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Oklahoma Outside


New Season, New Plants Photo by Dee Nash S By Dee Nash


pring. The very word connotes forward action and new begin- nings. The rain falls. Plants emerge from the earth, and all is well. Spring is a time of genesis in the hybridizing world too, when tempting new plants come to market.


Vegetable growers are still talking heirlooms, but with a twist. You’ve heard of grafting roses and fruit trees, but what about vegetables? The last couple of years we’ve seen heirloom tomato varieties grafted onto hardier rootstock, but have you seen Ketchup ‘n’ Fries™? The top half of the plant grows cherry tomatoes while the bottom half produces potatoes. It’s an amusing oddity, but good for small space gardening. Although limited numbers of this plant were available in 2015, you can fi nd it easily this year. Another fun “new” heirloom is the Mexican sour gherkin ‘Mouse’ melon that can be grown on a trellis in a container. These little fruits taste like tart cucumbers. When choosing new vegetable or fl ower varieties, I often look to the All-America Selections (AAS). AAS winners are trialed throughout the country in diverse conditions. Last April, I attended the California Spring Trials where I got to see many AAS winners and the newest plant varieties in action. You can learn more about the AAS program from the website http://all-americaselections.org/.


Another new plant theme is color—and lots of it. With more people combining edible gardens with ornamental ones and using their front yards, vegetables and fruit need to be attractive and productive. Plant breeders responded deepening existing colors and possible health benefi ts through phytochemicals like anthocyanins. You’ve probably seen gourmet ‘Cosmic Purple’ carrots, but there’s a new carrot in town. ‘Black Nebula,’ is an even darker shade of purple all the way to its core. Also, try ‘Sweet Baby’ hybrid radish, an AAS Winner. Dark leafy plants like ‘Scarlet’ kale and Japanese ‘Red Kingdom’ mustard are also good and good for you. Did you know 2016 is the year of the begonia according to the National Garden Bureau? For fl ower lovers, this is exciting, especially if you grow Begonia boliviensis types like new San Francisco™. These begonias resem- ble fuschias, but thrive in Oklahoma’s hot climate. I grew ‘Bonfi re,’ an earlier variety, and I wasn’t disappointed. Try them cascading over the edge of containers and garden walls.


Flower colors are hot and exotic for 2016, and no fl ower is hotter than the bicolor calibrachoa Superbells® Holy Moly!™ from Proven Winners. It would make an eye-catching spiller for a container.


There’s even a new zinnia, ‘Zinderella Peach,’ grown from seed, that is fully double to semi-double and ranges from peach to apricot from its tips to its center.


A few years ago, Burpee brought a new variety of sunfl ower, ‘Strawberry Blonde’ to market. Burpee now introduced another new bicolor, ‘Crimson Blaze.’ Sunfl owers are great for birds and pollinating insects. For the coleus lovers out there, there’s ‘Campfi re,’ a coleus that doesn’t mind the sun. Main Street™ Granville Street is another sun-tolerant variety bred not to fl ower, and the colors are scrumptious. There are several dif- ferent coleus in the Main Street™ line.


Gardening’s great gift is our thrilled expectation at the beginning of a new year. Now you have new plant varieties to try too. Let’s get growing!


Seed and Plant Sources John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds, http://


www.kitchengardenseeds.com, ‘Black Nebula’ carrot Territorial Seed Company, http://www.territorial-


seed.com/, Grafted plants including Ketchup ‘n’ Fries™ Jung Seed, https://www.jungseed.com/, ‘Sweet


Baby’ purple radish Johnny’s Selected Seeds, http://www.johnny-


seeds.com/, ‘Scarlet’ kale and ‘Zinderella Peach’ zin- nia seeds


Botanical Interests, https://www.botanicalinter-


ests.com/, ‘Mouse’ Cucamelon seeds Park Seed, http://parkseed.com/default.aspx, Main


Street™ Granville Street coleus Floret Flowers, http://www.floretflowers.com/


product-category/seeds/, ‘Zinderella Peach’ zinnias and many other hard-to-fi nd fl owers.


MARCH 2016 29


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