On Gardening: New winter and spring flower wows
by Shane Harris
Special to The Star
Mar 03, 2013 | 3597 views |  0 comments | 288 288 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A few weeks ago, I visited a plant nursery and saw containers and containers of these colorful daisy-like flowers. Wow! I had to read the tag to see what they were. They are called Senetti pericallis. The iridescent blue and purple flowers caught my eye because one does not see flowers like that in the winter.

Senetti is the trademark for an exciting new collection of plants that came out in 2012 and are made from pericallis hybrids. These particular flowers, which are in the Aster family, display 2 1/2 to 3-inch flowers and may reach a final plant height of 2 feet. They are advertised as being able to cope with temperatures as low as 30 F and high as 85-90 F.

Pericallis are annuals that bloom best in the winter and spring. They are used mostly as indoor and patio container plants.

Senetti pericallis are now being sold in a variety of colors. Solid color choices are deep blue, blue, magenta and lavender. The bicolored selections with their white halos in the center are very impressive. One will find bicolored varieties of blue, magenta, violet, pink and light blue.

According to Gary R. Bachman, a Mississippi State University horticulturist, one of the best attributes of pericallis is their love of early spring’s cooler temperatures. They grow and flower when the thermometer is consistently in the 35- to 40-degree range. But you will have to protect them or bring them inside if it gets colder as these plants are not frost tolerant.

Use Senetti pericallis as you use mums in the fall. In a container, they look great alone or even better with other plants.

Whichever way you plant them, take advantage of their reblooming capabilities. When the flowers start to fade, Bachman suggests pruning the plant back by 50 percent. Replant into a larger container that has a good, peat-based potting media with good drainage. A potting media that holds too much water can lead to root problems. Then water and fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer. In three to four weeks, new flowers will start to appear for a second show. Flowers will stop once the temperatures are consistently above 85 degrees.

Watering is important to maintain good health for these plants. When temperatures are cool, wait until the potting media feels dry before watering. As temperatures increase, don’t let the container dry out completely. Always fertilize with water-soluble formulations. If you maintain the plants through the summer, you will be rewarded with a burst of fall flowering.

For help on other home and garden questions, contact your local county Extension office or visit us online at www.aces.edu.

Shane Harris is the County Extension Coordinator for Tallapoosa County.
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On Gardening: New winter and spring flower wows by Shane Harris
Special to The Star

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