Bubbling up and over in blooms

Blue Bubbles in bloom

Snowstorm Blue Bubbles Sutera hybrid from Proven Winners overflows all summer long with double blooms that look their bluest when (temporarily) in shade.

Last spring, I was asked to trial a new Bacopa called Blue Bubbles, from the popular Snowstorm® collection. Given the plant had both “bubbles” and “snowstorm” in its name, I wasn’t surprised when it predictably over-delivered on the bloom front. But that’s not the reason this Sutera hybrid, now being introduced by Proven Winners to Southern Ontario garden centres for Spring 2015, is making it onto my list of superstar plants for containers. Here’s why:

It’s got small flowers with big impact: While most Bacopas have a cute, cartoon-like, five-petal flower, Blue Bubbles has a double flower as intricate as a Victorian button. But it’s their colour that will win you over first. Although officially described as blue, the blossoms are a gorgeous light purple in strong summer sunlight. These plants should have full sun exposure but for a lovely trick-of-the-eye colour show, position your container so that the plants are shaded for a short time at noon. Not only will you avoid drying out your container prematurely (see Drought stress, below), the blooms take on a deep, lavender blue glow (shown at left).

It fills, it spills, it totally thrills: Snowstorm® Blue Bubbles’ semi-trailing, upright mounding habit is perfect for combination container plantings when you want a well-branching plant that will grow up and out (maximum height of 6″, spreading 14″), adding shape and structure to a composition as well as trail down, softening the edges with a tumble of colour. Because of the abundance of strong-coloured, exquisitely shaped blooms, this plant also makes a great single specimen container planting (see below, left). I planted four of them in a row in a long trough-shaped container (see below, right) and my two minutes of labour was rewarded with a lush mini-hedge of purpleness that bordered a part of my patio for the entire season.

Maintenance? What maintenance?: As its name implies, Snowstorm® Blue Bubbles starts blooming at the beginning of the growing season (the plant is self-cleaning so there’s no need to deadhead) and doesn’t stop. Well, almost. After one particularly hot and dry week, when I was away at the cottage, I came back to plants with nary a bubble, blue or otherwise. Unlike most tender annuals that will faint and go prostrate at the first hint of drought stress, Bacopas stay green and upright but they do stop flowering. Keep your pots consistently moist (without overwatering) and you will have an on-going show. Really on-going. Though the plant tag states that their blooming season is spring through summer, my plants bloomed well into October, finally succumbing to the blast from a hard frost.

 

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