Plant of the Month: Lonicera korolkowii ‘Floribunda’

Lonicera korolkowii ‘Floribunda’

BLUE VELVET honeysuckle

When you can combine pollinator attraction and ungulate resistance, this Plant Select® shrub is always a winner. The Blue Velvet honeysuckle gets even better than that, though!

It’s umbrella arching form spreads beautifully in the garden and creates a lovely background filler and focal point that engages throughout the season. In early spring the pinkish, purplish flowers are plentiful and very fragrant. These give way to blue-green foliage in summer and starting in late summer the red berries develop and can become quite plentiful. Bees, butterflies and birds are all attracted to this gem in the garden. There is no fall color to speak of, but the lovely form of the shrub itself makes up for that.

The original blue leaf honeysuckle is native to the central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan mountains which means it adapts well to high arid conditions in the western US. It is very pest resistant and extremely drought tolerant once established making it one of just a handful of mid-sized trees that stand out so buoyantly in the xeric garden.

Blue Velvet prefers full sun to part shade, with a wide range of pH soil, and a wide USDA zone (3-8). It mature height is 12’ and is a moderate grower so you’ll see it fill out in the garden in fairly short order. It’s going to get at least as wide as it is tall and has an irregular, arching form to its branching.

While not listed as noxious in any states, it is important to note that this honeysuckle can escape the garden readily after birds eat and drop the seeds. It should be used with caution, especially in the Northeastern US.

Plant of the Month: Gaillardia ‘Oranges and Lemons’

Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Oranges and Lemons’

With low water use, an exceptionally long bloom season, and low maintenance requirements, Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Oranges and Lemons’ is a great choice for your next landscape design project.

History

The plant was discovered in 2002 by Rosemary Hardy as a seed from Gaillardia ‘Dazzler’ and an unknown male parent. Patent number 17092 was awarded to the plant in 2004, and it has become a popular perennial choice since its commercial release. Unlike most blanket flowers, which sport dark orange or red ligules (a term for the “petals” of the composite inflorescences on Gaillardia), ‘Oranges and Lemons’ stands out with large, showy, light orange ligules fading to yellow at the tips.

Culture

This plant combines many of the ideals sought in planting design: low water use, low maintenance, abundant blooms, long bloom season, and sterility.

‘Oranges and Lemons’ prefers to be planted in full sun, with well drained soil in USDA zones 3-9. It has attractive grey-green foliage, but the abundant flowers are the main attraction. Even in the first year after transplant this cultivar puts on an impressive show that lasts and lasts. When grown in areas with frost, ‘Oranges and Lemons’ will bloom profusely and consistently from the time nights warm up in late spring to the first hard frost in fall. In areas with no frost, this Gaillardia can bloom virtually all year long! This is a sterile cultivar so, while some light deadheading could help make room for new flowers, removing spent blooms to prevent self-seeding is not a concern. The flowers and are highly attractive to bees, and the plant’s copious pollen and long bloom season means it is a great resource for pollen-seekers all growing season.

Once established, ‘Oranges and Lemons’ requires very little supplemental water, and can also withstand high heat. It has a compact habit, reaching 18” high x 24” wide (24” high with flowers). Unlike other Gaillardias which can flop open, ‘Oranges and Lemons’ will maintain its upright stems and mounding habit if planted in full sun. This cheery blanket flower can be virtually ignored in the landscape and still create a show-stopping display!

Design

‘Oranges and Lemons’ is ideal for containers, either by itself or in combination with trailing plants or dark-leaved grasses for contrast. It is also great for edging along pavement, although the significant number of bees it can attract may prevent planting along narrow sidewalks. The landscape pairing possibilities are endless, but it works particularly well with finely-textured purple-flowered plants such as the equally long blooming Nepeta x faassenii or Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’. The showy orange flowers are also a great counter-point to the foliage and texture of small, lower water use evergreens such as Abies concolor ‘Compacta’, or Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’.

Gaillardia companion plants

Gaillardia companion plants