New and Improved Landscape Plants

Meet Dr. Gary Knox, UF Extension Specialist and Professor of Environmental Horticulture based out of the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy.  Dr Knox specializes in evaluating landscape plants and improving the quality and diversity of crops for nursery and landscape industries.

I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Knox’s presentation on at the 2012 Tree and Landscape Short Course on the topic of new, underused and improved cultivars for landscapes.  Here are a few of his favorite plants that are suitable for Central Florida:

Rudbeckia 'Henry Eilers'

Snow Princess®Alyssum (Lobularia hybrid) – This patented cultivar blooms consistently in both cold and heat and it tolerates some drought.  Alyssum has the added benefit of attracting butterflies and beneficial insects.

Rudbeckia ‘Henry Eilers’ (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) – Reaching about 4 feet tall, this perennial wildflower bears yellow flowers with dark centers and unusual quilled petals.

Sweet Almond Bush (Aloysia virgata) – Small tree/shrub produces an abundance of fragrant white flower spikes.

Holly ‘Elizabeth Coleman’ (Ilex x latifolia) – Hybrid holly sets berries in large clusters even when young.

Dr. Knox notes that research is currently underway to develop sterile varieties of several invasive and nuisance landscape plants.  While sterile Nandina varieties are readily available, you might have a harder time finding others such as Lantana and Ruellia.

For more information about UF plant evaluation programs visit this website:  http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/programs/landscape_plant_evaluations.shtml

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About Kathy

Program Assistant with UF/IFAS Manatee County Extension Service, specializing in Integrated Pest Management for ornamental nurseries.
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