Archive | January 2016

2016 is the Year for Begonias!

Posted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:


2016 is the Year of the Begonia!
Year of the Begonia
With over 1,700 different species, Begonia (family Begoniaceae) is the fifth most diverse class of plants.  Begonias are often found wild from South and Central America to India. It is impossible to know exactly where they originated, but stories of plants matching their description date back to 14th century China. Begonias officially got their name in 1690 when a French botanist, Charles Plumier, named them after a fellow French botanist, Michel Bégon.

Many types of begonias are produced from cuttings because seed production can be challenging. Begonia seed is barely larger than dust particles, so it is incredibly challenging to work with.  In 1873, Benary, a developer and breeder, introduced Magnifica, the first tuberous begonia from seed but it did not branch well so they were not easy to produce. In 1909, Benary introduced the world’s first heterosis (F1-hybrid) ornamental begonia, Begonia semperflorens ‘Prima Donna’ bred by Gustav Besoke.  A F1-hybrid is the selective breeding of a plant by cross pollinating two different parent plants. The introduction of F1 hybrid begonias revolutionized the horticulture industry by allowing growers to produce begonias reliably on a commercial scale. Types/Classes:
Since then many types of begonias have been commercially produced. Here are the major classes that you will see in North American garden retailers

  • Begonia semperflorens-cultorum or “wax begonias “are the most common. Plants are small (8-12”) mounds with rounded leaves and blooms. Flowers range from white to scarlet red.
  • Begonia tuberosa (tuberous begonias) typically have large flowers in a broad color range. Flowers can be huge and double. Since the plants are monoecious, there are always both single (male) and double (female) flowers on the same plant. The leaves are usually asymmetrical, hairy or fuzzy and have a serrated edge.
  • Begonia boliviensis is more heat tolerant than other types.  The plant branches cascade down in hanging baskets or window boxes. The leaves are similar in shape to tuberous begonias but are narrower and smooth. The flower has long, strap-like petals forming a soft trumpet.
  • Begonia hiemalis, also called elatior or Reiger begonia, typically have small to medium double flowers in a wide range of colors. These are often sold around the holidays.
  • Begonia masoniana has bold color patterns on leaves that are textured with puckers and appear coarse.
  • Begonia rhizomatous has thick, fleshy stems with large, colorful leaves. The leaves can be round or heavily lobed like a grape leaf. Some have small white flowers in the spring, and a few varieties bloom all summer.
  • Begonia rex are grown for their beautiful leaves, which are quite hairy or fuzzy and usually covered with multicolored, intricate swirled designs.
  • Begonia hybrida is used by plant breeders to show that a variety is a cross between two different classes.

In 1972, Nonstop Begonias became the first F1 hybrid tuberous begonia series from seed that featured a uniform, compact habit, huge double flowers in lots of bright colors. After more than 30 years of improvements, Nonstop Begonias are still the best selling tuberous begonia on the market!

In 1998, Pin-Up Flame won an AAS award, a large bi-colored single flowered tuberosa begonia.  Another exciting introduction was the Big and Whopper Begonia series.  These begonias provide an amazing show of color all season, yet they are super easy to grow. They thrive in both sun and shade, take little fertilization and only require about an inch of water per week. This allows them to be used in non-
irrigated landscapes in much of the US.

Click Here to Read About What’s New

Growing Requirements
Due to the seed size and environmental requirements for germination, today’s begonias are usually grown by a professional grower in a greenhouse and sold as a small plant. Ounce for ounce, begonia seeds are more expensive than gold so special care must be taken with every seed.  If you would like more information, here are several university sources for tips on growing begonias:

No matter which type of begonia you choose, these plants are sure to bring beauty and interest to your garden.

The National Garden Bureau recognizes and thanks Jen Calhoun from Ernst Benary of America as author and contributor to this fact sheet. This fact sheet is provided as an educational service of the National Garden Bureau. There are no limitations on the use. Please credit the National Garden Bureau. Photos can be obtained from the NGB website in the area labeled “Image Downloads.” National Garden Bureau would like to thank our members for providing the photos for this feature. Please credit the National Garden Bureau anytime one of these images is used.

Begonia Whopper Rose Green Leaf
Begonia Whopper Rose Green Leaf
Begonia NonStop Petticoat Rose
Begonia NonStop Petticoat Rose
Begonia Baby Wing Bicolor
Begonia Baby Wing Bicolor
Begonia Miss Montreal
Begonia Miss Montreal
Begonia Gryphon
Begonia Gryphon
Begonia Cool Breeze Glacier
Begonia Cool Breeze Glacier
Begonia Grandis Heron's Pirouette
Begonia Grandis Heron’s Pirouette
Begonia Senator Bicolor
Begonia Senator Bicolor

2016 Perennial Plant of the Year

Posted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:


2016 Perennial Plant of the Year™ 
Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’

Anemone 'Honorine Jobert'
Anemone xhybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ is an experienced world traveler.
Anemone was found in China and other Asiatic countries as well as the Mediterranean region.  The origins gave rise to the common name Japanese anemone. Windflower is another name popularly applied to the plant. This anemone has existed in the English garden at the Royal Horticultural Society in Chadwick at least since 1848. Before then, many of the fall flowering anemone were a very light pink.

Ten years later a fantastic new hybrid occurred in Verdun, France, in the Jobert Gardens and was named ‘Honorine  Jobert’. Soon this exciting discovery went to England and eventually to American gardens.  It was a sought-after cultivar by the time of the American Civil War and since has become a classic perennial in gardens of the world. It is found in borders, cottage gardens, or in formal borders and continues to grow in popularity.

Plants are clump-forming and erect. The long wiry stems make the plant look airy and graceful. ‘Honorine Jobert’ attains heights of up to 4’, although most of the time it is a 3’ beauty.

Flowers are intense bright white with a green center surrounded by a corolla of yellow stamens. In late summer, 2” to 3” flowers of ‘Honorine Jobert’ explode from dainty pink, silvery buds into petaloid-shaped flowers.  The striking flowers are enhanced by the uniquely attractive trifoliate dark green textural foliage that stays attractive from spring to fall.

The anemone is a very low maintenance plant. It can be grown in sun or in partial shade. In warm climates it should definitely be in partial shade with protection from wind. Be aware to plant only in early spring or fall. In any location, the plant thrives in humus-rich soil that is well–drained but moisture retentive. It does not tolerate wet, poorly-draining soils in winter. In colder climates, mulch establishing plants. Soils should not be allowed to become dry.  The foliage will burn in hot, dry locations.  Eventually the spreading rhizomes will be happy to colonize your garden.

‘Honorine Jobert’ grows in USDA zones 4 to 8. It seems to flourish without insect or disease problems and deer do not seem to browse this plant. The best time to propagate is winter or spring. In winter they are usually propagated by root cuttings and in spring by division.

‘Honorine Jobert’ goes well with many other annuals and perennials.  Since ‘Honorine Jobert’ flowers into autumn the bright white plant stands out in the landscape and provides accents to the deeper gold, orange, and red colors of the fall garden.  They can be charming companion plants with hostas and ferns and countless annuals. Classic plants stand the test of time. This plant more than fills that requirement.

What roses to plant?

“What is the difference between, grandiflora, floribunda &hybrid tea roses? The areas that I have for roses, one area has sunlight from sunrise until around noon& the other area has sun form 2:00 until sunset, the roses I was looking at were, Rock&Roll,Twilight Zone, Sunshine Dream, Ketchup&Mustard,Angel Face,Champlain,Oso Happy Candy Oh, Double Knock Out, Smart& Sassy,Double Delight, Paradise Found, Red Drift, Home Run, Rainbow’s End, Ruby Ruby & Smoke Rings of these what would be best for Zone 5 with the amount of sunlight I discribed? Or maybe you have some other suggestion,I have places for 6 to 7 roses & also I’m looking for roses with not a lot of maintenance. Thank you,

John Zahn

Celina, Ohio”



Hi John,

Thank you for the email regarding roses.  First, let’s start with the different types:

–Grandiflora:  Grandifloras (Latin for “large-flowered”) were the class of roses created in the mid-20th century to designate back-crosses between hybrid teas and floribundas that fit neither category – specifically, the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ rose, which was introduced in 1954. Grandiflora shrubs are typically larger than either hybrid teas or floribundas, and feature hybrid tea-style flowers borne in small clusters of three to five, similar to a floribunda. Grandifloras maintained some popularity from about the 1950s to the 1980s but today they are much less popular than either the hybrid teas or the floribundas. Examples: ‘Queen Elizabeth’, ‘Comanche,’ ‘Montezuma’.
–Floribunda: Rose breeders quickly saw the value in crossing polyanthas with hybrid teas, to create roses that bloomed with the polyantha profusion, but with hybrid tea floral beauty and colour range. In 1909, the first polyantha/hybrid tea cross, ‘Gruss an Aachen,’ was created, with characteristics midway between both parent classes. As the larger, more shapely flowers and hybrid-tea like growth habit separated these new roses from polyanthas and hybrid teas alike, a new class was created and named floribunda, Latin for “many-flowering.” Typical floribundas feature stiff shrubs, smaller and bushier than the average hybrid tea but less dense and sprawling than the average polyantha. The flowers are often smaller than hybrid teas but are carried in large sprays, giving a better floral effect
in the garden. Floribundas are found in all hybrid tea colours and with the classic hybrid tea-shaped blossom, sometimes differing from hybrid teas only in their cluster-flowering habit. Today they are still used in large bedding schemes in public parks and similar spaces. Examples: ‘Anne Harkness’, ‘Dainty Maid’, ‘Iceberg’, ‘Tuscan Sun’.
–Hybrid Tea:  the favorite rose for much of the history of modern roses, hybrid teas were initially created by hybridising Hybrid Perpetuals with Tea roses in the late 19th century. ‘La France’, created in 1867, is universally acknowledged as the first indication of a new class of roses. Hybrid teas exhibit traits midway between both parents: hardier than the teas but less hardy than the hybrid perpetuals, and more ever-blooming than the hybrid perpetuals but less so than the teas. The flowers are well-formed with large, high-centered buds, and each flowering stem typically terminates in a single shapely bloom. The shrubs tend to be stiffly upright and sparsely foliaged, which today is often seen as a liability because it makes them more difficult to place in the garden or landscape. Hybrid teas became the single most popular garden rose of the 20th century; today, their reputation as high maintenance plants has led to a decline in popularity. The hybrid tea remains the standard rose of the floral industry, however, and is still favored in formal situations. Examples: ‘Peace’ (yellow), ‘Garden Party’ (white), ‘Mister Lincoln’ (red) and ‘Double Delight’ (bi-color cream and red).

Roses do like to have full sun, so neither of the locations you have is ideal.  However, the better of the two would be the one that has afternoon sun.

Of the rose you have picked, the Knock Out series of roses is probably one of the easiest and most forgiving type of roses on the market.  Other than that, the others you have listed would all do equally well.  No matter which type you go with, you are going to want to make sure that you have a good spraying cycle set up — roses that are in shade tend to have more disease problems.

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!, 2016. 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.

5 Garden Resolutions from National Garden Bureau’s

Reprinted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:


A new year traditionally brings about resolutions right? Be they for losing weight, being more organized or simply an overall “being better” wish, resolutions are good goals to have. Gardeners are no exception to wishing for the better: better gardens, better planning, better harvests, better record-keeping, etc.

Following are five resolutions that we wish every gardener, no matter their level of expertise, will embrace in the new year:

1. I will embrace nature and garden for the birds, the bees and the butterflies (and the bats too!). One of the most enjoyable benefits of having a garden is being able to enjoy the beautiful creatures who visit it. So plan your flowers and vegetables with that in mind then sit back and enjoy the show! Remember, planting a pollinator-friendly garden is good for the pollinators, good for the earth, good for your veggie garden and good for you!
You can help replenish the population of pollinators by planting a pollinator-friendly garden. Choose appropriate plants for your local area then click here to register your garden.

Help us reach 1 million new pollinator gardens!

2.  I will not blame myself for gardening failures. Oftentimes, Mother Nature is not our friend when it comes to gardening. Or life gets in the way. We do not want you to despair! Simply try again and learn from experience. Your garden, and your gardening friends, are both extremely forgiving.
3. I will not be afraid to ask questions. How else can you learn? Take advantage of the experience of your neighbor, your aunt, the garden center employee or the local extension agent. If they are like typical garden fanatics, they will appreciate your interest and be flattered that you want to learn from them. And learn you will! Click here for a long list of website and blogs that you can use as resources.
4. I will share my passion. We have all seen the studies that show many of today’s gardeners got their start by learning from someone else, usually a parent or grandparent. Can you be that mentor? Will you be the reason your son or daughter serves homegrown vegetables to your grandchildren? Can you be the reason your neighbor plants window boxes for the first time?
5. I will try something new. This is kind of a no-brainer, right? Have you ever met a gardener who didn’t want the newest of the new, for bragging rights if nothing else? But what about really new…like a new growing style or completely new crop of vegetables. Cruise around our NGB member’s websites (a selection of some are below) and we guarantee you’ll find something irresistible that’s out of your usual comfort zone. Look to the AAS Winners for trialed and tested varieties or try a few of the new varieties from our member below!
Johnny's Selected Seed
Territorial Seed Company
Select Seeds 2016 new variety
Brett & Becky's 2016 Bulbs
Park Seed
Bonnie Plants Organic Fertlizer
Looking for all the best in Gardening Products?

Check out What’s New at our Updated 2016 NGB Member Garden Products List HERE