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On Gardening: Your Xenon Princess for the long summer

Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Gardening News

Oh my, it's the bomb! To be exact, it is the Cherry Bomb an incredible mix that I've been seeing at garden centers this year featuring Superbells Cherry Star Calibrachoa, Supertunia Black Cherry petunia and the pristine white Snow Princess sweet alyssum.

This explosion of color should last all simmer on your porch, patio or deck. If you don't find this ready-made mix, look for the separate ingredients and make your own at home.

This mix once again shows the versatility of Snow Princess sweet alyssum. To be honest, this plant deserves a name like Xenon Warrior Princess of the Garden. Consider this: Son James, the Color Design Guru in Columbus, planted it in a container in April 2019. It has not stopped blooming a year later -- which is freakish.

Our winter was cold enough to zap camellia blossoms and Southern Indica azaleas but mild enough that Snow Princess has bloomed for a year. Skip the annual and perennial designation and go directly to eternal! Obviously, no one should count on this at their house, but wow, what a trouper.

Snow Princess has been out a decade plus a year, and as they told me in 2009 it is a sweet alyssum that will bloom all summer in Orlando, Fla. I didn't believe it then, but I am now totally convinced. It is the perfect "Pansy Pal." At the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, we grew it with pansies and blue delphiniums.

It is "Heavenly with Hibiscus." In downtown Savannah in front one of the most famous movie locations it was a blanket of white with yellow hibiscus. It almost goes without saying, it is "Sensational with Salvias" too! Snow Princess sweet alyssum combines wonderfully with just about everything, making the combos look better -- and the fragrance is oh so sweet.

As good as it is in the landscape, it may be even more dazzling in baskets, containers and boxes. Anywhere you can allow it to drape or blanket, it creates an amazing look. Though I am touting the original Snow Princess, know there is also a Blushing Princess with dozens of awards for its fragrant lavender-tinted blossoms.


Snow Princess will reach about 12 to 16 inches in height with a spread up to 48 inches. Soil should be fertile and well-drained. It thrives in both full sun and part sun. It doesn't require deadheading or cutting back, but don't be afraid to cut it back if it outgrows it allotted space. Though it is a tough performer all summer, it does like to keep an evenly moist soil for those thirsty periods of high heat.

Make feeding part of your regular regimen. In containers that are watered on a daily basis, regular feeding is necessary for best performance. Water soluble fertilizers in containers and controlled released granules in the landscape are ideal. Follow label directions.

The virus has everyone hunkering down, and rightfully so. If your garden center doesn't allow foot traffic, perhaps it has car pickup. Or there's even mail order for plants. Getting out in the garden with flowers like Snow Princess will be a magic kind of medicine this season.

(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden." Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(c)2020 Norman Winter

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