THE GARDEN GUY: Cashmere for Swallowtails plus, best of show for your garden

The Garden Guy paired Superbena Pink Cashmere with this year's new Supertunia Saffron Finch petunia. (TNS/Norman Winter)
The Garden Guy paired Superbena Pink Cashmere with this year's new Supertunia Saffron Finch petunia. (TNS/Norman Winter)

There is a new verbena coming this spring that is like "Cashmere for Swallowtails," plus its beauty and garden charm will sweep you off your feet. It's called Superbena Pink Cashmere and the excitement it is creating has some of us counting the days until spring.

I wrote about Superbena Pink Cashmere around seven months ago as The Garden Guy, industry and universities were all testing it simultaneously. That was really an accomplishment for Proven Winners and a lot of fun.

As I was watching it in my backyard and at a friend's window box in Phenix City, Ala., I was also able to see it at the Young's Plant Farm Annual Garden Tour in Auburn, Ala. In all three places it was ever so beautiful, new and fresh, yet with a touch of nostalgia.

It was also performing lights-out up the road in Athens at the University of Georgia Trials. It was awarded a Plant of Distinction for August. You might think no flower wins anything in the hot humid month of August in Georgia. Superbena Pink Cashmere however will be known for beauty and perseverance. UGA said, "Thank you Pink Cashmere for showing off and proving to the world what verbenas are capable of!"

Then in September the prized Pipevine Swallowtail was at The Garden Guy's house feeding on Superbena Pink Cashmere blossoms completing a "Swallowtail Trifecta." I had already had the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails taking part in the Pink Cashmere feast.

Then, the University of Tennessee trial program awarded Superbena Pink Cashmere a Best of Show Award saying: "The large umbels of delicate pink flowers on this verbena won our hearts, with its extreme vigor, producing loads of blossoms all season without deadheading. Mounded trailing plants were attractive to bees and butterflies, providing interest all warm season. This sun-loving plant is deer-resistant and disease-resistant, making it an easy choice for containers and flowerbeds. It grows 12- to 15-inches tall and trailed 24 to 30 inches in our trial bed.

Proven Winners recently said that Superbena Pink Cashmere won 15 awards in 2023. While these will be posted at a later date you can already feel confident in buying them this spring. You may want to tell your favorite garden center you will be expecting the opportunity to make that purchase.

Proven Winners has already created two new companion planting suggestions to help get you started. My favorite is called "All The Time" and features Unplugged Pink salvia as the thriller, along with Plum Dandy alternanthera, the 2024 new Supertunia Hoopla Vivid Orchid petunia and of course the star of this show, the Superbena Pink Cashmere verbena.

The Garden Guy partnered his with the new 2024 Supertunia Saffron Finch petunia that gives a real taste of yellow cheer along with the pink shades of the verbena. Proven Winners describe the colors as pink, silver and white.

Superbena Pink Cashmere verbena has the same size of flowers and vigor as Superbena Whiteout and Violet Ice, two other award-winning favorites. The Garden Guy typically gets 3 years or more out of Superbenas, the hardiness are zones 8-11 though it's worth every penny as an annual. (Arkansas is in zones 6-8 with most of the state in zone 8.)

Throughout the year The Garden Guy will go around sticking tip cuttings in mixed containers where a blank space may have opened up. For this reason, I never really know how old a particular plant is, but I can truthfully say, I am never without Superbena verbenas.

I will always be a little sun-challenged but I get enough to let verbenas rock. So, give yours plenty of sun and use good lightweight potting soil in your containers. Make your beds fertile, organic-rich and freely draining. I feed with a water-soluble fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks and when it comes to verbenas, I cut back religiously to make sure I am always creating new growth, which of course brings more flowers.

It was 17 degrees this morning as I write this but a warm up is next and I am ready for a spring spruce up, planting, and to see Superbena Pink Cashmere verbena blooms once again. Start sourcing your plants now.

Norman Winter is a horticulturist, garden speaker and author of "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden."

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