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Southern Gardening: Superbells perform strongly in hot, Mississippi summers

 

Gardeners call the Holy Moly Superbells by name when they see the stunning bicolor flower color. Superbells come in more than 30 varieties.

Gardeners call the Holy Moly Superbells by name when they see the stunning bicolor flower color. Superbells come in more than 30 varieties. Photo by: Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service

 

Dr. Gary Bachman

 

 

If you're still looking for a favorite plant for our hot summer landscapes, consider Superbells. I love their funnel-shaped flowers and great growth potential. Their variety of colors can even rival petunias. 

 

Superbells are tough plants with good summer heat tolerance. One of their attributes that I like best is, after a rainstorm, these plants recover and perk up faster than many other summer-flowering annuals, even my vaunted petunias. 

 

These plants look great in containers, hanging baskets and mass plantings in landscape beds. 

 

I'm really impressed with the range of colors available in Superbells. Can you believe there are more than 30 gorgeous selections? The petite flowers grace cascading plants that are great in combinations, mono-hanging baskets and raised beds with good drainage. In the past several years, I've grown some in the landscape that have been pretty outstanding performers. 

 

Superbells like Blue Moon Punch feature flowers that play off a purple theme of silvery lavender with a prominent deep-purple center eye. Superbells Yellow has bright, cheerful yellow flowers that look fancy but aren't fussy. The plant is covered all season long with these beautiful blooms. 

 

Holy Moly is one of the best selections I grew last year; it also made the list of plants I wanted to grow again this year. Its name is exactly what I said when I first saw this selection. The flower color is stunning. The bicolor flowers feature variable, mottled yellow and pink with a cherry-red star. 

 

These plants grow up to 10 inches high, and their trailing and spreading growth will hang over the edges of the container. You can plant Superbells in the landscape, but I like them best in containers. If you grow them in the landscape, be sure to plant in raised beds. The landscape soil must be well drained, as these plants don't like to have wet feet. 

 

Feed with a balanced, controlled-release fertilizer to keep the plants blooming all summer. Use a tablespoon in the planting hole to get the plants off to a good start. Regularly apply water-soluble fertilizer to maintain soil nutrition at optimum levels to keep the foliage dark green and the flowering nonstop. 

 

At planting, use sharp scissors to snip the branches a little bit to encourage full-looking growth. The plants may open up a little bit during the summer, so go ahead and give them an overall trim. Superbells respond to this pruning with more growth, so trim any time the plants get a little untidy. Be sure to add fertilizer right after these trimmings. 

 

I greatly appreciate Superbells' heat-tolerant flowering in my landscape, especially in south Mississippi where the petunias start to fade late in the summer. So, start making plans to include Superbells in your garden and landscape this summer season, and you, too, will have blooms all summer. 

 

Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at [email protected]

 

 

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