For patio or deck, 3-in-1 flower mix is a perfect pick

Night in Pompeii has staying power

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceFebruary 22, 2013 

LIFE HOME-ONGARDENING MCT

Night in Pompeii combines Techno Heat dark blue lobelia, Sanguna Purple petunia and Lanai Bright Eye verbena.

HANDOUT — MCT

Night in Pompeii stole my heart at last year's plant trials, and I wasn't alone. I could see positive reactions from large retailers and hoped that this incredibly designed flower mix could survive the rugged university trials.

So go these trials, goes the success and eventual marketability of the plant. Night in Pompeii is one of a new line of what are called Kwik Kombos, coming from Syngenta Flowers and designed for hanging baskets and planters.

Night in Pompeii looks as though an artist designed the palette of flowers for the maximum visual impact. There are three flowers in the mix, and all are rock-solid performers.

The first is Techno Heat dark blue lobelia. If you are like others, you have craved the color of blue lobelias but wished for one that lasted longer into the summer. This is precisely where this lobelia hammers other varieties.

Your first thought is probably that the designer would choose orange to go with this icy rare blue, but the dark violet of a Sanguna Purple petunia was selected. Sanguna is a terrific series of petunias that still is struggling a little with market share. In the series are some of the most intense blues and a new fiery red. But in the Night in Pompeii mix, it is the violet partnered with blue that looks so stunning if not mystic.

The final ingredient in the three-part recipe is Lanai Bright Eye verbena. In trials I have seen, the Lanai series has been a stalwart performer, with the Lanai Peach an instant hit. Lanai Bright Eye is a combination of light pink and dark pink, with an eye that echoes the color in the Sanguna Purple petunia.

Kwik Combos like Night in Pompeii allow you to visit the garden center and instantly select an award- winning designer mix without studying colors or varieties. It is all done for you and makes it seem as if you took a course on garden design.

When you buy yours, it most likely will be in a hanging basket or perhaps a large container.

Whichever one you select, know that it is full of racehorses so to speak, real achievers in the world of plants. As you water on a regular basis in the summer, you will be leaching out nutrients from your soil mix. So give it a little water-soluble fertilizer from time to time and do a little scissor snipping, and you'll be surprised at how long your beautiful basket will dazzle on the porch, patio or deck.

Lucky for all of us, Night in Pompeii survived the university trials from north to south. It not only scored well through the long hot summer but was voted as a consumer favorite.

There will be a lot of mixes available this summer, but none will be any prettier or more exotic looking.

Norman Winter is executive director of the Columbus Botanical Garden in Columbus Ga., and author of Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South and Captivating Combinations Color and Style in the Garden.

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