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On Gardening: Give your cool season landscape an award-winning jolt of color

December 21, 2015

Jolt Pink dianthus was selected as a 2015 All-American selections Bedding Plant Award Winner.

Jolt Pink dianthus was selected as an All-America Bedding Plant Award winner for 2015, and many are finding this heat-tolerant selection to also be an excellent pansy partner. It is rated for hardiness Zones 7 to 11, which fits our Savannah, Ga., area perfectly. Those of you in cooler zones will use it as an absolutely wonderful annual that will give you an extended period of bloom.

Botanically speaking, Jolt is a Dianthus barbatus interspecific hybrid and has some similarities to the Amazon series that came out a decade ago. Like the Amazons, Jolt will also provide you with a welcomed opportunity to cut some fragrant bouquets for the vase.

As I write this, Savannah has been mild so far and thus the Jolt dianthus has proven to be a delicacy to the feeding cloudless sulphur, American lady and common buckeye butterflies. We have several patches or informal drifts where we have combined them with pansies, flowering kale, mustard and dusty miller. I assure you these will also make perfect thriller plants in mid-sized containers.

The Jolt Pink dianthus was the All-America Winner, but know there is also a Jolt Cherry that is deeply saturated in color. They will generally reach 15 to 24 inches in height. Since we planted ours a few weeks ago we have been pushing temperatures in the high 70s, perhaps the low 80s, so ours are growing with vigor.

The plantís growth habit and leaf size reminds me of carnations, except the dianthus is thicker and much hardier. Whether grown as a short-lived perennial or an annual, this dianthus will be mandatory for the garden.

As with other dianthus varieties, your happiness with this plant revolves around bed preparation. Select a sight in full sun and add 3 to 4 inches of organic matter, working in 6 to 8 inches deep. This will allow for good drainage during the heavy rains that seem to occur more often than in previous years. Space plants 10 to 14 inches apart and plant at the same depth they are growing in the container.

Deadheading is necessary to keep growth vigorous and blooms repeating, and to maintain a tidy appearance. Feed with a light application of a slow-release fertilizer about every four to six weeks. If you are growing it in a cool season bed with pansies, kale and dusty miller feed with dilute water soluble fertilizer.

Your landscape options are almost endless. In the fall landscape, combine with Redbor or Winterbor kale and white, pink or blue pansies. In the spring landscape, use with petunias or verbenas. If you want to be bold and flashy combine with yellow like Flambe chrysocephalum or GoldDust mecardonia.

So if you have planted cool season flowers in you live in Zone 8 or warmer get your beds prepared and shop for pansies kale, mustards and the All-American Award winning Jolt Pink dianthus. In colder regions, look for them next spring and get ready to enjoy a real landscape bouquet.

 

 

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