Archive | April 2015

More Plant Combination Inspirations

Republished with permission of the National Garden Bureau:


More Plant Combination Inspirations

Based on the response from the last e-newsletter about possible combination planter ideas, we are again presenting a few ideas on plants that can grow well together. Listed below, you can find additional National Garden Bureau’s members’ new varieties, including recent AAS Winners, as possible combinations to try.

Many great container designers suggest a thriller element for the container, meaning something tall, bold and/or dramatic. If you like the look of a softened planter edge, then by all means, add some sort of vining element if the combinations below do not offer a vining/cascading plant. Additionally, adding foliage plants to a combination planter can add texture and additional color variations.

Have fun trying new combinations and once you have something you like, share it on our Facebook page!

Let’s Go Garden!

An edible combo for the sun that’s as pretty as it is practical! Pair AAS Winners Mascotte bean with Pretty N Sweet pepper for a range of bright summer colors that produce delicious edible goodies all season long. Both have a compact habit perfect for window boxes and/or containers.
The lovely pink edged leaves of Ornamental Japonica Striped corn will act as a stunning accent plant in a container of Pinto Premium Lavender Rose geraniums. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance combination planter, this one is for you!
Zinnia Salsiando can act as a medium-height accent plant with red interior petals that will blend perfectly with the flowing and mounding habit of Petunia Easy Wave Velour Red.
Brand new hydrangea L.A. Dreamin’ boasts of blooms in blue, pink and every color in between, all on the same plant. Pair it with airy Glitz euphorbia in a large container for a dreamy combination of large hydrangea flowers and delicate white euphorbia blooms.
New Sanguna® Radiant Blue petunia has a unique, eye-catching pattern that will add flair to landscape beds, hanging baskets and combination containers. Its white center with blue trimmed petals looks stunning with the all-white osteospermum Akila® Daisy White. Both varieties have very good heat tolerance and will perform well in full sun while attracting butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Where to find Lutz Green Leaf Winter Keeper Beet?

“Does anyone sell real honest to God Lutz Green Leaf Winter Keeper Beet seed?  I’ve been very disappointed in buying this seed from mail order catalogs.  It’s not Lutz in my opinion. Real Lutz is 15 inches high and grows big sweet beets up to 6 inches. Have you run field trials on this seed? Can you verify it’s the real deal? Do you have a picture of the beets? Who is selling the real thing?

Donald in Iowa”


Hi Donald,

Thank you for the email regarding Lutz Green Leaf Beets.  Lutz is a pretty popular heirloom variety, but the true strain of the variety does not match your description.

Lutz BeetPer the “Garden Seed Inventory”, 6th ed., published by Seed Saver’s Exchange, the description of Lutz Green Leaf Beet is:

“60-80 days – Smooth purple-red top-shaped beet, 2.25-3 in. diameter, lighter zones, half-long taproot, long glossy 14-18 in. tops with pink midribs, good for greens, excellent keeper, grows large without getting woody, good fresh, for winter and fall use.”  The variety is also legally known as New Century, Winter Keeper, Lutz Green, Lutz Salad, and Lutz Green Top.

Many companies like Harris Seed, Johnny’s and Territorial carry a true strain of the Lutz Green Leaf Beet, and it matches the description above.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’m Baaaaaa-yack…

As you may have noticed, Horticulture Talk has been pretty quiet for the last few months as this horticulturist has been a bit under the weather.  Things are returning more to normal for now, so I am hoping to have more time to post my responses to your questions.  As those of you who have asked questions know, I still respond personally to your questions even when I’m not here much.  As I catch up here, I will be posting those responses so other can gain knowledge from them too.  As always, you are encouraged to send in any and all questions related to gardening, and I will take a stab at them and feature them here.

Hope this finds all my readers well and on the way to a successful 2015 gardening year!

All-America Selections Announces Perennial Trial

Reposted with permission of AAS:


All-America Selections
Launches Herbaceous Perennial Trial 

Endorsed by, and in Partnership with, the Perennial Plant Association

All-America Selections (AAS) has a long, 80+-year history of being the only independent North American trialing organization that trials new varieties then grants branded awards to the best performers. That 80-year history has proven to be a good model with trialing protocols that have been refined to withstand the test of time and basics that will work with perennial entries as well as annuals and edibles.

Perennial Plant Association (PPA) is a trade association composed of growers, retailers, educators, landscape designers and contractors that are professionally involved in the herbaceous perennial industry. Together, the two organizations have determined the details necessary to conduct a thorough and horticulturally sound perennial trial and PPA actively endorses this new AAS trial.

The perennial trial will follow many of the basics of the recently launched AAS Vegetative Ornamental trial. Entries accepted will be herbaceous perennials propagated from seed, cutting, tissue culture or bare root. A seed entry can be trialed against a vegetative or TC comparison and vice-versa. Entries will be trialed next to comparisons, in order to continue the AAS legacy.

The primary difference with the AAS Herbaceous Perennial trial is that it will be a three winter trial allowing the AAS judges to measure and record winter survivability and subsequent growing season performance. Other AAS trial entries will continue to be trialed over one growing season. Breeders who wish to have their herbaceous perennials tested for first-season performance can continue to use the one-season trial. All other herbaceous perennials would be placed in the three year perennial trial.

For the long-term, entries have to be new, never-before-sold, but, after submission to the AAS Herbaceous Perennial Trial, they may be introduced commercially. After the trial is completed, if the entry scores high enough to be become an AAS Winner, after criteria is met and the announcement is made by AAS, the breeder may then market that variety as an AAS Winner.

However, for the first entry year (entries submitted by July 1, 2015), AAS will accept entries that have been on the market for twelve months or less.

Dallas Arboretum Director of Horticulture and AAS Judge, Board of Director and Perennial Trial Task Force member Jenny Wegley comments: “I’m very happy to have helped All-America Selections get to this point of trialing perennials. Because of an 80+ year history in doing great plant trials, this is a natural step and a great service to the industry and to home gardeners. It will be very interesting to trial the perennial entries we receive then share the results.”

“National perennial trials are important for both the industry and the consumer. As a previous trial program director and AAS Trials Judge, I know how important it is to have the program properly structured and managed nationally. Rather than have both organizations (PPA & AAS) develop competing perennial trail programs, it seemed the perfect solution was to instead team up and work together. We think this collaboration is the key to finally executing a highly organized, thorough and well-marketed perennial trial program that will benefit both PPA members and their customers.” PPA Southern Regional Director and Board of Directors Trials Chair, AAS Perennial Trial Task Force Member, Leslie F. Halleck.

The pilot program of trialing perennials will begin immediately with entries due July 1, 2015. Breeders can download entry forms here. Those entries will be sent to approximately 24 trial sites beginning in early 2016. The first AAS Winners from the Perennial Trials will be announced in 2019.

For additional information, please contact Diane Blazek at or 630-963-0770.

Planting Options for Your Shade Garden

Reprinted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:


Planting Options for the Shade Garden

Do you live in a mature neighborhood with a lot of great shade trees?

Or do you live in an apartment or home where most of your garden space faces north?

Or does that big high-rise next door block a lot of the sun from reaching your balcony?

Don’t despair! There are many garden plants that can not only survive, but thrive in the shade. This is by no means a complete list but a short list to get you started in the right direction if you wish to get more usefulness from your garden’s shady areas.

Begonia, wax
Impatiens, New Guinea
Polka-Dot Plant
Sweet Potato Vine

Bleeding Heart
Heuchera/Coral Bells

Edibles (for light or partial shade)
Asian Greens

And here are a few tips:
1) Shade gardening often means trying to plant among established trees and shrubs where digging around roots can be troublesome. In that case, starting with smaller transplants will be easier so you won’t have to dig as large a hole.
2) Just because it’s shady doesn’t mean you won’t need to water as often. Oftentimes, those trees can suck up available moisture leaving your color plants thirsty.
3) And yes, those trees can provide instant mulch in the fall but if you fail to shred the leaves before spreading them as mulch, you might end up with a matted mess that allows diseases and pests to thrive.
4) To brighten shady areas use light-colored flowers such as white, light pink or palest blues. Dark colors tend to get “lost” in shady areas.
5) Edibles will benefit from a raised bed, just be careful of where you position the raised bed so it does not smother the tree’s roots.

For more on shade gardening, refer to these articles from these well-known sources:
Better Homes & Gardens

Let’s Go Garden!