Small red, blooming now? Dianthus suggestions, or?

coloradobirdJuly 7, 2008

I need a little red thing that would be blooming now. Like up to a foot tall, preferably even shorter. I think I may have to go with a dianthus, it's the only thing I can think of, but thought I'd try here first in case of any good ideas! The spot is sunny and average water.

If it's dianthus, anybody have suggestions for a nice deep red? (The ones I have in the ground now are all pinks/purplish things.)

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi CB,

Not a whole lot of true red perennials out there of any height! You picked a tough one!

If you decide to go with a Dianthus, for the reddest red, I recommend Dianthus chinensiswhich is the one thatÂs sold with the annuals in spring. I love bright red too, and always keep a few of the D.c.Âs going here and there around the yard. They easily come back a second year, and usually last 3 years before they get too ratty or wimpy and need to be replacedÂbut theyÂre cheap and easy to replaceÂin spring at least. I think there are probably several different red varieties, but thereÂs a link below with pics of several different varieties. Click on Diamond Scarlet to see the color of the ones I usually have. I donÂt know if youÂd be able to find them this year anymore or not. Possibly at a "real" garden center. BUTÂthey donÂt really bloom all summer! At least in my experience they donÂt. I have a couple that are pretty much done for right now, and a couple more that are just starting. When they finish their first flush I usually cut them all the way down and hope thereÂs time for them to rebloomÂand they usually do at least one time. TheyÂre great when theyÂre in full bloomÂget about a foot tall. When I buy them in spring, I always get a pack that has at least one flower on each plant so I can be absolutely certain IÂm really getting the red ones. Then I usually cut them down a ways when I plant them and let them come back to get the best bloom.

HereÂs one of mine in a planter

You could also look for Dianthus gratianopolitanus ÂSpotty (sometimes ÂSpottiÂ!) But this is one I would never buy unless there were at least a few flowers. ÂSpotty is the one that has two white spots on each red petal, and the flowers can range from a pretty washed out looking pink to a deep, almost burgundy red. And the "spots" can range from bright white to a medium pink. I love the ones with the DARK red flowers and the white, white spots! That one only gets about 6-8" tall and sounds like it would fit right in with what youÂre looking for. It blooms mid-summer, June/July.

ThereÂs also a Dianthus deltoides thatÂs supposed to be bright redÂÂFlashing LightsÂ, but IÂve also seen that one for sale in anything from hot pink to a really pretty, true red, so itÂs another one to not buy unless itÂs blooming.

About the only other short red thing I can think of is Heuchera sanguinea ÂFireflyÂ. ItÂs the reddest red Heuchera that I know of, and the variety seems to be pretty consistent in color, but IÂd still recommend looking for one thatÂs blooming to buy. It gets a little over a footÂup to possibly 18", but doesnÂt really look that tall because of the nature of Heuchera. Blooms a long time if deadheaded promptly.

ThatÂs all IÂm coming up with right now for short things. Hopefully somebody else will have some other suggestions.

Let us know what you decide, and post a picture of it when itÂs blooming. I love pictures of red flowers!


    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 9:48PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

How about this one?

It's Dianthus 'Ideal Select Red', and it is a true red.

I was looking for the exact same thing last fall, and had a hard time finding anything other than Dianthus. Here are some things I did come up with though. There are some shorter Lychnis varieties. I wintersowed Lychnis Lumina Bronzeleaf Red, but managed to kill all of the sprouts before I had a chance to plant them out, so I don't have a photo of that one. There is also a short, reblooming red daylily called 'Pardon Me', but it is probably closer to 18". High Country Gardens carries a Verbena peruviana 'Red', which is only 3" tall, but it is only listed hardy to zone 6. You never know though, it might come back.

Short red perennials ARE hard to come by, but if you are willing to go with an annual there are more options, like the Dreamland Red Zinnia, or Lady in Red Salvia, and there are short red annual Geraniums too. There is a very short annual Coreopsis called 'Mahogany Midget' that might work as well.

Hope this helps some,

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 10:58PM
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I'm thinking of a Lychnis, too, but the one I'm thinking of is chalcedonica. It is probably taller than you'd like at 24-30 inches but it is a nice red.

I'm thinking of this because the tag is in my pocket! The garden shop lady sent me home with it as she was convinced I'd like it but I'm in a purple and blue mood, so maybe she knew someone would ask about red today.

Not sure where you are. Up here they have just started blooming.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:12PM
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Skybird and Bonnie, I love your suggestions. And I found one more possibility on the Dianthus: Dianthus xallwoodii 'Desmond.' Have you tried this one? It looks like a good strong red. I bet it's too late to find a good red dianthus for this year, though. Should've thought of this a month ago, but I didn't think of it, of course, until I saw everything blooming!

Although I wouldn't buy it at this particular place, I'm including a link with a picture of Desmond. Looks nice!

I had a Heuchera 'Firefly,' but it didn't come back this year. I liked it a lot though, I may have to get another.

Funny, Bonnie, I had done the plant finder search at HCG and found that verbena, but I was worried about the zone 6. Love that daylily! A little tall for this spot, but I may get one for another. Lychnis Lumina Bronzeleaf Red seems hard to find, but the idea intrigues me. I just pulled out some of my taller Lychnis because they were way too long and spindly. They were also a little more orangey than I like.

J, thanks for the suggestion! It was chalcedonia that I pulled (not all, though). They were 3-4 feet tall! I probably could've pinched them in spring and kept them at a better height, though. I seem to always think of these ideas when it's too late!

Thank you, all, for your great suggestions! I also found this link to a gorgeous red flower bed.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:22AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Coloradobird, when I was searching for short reds last year, I was looking at 'Desmond', and someone here (may have been Stevation) said they had it, and it was less of a true red than the photos showed. Summerhill Seeds sells Dianthus seeds, and they have the 'Ideal Red', 'Crimson', and a 'Scarlet'. I got lucky and found mine at a local nursery that was going out of business late last summer. Even though they are listed as an annual, all of mine came back.

I've seen Gottagarden's red bed photos before, and I am inspired everytime I look at her garden. Great ideas there, even if they are taller than what you need for this particular spot.

Hope you find the perfect red for that spot!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 11:10AM
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I'm glad you mentioned that about Desmond. Good to know before buying!

I have a question for you about geum, which I'm thinking of for another spot. I think I saw on the perennials forum that you have Mrs. Bradshaw? How tall does the plant get, aside from the tall stems with the flowers on them? Is yours flowering now? Oh, and I also saw your Mango Lassi, that is a beautiful plant and I may have to try to fit it in somewhere! (Oh the trials of a small garden!)

Thanks much!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:27PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Yeah, I'm with you on the trials of the small garden thing!

Actually, the one I have is 'Blazing Sunset'. Mine were wintersowed, and are just tiny seedlings right now. The seeds came from Diane's Flower Seeds, but when I went to her website just now, she doesn't have that listed anymore. From what I've read, they are very similar to 'Mrs. Bradshaw'. The differences being that 'Blazing Sunset' has double blooms, and 'Mrs. Bradshaw' is a semi-double. I think 'Blazing Sunset' might be a few inches shorter, but I won't know for sure until next year.

'Mango Lasi' started blooming at the end of April and finished up mid-June. 'Fireball' started blooming about the third week of May, and will probably be done in another week or so. All of the Geums form a nice clump of attractive foliage when not in bloom. The leaf shape resembles geranium foliage, and the clump is a bit bigger than your average Heuchera, so probably less than 12" when not in bloom.

My garden is lacking in early bloomers, so the Geums really filled the gap nicely.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 1:32PM
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Oh, I love the pictures of Blazing Sunset. Wow, gorgeous red. Okay, I'll try that instead of the Mrs. I am so glad I asked here before buying something. Of course, now I may as well wait till fall since I've missed the blooms for this year anyway.

Have you heard of Gaillardia 'Red Plume?' Looks quite nice, supposed to be smaller than 'Burgundy' which I've been looking at at HCG. But have to buy seeds it looks like. I seldom have luck with seeds. Even the easiest things die on me, or never germinate at all. :(

Thank you so much for your wonderful help!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 4:51PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

If the Gaillardia is the annual type, it should be fine, but I grew the Burgundy ones as perennials and they didn't last more than two years. They dislike being wet in the winter, and couldn't handle the snow cover we had (even though it usually isn't that bad for snow here in Utah Valley).

I like Gaillardias a lot, because they seem to handle a lot of different situations during the summer, from moderate water to absolutely no water. The ones in my yard have mutated here and there and created some all-yellow petals with red center disks, as well as the 'Fanfare' style trumpet-shaped petals. I took cuttings of the all-yellow ones and planted them in my front flowerbed. But I've found that it seems all the special ones are more fragile and die easily in the winter. I lost one of the yellow ones this winter.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 11:36AM
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stevation, uh oh, I'm sorry to hear that about Burgundy. Darn. I'll have to think of something else for that spot I'd picked for it. I don't like it when plants only last a year or two and I lost several this past winter for some reason.

Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 12:02PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Coloradobird, I've never grown 'Red Plume', but the pictures sure look nice. Since it's an annual, unless a local nursery has it for sale in the spring, you probably will have to start it from seed.

I never grew from seed much, until I discovered wintersowing a couple of years ago. It's not a foolproof method, but it's a lot easier than babysitting a bunch of sprouts indoors. I'd guess my success rate has been somewhere between 65% - 75% using that method, and a whole lot cheaper than paying for full sized plants.

As far as 'Burgandy' goes, I had five of them, two of which I wintersowed, but just this week I lost one in a windstorm. All of mine made it through their first winter just fine though. My only issue with them, is that they are a bit floppy, like the full sized Gaillardia grandiflora. I prefer the neater look of the compact varieties like 'Goblin'. Maybe someone will come out with a compact 'Burgandy' one day.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 12:29PM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

How about a Gerbera Daisy? Last year I had a great true red that bloomed all summer. I loved it!


    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 1:27PM
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Bonnie, I've looked at the winter sowing stuff before just never got my act together enough to try it. My garden is small so I don't buy nearly the number of plants I did when I had a big garden. :) Still, maybe I'll do it this winter.

Alice, that's a good idea, if I can find a small one for this spot. (I was looking at the tall Gaillardia for another place.) They are a lovely red, so definitely a possibility. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 4:46PM
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I just had another thought or two about this.

What about a miniature rose or a small azalea?

I love the ideas here!


    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 8:33PM
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Cherry Skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens)is noted for providing a continuous display of hot, cherry-red flowers through the summer and into the weeks of autumn. This low, mounding plant prefers a sunny location and well-drained soil and is perfectly suited for the rock garden, raised beds or the front of a border. It has proven to be perennial in protected sites in USDA zone 5a, but is marginally hardy in exposed locations.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 11:21PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Wow, that Cherry Skullcap looks great! I'll have to consider using it if I can find it. Thanks for the tip! I'm in zone 6, which is on the cusp of zone 7, so it's probably more hardy here.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 12:50PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Jclepine, most azaleas aren't cold hardy enough to survive here, though I think there are a few cold hardy ones. The bigger problem is that they like acidic soil. Maybe if you grew it in a container where you could control the acidity somewhat, and overwinter it in a garage or basement, it might work. It sure doesn't stop them from selling them at the Walmart here every spring though.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 3:14PM
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Good thing I checked back. More great suggestions!

J--one of my favorite miniature roses is 'Harm Seville' which is a beautiful deep red. I have three mini roses back there and am looking for something else. Great suggestion, otherwise!

davies-cc, what a lovely idea. Gorgeous plant and I like that it's not so common. May have to try it next year and keep my fingers crossed for hardiness. :)

Thanks y'all!!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 5:41PM
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