2019-03-24 sc-barryp1

SunPatiens is a revolutionary new hybrid bedding plant. Barry Fugatt/for the Tulsa World

Over the past several years, no flower has captured my attention quite like SunPatiens.

SunPatiens is a revolutionary new hybrid bedding plant, a true breakthrough in flower breeding. I’m sure most gardeners are familiar with common impatiens, often referred to as “Busy Lizzy.”

For decades, there was hardly a shady spot in Tulsa that wasn’t decked out with super colorful impatiens. It was the classic “Goldilocks” plant. It only thrived in shady locations that were “not too hot, not too cold, but just right.” But like so many plants that get over planted, it developed problems, not the least of which was the serious fungal disease: Downey Mildew. Today, gardeners would do well to pass on common impatiens and spring instead for the even more colorful and disease-resistant SunPatiens.

Hybrid SunPatiens thrive in full sun or part shade, and they are virtually immune to insect and disease problems. I personally rate SunPatiens No. 1 among annual bedding plants in today’s nursery industry.

Here’s why I’m so high on SunPatiens. Twenty-two varieties were tested in the Linnaeus Teaching Garden in 2017. They flowered nonstop from early May through November. In peak flower, one could hardly see any foliage for the mass blooms. And they performed this miraculous “bloom-a-thon” feat in one of the hottest areas of the Linnaeus Teaching Garden. On days when I was a little down or weary, I would head straight to the SunPatiens display to feast on the outlandish beauty spread out before me. The gorgeous floral display always lifted my spirit.

The SunPatiens family consists of three unique series based on height and spread: SunPatiens Compact, SunPatiens Spreading and SunPatiens Vigorous. Flower colors include white, rose, salmon, orange, lavender and red. A bed of mixed colors is truly spectacular!

Garden success has never been simpler with easy-to-plant, easy-to-grow SunPatiens. Thick flower petals and strong sturdy stems hold up amazingly well in our hot and humid summer weather.

Annual SpringFest set in April

Tulsa hosts lots of spring plant sales, the most historic and unique being SpringFest, the Tulsa Garden Center’s annual fundraising event. Each year, thousands of gardeners attend SpringFest looking for beautiful and hard-to-find plants.

This year, look for incredible (and commercially hard to find) pass-a-long perennials like Raydon’s Favorite Aster and Tatarian Aster. These perennial asters have truly stood the test of time. They have none of the common diseases associated with many modern asters and their fall flower displays are simply amazing! I’ve grown both classic, pass-a-long asters for many years. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve dug and divided these asters to share with friends. Hundreds of times, I’m sure. Gardeners aren’t the only ones who love these asters. Bees, butterflies and other pollinator insects also adore these heirloom asters.

SpringFest is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 5-6, at the Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S. Peoria Ave. You can bet that I’ll be on hand looking for great plants for my garden. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind garden event!

Barry Fugatt is director of horticulture at the Tulsa Garden Center and Linnaeus Teaching Garden in Woodward Park. He can be reached at 918-576-5152. Email: bfugatt@tulsagardencenter.org