Friday, December 3, 2010

Product Spotlights - December 2010

Miss Butterfly

'Miss Butterfly', Buddleia davidii, is a beautiful plant for landscapes, butterfly gardens, and cutting gardens. In Zones 6-10, it is a perennial that grows as tall as 8'. In colder winters, it may reach only 4-5' and it can be grown as an annual. 'Miss Butterfly' produces 5-10" spikes of lilac to pale violet flowers from July until frost. The blooms are sweetly fragrant and the foliage is a pretty silvery blue. It's attractive to butterflies and makes an attractive ornamental in a sunny border. For cut flowers, the blooms should be harvested early in the morning when the first flowers have just started to open. Put the cut stems into water immediately. When properly hydrated, Buddleia can last a week to 10 days in the vase. But if they are not cut as soon as the first flowers open, vase life can drop to only 2-3 days.

Ruby Parfait

'Ruby Parfait' is a new plume celosia with an intense rose color that blends well with the bright colors of other summer annuals such as zinnias and rudbeckias. Perfect as a cut flower, the arrow-shaped plumes are 2-3" long, rising on multiple stems that provide more visual punch in a bouquet or arrangement. Ruby Parfait also makes a great accent plant for a flower bed, retaining its color through the hottest days of summer. The plants are 24-26" tall.

If you grow plants to sell at a nursery, farmers market or farm stand, you will not want to overlook the exciting new 'Zahara' zinnias. This interspecific zinnia is one of the most sought after new bedding plants on the market. 'Double Zahara Cherry' and 'Double Zahara Fire' are both All-America Selection winners for 2010. They are resistant to leaf spot and mildew diseases, and have handsome, symmetrical dark green plants. They bloom in 8-10 weeks from sowing and the intense colors and fully double, 2" flowers make them irresistible in bloom. Grown in full sun, they will reach 12" tall by 12" wide. They're also suitable for mixed containers. Zahara zinnias should be grown in 4" or larger pots. Try them in our biodegradable CowPots™ or DOT Pots™.

Tools and supplies
If you're tired of the expense and waste of starting seeds in plastic containers, it's time to look at a soil block system. Johnny's complete line of soil blocking products will get you up and running in no time. We have soil blockers in a range of sizes to accommodate different size seeds and transplants. We have soil mix that is just the right consistency for soil blocks. And we have reusable mesh trays that hold the soil blocks firmly and provide air pruning for their roots as they grow.


Here at Johnny's research farm, we have been working for years to develop a slicing tomato with great taste and resistance to late blight. After many crops were devastated by late blight in 2009, the quest became urgent. We are happy to report that our newest Johnny's-bred tomato, 'Defiant PhR', has high resistance to late blight, intermediate resistance to early blight, plus good looks, taste, and texture. The plants are determinate and the fruits are 6-8 oz. 70 days to maturity. We highly recommend trialing Defiant PhR alongside similar tomatoes to compare yield and vigor on your farm.

Artichokes can be grown as annuals in any climate, and Johnny's has two annual varieties from which to choose. Tempo is a purple artichoke that produces 3-4 big buds followed by 10-15 secondary, smaller buds. The striking purple color makes it a good ornamental, too, especially if allowed to bloom. 100 days to maturity. Imperial Star is a green artichoke, now available as organic seed. Specifically bred for annual production, Imperial Star produces 6-8 mature buds per plant. 85 days to maturity.

Beyond the bell pepper, there are many pepper varieties suitable for fresh eating. Johnny's has a great lineup; here are three worthy of your consideration:
'Cheyenne' is a new variety, a sweet and hot cayenne pepper for fresh use. The plants are medium sized and high yielding. The fruits average 8-9" long and are slightly wrinkled. They have moderately thick walls. Excellent for frying and in salsas. 65 days green, 85 days red ripe.
Mellow Star

'Mellow Star' is a new shishito-type pepper popular in Japan, where it is used in tempura and stir fries. The 3-4" heavily wrinkled fruits are thin walled and have no heat. The fruits are used green in Asia, but they can be allowed to turn red for a sweeter flavor. Large, upright plants yield well over an extended period. 60 days green, 80 days red ripe.

'Carmen' is a 2006 All-America Selections winner and a Johnny's-bred variety of the Italian bull's horn (corno di toro) type. Tapered fruits average 6" long by 21/2" wide and ripen from green to deep carmine red. The sweet flavor is good raw or roasted. Plants are upright and medium sized. 60 days green, 80 days red ripe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have grown the Carmen pepper for two years now and it is really one of the best peppers for stir fry and eating raw in salads. Cut the stem end off and the seeds easily pull out, leaving little pith. Then cut the fruit into perfect rings red or green or both...for Christmas in July. This is a great pepper. Jim