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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Coreopsis for containers

Posted by Graham Rice on 29 Jan 2009 at 12:18 PM

Coreopsis 'Jive'. Image: Thompson & MorganThere's been a flurry of new coreopsis in the last couple of years. Some have been good, others not so good. Some have been hardy, others not so hardy. Some, I'm afraid, came and went in a flash. But the turn of the year has seen two fine new introductions for containers.

The man with the muscle - as far as coreopsis is concerned - is now Darrel Probst from Massachusetts. He's been breeding them for ten years and has used seven different species in his work, many collected in the wild. His diligence is leading to some fine introductions.

Until now, in general, nurseries have not made much distinction between the half-hardy and the hardy types. So gardeners who bought ‘Limerock Ruby', for example, and many of those in unusual shades, often thought they were as tough as good old ‘Moonbeam'. In fact, many are short-lived and difficult to get through the winter but are good in containers and summer borders.

Coreopsis 'Cumbia'. Image: Mr FothergillsDarrel Probst has made everything clear by developing two new series. The Big Bang Series is tough, it gets far colder in Massachusetts than it does here, and the Big Bang Series can take it. The other series, probably to be called the Salsa Series, is intended for containers and not bred to be hardy.

This month's two newcomers, ‘Jive' and ‘Cumbia', are both for containers and summer seasonal displays. The pictures (click on each to see a larger version) reveal their unusual colours. Darrell Probst tells me they were chosen from many thousands of seedlings and that as well as selecting for colour, a very long flowering season and weather resistance he's worked hard to bring the height down  - so they're ideal in containers and small gardens.

Look out for more with dance names - ‘Limbo', ‘Bolero', ‘Salsa' etc. Cumbia, of which I have to say I'd never heard, is a Columbian dance style. You learn something new every day..

You can order Coreopsis ‘Cumbia' from Mr Fothergill

You can order Coreopsis ‘Jive' from Thompson & Morgan



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