Norman Winter is a horticulturist. He is a former director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Follow him on Facebook at Norman Winter “The Garden Guy.” See more columns by Norman at SavannahNow.com/lifestyle/home-garden/.
New in garden centers this year are a couple of Ladybirds. When you see the name Ladybird associated with a plant you can assume a few things, native DNA, great for the environment and most likely being tough-as-nails.
Such is the case for Ladybird Lemonade and Ladybird Sunglow, two new hybrid Calylophus varieties. More than likely you are wondering what is that Calylophus word? That is the botanical name for Texas Primrose, which is about as Ladybird deserving as a Bluebonnet.
Indeed, it is an all-star with bees, birds and butterflies and is hardly ever on Bambi’s menu. Given the right conditions, these are known to be perennials in Zones 8a to 10b. As might be expected, a plant native to Texas is not going to be a bog plant. These two jewels of the plant world are about as tough as it gets.
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They get about 8 inches tall with an outward spread of 20 inches. The Ladybird Lemonade is a glorious pastel yellow which is a most sought-after color by the garden club ladies. The Lady Bird Sunglow is a more intensely saturated yellow but not the least bit gaudy for those older sensitive eyes.
In trial gardens across the country, most plants are judged on a scale of one through five with anything averaging above a four being a rock-solid recommended performer. Both Ladybirds have done well in trials from Penn State to the South. In the University of Tennessee Trials, they both made the Best of Show list.
Sunlight and well-drained soil are the most important prerequisites. Once yours are established in the landscape they don’t require much fertilizer, a little mixed in with planting and perhaps a light application in mid to late summer will keep them blooming. “Do not overwater” is a rule and blessed news, for a lot of gardeners.
This rule also gives you a clue that these Ladybirds do well in containers and baskets where drainage most always excels. Your fertilizer regimen will change however in containers as a water-soluble mix may be required to stimulate a tired-looking plant.
If yours should ger open or leggy in appearance the Ladybirds respond well to cutting back where a third of the volume is removed. This is the ideal time to give an application of the water-soluble fertilizer.
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The Ladybird Lemonade and Ladybird Sunglow are being introduced by Proven Winners who as you might guess have developed some incredible eye-catching recipes that will give you a summer of dazzling color.
Beach Walk is one recipe that will be like having a pollinator garden in a container. The recipe features Ladybirds Sunglow with Superbena Sparkling amethyst verbena and Unplugged Pink salvia. Then there is one called Hot Embers that is as colorful as Carnival in Rio. It has Ladybird Sunglow with Blue My Mind XL evolvulus and Superbells Tropical Sunrise calibrachoa.
One aspect I love about them in containers are the thin leaves of the Ladybirds that gives a grassy texture to the containers but is an asset in the flower border as we. You’ll really love it if you have the opportunity to use them in a rock garden situation.
The Ladybird Sunglow and Ladybird Lemonade are garden center headliners this spring and summer so don’t miss your opportunity!