Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
When choosing cacti and succulents you wonít go wrong with award winning varieties. A number of succulents have been singled out for special honors. Some of these are discussed below.
Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) was named a Plant Select by the Colorado State University and Denver Botanic Gardens. Native to Texas and elsewhere, this is suited to zones six through eleven. It is related to the agaves and yuccas.
The Missouri Botanical Garden selected Angelina Sedum rupestre as a Plant of Merit. Known as blue spruce stonecrop, this received the International Hardy Plant Union outstanding plant award. This cultivar is noted for the vivid golden-yellow foliage that resembles spruce needles. During the winter the tips can turn orangish-red. Only three to five inches tall, this perennial is hardy to zone three. The blooms are yellow.
One particular portulaca received a coveted Classic City Awards for Annuals at the University of Georgia plant trials in Athens. Portulaca Pizzazz Salmon Glow proved to be vigorous, reliable plants that were especially floriferous. This has brightly colored blooms with yellow centers surrounded by vivid orange petals.
At the Georgia trial garden, they test thousands of varieties each year. The plants are rated on a one to five scale with five being the best rating. Plants are evaluated from spring through the fall months. To be a Classic City award winner, a variety has to outshine the competition. Factors taken into consideration include the plantís insect and disease resistance, foliage and flower quality, and the plantís ability to withstand adverse and extremely fickle weather conditions.
The Ohio State University trial gardens have conducted mixed container trials for the past six years. During the trials, visitors to the gardens are asked to choose their favorite mixed planters and plants. This poll is taken by Master Gardeners.
At the 2009 container trials, two succulents received special recognition in the monoculture category. Grown in 12-inch pots, Salsa Verde Sedum makinoi and Rio Scarlet portulaca were among the favorites. They received a rating of four out of five on a five-point scale.
The Hot Shot Rose purslane ranked almost as high. It received a rating of 3.65 to 3.99 when grown alone in a 12-inch pot. One mixed planting containing several succulents was among the consumersí top favorite mixed planters. This planter included Sedum Salsa Verde, Rio Scarlet portulaca and Angelina Sedum along with an ornamental grass.