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Cannon: What are some new flowering plants this year?
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With a couple of days of warm weather, the itching to start planning my garden is upon me. This time of year always tempts me to get the magazines out and find out about new and upcoming flower varieties to put in to my southern garden. What are some of the hottest new flowering plants to buy this year?

I have found a selection of new flowers that will thrive through the hot, humid summer and are recommended by Allan Armitage, professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia. Tested and evaluated by Armitage, these sun-loving winners have the power to stand up to our summers and are simple to grow.

If you are looking for something hardy for the garden, try verbenas. There are two names to look for: princess blush or princess dark lavender. The plants are covered in flowers all season and are great to mix with another flowering plant on the list, Cajun blue scaevola. Scaevola is a bluish-purple flowering plant that complements almost anything. It also flowers earlier than most.

If you want to make a statement and plant something in mass, try ruellias. Their vivid red flowers make an impact with their wispy, carefree look. Ruellias are also butterfly and bee magnets. A good variety to try is the ragin Cajun. Pentas star and stripes also flower like crazy and will bring butterflies and hummingbirds into your garden. Pair some chartreuse or dark-leaved sweet potato vine with these two and make a stunning large container grouping.

A good bordering plant is the plum mist cuphea. Cuphea has a soft look and will cover areas with light and dark lavender flowers that bloom summer through fall. It is also good for container pots because it has a “spilling over” look to it.

Also for pots, add bonita shea begonias to yours. This plant was selected as the best for baskets and containers. Showy and compact, the backs of its leaves reveal red undersides and it displays showy white flowers, perfect for a patio setting.

A flowering plant that tops the heat index is the native azure skies heliotrope. Your summer garden will overflow with never-ending lavender flowers. If you have knock out roses, a great groundcover to plant beneath them is the blue Sue setcreasea. This plant was considered the best groundcover with its blue tinged, purple foliage.

As always, prepare your soil for a happy plant. Add organic matter to our clay soil. Now is the time to plan out your look. Consider container gardening. This is a great way to have lots of impact with low maintenance.

Remember, March is the time for planning, not planting — we need to wait until the soil warms up for that.

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.

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