The Perennial Plant Association has picked Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’ as its 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year. The cultivar name is English for ‘Feuerhexe’ - the original German cultivar name. The common name for this easy-to-grow, sun-loving perennial is ‘Firewitch’ Cheddar Pink.
This dianthus cultivar, like other members of the carnation genus, has flowers with an appealing fragrance of spicy clove.
'Firewitch’ has low-growing, bluish-gray leaves that stay evergreen in most climates. Its flowers are purple to magenta pink and bloom for weeks in mid-spring.
2006 Perennial Plant of the Year: How to grow
Dianthus or Cheddar Pink ‘Firewitch’ has a mat-forming growth habit. Its leaves grow about three to four inches tall, and the flower stems, which cover the entire plant when in bloom, grow about eight inches tall.
This Cheddar Pink is hardy from USDA Zones 3 to 9, and easy to grow in full sun and well-drained soil.
You can encourage more flowers by shearing off the finished blooms right after flowering in mid-spring. This promotes a second flush of color in summer – and if you shear them again, you will even get flowers in early autumn. Remember: As with most perennials that rebloom, the first flush of color will always be the strongest.
The 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year - How to use in the garden
A low-growing perennial like Dianthus ‘Firewitch’ makes a great edging plant for flower beds or the herb garden. It also grows beautifully in the rock garden or between stones in dry stone walls, or when used as a ground cover in a sunny area.
Yvonne Cunnington is a garden writer and the author of Clueless in the Garden, a guide for beginner gardeners. For more information and to view a picture of this plant, see http://www.flower-gardening-made-easy.com/2006-perennial-plant-of-the-year.html - For more gardening tips, visit Yvonne's site at http://www.flower-gardening-made-easy.com