Spring 2015


A Better Set of Polka Dots

HYP Hippo Red (01)
‘Hippo Rose’ in the Pathway Garden with Begonia ‘Super Olympia Pink’

We considered Hypoestes to be a sleepy little category because pros in the industry need specific capabilities. That cute little houseplant your grandmother grew was a specialty player at best, and marginally used outside the house. Deep shade was its thing and spots was its shtick. It performed best in smoky little jazz cafes where the lack of light was the signature feature and no one understood the plant; however, we changed our attitude after we planted out the new Hippo series in our Display Gardens.

What we got was something different, something more like modern Coleus—larger plants, better branching, more dynamic color, and enough moxie to stand up to the other workhorses of the industry. We didn’t expect it, but Proven Winners released a genuinely useful series for both landscape and container work. You probably haven’t seen these plants yet unless you attended Field Day, because they just released this series last year. Let’s see if their efforts will change how you think about the Polka Dot plant.


Bidens Levels Up

BID Golden Empire 0001
'Golden Empire' is a semi-double with larger blooms and overlapping petals

Like a video game character, Bidens is leveling up its game. One of the breeding giants, Danziger from Israel, has focused its breeding efforts to move the genus more mainstream. This is a loaded phrase, but it generally means good things for us—and they are not the only ones hammering at it. Let’s unpack what all this Bidens activity really means.

BID Pretty in Pink 0002
‘Pretty in Pink’ expands Bidens into new colors


Browallia ‘Endless Illumination’

BRO Endless Illumination 0009
Browallia ‘Endless Illumination’—a unique Impatiens alternative 

Browallia should sound familiar because we’ve offered it in the past and only stopped recently. Typically grown from seed, it’s a great plant for the shade and has been around forever—we’d be willing to bet your Grandmother planted it. Impatiens always gets the attention in the shade, but with Downey Mildew in the picture this plant warrants another look.

BRO Endless Illumination 0006
Breeders have intensified the color and increased the blooms


Tropical Asclepias

 MG 8008
Monarch caterpillars were crowd pleasers at Field Day this year

If you have a pollinator program, or you want to build a butterfly garden, you need to buy tropical Asclepias. For proof, we go no further than the Butterfly Bed we build for Field Day. Our garden tours bunched up when we passed it, and all the cameras whipped out. We had trouble pulling the crowd down to discuss the next garden.

A better butterfly magnet than the traditional tuberosa, Tropical Asclepias have a high fun factor. The artful blooms became a personal favorite of the office staff, and we were impressed how the buyers reacted to them. As a result, we are offering three cultivars next year. Let’s take a look at these unusual plants.

ASC Silky Gold
Asclepias ‘Silky Gold’ with delicate scaffolds under the origami-like flowers


Shadow King® Rex Begonias

BEG Rex Shadow King Black Cherry
Begonia Rex 'Shadow King® Black Cherry’ PP24717

Although Rex Begonias are known as indoor plants, we use them successfully in containers and in shady landscape applications. They love low light, and come in bright colors and interesting textures, plus we sell cultivars that are not finicky. We find that the Rex fanbase is large and vocal, so there is a built-in audience that appreciates them. However, picking a good Rex beyond ‘Escargot’ is a tricky affair.

For this job, we turn to the Shadow King series. These Rex Begonias focus on the industry professional, but they are not magic bullets. Because we would rather design to a plant’s strengths, we try to understand the breeding under the hood. With that in mind, let’s dive into what makes this series tick.

BEG Shadow King Cool White
Begonia Rex ‘Shadow King® Cool White’ PP24738