Southern Gardening: Use Telstar dianthus for cool season color – The Commercial Dispatch

One of the attributes I look for when choosing annual color plants is how hardworking they will be in my home landscape.

While I know garden chores are an integral part of the landscape game, I like my garden and landscape to be relaxing. I don’t like to change out color every month. If you do, that’s fine, and you might not be interested in what I have to say next. But I personally like easy.

When we get into the cool season — and yes, we’re finally getting the cooler weather we’ve been waiting for since COVID struck — we have many choices for long-lasting, multiseason annual color. Planting now lets the plants develop a robust root system to sustain them almost all winter long.

A big root system helps plants look great, carry color all through the fall and still put on a beautiful and colorful display in the coming spring.

That’s why I love Telstar dianthus; it checks off all the boxes on my list.

The Telstar series of dianthus has great flower colors ranging from carmine rose, pink and purple to almost red. I really like the picotee selections, which have pretty bicolor flowers. Flower petals have a delicate serration on the margins.

Telstar dianthus has a uniform growing habit and only gets about 10 inches tall and wide. This makes it a perfect mass-planting choice, whether in a raised planting bed or container.

We are rapidly moving towards winter and its associated cold weather.

In my coastal Mississippi garden, freezing temperatures will damage any open Telstar flowers. And there’s always the possibility that the foliage may start to show purplish colors, which I like to tell fellow gardeners indicates that the plants are shivering. But this far south, the plants will recover and resume flowering.

In northern Mississippi, I think it would be easier to enjoy the fall flower display and simply replant in the spring.

The Telstar series is easy to grow and maintain. For best performance, always plant in the full sun in well-drained soil.

Dianthuses are susceptible to root disease problems and don’t like their feet wet. This is a concern in our cool, wet fall and winter seasons. For this reason, growing in containers is my preferred strategy, and these plants always look great in my self-watering containers.

Telstar dianthuses also make great partners in my cool-season combination containers. I really like to combine them with the spreading Cool Wave pansies.

These plants are moderate to heavy feeders all through their growing season. I always add some good, controlled-release fertilizer at transplanting, and then I supplement monthly with water-soluble fertilizer when watering.

You can encourage Telstar dianthus to produce more flowers by pinching them back a couple of inches after the first flower flush. This stimulates more lateral growth and more flowers.

If you are intrigued by this plant, head out to the garden centers early for the best choices. But, if they don’t have any Telstar dianthuses, you’re not out of luck because I’ve always found excellent, generic dianthus that will look great in your fall, winter and spring landscapes and gardens.

Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at [email protected]