New, ultra-hardy cultivars present creative solutions for landscapes

Terra Nova Nurseries has released three very hardy series: Heuchera Northern Exposure, which are bred from the world’s hardiest heuchera; Echinacea Kismet, which survived 100 percent in Minnesota trials; and Penstemon Dakota, named for its roots in North Dakota’s Zone 3. All three groups come with a variety of colors to please the home gardeners, pollinator and landscape designer. Terra Nova Nurseries’ trials in the Deep South have also shown that these hardy genetics play out well in heat-toughness.

Heuchera Northern Exposure exhibits a larger stature with attractive, rounded leaves in a full, multi-crowned landscape, and color options range from amber to black. These varieties have a full range of uses, from lining golf courses, to being used as specimens in containers, making them ideal for garden retailers whose customers are decorative container plant enthusiasts.

Heuchera Northern Exposure Amber

Both the Echinacea Kismet and the Penstemon Dakota series provide strong, colorful landscape plants. They showcase excellent winter survival in similar settings.

The aforesaid three series have been outcrossed to yield the strongest, hardiest hybrids. Tissue culture preserves the vigor and stability in these plants. While some larger growers might receive plants “in the test tube,” they have traditionally been supplied to growers in plug form and 72 cell flats. Growers are now offering larger plugs, such as 21s or 30s, which have been vernalized and can be directly planted using a bulb-planting drill bit. Well-draining soil and automated irrigation is highly recommended.

Echinacea Kismet series varieties being trialed with high marks of success at Colorado State University, United States.

When growing in containers, growing and greenhouse managers should maintain a pH from 5.8 to 6.2 and EC levels at .6 to .9. Echinacea Kismet and Penstemon Dakota can take a higher pH of up to 7.8. They perform well in environments with light levels of shade as well as partial sun landscapes.

It is also preferred that all three series remain dry between regular watering. Fertilizer can be applied at 100-150 ppm, but penstemon can tolerate up to 150-200 ppm. When the plugs are received, it is important to remove them immediately from their packaging, place them on a shady surface, and water them in. A heuchera or penstemon plug can fill a 4” pot in 6 weeks and a gallon in 8 to 10 weeks. Echinacea can take 12 to 14 weeks to fill a gallon pot.

Penstemon Dakota Burgundy

Landscape uses
Heuchera Northern Exposure, among other uses, is a great groundcover. The range of colors provides landscape designers with a new paintbrush for mass plantings and the ability to provide contrast or color echoes with interplanted shrubs and trees. Heuchera Northern Exposure provides a strong mounding habit with great vigor and rust-resistance. Northern Exposure can tolerate a wider range of sun exposure than most heuchera.

Penstemon Dakota Burgundy is also a good candidate for mass plantings, and it shows strong vigor and longevity in very cold climates. This perennial has glossy leaves in dark-green or purple and showy violet-colored, tubular blooms in June.

The Echinacea Kismet series varieties are becoming the belle of the ball in horticultural circles. Their performances have been undeniable in the test garden trials that span from Oregon to Minnesota. They offer Intense colors; massive amounts of bloom; and high survivability in cold.

Dan Heims, president of Terra Nova Nurseries

Overview: A few noteworthy varieties to know:

  1. Heuchera Northern Exposure Amber features clean lines with round, clear-amber leaves, on a medium-size mound. This plant looks good far longer in the season than other heuchera. This plant has great rust resistance and longevity.
  2. Echinacea Kismet Intense Orange has a long bloom time and an impressive amount of blooms that surprised even the most skeptical of trial garden managers. This plant features large flowers remain attractive for weeks on an upright, compact habit.
  3. Penstemon Dakota Burgundy has glossy, purple-black leaves with lovely lavender-to-violet flowers in June. Loved by hummingbirds, this perennial is shorter than other penstemon.

About the Author: Dan Heims is president of Terra Nova Nurseries. The breeder has introduced more than 1,000 new varieties. Learn more:

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