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Sunday, Dec 21, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

Flower farm harvest is getting richer still

Penny Carnathan The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 12:22 AM

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There's a lot growing at Riverview Flower Farms - perennials and annuals already on the market and some brand-new ones getting ready for their debut in the spring.

They include Pazazz Purslane, a new version of the old favorite that stays open longer and is available now. Maraca Portulaca, an art deco-looking succulent, and Snow Princess, an alyssum for warm weather, should be on Home Depot store shelves in 2010. Profiles of the three ran in the Dig This column June 21. But that left out a whole lot of plants.

So it's back to Rick Brown's farm this week for a look at some of his (and my) favorites. Some you can buy now; some may show up in the spring. His perennials, annuals and grasses can be found at Home Depot stores throughout the state

If you missed last week's profiles, find them plus photos at http://bit.ly/dirtblog.

Voltage Yellow Osteospermum
Osteospermum hybrid

A new African daisy variety getting checked out in trials at Riverview Flower Farms has bright yellow blooms and is said to flower longer than any other Osteospermum. But what makes Voltage really special is its flexible stems. To demonstrate, Rick crushed a 1-gallon plant in his hands and even whacked it - hard - on the ground a few times. Voltage Yellow bounced back happy as, you guessed it, a daisy.

It flowers spring through fall, and is a compact bush that grows about 16 inches tall and likes the sun. It's not a sure bet, yet, for spring sales, but probably, Rick says. He wants to see how it does through this summer and winter.

Blueprint Scaevola
Scaevola hybrid

Shoppers will likely see this sun-loving Australian immigrant in the spring. It's a new hybrid that produces lots of lavender fan-shaped blooms from spring through fall. It has a nice rounded shape and a trailing habit, so it should be a good choice for containers. Rick's not sure whether it's a perennial here.

Bulbine 'Hallmark'
Bulbine frutescens

"You can plant it today and never water it," Rick says. Surely that's a plant for our times. A sun lover, it's available at Home Depot stores but may be labeled Bulbine Orange. It's also called burn jelly plant because the sap in its leaves is used like aloe. The original Yellow African Bulbine has yellow flowers; Hallmark offers soft flames of orange and yellow nearly year-round. It's fine in poor dry soil and clumps can grow to 4 feet across. It was a Florida nursery growers Plant of the Year in 2006.

Crossandra 'Orange Marmalade'
Crossandra infundibuliformis

Rick loves this plant, which carries his own label, Florida Friendly Plants. He says it's one of the best he's developed in the past three years, and it's available in Home Depot stores now. A perennial in sunny or part-shade gardens, it blooms prolifically throughout the warm months. It's sterile, so there are no messy seed pods to deal with, and it's moderately drought tolerant once established. Protect from cold temperatures in the 40s.

He suggests planting in a container with something like blue daze in the fall - when his favorite Florida football team is playing.

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