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Feb 25, 2022

My Favorite Darwin Perennials

Chris Fifo
Product Representative

Darren and I have been firing back and forth on our Top Perennial Picks from Darwin Perennials. Not gonna lie: It is difficult to choose with the modern breeding and improvements upon industry standards we are bringing to market. Not to mention all the truly unique items introduced since I joined the team in 2018.

My favorites continuously change based upon my personal experience and what I am seeing at customers and in trial gardens.

This month, I am choosing …

Delosperma Ocean Sunset™
Ocean Sunset is the evolution of breeding in Delosperma. Flowers continue to get bigger! Ocean Sunset nearly doubles the flower size of its predecessor, giving the landscape presence even greater flower coverage.

Delosperma are a succulent-type plant intended for full sun. The vibrant colors in this series are incredible and remain eye-catching in high light and temperature. These form a beautiful mat, without being invasive, that can tolerate extremes in the environment, which is so important these days.

In containers, Ocean Sunset fills out quickly and flowers based upon age of the plant and not daylength, allowing much versatility in scheduling for retail. If you grow Delosperma (or if you don’t), these are a must have!

We received a few pictures of Ocean Sunset from a southern Florida grower week 3 (see photo above) that were full in the containers, trailing over the edges, and ready for retail!

Miscanthus Bandwidth and NEW HI-Frequency
I have always loved ornamental grasses. Miscanthus Bandwidth (above, left) and our newest introduction Hi-Frequency (above, right) have moved to the top of my list. These two are siblings. Bandwidth being 3 ft./1m and Hi-Frequency being up to 7 ft./2.1m tall. Both making a striking landscape presence.

The distinct banding, I feel, is more pronounced than other banded Miscanthus and makes these very attractive. And the speed at which they form a tidy clump helps them make a statement as a specimen in the landscape. This is part of what led Bandwidth to earn the prestigious designation as a Colorado State University Top Performer.

On top of this performance, Bandwidth and Hi-Frequency are highly infertile. This was a priority for the breeding and selection process. Darwin Perennials strives to be environmentally responsible and will not introduce varieties that are invasive. These siblings are very late to flower, lending them to be designated “non-invasive.” True gems for Miscanthus.

Artemisia SunFern™
I must say, I wasn’t sure about these two (Olympia and Arcadia) when they moved on to commercial introduction. But they have grown on me (no pun intended!). Part of it I think is in the name. There is much to said about naming a new introduction that can lead to its success. Thank you to Ball Seed sales rep Susan Stauber for this one!

Where a fern is used for shade foliage and texture, Sunfern is for sunny, hot and dry environments. Here it is all about green and texture – I just love the soft, ferny foliage. These form a beautiful clump that can be a delicate contrast to garden color without burning in the heat. Olympia will get up to 18 in/45cm. and is deep green with red stems, whereas Arcadia is a mint green color, a bit shorter, and more dense in habit that does not melt out. I like how these can be used in the landscape as a color break, a backdrop for color, or as a stand-alone foliage/ground cover.

Both have been performing well in drought conditions as well as the wet/heat/humidity in trial locations throughout North America. Plus, unlike some other Artemisia, Olympia and Arcadia do not get tall where they will break open (bird’s nest) in the landscape; nor will they spread and take over an area via rhizomes. Though they will spread to form a nice clump, they are far from invasive.

Plant these in sunny and hot areas where some flowering perennials will not perform. Winner!

Those are my three favorites this month. Top that, Darren!

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