Test Your Diagnostic Skills; Gardening Trends; Perennial Award Winners

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News and commentary for the perennial market GrowerTalks MagazineGreen Profit Magazine

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Paul Pilon Subscribe
Perennial Pulse

What's Happening Here?
Consumer Gardening Trends
People's Choice Awards
Rockin' Red is a Winner, Too
The Answer Is ...
Increasing Plant Safety
Propagation Conferences
Echinacea Floppage

What’s Happening Here?

It’s time to play our little diagnostic game where I show you an image of a problem I’ve come across and you put on your diagnostic thinking caps and try to determine what’s happening in the picture. Here’s the visual clue:


This is a group of summer-planted hostas that aren’t looking so good. I think you can see the symptoms well enough, so I’m not providing any further clues. That leaves me with one question: “What’s happening here?”

Read on to see if you’re right, and how to manage this problem.

Consumer Gardening Trends

Each year, Garden Media Group releases a report outlining their take on consumer gardening trends for the upcoming year. The 2018 Garden Trends report is out and leads off with the theme "Nature’s Rx for Mental Wellness."

Mental health is a global issue, as public disconnect, depression and anxiety are skyrocketing. Experts from the World Health Organization anticipate that by 2030 anxiety will be the No. 1 health issue, outranking obesity.

The report outlines seven trends that inspire a cleaner, more relaxed state-of-mind. It shows that when we disconnect from media and reconnect with Mother Nature, we can make steps towards rebuilding our mental wellness. You’ll also find information on how to inspire Millennials to garden year round, discover the hottest color of the season, interesting gardening info and so much more.

Click HERE to download the 2018 Garden Trends report.

And as they say in the report, "Take time to stop and smell the roses!"

People’s Choice Awards

No, I’m not talking about awards given to musicians, celebrities or teen idols. I’m referring to the People’s Choice Awards recently presented at the Farwest show in late August.

As the name suggests, the winners are selected by regular people rather than expert judges. And one of the three winners somewhat belongs to the perennial category. Let me announce the winner before I clarify this point.


The winner I’m referring to is Lagerstroemia indica Black Diamond Purely Purple. This crapemyrtle cultivar received the most votes and was chosen for the People’s Choice Best in Show award.

As you may already know, crapemyrtles are stunning flowering shrubs or trees whose flower power rivals nearly all other landscape plants. Unfortunately, they are typically confined to southern locations. However, breeding efforts and plant selection has led to cultivars which can tolerate colder locations. Black Diamond Purely Purple is listed as being hardy to Zone 5. I think the verdict is still out on this one; perhaps Zone 6 is more realistic (but this is only my opinion, it may actually be hardy to Zone 5).

Black Diamond Purely Purple, bred by Jim Berry of J. Berry Nursery, has dramatically dark, nearly black foliage, with stunning purple blooms that light up the plant from early summer until frost. It performs like other crapemyrtles, taking on a tree or shrub form in warmer climates; however, it performs more like a herbaceous perennial in northern climates (provided it’s hardy there). With its awesome flower power and striking appearance, Black Diamond Purely Purple can also be used as an annual in patio containers.

If you’re in Zone 6 (perhaps even Zone 5) and have never grown crapemyrtles, it may be time to give this one a try.

Corydalis Porcelain Blue 


 Corydalis Porcelain Blue from Plant Haven did represent the perennial category at the Farwest Show and was a 2017 New Variety Showcase winner. Porcelain Blue made its debut at the Spring Trials earlier this year and has been making an impression ever since. It boosts vivid blue flowers above its fern-like blue green foliage It’s hardy to Zone 5 and a rebloomer.
 Corydalis Porcelain
Corydalis Porcelain Blue from PlantHaven International did represent the perennial category at the Farwest Show and was a 2017 New Variety Showcase winner. Porcelain Blue made its debut at the Spring Trials earlier this year and has been making an impression ever since. It boosts vivid blue flowers above its fern-like blue-green foliage It’s hardy to Zone 5 and is a rebloomer. 

Rockin’ Red is a Winner, Too

It’s also worth mentioning that Dianthus Rockin’ Red from Kieft Seeds also recently won an award: a "high commendation" at the 2017 Four Oaks Trade Show in Cheshire, UK.


I give it a high commendation, too! Rockin’ Red was on display at the California Spring Trials in April, in the trial gardens at Darwin Perennials Day (above) and I’ve seen it a few times since, and I am not surprised this dynamite dianthus is earning accolades across the pond. It’s an interspecific first-year flowering hybrid that develops loads of vivid red flowers, perhaps the richest red of any dianthus on the market. It grows to 18 to 24 in. tall, has strong stems, is hardy to Zone 5 and simply rocks in containers or landscapes.

The Answer is…


At the top of the newsletter I showed you an image similar to this one and asked if you knew what’s happening with these hostas. Here’s another image of a different hosta cultivar to help you finalize your answer.


Does this picture help or does it leave you in suspense? Did you come up with your final answer?

This is a type of injury symptom.  If you guessed herbicide injury, you’re correct.

This injury was the result of an application of a granular pre-emergent herbicide. For obvious reasons, I’m not providing the name of the product applied. Rather I’d like to focus on why this occurred.

With the architecture of a hosta, the center of the plant acts like a funnel where the herbicide granules can easily collect. Once water is applied from overhead irrigation or rain, the concentrated active ingredient is released from the granule and sets in the whorl of the hosta, with injury to the adjacent leaves and crown often the result.

Increasing Plant Safety

The injury caused by many granular pre-emergent herbicides is usually in the form of leaf spots. This often occurs when the foliage is wet from dew or some other source and the granules stick to the leaves and is released before the herbicide is incorporated or watered into the soil. Therefore, it’s very important apply granular pre-emergent herbicides when the foliage is absolutely dry.

Many herbicides have open labels allowing you to test the application of herbicides to crops not listed on the product’s label (since it’s impossible for the manufacturer to perform plant safety screening on the thousands and thousands of plants being commercially produced) to determine plant safety before making applications to an entire crop. If a plant is not on a herbicide’s label, always perform a small scale plant safety screening. 

Propagation Conferences

If you propagate plants, you may in interested in attending one or more of the three upcoming International Plant Propagator Society (IPPS) conferences.

IPPS - Eastern Region meeting will be held from October 11-14 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

IPPS – Western Region meeting will be held in Wilsonville, Oregon, on October 17-20.

IPPS – Southern Region meeting is October 28 to November 1 in Dallas, Texas.

Echinacea Floppage

Here's another chance for you to try your diagnostic skills to help out a fellow grower. A Perennial Pulse subscriber came up with the word “floppage” to describe a problem they are facing on certain echinacea cultivars. I was asked if I could run this scenarioby you and ask if anyone else has also experienced this, if you know its cause, and if you can provide suggestions to avoid floppy echinacea in the future.


This grower experiences this on some of the Echinacea Sombrero cultivars. These cultivars aren’t particularly tall, which is partially why this problem is a concern. Additionally, since they are compact cultivars, the use of PGRs to stiffen them up could lead to too much height reduction.

A quick synopsis: These plants were started outside initially and moved inside to finish, to reduce the likelihood of leaf spots, distortion and discoloration, which this grower has experienced in the past. The structure was a small Quonset house with sidewalls rolled up and roof vents. The plants seemed to grow faster than they could properly anchor themselves.

Click the link below to share your past experiences with these cultivars, your comments and suggestions. Let’s put our minds together and help a fellow grower and Perennial Pulse subscriber.

I hope you enjoyed reading this edition of Perennial Pulse. Wow, summer is nearly over already! Please let me know how your season has gone or if you have any ideas for content you'd like to see in future issues. I can be reached at ppilon@ballpublishing.com.

Thanks for reading!

Paul Pilon
Perennial Pulse

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