February 21, 2014 at 1:00 am

Gardening

To survive the winter, think pink with Gomphrena Pink Zazzle

Gomphrena hybrid Pink Zazzle will be a hot flower this spring. (Proven Winners)

Looks like the snow is not going away any time soon, so let’s just ignore the weather and take a look at something bright and beautiful.

There’s a hot new flowering annual making its debut this spring — Gomphrena hybrid Pink Zazzle. It’s not your grandmother’s globe amaranth, and chances are you would never guess its lineage when you see it. What clued me in were the tiny, yellow, tube-shaped structures scattered among the flower petals. In reality those yellow structures are the plant’s flowers, and the bright, magenta, petal-like structures are bracts.

Unlike the globe amaranth you are familiar with — tightly rounded, clover-like heads with paper-like petals, such as Buddy Purple or Strawberry Fields — Pink Zazzle’s flower form reminds me of an annual aster. The large, eye catching brilliant fuchsia pink flowers, that age to soft pink, can expand to 2 inches in width. Like other gomphrenas, the flowers are exceptionally lasting — up to three weeks outdoors and two to three months as cut flowers. It can grow to 2 feet in height and a foot wide, and unlike its relatives, it has an attractive branching habit. Other good news about this plant is it will bloom throughout the frost-free season.

Growing this lovely should be quite easy in a pot or in the garden if you don’t kill it with kindness. Pink Zazzle should be planted in full sun in soil that’s not overly rich and drains well. Too much water could lead to crown rot, and over-fertilizing may result in all leaves and few flowers. That would be a pity. It’s heat-tolerant but should not be planted outdoors until the nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees.

If planted in a container, I’d use a soilless potting mix that’s free of water absorbing products and fertilizer.

In its debut season, Pink Zazzle’s availability may be limited. If you’re determined to be the first on your block to put it on display you might consider ordering a plant or two from Logee’s Greenhouse. Pink Zazzle, priced at $14.95 for a 4-inch pot is currently unavailable but will be shipped when ready and the weather is right. For more information, contact Logee’s Greenhouses at (888) 330-8038, www.logees.com.

High Country Gardens back

One of my favorite mail order greenhouses, High Country Gardens, specializing in eco-friendly xeric plants, has been purchased by American Meadows and founder David Salman continues on as chief horticulturist. To get their new catalog contact them at (800) 925-9387 or www.highcountrygardens.com.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Friday’s in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnews.com/homestyle.