Many Southerners (in general) and Mississippians (in particular) base their new plant selections on the annual recommendations from the Mississippi Medallion Selection Committee. The committee has just announced three winners for 2015: Delta Jazz crape myrtle, Suburban Nancy Gayle daylily and Top Pot scaevola.
Delta Jazz crape myrtle…
Delta Jazz is a new crape myrtle that was developed at Mississippi State University. It has unusual foliage that emerges a rich, raspberry-maroon color and then matures into a dark-mahogany brown. This foliage color accents clusters of medium-pink flowers in the late summer.
These spectacular flowers are actually large panicles composed of many small flowers. The panicles can be more than 8 inches long. Delta Jazz’s small flowers have a crinkled edge resembling crepe paper, hence the common name.
Crape myrtles have other outstanding qualities. As the tree matures, the bark begins to peel or exfoliate, revealing inner bark colors that range from gray-green to dark cinnamon-red. Delta Jazz makes a fantastic landscape feature plant.
Top Pot scaevola …
Top Pot scaevola is an herbaceous flowering plant with a sprawling growth habit that spreads out to 2 feet in diameter. Its foliage has the appearance of being succulent, with coarse-toothed margins. The 1-inch-wide, fan-shaped flowers appear in mass and flower freely from spring through summer and most of fall with violet-blue, pink or white petal lobes and yellow throats. Scaevola flowers until freezing weather hits.
Scaevola is surprisingly tolerant of lower temperatures compared with many of our other flowering landscape plants. Trials have shown these plants tolerate light frosts and even overnight temperatures down to freezing. The best garden use of these plants in Mississippi is as annual color plants.
Plant them in full to part sun and in a good, well-drained soil. Scaevola does not like wet feet, and the root system will be constricted in heavy clay soils. If you are going to plant in landscape beds with heavy soil, work 3 to 4 inches of compost into the soil before planting. This plant is a great choice for its compact, mounding growth habit. It is a great choice for the landscape bed, but in my opinion, the freely branching growth habit and trailing growth make this the perfect choice for hanging baskets and container gardening.
Suburban Nancy Gayle daylily…
Suburban Nancy Gayle daylily, an outstanding plant for all of our Mississippi gardens and landscapes, was developed at Suburban Daylilies in Hattiesburg. This has big (and I mean big) red flowers with yellow throats. The flowers are bigger in diameter than my hand. These plants have been growing in trial beds across Mississippi and are very impressive with their flowering performance. These plants have flowered from mid-May until August the past couple of years.
The Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association established the Mississippi Medallion program in 1996 to increase awareness of plant materials and to promote sales and production of ornamental plants in the state. Compared with national campaigns, such as All-American Selections and Perennial Plant of the Year, the Mississippi Medallion program focuses on plants adapted to the environment in Mississippi to benefit both consumers and the green industry.
For information on past Mississippi Medallion winners, go to http://www.msucares.com.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Gary Bachman is an associate Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also the host of the popular Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Locate Southern Gardening products online at http://msucares.com/news/.]