Flower Power

U of A releases three new ornamental plants for home and garden

Nov. 14, 2006
Contact Information:

Dr. Jon Lindstrom, Department of Horticulture
479-575-2646 | tranell@uark.edu

By Fred Miller, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
479-575-5647 | fmiller@uark.edu

Dr. Jon Lindstrom

Dr. Jon Lindstrom, associate professor of horticulture at the University of Arkansas, examines tissue cultures of a cultivated variety of Trichostema, or blue curls, released by the University of Arkansas under the name "Blue Myth." Because the plant is sterile, tissue cultures are used to propagate the variety.

A variety of Buddleja named

A variety of Buddleja named "Asian Moon" has been released by the University of Arkansas. Also known as a butterfly bush, it is suitable for use in gardens and landscaping.

A variety of Trichostema, known as blue curls, has been released by the University of Arkansas under the name

A variety of Trichostema, known as blue curls, has been released by the University of Arkansas under the name "Blue Myth." The cross was made by Bruce Dunn, a Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Horticulture.

A variety of gesneriad, a relative of the African violet, has been released by the University of Arkansas under the name

A variety of gesneriad, a relative of the African violet, has been released by the University of Arkansas under the name "Mount Magazine."

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Jon Lindstrom describes himself as a “plant geek.”

“I like plants,” he said. “So I always knew that plant breeding would be part of what I would do.”

Lindstrom is an associate professor of horticulture in the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. When he’s not in the classroom, “showing students plants and making them learn those awful Latin names,” he can often be found in a greenhouse making careful crosses between ornamental plants, looking for a combination that will produce something interesting and useful for the home or garden.

His efforts have resulted in three new ornamental plants just released from the U of A: a Buddleja, or butterfly bush, named Asian Moon; a Trichostema, also known as blue curls, named Blue Myth; and a Gesneriad, related to African violets, named Mount Magazine.

Lindstrom said Asian Moon is a symmetrical, round shrub with light purple flowers that serves the same purpose as other Buddleja. Known for attracting butterflies, the shrubs are well suited for use in landscaping. Asian Moon has been evaluated in test plots at Fayetteville, Little Rock and Hope and has shown to over-winter well in all three locations.

A significant advantage for Asian Moon, Lindstrom said, is that it is sterile. Because it doesn’t set seeds, it will not escape cultivation and become invasive, as the species is known to become in some areas of the country. Also, because it doesn’t set seed, the flowering stage is extended, resulting in longer-lasting blooms.

Blue Myth, the Trichostema, is also sterile. “Nowadays, with so much concern about invasive species, sterility is a desired trait in garden plants,” Lindstrom said. Bruce Dunn, a Ph.D. graduate, made the cross that produced this plant.

As with Asian Moon, Blue Myth has an extended flowering because it doesn’t set seed. It also grows in a symmetrical, rounded shrub. It has not been tested for over-wintering in Arkansas, but Lindstrom said he envisions the plant more as a potted or container plant that can be brought inside during the winter.

Mount Magazine is a novelty plant that will be of interest to hobbyists who cultivate gesneriads, Lindstrom said. It may also be suited for use as landscape plant in frost-free areas or in conservatories.

Lindstrom has proposed the full name for this plant to be Sinvana Mount Magazine, but the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society, which is the authority responsible for registration of new hybrids in the Gesneriaceae family, has not yet approved it.

Mount Magazine has fragrant white flowers with lavender lines in the throat, produced on a shrubby plant beginning in mid-summer and continuing through fall.

All three of the new plants will be available during the annual Horticulture Department Plant Sale April 21, 2007, Lindstrom said. Later they will be available from commercial nurseries as unrestricted public varieties.

Lindstrom has a few other new ornamental hybrid plants that he expects to release soon. Meanwhile, he is always on the lookout for interesting plants with landscaping potential.

“I’m looking for non-invasive plants with interesting colors and useful traits like drought tolerance,” Lindstrom said. He’s also looking for plants that have not been crossed frequently in the past.

“There are a lot of interesting plants to work with,” he said.