Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Best of Perennial Veronicas for Gardens

photo: Veronica spicata 'Royal Candles' (not evaluated in CBG study)

Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) has published the results of a 10-year study of speedwells (Veronica and Veronicastrum) in its 33rd issue of Plant Evaluation Notes, “A Comparative Study of Veronica and Veronicastrum".

Seven speedwells received good-excellent ratings for their overall performance, including Veronica ‘Fairytale’, V. ‘Giles Van Hees’, V. austriaca ‘Ionian Skies’, V. longifolia ‘Blue John’, V. spicata ‘Baby Doll’, V. spicata ‘Ulster Blue Dwarf’, and V. wormskjoldii. These top-rated speedwells exhibited strong growing and excellent flower production throughout the evaluation period. The lack of any serious pest or disease problems, along with good winter survivability, contributed to their high ratings. Additionally, 18 taxa received four-star good ratings for similarly strong performances.

Speedwells are generally easy to grow and prefer sunny locations in moist, well-drained soils. Plants grown in less light will not bloom as profusely and may become lax or open in habit. Crown loss or plant death may occur in wet soil conditions in winter.

Many speedwells require a midsummer shearing after the first bloom to promote a healthy new basal foliage and to encourage late summer flowering. Deadheading of spent blooms produces many new bloom spikes later in the summer. By selecting the best cultivar(s), you may avoid potential foliar diseases, including powdery mildew, downy mildew, leaf spots, and foliar rust.

Generally, plant disease pressure is more severe here in the Southern Appalachian Region than in the Midwest. Read the entire 8 page CBG report (Issue 33, 2010) authored by Richard G. Hawke.

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