A display at the recent Young’s Plant Farm Annual Garden Tour caused quite a stir — not only within the industry that day, but on my Facebook page as well. I would like to take credit and say it was my beautiful photography, but to be honest, when you look at a planting and say something like “holy wow!,” it is always the plants. The display was really a trifecta of award winners that just happened to come together. And the crème de la crème was Blue Mohawk rush, or Juncus.
I would like to take you down memory lane to about 15 years ago. I was coordinator for the Mississippi Medallion Award program for Mississippi State University. In our trials, we were looking at several Juncus species, but mainly Juncus inflexus, the native J. effusus and other varieties. They all did exceptionally well. We did something a little odd in that we chose “Juncus species” as the Mississippi Medallion Award winner for 2008, along with Diamond Frost euphorbia and All Around Purple gomphrena.
At that time, there was a new trend in Southern landscapes called the dry creek. This was the perfect remedy for areas where you needed to move water away from the house. All decked out with river rock and plants, the dry creek not only solved a problem, but became a real eye-catching aspect of the landscape. As you might guess, the rush, or Juncus species, became the plants of choice.
A couple of years later, Proven Winners started entering Blue Mohawk, a variety of Juncus inflexus in trials. This variety won Top Performer 42 times; if your state had a trial, Blue Mohawk was the likely winner. But Proven Winners showed us how elegant the plant was as a thriller in mixed containers. A dozen years later, new recipes are still taking the world by storm.
This was the case June 7, when Blue Mohawk was standing so picturesque, surrounded by Heart to Fast Flash caladiums and Sweet Caroline Medusa Green sweet potato. Sure, you are still invited to let Blue Mohawk solve landscape issues wherever they are needed, but now Blue Mohawk has moved into the category of fine art.
Consider the fairly new recipe called Misty Seas, which was also seen at Young’s Plant Farm. It features Supertunia Mini Vista Indigo, Supertunia Mini Vista Violet Star and Supertunia Mini Vista White — all award winners, and as you might guess, surrounding the Blue Mohawk. This could be the perfect choice for your porch, patio or deck.
The Blue Mohawk rush is also considered a warm season grass. It can be perennial from zones 5a through 9b, or treated as an annual, which is what many mixed container designers do. In the landscape you may wish to let it perennialize. They will reach 24 to 36 inches tall with a 12-inch spread. As a perennial it has the possibility of doing a slow spread by underground rhizomes. Once frost has induced a winter rest, you can leave the stalks to add winter interest. Once spring arrives and growth is eminent, cut the stalks back to ground level.
The rush is on for the long growing season ahead, and I promise you could not find a more picturesque thriller for your mixed containers than Proven Winners Graceful Grasses Blue Mohawk. Just know you will make your gardening friends jealous!
Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.