Violas are cousins of pansies and continue to gain in popularity. The Sorbet series of violas always perform well in LSU AgCenter landscape plant evaluations. The series blooms early and performs well from mid fall through May. The blooms will last two weeks longer into the later spring.
Nicotianas are good alternative, cool-season bedding plants for south Louisiana. Nicotiana is flowering tobacco. Most of these for landscape use are “dwarf” in size but still reach heights of 24 inches. Nicotianas have less cold hardiness than some other cool-season flowers, so that needs to be considered. In south Louisiana, they should be able to withstand winter temperature conditions as long as plants are hardened off some before the first frosts and freezes. You also can plant them in mid- to late February. Plants will last until late spring. Flower colors available include white, lime, rose, red and more. They do best during the cool season in a full sun planting, but will perform better into late spring if partial shade is provided. Popular in the series are Nicki, Perfume and Saratoga.
The best of new dianthus is the Amazon series. These are very prolific flower producers and should be planted in September, October or November. Flower heads are large and will last until mid-May in south Louisiana. The series also has cut-flower potential. Flower colors available in the Amazon series are Rose Magic, Purple, Cherry and Neon Duo. The Amazon dianthus are Louisiana Super Plants from 2010.
Camelot foxgloves are new to the market. These are also called digitalis. For best results, plant in the fall, and 2 foot-tall spikes of flowers occur in the spring. Flowers come on 2-3 weeks before the popular Foxy variety and last 2-3 weeks longer. Camelot foxgloves were also Louisiana Super Plants in the fall of 2010. Flowers in the Camelot foxglove are lavender, cream, rose and white, with lavender, cream and rose being the better-performing colors.
We know tall growing delphinium but now there is smaller variety for landscape beds. Diamonds Blue delphinium have intense blue flowers and is a new seed-propagated Delphinium chinensis. This plant is considered a first-year-flowering perennial but should be treated as an annual. Plant in full sun in the fall for great flowering performance from February through May. Space plants 12-14 inches apart. Plants reach a height of 18 inches with a 10- to 12-inch spread. If you want to try a tall grower for cut flower use, try the Guardian series. They are available in lavender, white and blue.
We know ornamental kale and cabbage, but do we know the best? Redbor ornamental kale is incredible. It is a Louisiana Super Plant for this fall. It is one of the most vigorous-growing and heat-tolerant ornamental kales on the market. Extremely curly foliage, early dark purple foliage and a spring height of 3 feet are characteristic of this plant. You may also want to try Glamour Red, a new ornamental kale that is a 2011 All-America Selections winner.
Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (La. 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.