2019 Features Plant Spotlight:
Anise Florida Sunshine &
Hot New Hydrangeas
Peninsula Hardwood Mulch, Inc.
Hydrangeas are the cornerstone of the summer garden. With the onset of reblooming varieties, blooming lasts from June to September. While adapting to your localized pH, flower colors range from pink to purple to blue, with many hues in between. White varieties remain white, or some evolve to pink as they dry. Hydrangeas make excellent cut flowers and also dried flowers. Hydrangeas are best in part sun and do a good job of sucking up excess moisture.
Pruning is easy too. I recommend pruning in spring before the growth emerges. Generally, cut out all dead wood. Older varieties bloom on old wood, so don’t cut them too hard. Repeat bloomers bloom on old and new wood, so pruning can be less scrutinized. Panicle types bloom on new wood and generally grow much larger, so it can be cut harder if necessary. I suggest not more than 1/3 of the plant’s size in one season. Otherwise, just shape the plants.
Each year there seems to be an abundance of new varieties flooding the market. The majority have good attributes. But here are a few I want to highlight for you.
Tuff Stuff, Tiny Tuff Stuff, and Tuff Stuff Red were released last fall as part of the Proven Winner Collection. These produce lacecap flowers on a dwarf plant. Fairly sun tolerant, they are great for both containers or when used in the landscape. They are very prolific bloomers, and color is affected by the pH, ranging from blues to pinks, and the red variety. Tuff Stuff gets about 3x3 and Tiny Tuff Stuff is smaller at 2x2. These are some exciting new plants.
The Endless Summer series has a new edition coming out this spring called Summer Crush. This one boasts eye catching raspberry red mophead blooms, which will turn to vivid blues/purple in acid soils. Summer Crush is a very compact rebloomer growing to about 2-3x3. Nice dark green foliage has demonstrated good disease resistance. Endless Summer Hydrangeas have been very reliable for reblooming.
In the Panicle style bloom category Fire Light looks to be the best, although it has been on the market a few years. These types are typically white to start with many turning shades of pink or red as they mature. Fire Light seems to have the darkest color transformation of the group. It is also somewhat more compact reaching about 6x6. Some of the Panicle types exceed 10’. The Panicle types are often more sun tolerant as well. Fire Light is another Proven Winner selection and is also listed as Hydrangea of the Year in 2015, I think. It was selected for its huge creamy blooms that mature to a dark rosy red by fall.
Everyone need a little Sunshine in their lives. Florida Sunshine, that is. The Anisa plant (Illicium) was originally noted for the fragrance the leaves emitted when crushed. Smells just like licorice. All the Anise varieties have it, but perhaps not as strong as the original.
Anise has been used through the ages for numerous medicinal purposes, as well as some culinary ones. Most of the medicinal ones have been determined ineffective, and was replaced by more modern medicine.
The original Anise was noted as a pale green large shrub, mostly suited to shade gardens, and tolerant of wetness. Scientist have been hybridizing new varieties for years. There have been variegates ones (white margins) and green ones, red flowers and white ones, and some with red stems.
Marketers have dubbed the plant Starflower recently, describing the blooms. Everyone likes a catchy name. The flowers do resemble little starbursts. Most are red and bloom late spring.
Florida Sunshine is special because the key attribute is the yellow foliage. It is very stunning and usually bright. Florida Sunshine provides great foliage contrast. I find the bright leaves also lighten up dark shady spaces. It is versatile and will tolerate a fair amount of sun as well. A blend of sun and shade is recommended. It does not green up much in shade as that is home for the plant naturally. It is evergreen, and reaches about 6' high by 4' wide. It tolerates wet soils. The aromatic foliage makes it deer resistance. This is an easy to grow plant and deserves a place in your garden. Plants with all yellow leaves are rare enough but more so in shade.
Be the first to incorporate this unique plant into your landscape. You will not be disappointed.
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