What McCracken County Extension Learned from Bedding Plant Trials in 2018

In 2018, 20 varieties from several genera of bedding plants were grown as trial gardens in fifteen counties across the Commonwealth. In McCracken County, these were planted in raised-beds and rated all through the growing season. These plants were purchased in April and planted after the last danger of frost had passed, in early May of 2018.

The planting method used pro-mix potting soil and 20-20-20 pelletized-slow-release fertilizer. Granules were placed in the planting hole to be just below the root zone of the 6-pack flowers. When watered and fertilized properly and planted in mass in a 3 by 3 foot block on wooden pallets the plants mentioned here were beautiful all growing season. No deadheading or cutting back of plants were necessary.

A favorite all season was the Petchoa hybrid Supercal® ‘Crimson Red. This x Petchoa from the Supercal® series displayed outstanding growth habit and abundant blooms from May to October. Flowers were crimson red and did not require dead-heading to repeat bloom. Plants flourished and were a true bargain for the cost of the materials used.


Lantana camara Havana ® ‘Red Sky’ Lantana taken June 2018 in McCracken County trail garden. 

Solenostemon scutellarioides Wildfire™ ‘Smokey Rose’ coleus was an excellent performer. We rated this each month and it was a superior performer from May to October’s killing frost. Coleus is mostly grown for its foliage. Flowers on most all coleus are insignificant and may be removed or kept for pollinators. We did the latter. Bees frequented the flower spikes on sunny days. ‘Smokey Rose’ appealing color came from deeply-lobed leaves sporting maroon margins and a hot-pink center.  From our experience this is a dependable plant: free of disease and pest pressure.

Other top performers in 2018 State-wide Trial Gardens were as listed:

Verbena x hybrida  Superbena ® ‘Stormburst’ Verbena

Lantana camara Havana ® ‘Red Sky’ Lantana

Scaevola aemula Scalora® ‘Pink Pearl’ Fan Flower

Cuphea hybrid Floriglory® ‘Diana’ Mexican Heather

Impatiens x hybrid SunPatiens® ‘Compact Purple’ Impatiens

Calibrachoa hybrid Bloomtastic ‘Serenity’ Million Bells

Submitted by Kathy Wimberely, Agent for Horticulture, McCracken Co. Cooperative Extension Service