Thanks to world-renowned horticultural firm, GGG (Unternehmensgruppe Grünewald), based in Europe, an entirely new plant has made its gardening debut. An interspecific cross between annual verbena and creeping phlox, Velox promises to be one of the more exciting new plants available to gardeners in the coming years.
Hybrids that result from crossing species within the same genus are called "interspecific."Such hybrids normally do not survive in nature because the resulting plants are sterile.Sterility results from the fact that the parent plants each have a different number of genes.With human intervention, however, these hybrids can be reproduced vegetatively via rooted cuttings or via tissue culture.
Naming interspecific hybrids generally follows the portmanteau method.Using this method, portiions of the names of the two parent species are combined.Generally, themale portion of the name comes first.Hence, verbena (pollen donor) plus phlox equals velox.
Velox has many traits to recommend it.As one might expect of most any hybrid, it has increased vigor and the flowers are of greater substance than those of either verbena or creeping phlox.It is very mildew resistant, drought and heat tolerant once established, and blooms from spring to frost.Velox inherits its annual nature from the verbena side of its heritage.
Even though it has just entered the gardening market, velox has already earned raves.Nursery Management named it one of the top 10 plants that have great potential to be used in landscapes in many different areas of the country.At a recent plant exhibition, Better Homes and Gardens magazine called velox a real "standout" plant for the garden.
I already have a spot picked for the velox plants I'll be trialing in our gardens next year.I'm anxious to see how they fare during our hot, humid--and sometimes dry--summers.Why not try a plant or two yourself?If you do, I'd love to hear how it did for you.
ADDENDUM: Several readers have stated that the reference to an interspecific cross in the lead paragraph is in error. They point out that it is either an intergeneric or interfamilial cross, since Verbena and Phlox are in separate families, albeit within the same order, Polemoniales. However, both the originator of Velox and the information on the Velox trials at Penn State refer to velox as an interspecific cross.
About Larry Rettig
An enthusiastic gardener for over 50 years, my first plant was a potted Ponderosa Lemon tree ordered from a comic book ad at age 15. I still have it, and it’s still bearing lemons! My wife and I garden on 3/4 of an acre, both flowers and vegetables. Although our garden is private, it's listed with the Smithsonian Institution in its Archives of American Gardens and is on the National Register of Historic Places. We garden organically and no-till. Our vegetable garden contains a seed bank of vegetables brought to this country from Germany in the mid-1800s. For more info: http://davesgarden.com/community/blogs/m/LarryR/. Photos that appear in my articles without credit are my own.