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Top 10 plans for the Midwest

It’s spring, and as thoughts turn to flowers, one thought might creep into your mind.

What should I plant?

To help gardeners choose annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vines and edible ornamentals, the Missouri Botanical Garden has identified 18 new “Plants of Merit” for the Midwest in 2010.

The Plants of Merit distinction is designed to build home gardeners’ confidence in plants to use in their landscape projects. Choosing the right plants can be a challenge when one considers the number of plants that are available. New plants are introduced each year without much regional information. Meanwhile, many excellent plant selections languish in obscurity, known only to horticulture professionals.

The Plants of Merit program also promotes diversity in the home gardening landscape, with emphasis on selecting hardy, trouble-free plants.

To be nominated as a Plant of Merit, selections must not be invasive in our area; must be easy to grow and maintain; and must grow consistently well in Missouri, central and southern Illinois, and the Kansas City Metro area.

Plants of Merit also must be resistant or tolerant to diseases and insects; have outstanding ornamental value; and be reasonably available to purchase.

The 2010 list of plants of merit consists of the Fall Fiesta sugar maple, Begonia Grandis (hardy begonia), Bull’s Blood beet, Green Velvet boxwood, Celosia Argentea (feather celosia), Cladrastis Kentukea (yellow wood tree), Purpureum fennel, Happy Returns daylily, Pink Diamond hydrangea, Landmark (lantana), Becky (Shasta daisy), Penta Lanceolata (Egyptian star flower), Long Regal Prince oak, Victoria Blue (mealycup sage), Angelina (Stonecrop Sedum), Pond Cypress tree, Blue Crop blueberry, Blue Muffin (arrowwood vibernum).

Among the highlights of the list are the Penta Lanceolata, a tropical perennial or sub-shrub that is commonly grown as an annual in the St. Louis area; Begonia Grandis; Boxwood; Cladrastis Kentukea; and Bull’s Blood beet.

The Plants of Merit program began in 1998. Partnering organizations include Powell Gardens, Mizzou Botanic Garden, the University of Missouri Extension, Missouri Landscape Nursery Association, and Illinois Green Industry Association.

For more information on Plants of Merit, visit

Plants of Merit brochures may be purchased at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening and the Garden Gate Shop.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis, just south of I-44 at Vandeventer-Kingshighway (exit #287B). It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Dec. 25. Grounds open at 7 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Admission is $8 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under and Garden members. Admission is $4 for St. Louis City and County residents or free Wednesdays and Saturdays until noon. Special admission rate events are scheduled on the third weekend of May, Labor Day weekend, and first weekend of October).

Parking is free onsite two blocks west at the Shaw-Vandeventer intersection. For more information, log on to or call the 24-hour recording at (314) 577-9400 or (800) 642-8842.

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