Favorites and Challengers

In uncertain times, it’s natural (and smart) to gravitate to what works, what you know you can sell. But it’s also smart to inch out a little farther onto that limb. From out there, you can offer your customers a tempting twist on the usual.

In previous episodes we’ve discussed perennials, grasses and natives. Today’s hot lick is a native genus that’s traditionally offered just one choice. But your options have doubled!

Amsonia hubrichtii languished in semi-obscurity for years, until forward-thinking designers recognized its value. Emerging in spring with lovely blue flowers, it soon settles into its role as a bushy foliage plant, with finely divided foliage swaying seductively on 3’ stems in the slightest breeze. Come fall, it takes on a luscious golden hue that sparkles in sunlight. These virtues earned it Perennial Plant of the Year honors in 2011. 

So there’s a sure hedge for your production bets, but why stop there? There’s a new contender in town. And both are hardy in Zones 4 – 9.

Amsonia xButterscotch™ is a Midwestern selection that one-ups the standard with more vigor, more flowers, reddish stems, better disease resistance – and, best of all, the deeper, richer fall foliar color that its name promises. Like its more famous relative, it’s wonderful for dramatic drifts, sweeps and infill, and it plays well with grasses. 

Even the best-known favorites haven’t been favorites forever. Yes, it’s a native and yes, it was here before us, but this entire genus was, to horticulture, an untested yearling. Growing it for garden use was an act of faith. 

So give a dark horse a shot at the inside track, with a seasoned veteran for company. Both come galloping out of the gate in robust starters from Emerald Coast Growers – the easy choice!