Sunday, September 20, 2009

Greenhouse and Nursery - New Fall Plant for Consideration

The following is an interesting article from the University of Maryland on a new fall plant for greenhouse sales.

An Interesting Plant for Fall Sales? - Plectranthus

Last week, while visiting Catoctin Mountain Growers, a really fetching purple colored flowering plant caught my eye - Plectranthus. I had not run into this plant before and did a web search for information on this unusual short day blooming plant.

Plectranthus is native to South Africa and a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). There are many species of Plectranthus (around 44) that are currently used as ornamental herbaceous plants throughout the world's gardens. They come in a number of shapes and colors ranging from white, pink to dark mauves, and lavenders. This plant is easy to propagate from cuttings. The genus of Plectranthus includes common plants such as creeping charlie and Swedish ivy.

Although many of the plants in this genus have a habit of creeping, 'Mona Lavender' has beautiful dark green leaves with contrasting undersides that are purple and very elegant looking. In the 1990's, the 'Mona Lavender' was bred at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa. It was a fairly long process involving much hand pollination and the raising of many thousands of seedlings, back crossing, and raising many more thousands of seedlings - each time selecting out the best, most attractive individuals to go through the next round of breeding.

Ball International Company released Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' plant and it is worth looking into for fall sales. 'Mona Lavender' is a quick-growing perennial shrub, reaching 24 to 30 inches in height but it is not winter hardy here in Maryland. It is ideal for fall sales since customers will need new plants each year. It does very well in either shaded or partly sunny positions. When it receives sun it tends to stay smaller and more compact, and the leaves exhibit a much more intense coloring, especially on the purple undersides of the leaf. The foliage is unique and special, but the real prize on this plant is the dark lavender flower spikes. 'Mona Lavender' is ideal for a mass planting in your garden or for container gardening. Like most Plectranthus species plants need a fair amount of water. The plants benefit from being pinched back to induce better branching and compactness.

Information from the September 18, 2009 edition of the Greenhouse TPM/IPM Bi-Weekly Report from the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, Central Maryland Research and Education Center. Go to for the full newsletter.

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