garden Center in Minnesota. She holds a Masters of Science in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Missouri. 

Join more than 260,000 other gardeners! Sign up here to receive Kerry's monthly e-newsletter the 'Winners Circle'.

10 Great but Under-loved Plants

 1.  Senorita Rosalita®
I know I talk abut her all of the time, but she (and her sister  - Senorita Blanca® will bloom all summer without deadheading.  She add height to garden beds and large containers.  If she outgrows her space you can cut her back and she will branch back out and look great again in a week or two.  She loves the heat.  I often give her a good trim back in August, so that I get fresh growth going into fall because she will flower until a good hard frost does her in.
 2.  Blue My Mind®
Sometimes horticulturists might, shall we say, “decorate the truth” when it comes to calling plants blue.  There are few plants out there that are rock-solid, true blue – Delphiniums and Lobelia are the two that probably come to mind.  Well, Blue My Mind® is real, true, sky blue and unlike Delphiniums and Lobelia which struggle with extreme heat – the hotter it gets the happier this plant is. 
  3.  Graceful Grasses® Vertigo®
Sometimes a garden just purely and simply needs height, but you don’t want a long-term commitment – sometimes you have to date a bit, before you settle down.  Well, Vertigo® will get 4 or more feet tall in one season and then will perish with a good hard frost.  I do recommend buying a larger plant because you will get that height impact quicker, but even a 4” plant will get there eventually.
 4.  Rockapulco® Coral Reef
Really the whole Rockapulco® series is underutilized, but I am focusing on Rockapulco® Coral Reef for one reason, the flowers.  The flowers are huge (for a double Impatiens), more than inch across in most environments, and begin life as bright coral-orange and then morph into bright rosy-pink as they age.  While a great plant in shade, as long as you keep them well-watered they will thrive in sun too.
  5.  Illusion® Midnight Lace
Sweet potato vines are one of the more common trailing plants you find.  The trouble with using them in combinations is often by the end of the summer you have a container of sweet potato vine instead of a combination – at least you do if you subscribe the Darwin theory of combination planting and let your plants duke it out on their own.  This is how I tend to garden.  Illusion® Midnight Lace, while by no means a shrinking violet, isn’t a thug either.  This one and her two compatriots (Illusion® Emerald Lace and Illusion® Garnet Lace) will “play well with others” in combinations.  The other really cool thing is the cut-leaf foliage which looks more like a Japanese maple than a sweet potato vine.
 6.  GoldDust®
Ok, I get why you might overlook this little beauty. The highlighter yellow flowers are dainty, but so are Snowstorm® bacopa flowers and that doesn’t stop you from trying Snowstorms.  The thing that is great about Golddust® is her toughness.  She loves, loves, loves the heat – the hotter the better.  Other than making sure she doesn't get too dry, you can plant her and leave her.  She is great in the landscapes or in combination with other plants that aren’t overly vigorous.  If you try her, you’ll like her.

7.  Catalina® Grape-O-Licious
Torenia in general are overlooked and the Catalina® series seems especially so.  These are true shade lovers, but they will take the full sun with just a bit of bronzing on the foliage.  They are mounding, then trailing plants rather than really flatly prostrate and compared to other Torenia they really have a lot of flowers close together for good color impact.  Add in great heat tolerance and it is hard to figure out why they aren’t more popular.  Catalina® Grape-O-Licious is pure white with a purple throat.  The color really glows in the shade.


Vertigo on left,
Vista Silverberry in container.

8.  Supertunia® Vista Silverberry
Ok, I know this is a Supertunia® Vista, what do I mean it is underutilized?  Well, her twin sister Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum® steals all of the glory – she’s rather a press hound. Supertunia® Vista Silverberry is just as good of a plant, just less in-your-face about it.  While I love bold and brassy bubblegum, sometimes I want calmer, classier Supertunia® Vista Silverberry.  For areas of your garden where bright pink just won't do, Silverberry will give you every bit the garden performance in a softer, silvery-pink.
 9.  Supertunia® Sangria Charm
The whole Charm group of Supertunia® petunias are underutilized and it’s a crying shame.  Supertunia® Sangria Charm is the original Charm introduction and she is fantastic.  She has petite, wine-purple colored flowers packed on to one of the most dense plants you’ll ever see.  She blooms like crazy, is heat tolerant, is great in the landscape –where Calibrachoa won’t grow – and is wonderful in containers.  You'll get the classic Supertunia® performance but the look and feel in the garden is quite different than the larger flowered versions.  She’s a great option if you want to switch things up a bit, try something new, but still be assured of great performance.
 10.  Superbena® Violet Ice
Sometimes Superbena® verbena looks a bit wild in the garden center, with good reason.  They are VERY vigorous plants.  They are great container plants and excellent in the garden.  They were bred using a Texas native plant, which confers great heat tolerance. Combine that with a ton of vigor and you have a plant that loves to spread out in your garden.  Superbena® Violet Ice has HUGE umbels and florets.  The violet-lavender petal edges surround a pure white eye for a really pretty look.  She is just so darn pretty!



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