Bloom Highlights

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Sources for "What's in Bloom: Bloom Highlights" listings include the Chicago Botanic Garden's staff and database, as well as the publications and records of other botanic gardens, institutions, and the scientific community.

Blue River II Rose Mallow

Hibiscus moscheutos 'Blue River II' has stunning, immense, pure white flowers with overlapping, slightly ruffled petals. At maturity, 'Blue River II' stands 5 feet tall and blooms from mid July to fall. It is attractive to bees and hummingbirds and resistant to deer. It is a great plant for sunny positions and continually moist soils.

Emerald Towers Basil

A new selection of basil for gardens with limited space, this cultivar grows upright throughout the summer with a much delayed flowering cycle which translates into more Genovese flavored basil leaves to enjoy in the kitchen. Strong sturdy plants up to 3 feet in height don't need staking when grown in moderately fertile well drained soils in full sun. Free of most insect and disease problems.

2020 – Ball Horticultural featured plants @ Chicago Botanic Garden

Hayes Starburst Smooth Hydrangea

This chance seedling was discovered in Anniston, Alabama, by Hayes Jackson. Multiple flat, star-like, sterile white flowers come into flower in June and continue up to the first frost. Hayes Starburst smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'Hayes Starburst') blooms on new wood, so it will reliably flower in the Chicago area, regardless of how much damage is done to the stems of the plants over winter.


This series represents years of efforts by plant breeders to develop a series of impatiens that are resistant to the downy mildew disease that devastated the crop not too long ago. Healthy plants featuring flowers in shades of violet thrive in shaded to partly shaded landscape settings, containers and window boxes from early summer through the heat and humidity of July and August and into the end of the season in mid-October. Other than drought, they tolerate most of the conditions found in Chicago area gardens.

2020 – Ball Horticultural featured plants @ Chicago Botanic Garden


Rose-pink flowers are resistant to rain and overhead watering on mounded plants that are ideal for annual flower beds, containers, baskets and window boxes. Time until the next set of blooms has been reduced providing more flowers throughout the summer. A pollinator magnet for insects and hummingbirds. Grow in full sun and moderately fertile soils for best results.

2020 – Ball Horticultural featured plants @ Chicago Botanic Garden

Spotted Joe-Pye Weed

Native to Illinois, spotted Joe-Pye weed grows in moist areas where it can reach 5 feet or more; it has a dense, erect habit. This perennial is suitable for large-scale planting or use in a mixed border. The showy, lavender-pink flowers grow in flat-topped clusters 4 to 6 inches wide on this tall, late-flowering plant. They bloom for an extended period of time, then transform into fluffy seeds that will fly around the garden on a windy day. This excellent garden plant has green stems with purple markings—hence, its common name, spotted Joe-Pye weed. 

Spotted Joe-Pye weed is native to the open, wet meadows of North America and is the only Joe-Pye weed that is naturally occurring west of the Great Plains. It is happiest in sunny, moist locations, but is adaptable to part shade and rich soils that do not dry out. Greatly beloved as a butterfly magnet, it is useful in native gardens and restorations for its height and beauty.

Winter Sunset Shrub Rose

Winter Sunset shrub rose (Rosa 'Winter Sunset') produces orange buds that open to double golden-yellow petals, shading to orange at the center of the flower. This is another of the really tough shrub roses to be released by Iowan and noted breeder Griffith Buck. It has good resistance to fungus and mildew on a bushy habit that reaches 4 feet high by 3 feet wide. This color range is more typically found in hybrid tea roses and is a real treat for USDA Zone 5 gardeners (like those in the Chicago area) who prefer not to heavily mulch their roses at the onset of winter.