Sarah Browning, Enlargement Instructor
Since 1980, the National Horticultural Bureau has developed a “Year” plant program to educate and encourage gardeners to try new plants. Over the years, the program has expanded to six plant classes — houseplant, bulbous or bulbous, annual, perennial, vegetable, and shrub — with one plant per class each year.
Today this year’s featured houseplant – Peperomia, annual flower – Verbena and perennial – Phlox.
Year of Peperomia – Houseplant
Peperomia is a widespread houseplant since the 1930s, so it is not new in garden life. However, many gardeners are unaware of the variety of forms found in this genus. They grow naturally in the undergrowth of tropical forests as epiphytes (non-parasitic plants that grow on branches of other plants) or as lithophytes (growing on bare rock). Pepperia itself cannot be eaten by humans or pets, but belongs to the plant family from which we obtain black pepper. All Peperomia species
All Peperomia species are slightly succulent, so don’t keep them too moist.
As an undergrowth, they adapt to moderate lighting, which means they thrive even without very western or southern windows with very bright lighting. More pictures and information for many
Visit Ngb.org/year-of-the-peperomia for more pictures and information on the many types of peperomia commonly available to home growers, as well as additional tips for growing each species successfully.
Year of Verbena – Annual flowering
Most verbena available on the horticultural market today are either hybrids grown by combining the desirable traits of many different species, or one of two species – Verbena canadensis or V. tenuisecta.
Hybrid varieties generally have larger flowers, lighter and more saturated colors, and larger, more weather-resistant leaves than their species relatives. In addition, they are bred to be more tolerant of heat, water stress and disease (especially powdery mildew). These varieties are often available in a series containing verbena with similar properties and different colors.
The leaves and foliage are often dense and “hairy” in many species. Its flowers are small, five-petalled, arranged in dense clusters. Typical colors are shades of blue and purple, but can also be found in shades of red, white and pink. Verbena can also be grown from seed or transplant. They love the full sun, but they perform best with regular watering. A colorful, easy-to-grow accessory for containers or soil beds, and pollinators love flowers! Hummingbirds, butterflies and moths are all frequent visitors. All kinds of bees love verbena.
For suggestions on current high-performance Verbena hybrids available to home gardeners, visit Ngb.org/year-of-the-verbena.
Year of Phlox – garden perennial All species of Phlox are large North American na
All species of Phlox are great wildflowers native to North America, but only a few species are widely used in the garden industry. Within these species, the perennial Phlox can be loosely divided into two types: spring and summer flowering. Spring flowering. Phlox subulata, well known
Spring flowering. Phlox subulata, commonly known as creeping or mohaflox, and other species that bloom in early spring are low-growing, soil-mimicking plants. They are typically native to a rocky, well-drained environment and, if placed in the garden without restriction, will become colored carpets. Most of these types tend to spread and can be used well as mulch.
Summer flowering. Phlox paniculata, commonly known as the tall garden phlox, is a perennial flowering perennial that blooms in mid-summer and is one of the highest of the species. It has perfectly designed large, rounded flower cushions on each stem.
In addition to tall garden phlox, other summer-flowering species are becoming more common, including Phlox glaberimma and Phlox pilosa, to name a few. These newer garden varieties tend to bloom somewhat earlier, have a more convex shape, and have stolonifer habitus, so the plants gradually spread in the garden.
All phlox develops best in full sun, well drained soil. Verbena “Vanessa Red”, “Vanessa White” and “Vanessa Bicolor Rose” from Danziger.
A phlox that blooms in summer often blooms again if it dies after the first flowers fade. Visit Ngb.org/year-of-the-phlox for more information on popular phlox varieties and series, especially good for powdery mildew.
Your suggestions are welcome!
Is there a grass and gardening topic you want to learn more about? Sarah Browning is an instructor at Nebraska Extension and can be reached at 442 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, NE 68528 or sarah.browning@unl. success.
Pictures from the National Garden Bureau.
NATIONAL GARDEN OFFICE