New Plants for 2024

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

Tips for beginning and experienced gardeners. New, 30-minute (or less) episodes arrive every Tuesday and Friday. Fred Hoffman has been a U.C. Certifi...

Show Notes

Today, we are talking about New Plants for the 2024 garden year. How about a houseplant that you can eat? And better yet, it’s actually a small cucumber plant! Have you heard of the petchoa (Pet-Koa)? It’s a cross between a petunia and a calibrichoa, the plant you may know as Million Bells. The petchoa is a plant with large flowers and a tidy habit for baskets, planters, or gardens. Those and more new plants for 2024. It’s all on today’s episode.

We’re podcasting from Barking Dog Studios here in the beautiful Abutilon Jungle in Suburban Purgatory, it’s the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, brought to you today by Smart Pots and Dave Wilson Nursery. Let’s go!

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Show Transcript

GB 296 New Plants for 2024 TRANSCRIPT


Farmer Fred  0:00

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred is brought to you by Smart Pots, the original lightweight, long lasting fabric plant container. It's made in the USA. Visit smartpots.com/fred For more information and a special discount, that's smartpots.com/fred.

Welcome to the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. If you're just a beginning gardener or you want good gardening information, you've come to the right spot.


Farmer Fred

Today, we are talking about New Plants for the 2024 garden year. How about a houseplant that you can eat? And better yet, it’s actually a small cucumber plant! Have you heard of the petchoa (Pet-koa)? It’s a cross between a petunia and a calibrichoa, the plant you may know as “Million Bells”. The petchoa is a plant with large flowers and has a tidy habit, perfect for baskets, planters, or gardens. Those and more new plants for 2024. It’s all on today’s episode.

We’re podcasting from Barking Dog Studios here in the beautiful Abutilon Jungle in Suburban Purgatory, it’s the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, brought to you today by Smart Pots and Dave Wilson Nursery. Let’s go!

NEW PLANTS FOR 2024, Pt. 1

Farmer Fred

The approach of 2024 can mean a lot of things for gardeners, including maybe trying some new plants. So what's new for 2024? We're talking with Diane Blazek. She's the Executive Director of the All-American Selections and the National Garden Bureau. And the National Garden Bureau has a whole bunch of new plants coming out in 2024 that might want a place in your garden. Diane, tell us a little bit about the National Garden Bureau and what it does.


Diane Blazek  1:46

Well, here's the interesting thing. We've been around for 103, almost 104 years. So we kind of know what we're doing when it comes to new plants. They're not our plants, they belong to our members. So we work with breeders from around the world and ask them what's new? And they submit them to us, we put them on our website so that all these fabulous gardeners out there that love trying new plants can have one good source where they can find a lot of what's new.


Farmer Fred  2:15

So a little bit later on in 2024, your local nursery is going to get seeds or plants of the plants we're going to be talking about. And this is the time of the year when many growers and retailers are finalizing or planning their product lineup for 2024. And you can have a head start on it by checking out some of the plants in this new plants list for 2024 at the National Garden Bureau. Their website is ngb.org. Let's talk about a few edibles, first, that are new plants for 2024. Diane, I was surprised that my most listened-to episode during 2023 was all about cucumbers. I didn't realize they were that popular. But apparently they are, and you've got a couple of new cucumber entries for 2024.


Diane Blazek  2:59

I'm glad to hear that people enjoy their cucumbers because they're they're very, very, very easy to grow. And they're delicious. And they're good for you. What we are finding is the breeders are doing things to make them even easier for everybody to grow. For example, we have two cucumbers. One is more like a Dutch English cucumber. It's a 12-inch long cucumber. The other one is a small one. So let's talk about the Kosara first, that's the Dutch English cucumber, it will grow on five, six foot vines. So you do want to grow that on a trellis. But when you grow it out on a trellis it's so much easier to harvest. You don't have to bend over. And here's the thing about both of these cucumbers: they're parthenocarpic, which means they don't need pollinators. So they have both male and female flowers and they basically self-pollinate.


Farmer Fred  3:51

That makes it very easy. And how long does it take for them to mature?


Diane Blazek  3:55

Oh, not that long. It's only  45-50 days for the Kosara. And then the other one, which really we haven't talked about yet, that one's called “Quick Snack”. It's part of the kitchen mini collection series and it only grows to 24 inches tall. So it's perfect for a container. When you sow its seeds, you can get cucumbers in probably four weeks.


Farmer Fred  4:17

Hey, that “Quick Snack” also is another  highlighted plant winner for the National Garden Bureau. You have a whole other category that you call the “Green Thumb” award winners.


Diane Blazek  4:29

Oh my gosh, I'm so glad you brought that up. Yes, this is a fairly new program. I was talking about how old the NGB is and how we're doing these things. But the ”Green Thumb” awards program, we've only been doing for three years. We kind of adapted it from another organization. So Green Thumb winners are new products they can be plants or products, and we have them in different categories, of course. We have an edible category, and yes, this cucumber, quick snack, won the award. The criteria for the Green Thumb award is for innovative, new products. Obviously,  innovative make it easier for you to be successful in the garden. And the “quick snack” won, A, because it's parthenocarpic. B, it's small and can grow it in containers. And C, also can be grown indoors. So that is three amazing things about the “quick snack” and one of the reasons that it won the Green Thumb award.


Farmer Fred  5:22

It's even classified by the National Garden Bureau as a house plant. That's quite the advance for gardeners, especially those with limited outdoor space and now are able to grow edibles indoors.


Diane Blazek  5:36

Yeah. And you're gonna probably hear me say this more than one time today, and you're gonna see it on our website: this is what people want to do. They want to grow year round. In some places, it's possible. And in others, you're going to need some lights. There's a huge boom in hydroponics also. So I'm not saying that this one can be grown hydroponically, but you know the lettuces and herbs can. And of course,  if you want to go to that setup, you could probably do tomatoes and peppers. So it's pretty cool that a lot of people are finding out they don't just have to garden in their summer season or spring season, they can do it a lot, lot longer.


Farmer Fred  6:15

I'm sure gardeners do not think of cucumbers as an indoor plant or a houseplant. But the “Quick Snack” cucumber is a little different because, as you mentioned, it has a limited height of what, perhaps two feet, probably a little less than that. But I guess it doesn't sprawl all over the place. Nor is the fruit oversized.


Diane Blazek  6:34

Exactly. They call them a cocktail-size cucumbers, or a snack size. I know when I go to the grocery store, I see those little cucumbers that are maybe  four to six inches long. And that's what this produces. To me,  if it can grow inside, it's a house plant. You don't have to think oh, just African Violets or house plants, sure edibles, herbs, whatever. If they thrive and produce inside, they can be called a house plant.


Farmer Fred  7:00

And the other benefit to this, to use that big word again, parthenocarpic. This cucumber also doesn't require pollinators. So you don't have to leave your door open to let the flies in.


Diane Blazek  7:12

That's a really good point.


Farmer Fred  7:13

Tell us a little bit more about how you grow a cucumber indoors.


Diane Blazek  7:17

You don't really need much than know what you might be giving it outside. So just put it in a bright bright window, or give it some extra lighting. Such as your lights that you might use to start seeds. And you're gonna be successful. Now this one, even though it's only 18 or 24 inches tall, I think I would  use a small trellis just for a healthier vine that is not flopping over. That's probably about the only thing you would need to do.


Farmer Fred  7:43

Talk about its quick production, and hence the name, “Quick Snack”. It can produce edible cucumbers, in what, a month?


Diane Blazek  7:52

Yes, yes, in one month, you'd be able to get some little baby cocktail snack sized cucumbers.


Farmer Fred  7:59

Then, I imagine, you just have to keep harvesting.


Diane Blazek  8:03

The more you harvest, the more you'll get.


Farmer Fred  8:05

And again, a brightly lit window and regular water, good drainage, just like most houseplants. Except this one you can eat.


Diane Blazek  8:15

And look at the pretty flowers on it, before they become cucumbers.


Farmer Fred  8:20

Now, we can talk about some of my favorite plants, which are tomatoes. The National Garden Bureau, on their new plant list, has three tomatoes that they're highlighting in 2024.


Diane Blazek  8:32

Yes. And it's great because they're three very different types. Let's talk about Rambler first. So this one is not quite as big as a beef steak, but almost. It's a nice eight to 10 ounce size, round tomato, a beautiful red tomato. It is determinate and it has been bred to be very adaptable. So no matter where you are gardening throughout North America, it is going to perform well. Very disease resistant, we have all the diseases listed on our websites. if you're in an area that commonly gets whatever it might be, take a look. And if this one shows that disease resistance, that means it's going to be a lot easier for you to grow. The other thing is, being a determinate tomato, it's only going to get about 36 inches tall. So it's not going to be a six or seven foot, indeterminate plant that's rambling everywhere. Ironic name here that they call it Rambler, when it really is not rambling.


Farmer Fred  9:28

Yeah,  obviously, if it only gets to what about three feet tall or so?  And again, like you mentioned with the Quick Snack cucumber, the Rambler tomato probably could benefit from having a stake or some sort of support system.


Diane Blazek  9:43

Oh, I would. Because that's also going to help with air circulation and even better disease resistance by providing that good air circulation. They say you don't have to prune this one, at all.


Farmer Fred  9:57

And you can grow it in containers because it has a limited height. And I noticed too, that in the plant details, it talks about it being heat tolerant, which is something a lot of gardeners here in USDA zone nine, especially here in California, are seeing more and more of: high heat in the summertime, that can cause a lot of problems for tomatoes, such as sunburn. And if this is heat tolerant, I guess it would be more resistant to that.


Diane Blazek  10:21

Yeah, exactly. We do have climate change going on. And so the breeders are looking at that. And on the ornamental side, you know, they're breeding for drought tolerance and lower water usage. And yeah, you're right about tomatoes. You don't want these to just quit blooming when it gets hot. So when they're breeding for more heat resistance, it will continue to put on those blooms that will eventually provide fruit.


Farmer Fred  10:48

Another new tomato, and again, it's especially good for people who like to grow in containers, because this is another small tomato. It's a small plant with small fruit. And it's called the Tiny Temptations Orange tomato.


Diane Blazek  11:02

Yes, it is. So you notice kind of a theme here. Things are being bred to be a little bit smaller. We talked about the Quick Snack cucumber. And the Tiny Temptations is the same way. They do not make any claim that you would be able to grow it indoors, after all, it's a tomato. So I would not say that. But you can definitely grow it in containers out on your patio, your balcony, whatever. iI’s only going to get about 18 inches tall, and gives very, very sweet, round cherry tomatoes that are orange. And I don't know about you, but I love the flavor of orange tomatoes. And they even say that the brix, the sweetness level of this tomato, is between 10 and 12%. So that's very sweet.


Farmer Fred  11:41

That is 10 to 12% for brix. By the way, for those of you that play Words with Friends or Scrabble, “brix” is an excellent word b-r-i-x.


Diane Blazek  11:49

That's a good thing to remember. I'll have to play that one next time I play.


Farmer Fred  11:55

And for those of you that have disease problems in your yard, this is a tomato that is resistant to phytopthora.


Diane Blazek  12:01

Right. And mildew. I mentioned it earlier, anytime you've got that resistance built in, it's going to make your life so much easier. And you're going to feel like a better gardener. Because your plant will really thrive and survive, instead of wilt, because of some sort of disease.


Farmer Fred  12:20

And because it is a patio style tomato, it's great for containers. You can even do it in hanging baskets too, I would think.


Diane Blazek  12:28

I would think so, as long as the pot is large enough and you're able to keep it watered and fertilized.


Farmer Fred  12:33

That's a good question too, for these tomatoes that we're talking about or for any of these container plants that we're talking about: What is a good sized container to use?


Diane Blazek  12:42

Well, I always say the bigger the better. The larger the container, the more soil you're going to have. Which means more food that plant gets in order to grow lushly, healthy, and everything. And also, the larger the container, the less you'll have to water. So I think on this tomato, they say you could grow it in a six or eight inch pot, but you're gonna have to be very diligent about keeping it watered, and probably fertilizing it, because that's not a high volume of soil when you're talking about an eight inch container. But you can do it, just know that the larger the container, the easier your life will be.


Farmer Fred  13:20

I will take my cue from the picture that the National Garden Bureau has of the Tiny Temptation Orange tomato. It's growing in what looks like about a 15 gallon container.


Diane Blazek  13:30

That one looks quite large. And I am going to guess that they put more than one plant in there, because they said one plant could go into an eight inch wide pot. So if you've got a larger container, you can probably put more than one plant in.


Farmer Fred  13:40

But again, like you say , a bigger pot is better for that. Yes. Now there's another tomato that I guess is really suited for the Midwest. It's called the Zenzai tomato?


Diane Blazek  13:53

Regarding the pronunciation of the Zenzai, I asked that exact same question. How exactly do I pronounce it? And they said, either one is fine, either Zen-Zii or Zen-Zee.


Farmer Fred  14:04

All right, when I see sentences that say, Zen Zai is an early maturing high yielding Roma tomato for gardeners in the Midwest, I have to read between the lines and think, Okay, this tomato probably isn't heat tolerant.


Diane Blazek  14:19

Right. So let me explain a little bit about why we put this one for Midwesteners. this one is an AAS Winner. So you talked about both organizations that we run here. All American Selections is our plant trialing program. So we have judges throughout North America. For this particular edible trial, we usually have between 24 and 28 judges that are judging all of our entries, and it was just the Midwest judges that said this is the best plum tomato we've tried. So we said okay, if you had success for it, we're going to call it a regional winner for the Midwest, which really was two zones,  the heartland and the Great Lakes area. When you look at it the way we divide regions, which may not be perfect, but yeah, this one is the plum tomato, they grow it next to comparisons that we give them. And they said that it was the highest yield, the earliest to mature, the best tasting. And the fact that the plants weren't, growing ridiculously crazy, they were nice and tidy. So instead of having something that was crawling all over, the Zenzai was very nice and tidy.


Farmer Fred  15:31

So how tall does the Zenzai tomato get?


Diane Blazek  15:35

Well, anywhere from like three to six feet. So it kind of depends on if you're propping it up and where you're growing it.


Farmer Fred  15:41

This is an indeterminate tomato, which means it would be producing fruit throughout the entire growing season.


Diane Blazek  15:46

Yes, indeed. Yeah. But it will still be producing enough that if you want to do any canning, preserving plum tomato, it is perfect for that. So yeah, it will be good for numerous times throughout the summer.


Farmer Fred  15:58

Yeah, that's unusual for a Roma tomato to be indeterminate. Most are determinate. They set one big crop and that's it, with maybe a few scattered ones earlier or later. The characteristic for an indeterminate tomato plant, though, is it produces fairly regularly and fairly steadily as far as the amount goes.


Diane Blazek  16:18

Yeah, exactly. the plant that keeps on giving.


Farmer Fred  16:22

You talked about something very interesting, if we can take a little scenic bypass here, and that is what USDA zone are we in these days? Because we've talked about climate change, and the USDA has just updated their zone maps for 2023. The USDA zone maps really looks at a single criteria, and it's too bad. It's just measuring how cold does it get where you live? That that seems to be their priority. And it seems to be getting, I should say, less cold, the further north you go. Are you seeing that where you live in the Midwest?


Diane Blazek  16:56

Yeah, I think we were up about a half. So you know, they have a 5A and a 5B. So we're a little bit warmer in the winter. But also our office is closer to Lake Michigan than where I live. And now there is a zone difference of a half a zone between my office and my home, which is all of six miles apart.


Farmer Fred  17:18

So the zone around the office, I would think, is in the middle of a city. So you've got all that reflected heat from asphalt, which might keep the area a little bit warmer in the winter.


Diane Blazek  17:28

And it's closer to Lake Michigan. So you've got that moderation because of a big body of water. So yeah, it's been a major topic of discussion since the USDA came out with this, but like you say, it measures the coldness, how cold does it get? Heat is very important, as is the amount of rainfall, water, moisture. Humidity is also important. So when we've been talking about the zone map, we still pay attention to it. You're still gonna have people that are “Zone Pushing”. it's all on experience. So when you're planting a  perennial, and you're hoping it survives, don't feel bad Ii it doesn't succeed. It probably has something to do with your exact soil makeup. Or maybe you had a very wet year that was not normal. Consider the Zone maps as a guide. It's not the end-all be-all for determining what will grow in your area.


Farmer Fred  18:25

Yeah, there are, I think, better sources if you're new to an area than just relying on the USDA zone map, which again, just measures how cold does it get where you live. For one thing, every yard is different, all gardens are local. And it could be reflected heat from a wall or a patio that might make temperatures in your yard a bit different. Or if you have a garden in a low lying area, it might be a bit colder. But you have to consider the heat, the humidity, regular winds, things like that. And one of the best sources for that is the Sunset Garden books, which I think they're going to be updating them soon. I keep hearing rumors to that. it's been a while. But they do have the Sunset Western garden book which covers the western United States. And they did produce a National Garden book many years ago. And you can still find that book used. And that is a wonderful reference, especially If you have just moved to a new area of the country and you're not sure where to start. But I go back to what I always say. If you just moved to an area, be patient. Live with your house for a year before you decide to put in permanent plants. Take a look what your neighbors are growing. Become a friend with all your neighbors and see what they're growing, because if they can grow it, there's a good chance you can grow it too.


Diane Blazek  19:41

Yeah, that's wonderful advice. I love the whole wait a year concept. We just we bought a second home about two states away, and I'm like yeah, I'm not making any changes here yet. I want to observe the sun, find out which areas are shady. This plant, for example, may look pretty bad right now because it looks like an old overgrown lilac. But who knows what it's gonna look like next spring?  iI may surprise me. So that's great advice. And yes, I agree. Sunset does a lot more divisions regarding growing zones and you could be here and like I was just saying,  five miles away may be a totally different zone. Yeah, get to know your neighbors, get to know your local Cooperative Extension, talk to them, talk to your local retail nursery. They will have good experts. They've probably been growing and gardening for years. So just reach out, especially if you're a new gardener. Start talking to people.





Farmer Fred  20:33

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Farmer Fred

All right, let's get back talking about the new plants that are being highlighted by the National Garden Bureau. And we're talking with Diane Blazek, who's the executive director for the National Garden Bureau as well as the All America Selections. Let's talk about some of the ornamentals that are included in the new plants list. And there's a lot of them. But I noticed that among all the ones selected, that there are a ton of begonias, so I'll let you choose a begonia to talk about.


Diane Blazek  23:38

I’m a big fan of the United Kingdom. I took my honeymoon over in England. So that Stonehedge begonia, it's fun, and it's amazing. And yes, it's stone hedge, not Stonehenge, that's what it's named for. Because it grows up to 48 inches tall, so it basically creates a hedge of an annual, which happens to be a begonia, that is just covered with these beautiful rose-colored blooms. And this is one of those begonias with the bronze leaf. So it's got a real dark foliage. So those rose-colored blooms just pop off of it. Who's ever heard of a begonia getting four feet tall?


Farmer Fred  24:20

I noticed it's listed as an annual. Would it be a perennial in milder climates?


Diane Blazek  24:25

It might be. Because of the fact that we asked it from an annual standpoint, I don't think they put the zone on there, but I'm guessing maybe in a zone seven (and up), maybe.


Farmer Fred  24:39

Okay, so seven to 10. I noticed in the plant details it is considered heat tolerant. So that's good news for those of you that often have triple digit temperatures to a certain extent. I, in my experience growing begonias, they do best with afternoon shade here.


Diane Blazek  24:57

Yeah, I would find that too. You know, now they are breeding some begonias that will handle more sun, more heat. But yeah, I would think that if you're in one of those really hot areas, you would want it to have a little bit of afternoon shade.


Farmer Fred  25:13

It certainly does have large blooms. The Bloom color is red and pink and the bloom’s size can be what, an inch and a half to two inches wide?


Diane Blazek  25:21

Yeah, so think of that popping off against that dark foliage. That's a statement.


Farmer Fred  25:26

And that again is the begonia Stonehedge. Rose flower, bronze leaf, right.


Diane Blazek  25:31

All right, that's it.


Farmer Fred  25:32

Another category of popular plants that you have plenty of in the new plants winners with the National Garden Bureau, is the Coleus. You know, some people use them as house plants. If you live in a milder area, you can grow them outdoors. Tell us about the Coleus varieties that you’ve chosen.


Diane Blazek  25:51

I’m gonna start with one called the premium son corps of handy and if you dive into coleus, you're going to know that for the most part, these are vegetatively propagated. A lot of wonderful breeding is coming out of the University of Florida. So you know you've got this tropical climate that they're doing the breeding work, but premium Sun coral candy was a national winner for all America selections. So it's not just for warm climates. Now we're we're promoting it as an annual but of course, you know, in some climates, you could keep it going probably year round. And a lot of Coleus is known to have better colorations or is good for the shade. This one has it right in its name, the coleus Coral Candy. So this one is not a huge Coleus probably get maybe 12-14 inches tall, but it has a really nice draping habit. You know, if you hear people talk about annuals, it's mounding, it's upright, it's draping. This is definitely draping. Wonderful for containers. Hopefully, by hearing the name Coral Candy, it's got some nice coral colorations. And then it has dark bronze leaves with a little bit of green. So it's got some beautiful variations there.


Farmer Fred  27:07

Yeah, it almost is kind of sparkly looking. And the serrated leaf edge makes it look very interesting as well.


Diane Blazek  27:14

Yeah, I'm glad you brought up that serrated leaf because that was another thing that I really think was attractive, and why the judges loved it. It holds its color. Well, it is for sun, but even in the shade, it will have nice vibrant colors. And I grew it from the seed last year. It was unbelievably easy. Sometimes I'm just amazed. I'm like, oh, you know, if you're growing from seed, it's going to be different. No, no, I just plopped it in there. Those first little cotyledons that came out. They had the foliage variation, the colors on it. And it was so fun to see these like little quarter-inch leaves that already had those colors on.


Farmer Fred  27:50

this also was an All America selections winner. And it was the first coleus was from seed to win that.


Diane Blazek  27:58

Yes, yes. We had had a vegetative winner a couple of years ago, but this one was the first one from seed.


Farmer Fred  28:03

So for those of us that enjoy planting by seed, the Coleus premium Sun Coral Candy. You can probably find on the seed rack come spring.


Diane Blazek

Absolutely. It'll be there.


Farmer Fred

All right. 12 to 18 inches tall, full sun or full shade. And that's what I like about coleus. Yeah, if you give them full sun, you probably get better color. But they do okay indoors, probably, if you're using it as an indoor plant in a room where the light is good enough for you to read by.


Diane Blazek  28:32

That's that's a good measure. Yeah, I would agree.


Farmer Fred  28:35

We talked about the begonia, we talked about the coleus. You also have plenty of hydrangeas on the list of new plants. Tell us a little bit about the hydrangeas that are there.


Diane Blazek  28:47

Oh my gosh, there are so many, they are so popular. When we started the show you were talking about cucumbers being the one of the main interests for your audience. I have to say hydrangeas are the number one thing of interest. I think part of the reason that there's so much interest is nobody knows when to prune them. So there's a lot of good information out there, but first you have to know what kind of hydrangea you have. Hydrangeas is definitely an area where these breeders are coming out with new cool things every year. And there's just so many different types. It's really hard to to name just one. I think this year alone we had like seven or eight new varieties. Sometimes I love them because of the names. There's like this whole Let's Dance series. So they've got different names there. There's one called Grin and Tonic and gin and tonic happens to be my favorite summer drink. Just think of the colors for a gin and tonic. That's what colors grin and tonic is. And then I think we have to mention one that's very, very different. It's called Eclipse. It is a macrophylla. Think of  the word, “eclipse”, like the Sun, Moon, blah, blah, blah, it gets dark, it gets light. So this Eclipse hydrangea has very, very dark foliage, and then the flower heads on it. It's so hard to describe. lt is a bicolor flower, and it's got a greenish white center with beautiful red rose edges. And so you talk about the intensity and the colorations. In fact, it was one of our Green Thumb Award winners for that reason. It’s very common, now, with hydrangeas,  they're breeding them to be a little bit more compact. So it's going to only be three to five feet. But you talk about drama and impact in the landscape. That's what Eclipse offers.


Farmer Fred  30:51

And you used that big word macrophylla, which I remember from four years of high school Latin. It would mean a big leaf. There's a lot of interesting new hydrangeas out there. The Grin and Tonic hydrangea has sort of what, a lime green flower you would say?


Diane Blazek  31:08

Yes, a lime green whitish flower.


Farmer Fred  31:13

But if you're looking for something that's a little bit brighter, there is a one called, as you mentioned, the Eclipse,  which has, I guess that sort of a pinkish, reddish salmon color.


Diane Blazek  31:26

I was really stumbling over how to describe that color, because it's so unique. And the fact that the outer part is almost a Picotee edge on each one of those little blooms. It is that vibrant, reddish rose color. But then the interior of it  is I'm gonna call it a whitish green, almost like the Grin and Tonic that has green and white and lime green. That's kind of the inside on the Eclipse. So if I had to choose one hydrangea right now, it would be really hard because there's so many different types. I You just have to ask yourself, what size space do I have? Do I want to plant a six foot tall hydrangea or a little, three foot one? Do I want them to have dark leaves or green leaves? And do I want that cone colored flower panicle on it, or do I want a nice mop head round flower on my hydrangea? You can have one of all  the above, trust me.


Farmer Fred  32:25

Of the Hydrangea macrophylla, when people think of the big leaf hydrangeas, they usually think of a six to eight foot tall shrub. But breeding has brought that size down in the case of the First Editions Eclipse, it maxes out at three to four feet tall.


Diane Blazek  32:43

So the thing is  just do your research. If you're looking about our website, we list the height and the width for everything. Plan ahead. There's the right plant for the right place. Don't try to fit a big plant in a small space because you're going to have to spend too much of your time pruning and don't you want to just enjoy the flowers? You don't want to prune off the flowers, especially on a hydrangea, because then you'll be disappointed. So yeah, just do your research. But there's definitely something for everybody out there.


Farmer Fred  33:12

Yes. And you even pointed out at the National Garden Bureau website that with the Eclipse hydrangea you don't want to prune it in the fall because the flower buds for next year are set in the previous season. So basically it blooms on one year old wood.  So you're just going to be doing a cleanup. Exactly.  Another popular plant, and I love them for their their draping effect. A lot of nurseries like to sell the “thrill chill spill” concept when planting a container. The “spill” being something that will drape over the side. And there are a lot of petunias out now and there are some winners at the National Garden Bureau of upright and dangling petunias.


Diane Blazek  33:55

it is funny that you talk about petunias. So with All American selections,  we've been trialing for 92 years now. And our number one plant class for all those years is petunias. You would kind of think it might be tomatoes, but it's petunias. There's something for everybody out there. There's seed propagated Petunias. There's the vegetatively propagated petunias, you can get the things that spread to three, four feet, that's more of a ground cover like the Wave petunias. You can get things that are more upright, you can get solid colors you can get bicolors, color changing as the flowers age, maybe they take on different shades and hues. So there's something for everybody. There's a lot of mixes out there. I think one that we should talk about is the one that just won our Green Thumb Award because it's so different. It's called the Amazonas Plum Cockatoo petunia. And I think those names give you a visual image of what this looks like, you know cockatoos. They're a pretty flamboyant flashy bird. And they have a lot of coloration.  I have to try to describe these colors. Think of a lime green Petunia with a deep purple throat, some lavender rays coming out from it. And then a little bit of a darker green splash here and there. Am I describing that even halfway? It's pretty amazing.


Farmer Fred  35:30

Unlike a cockatoo, this one won't be squawking all day.


Diane Blazek  35:33

No, it's pretty quiet.


Farmer Fred  35:36

It is featured in a picture on your website in a hanging basket. So it would look good  in a hanging basket.


Diane Blazek  35:44

Oh, a hanging basket, window box, any kind of container. I think it would be great in the landscape. Also, the great thing is, it could be by itself and make a huge impact. You could plant it with other purple flowers or some lime green things and it would make a wonderful combination and then maybe get on your color wheel and try to do something opposite. It's a multi-use petunia.  I didn't even mention that  in addition to these colors, it has very rough edges, you know, some petunias can be ruffled and some can be smooth and soft. So this one just has that flamboyant look that I just think it's gonna be amazing.


Farmer Fred  36:28

Speaking of petunias that stand out, I really like the color of that Supertunia. Yeah, the Hoopla Vivid Orchid. But it's a Petunia. But what the heck is a Supertunia?


Diane Blazek  36:41

Yeah,  I talked earlier about vegetative versus seed. So the Supertunia is a whole series of petunias  that is vegetatively propagated. So you know, you're not going to be able to find it by seed, but you can find it in plants. And it's a very, very popular series of petunias that just have amazing landscape performance. And I'm trying to think of the width on it, but I'm thinking it gets about 36 inches wide. (background sound of barking dogs) And we have puppies.


Farmer Fred  37:16

Well, that's why we call this Barking Dog studios.  On the website, it talks about the height being under 12 inches on the Supertunia Hoopla Vivid Orchid.


Diane Blazek  37:26

Right, right. So it will be a low growing, landscape spreading Petunia type.


Farmer Fred  37:33

And again, petunias aren't particularly fussy, they need little routine maintenance. They're a fairly neat plant ,as well. I can see why petunias are so popular.


Diane Blazek  37:44

Oh, absolutely. Yeah,  you can deadhead them. But  luckily, a lot of the new petunia breeding that is coming out is where you don't really have to deadhead.I mean, it might help them produce more flowers, but if you want to just ignore them and have a super easy garden. You don't really have to deadhead. That supertunia Hoopla Vivid Orchid  will be an amazing ground cover, basically. It just has such a vibrant color of orchid with that white edging. So, make it easier on yourself and grow the things that would kind of take care of themselves.





Farmer Fred  38:29

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NEW PLANTS FOR 2024, Pt. 3


Farmer Fred

One of the more popular rose subdivisions, if you will, if you're growing roses, are the Knockout roses, because they're  easy to grow. There's not much care involved with the Knockout roses. Anybody can grow a Knockout rose. The National Garden Bureau, among their new plants for 2024, is another new Knockout rose: the Easy Bee-zy.


Diane Blazek  40:06

And I love that one. So let's first say that is a yellow rose, which I already think might be one of my favorites. I was talking earlier about how, as the blooms age, they will morph into different colors. This is very true for the Easy Bee-zy. It has that dark yellow, medium yellow, and then a real pale yellow. So it's got this whole assortment of colors on one plant, which is really amazing. Very fragrant. So that's another thing. I mean, what is the first thing that people do when they see a rose? They stick their nose in it ,right? For a long time? The scent had kind of been bred out of roses. Well, it's back. So that's that's a wonderful thing with this rose.


Farmer Fred  40:50

Besides the Easy Bee-zy rose, I see the National Garden Bureau is highlighting another Knockout rose, the Orange Glow rose.


Diane Blazek  40:58

Yeah. The color is amazing. So you want an orange rose, you've got that one.


Farmer Fred  41:07

Now, you mentioned the popularity of aroma when it comes to a rose. And you have a rose called Eau De Parfum, which I think means “smells great”, or something like that.


Diane Blazek  41:19

Yeah, something like that.  This year we have the Berry Rosa, last year there was one with a slightly different name. It was a lighter colored flower but this one, Berry Rosa Eau De Parfum really tells you the name of it. It's like a bright raspberry color. And yes,  it's a nice romantic rose that has that scent and a little bit of a berry scent obviously since they call it Berry Rosa. And I'm just trying to see that one for the height. They're saying that one is around three or four feet tall. So again, let's take something a little bit more compact. If you want a taller one, they're still out there. But with today's yards kind of shrinking, this is what people are looking for.


Farmer Fred  42:02

Okay, the rose eau de parfum, The Berry Rose. Monrovia Nurseries are growing it, so it'll be widely available, I know here in California.


Diane Blazek  42:10

Yeah, absolutely. Monrovia just continues to come out with more and more and they've got some wonderful themes and assortments. You gotta visit the Monrovia website they're doing a great job with that.


Farmer Fred  42:24

All right, let's move on over to houseplants. Now we talked about that very interesting houseplant, the Quick Snack cucumber plant. Nothing like having  edible indoor growing plants. But what about house plants in general? What are some of the popular winners there?


Diane Blazek  42:40

You know, everything has it today. And the two that I decided that maybe we would just talk a little bit about today are the two philodendrons because there are two and they're from Costa Farms, which is down in Florida, and they are wonderful with houseplants, they have such a good variety. So they have two philodendrons, one is called Golden Crocodile, kind of a golden green. So it tells you it's a chartreuse philodendron. And then Ring of Fire. But both of these are not what the first thing I think of when I think of a philodendron. I kind of think of those heart shaped leaves. These have almost fern like leaves. They are large serrated leaves, they kind of fill out, like a fern does or like a hosta would grow. And the Golden Crocodile,  its new growth comes out kind of coppery and then it morphs into this chartreuse sea green. And then Ring of Fire, I think, is so cool because it has unexpected splotches of creamy white. So you're not going to get every leaf exactly the same. It's not like they have little dots, there will just be a splotch of white on the tip of one leaf and for a half of one other leaf. Very interesting. So like if you had this as a house plant, I can just see people going wow, what is this? So you have to know that story. If you buy this plant, you have to know the story. So you can explain it to your guests. ,


Farmer Fred  44:06

You could call the leaf margin serrated but they're also deeply lobed as well.


Diane Blazek  44:12

Yeah, it's worthy of both descriptions when you're trying to give a visual impression of it.


Farmer Fred  44:19

And again, with philodendrons the the more bright light you can give it you're probably gonna get better leaf color.  The National Garden Bureau has all sorts of categories of winning plants. We talked about the new plants and they have notated 2024 as the year of certain plants. And there's a whole list there. But I noticed that 2024 will be the year of the squash and year of the hosta, two of my favorite plants. I love Hostas because they grow in the shade here and you're not getting it necessarily for the flower, but just for the vibrant leaf colors that are there year round.


Diane Blazek  44:58

Oh my gosh: leaf color, plant size, leaf shaped. I mean, it's amazing when you first say hosta, people probably think,  okay, they are a 24 inch plant and it's green and it has these nice leaves. But when you start exploring, you find out that there are tiny little hosts. I mean, like six inch Hostas all the way up to six feet, you can get totally green, you can get green and white, or green and yellow, you can get blue green, you can get ruffled edges, and that's probably only naming like half of the varieties or the variations that you can get in hostas, but I'm like you. They are one of my favorite shade plants.


Farmer Fred  45:36

And they go from small leaf to big leaf.


Diane Blazek  45:38

You mentioned flowers. No, they're not grown for flowers. But I have a variety which was handed down to me. I don't know exactly which one it is. And it has gorgeous lavender blooms. And they're on stalks, probably three feet tall. The bees just go crazy over them. So it makes me feel so good that I'm doing something for the bees that visit my yard when all these hostas bloom.


Farmer Fred  46:01

And in the Midwest, can you plant them in sun? Or do you also have to plant them in the shade?


Diane Blazek  46:06

Well, this one I do plant, I mean, they are in full sun. And the edges get a little crispy in August, but it's not too bad. It kind of depends. Like we were talking earlier about zone maps, well, it may be 90, but if it's 90 and rainy, they're fine. If it's 90 and we're in a drought, then they're gonna get a little crispy. But that's the great thing about hostas, is they're so adaptable. Okay, so maybe they don't look good by the end of August, but they'll pop back up next spring, and they'll be wonderful.


Farmer Fred  46:34

People love their squashes. And there's all sorts of squash varieties that are considered to be part of the year of the squash.


Diane Blazek  46:45

Oh my gosh, yes. this is something that's like, wow, what an education. You know, the many types of summer squash versus winter squash, the hardshell squash versus,  the zucchini types. And I have to tell you a funny little story about our year of the Squash. Gail and I, here in our office, Gail does all of our social media and our blogs and everything. And so we're the ones that get to read these fact sheets that are written by our expert members. And you would think that we're both of the age where it's like, yeah, we've been gardening for like 30 years or whatever. And, okay, yes, squash, squash, we got done reading the fact sheets. We're like, wow, I never knew that. Oh, my gosh, I've never grown that way. Oh, isn't this cool. And so if to jaded people that have been in the industry for a long time, find inspiration from some of our fact sheets, then I think we're succeeding, because this is what we want to do. We want to educate people and inspire them to try some stuff that maybe they never tried before. And


Farmer Fred  47:45

As a matter of fact, if you go to ngb.org, and click on the link that says Year of the Plant,  and then in the drop down menu, you choose squash, you're gonna see a series of squash pictures. But also there's going to be a pop up menu, where you can download a booklet on how to grow squash, for instance.


Diane Blazek  48:04

Absolutely. We have free e-books. I mean, if you're perusing through our site, you're going to have opportunities for dozens of free e-books. And what we do is we just put a synopsis in, of some of the key tips on growing or using these plants. And yeah, that's another free service we do for anybody who wants to use them.


Farmer Fred  48:27

And there are all sorts of squash pictures there. You just click on one of the pictures and up will come the name of the plant to give you some more information about what you're looking at.


Diane Blazek  48:37

Absolutely, So if you want a striped squash, a yellow squash an orange squash a green squash, whatever, whatever your mood is, you can find something.


Farmer Fred  48:46

I clicked on one that was pumpkin-like, and it was called Spellcast, which is a very interesting looking sort of, I guess you'd call it a cream-colored pumpkin, sort of a squat, cream-colored pumpkin.


Diane Blazek  49:00

That's fun. And if it's called Spellcast, I'm thinking that it would be really good as decorations around Halloween.


Farmer Fred  49:06

Diane, if people want more information about the plants that we've been talking about, what's a good website to go to?


Diane Blazek  49:12

I think the easiest one is ngb.org that is the National Garden bureau. So it's basically our acronym, NGB.org.


Farmer Fred  49:21

And you will find tabs across the top of the page where you can find out all about the plants, combination ideas, too. And of course, those e-books that you talked about where you can get information on how to grow.


Diane Blazek  49:34

You go to a page and you're probably going to get a pop up that says hey, do you want this for free? So they're there throughout the website, little surprises no matter where you go.


Farmer Fred  49:42

the National Garden Bureau, and their plants for 2024. A lot of intriguing selections for you to choose from. Diane Blazek is the executive director of All America Selections and the National Garden Bureau. And Diane, thank you for taking us on a little garden tour of what we're going to see in the gardens in 2024.


Diane Blazek  50:00

Well thank you, it's been a joy.




Farmer Fred  50:10

Is wood ash good for the garden soil? America’s favorite retired college horticulture professor, Debbie Flower, answers decisively with, “it depends”. She has tips to help you decide if your soil will benefit from the addition of wood ash. She also tackles the topic of ash from a possible nearby wildfire falling on your garden. Are those falling ashes good or bad? Here’s a hint: not good.

If you missed it, give it a listen. It’s our Flashback Episode of the Week, Episode 144, originally aired in October, 2021. It’s entitled “Using Wood Ash in Your Garden.”  Find a link to it in today’s show notes, or at the podcast player of your choice. And you can find it, along with a transcript, at our home page, garden basics dot net.


Farmer Fred

The Garden Basics With Farmer Fred podcast comes out once a week, on Fridays.  It’s brought to you by Smart Pots and Dave Wilson Nursery. The Garden Basics podcast is available wherever podcasts are handed out, and that includes our home page, Garden Basics dot net, where you can find transcripts of most episodes, as well.  Thank you so much for listening…or reading.


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