Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
During the latter part of 2008 a number of new succulents became widely available. In addition, a number of succulents also became award winners.
Aloe Midnight is a new Proven Winners variety. This is one of the most exquisite aloes around. Though it is only winter hardy in zones eight through eleven, it makes an ideal houseplant in other areas.
Outdoors, it is suitable for container plantings and rock gardens. Midnight aloe will thrive in full fun. It will tolerate some shade as well. The color of the foliage will be the strongest in full sun.
Aloe Midnight is named for the lovely foliage. This has beautiful tinges of pink along the margins. The leaves are so dark they’re almost black.
Kisso Kan agave is a new addition to the Plants That Work in Nooks and Crannies lineup. This is noted for the exquisitely colored foliage. Along the lengths of the blue-green leaves there are white or cream stripes. Vivid maroon prickles arise from the leaf tips.
Kisso Kan is hardy from zones nine through eleven. It will need full sun in the landscape.
Sun Ray Euphorbia is named for the showy yellow bracts. Opening in huge clusters, these are so numerous you can hardly see the attractive, dark green foliage. This plant resembles a dwarf crown of thorns. Sun Ray is hardy in the warmest regions of the country. Elsewhere, it is best treated as a flowering pot plant or houseplant.
There is a wonderful new variety of the finger jade (Crassula ovata). Gollum finger jade is suitable for outdoor culture in zones nine through eleven. This grows well in full sun to partial shade.
Gollum has short stubby, rounded foliage that appears on thick succulent stems. It produces lovely whitish-pink blooms. These start opening during the autumn, and continue for several months into the winter.
Makian kalanchoe is a lovely new flowering pot plant. This sturdy, vigorous plant has dark red blooms. These open in large umbels on tall branched stems. The leaves are medium in size.
Sharkskin Agave is a new hybrid. Those in zones eight through eleven can grow this year-round outdoors. Elsewhere, it is best grown as a container plant. The regularly spaced leaves occur in a cluster. The tips of the foliage have colorful black spines. The leaves, which are greenish-blue, are thick and sturdy.
Regarding award winning succulents, a number of varieties received various honors during the 2008 plant trials.
In the University of Florida trials, the Toucan series of purslanes were among the top 15. Burgundy Wine euphorbia from Proven Winners was also named as one of the best non-flowering Florida winners.
Of the other state trials, the Toucan purslanes also won at Louisiana State University trials in Hammond and the Gardens At Ball in Chicago.
Wake Up Shocking Pink portulaca won honors at Ohio State University trials at Columbus.
Pazazz Pink Glow portulaca won at the Pennsylvania trial gardens in Landisville and at trial gardens in Cresco, Iowa. Pazazz Salmon Glow portulaca also won in Iowa along with Ultra Pink and Vivid Yellow portulacas.
Several varieties of sedums were also winners in the Chicago trials. These include Blue Spruce, Salsa Verde, Sea Urchin, and Athoum.
At Texas A & M trials, two varieties of euphorbias did exceptionally well. These included Silver Fog and Diamond Frost euphorbias.