South Dakota Master Gardeners Standout Plants

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Sue W. White of the Northern Hills Master Gardeners enjoys her heirloom Abyssinian gladiolus (bottom white with dark center and pointed petals) that originated in Ethiopia in 1844. Thanks to her for sharing the photo.

Season Standout Flowers and Vegetables

South Dakota Master Gardeners met in Yankton in September for their annual update and were asked to share about their outstanding flower or vegetable from this past season or maybe share a tip. Here are their edited responses.

  • Cylindra Beets. Theresa Nordin of Pennington County Master Gardeners of the Rapid City area said that these beets grow very well and are wonderful for making salads uniform.
  • ‘New Orange’ Petunia from Burpees.Theresa Nordin of Pennington County Master Gardeners of the Rapid City area said that they grew well from seed and are still blooming riotously on October 15th.
  • Amaranths. Shirley Masteller is a Master Gardener, not in a club, whose favorite gets about 3 ft tall and adds dark red spires to the landscape in fall.
  • Tartarian asters (Aster tataricus). Jim Heisinger of Missouri Valley Master Gardeners of the Yankton area saw Painted Lady butterflies feeding on the last of his seven aster species still in bloom. He says that lots of pollinators appreciate this late-blooming non-native perennial.
  • Potatoes. Jim Heisinger of Missouri Valley Master Gardeners of the Yankton area said that as the U.S. Stock Market drops, millions of my species can rush to their basements and count the potatoes we stashed away. The lowly potato first fed Incas and then spread around the world; it is easy to grow.
  • ‘Sun Gold’ Cherry tomato. (Name withheld) from Pennington County Master Gardeners of the Rapid City area. 
  • Wave Petunia x hybrid. Marlene Ohnstad of the Minnehaha Master Gardeners of the Sioux Falls area said that she bought 3 packs and planted them in a large container. They grew 12 inches tall and spread up to 30 inches. They are very hardy. She chose the color “rose”. Guests always said “Wow!”.
  • Donna Steele of the Huron Area Master Gardeners is a fan of daylilies.
  • Purple coneflower. Marla Huse of the Prairie Potters Master Gardeners in Sully County said her perennial was spectacular this year and hopes it comes back next year.
  • Zinnias. Susan Brown of Brookings Master Gardeners said that the short Thumbelina are favorites as well as the tall ones that are about 30 inches. Every year they produce more flowers than she can use. Each one is different, from the shaggy newer kind to the old tried and true. It’s hard to beat a zinnia.
  • Caroline raspberries, Sparkle strawberries, fingerling eggplant and Celebrity tomatoes. Marilyn Varick of Fall River Master Gardeners said these were all great this season.
  • Purple coneflower. Connie Hobbs of Rapid City Garden Club said that they were so beautiful on the hillsides in Rapid City and Black Hills. She has several but will be planting more.
  • Celery plants. Mary Lerssen of Minnehaha Master Gardeners of the Sioux Falls area said that she enjoys celery plants in fresh salads, cooks with it, and freezes some for winter. She starts them from seed.
  • Yellow cannas and red cannas. Mary Lerssen of Minnehaha Master Gardeners of the Sioux Falls area said that she dug the bulbs and hopes to keep them overwinter to plant them next spring. As well as yellow and red flowers of canna, she has orange and multi-colored ones and some with red leaves. They look exotic.
  • Snake gourd. Howard Heidelberger of Spencer planted these for fun. He said that only one gourd grew and it looked like an anaconda, 3 feet 5inches long. He plants other gourds for decorations or birdhouses.
  • Red Fern Peony. Beverly Heidelberger of Spencer a fern peony fan. This one had beautiful healthy size and shape and there was not much spring wind, then it came. It needs support, and when she was too busy, it ended upon the ground. No extra water or fertilizer was given. As this perennial gets larger it may be divided.
  • Hardy Hibiscus (red). Beverly Heidelberger of Spencer said that this plant has done well even during the drought years, even though the other colored hibiscus planted did not live through the winter. It is amazing that a tropical looking plant can grow in South Dakota. This perennial may be stared from seed, as there are many falling off the plant, only two have come up on their own during the last 5 years. She is trying more xeriscape plants each year now.
  • ‘Sunset Hyssop’ (Agastache rupestris) or Threadleaf Giant Hyssop or Licorice Mint. Kim Marie Weimer of Pennington County Master Gardeners of the Rapid City area said that the hyssop is USDA Zone: 4b-10 and grows in full sun to partial shade. Its height is 24” – 26” She sees bold brushes of sunset orange flowers from August to frost, blooming when everything else is done. It is a southwest native plant. Whole plant exudes rich root beer aroma. It grows in ordinary to poor soil and takes regular watering provided it’s well – drained, moderate to dry. Hyssop is excellent for water smart or perennial border and self-seeds in her location in rocky borders. This plant is great for dry West River gardens and the deer never touch it. It’s long – blooming, beautiful fragrant scent when touched or it rains.
  • Butterfly Milkweed (Ascelpias tuberosa). Peggy Naessig of Minnehaha Master Gardeners said that the orange blooms are beautiful, compared to the regular milkweed. The plant attracted many monarchs and other butterflies. We ended up with 18 monarchs that we raised and let go.  It was very fun and educational.
  • Watermelon, according to Eleanor Toyne of Missouri Valley Master Gardeners.
  • Castor bean. Alice Koupal of Wagner said that she has grown them for years, from seeds. They make a beautiful focal point and the red hue to the leaves is unreal. Leaves are huge and my plants got as tall as 7 feet. Then as time goes on the flowers and seeds start to appear and they are a vivid red. They almost look tropical and I get many compliments about them.  I used them to put shade around my greenhouse and also against landscape walls to draw attention.
  • ‘Torch’ Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). Lana Kullander of Minnehaha Master Gardeners of the Sioux Falls area said that she likes this All-America-Selections winner that blooms in late summer and Autumn, just in time for the migrating Monarch butterflies. It reaches 5-6 feet high or there is a dwarf variety, ‘Fiesta Del Sol’ that grows to 3 feet tall. Dark orange flowers are butterfly magnets. She has found they prefer the taller variety but will visit the smaller one for nectar also. She started with a purchased packet of seed several years ago but now saves seed from her plant to start them in the spring as they are not hardy in USDA Zone 4.
  • ‘Purple Beauty’ Sweet Pepper. Lana Kullander of Minnehaha Master Gardeners of the Sioux Falls area said that it starts green and matures to dark purple in 70 days. Great for salads, sweet taste and color adds interest to salads. She noted that this one does not cause indigestion for her husband as the green ones do. She grew one plant in her Earth Box container and harvested 7 peppers from it.
  • Mandevilla vine. Lois Emery of Hot Springs Master Gardeners said that the Madevilla bloomed from June to November on her deck.

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