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Four Plants Named Mississippi Medallion Winners
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The Biloxi area is celebrating its tricentennial this year -- 300 years! Like this beautiful city captures the hearts of visitors, the 1999 Mississippi Medallion winner, Biloxi Blue verbena will snare the hearts of gardeners throughout the state.
Biloxi Blue is one of four outstanding plants chosen as a 1999 Mississippi Medallion winners with Indian Summer rudbeckia, Tonto and Sioux crape myrtles rounding out the list.
Biloxi Blue is a perennial verbena hardy to Zone 7b. It has shown both heat- and cold-tolerance in trials throughout the state, making it a true winner in a climate of extreme temperatures.
The striking lavender-blue flowers are produced in an abundance on new shoots. Biloxi Blue is a vigorous grower spreading to four feet and reaching up to 18 inches in height.
Plant yours in full sunlight in soils with very good drainage and mulch. Biloxi Blue is such a prolific bloomer you will want to feed monthly with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer such as a 13-13-13 at 1 pound per 100 square feet during the growing season.
Biloxi Blue also appreciates an occasional shearing during the summer to regenerate growth followed by an abundance of blooms for late summer and fall.
Biloxi Blue will be a great companion plant for Indian Summer rudbeckia, another 1999 Mississippi Medallion winner. Indian Summer is a selection of rudbeckia hirta, or annual-type black-eyed Susan. It produces some of the largest, most striking blooms in the flower border.
Rudbeckia hirta, known as gloriosa daisy, is native to the United States, and Indian Summer will find itself at home in your gardens, too! Trials have shown this to be one of the most eye-catching flowers you can grow.
The golden-yellow blooms are 6 to 9 inches and produced on large stems, perfect for those who want an abundance of cut flowers. Indian summer plants are large, reaching three to four feet in height, making them ideal for bold drifts planted to the middle or back of the flower border with Biloxi Blue in the foreground.
Plant yours in well-drained beds in full sunlight. Remove old flowers for increased flower production during the growing season and feed monthly with a slow release fertilizer such as 13-13-13 at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet.
Crape myrtles have been called the Lilacs of the South, and two colorful selections have received the 1999 Mississippi Medallion Award.
Tonto is the best red crape myrtle in the 10-foot height category. It was hybridized by the U.S. National Arboretum and has a high resistance to powdery mildew. It is great planted as a single small tree or planted in groups. Tonto is known to have a bright maroon fall leaf color and a striking exfoliating bark for winter appeal.
Sioux, the fourth 1999 Mississippi Medallion Winner, is slightly larger -- reaching about 14 feet. It is an upright grower with intense pink flowers. It too has a high resistance to powdery mildew making it a winner for those desiring an environmentally friendly landscape. It has a maroon fall color and an exfoliating bark.
These crape myrtles are long lived when planted in full sun, in well-drained soils. Plant yours at the same depth they were growing in the container and then apply about 4 inches of mulch.
One big advantage to Tonto and Sioux is their height for the urban landscape and for the ease of pruning. Crape myrtles bloom on the current season's wood and pruning stimulates this new growth which increases the number of flower clusters.
Since these are shorter crape myrtles, it will also be easier to prune during the growing season. Though not mandatory, cutting or removing the green fruited, old flower clusters will stimulate new growth and blooms throughout the growing season. This type of deadheading is nearly impossible on taller crape myrtles.
Fertilize individual crape myrtles with slow release 15-5-5 fertilizer in early spring no closer than one foot from the plant. Fertilize again in early summer.
These four award winners can be planted with confidence at your home. Look for the colorful point of sale material at your local nursery and garden center.
The Mississippi Medallion Award program is a cooperative effort of the Mississippi Nurserymens Association, Mississippi Plant Selections Committee, Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.