Steinert's front entrance always seems especially inviting...and promising.
Theta Steinert (in the red jacket and "Don't Ruffle My Feathers" sweatshirt) has been operating the nursery nearly 40 years. Theta says this lady, Lavon Hensley, is a good friend and "one of our original customers." How long has Lavon shopped at Steinert's? "Thirty years," she said. "I must like it."
|'We Grow Tons....'|
Lavon holds one of the nursery's most popular perennials, a bright yellow lantana. "We grow tons of perennials," says Theta. She isn't kidding.
We'd never seen a nursery so busy it took two people to direct traffic, until we visited Steinert's Greenhouse & Gardens on a May Saturday morning. Cars, SUV's, and pickups literally packed the lot with eager gardeners loading up goodies for spring planting.
A closer view of the greenhouse stock reveals a bonanza of geraniums in pots and in hanging baskets. The nursery's geraniums are a big, big seller. "We think we grow the best in the country," says Theta. Note: The airy, trailing white flowers in the hanging baskets are Bacopa.
|On the Go|
Nursery manager Carolyn Willoughby is on the run with an armload of plants in one of the nursery's 13 greenhouses. Steinert's and today's greenhouses are located not far from the one original greenhouse used in 1920 by Robert Steinert's parents.
|The Spring Bounty|
In early May the greenhouses are loaded with new plants ready to go. Steinert's has a longstanding reputation for growing excellent plant stock.
|Artistry in Plants|
Carolyn arranges red geraniums and white lantana in one of the larger container plantings she creates for the nursery. Steinert's arrangements take many forms and mixes and are terrifically popular with both individual and corporate customers.
|Cool Container Blends|
At left, blending a sea of white petunias with only miniscule spots of color ingeniously makes all three elements much more dramatic. Below, an arrangement that plays a cool, almost frosty pale green against brilliant red verbena.
At left, Carolyn's cascading Petunias are capped with vibrant pink Pentas. Below, combining blue-lavender Plectranthus and Verbena with a touch of white Bacopa produces an unusually cool and soothing arrangement.
|And Baskets Too....|
Just when we thought we'd seen it all in Steinert's largest container plantings, we happened upon these hanging baskets of Bougainvillea hybrids. They left us, well, just about speechless.
|Verbena in Baskets|
More subtle than the Bougainvillea but still arresting were these baskets of Verbena hybrids. At last, we were beginning to understand why this nursery needs to direct traffic on weekends.
|Verbenas and Vivid Color|
Verbenas are unequaled for vivid color, making them perfect for borders, edging, rock gardens, pots, and, as shown above, hanging baskets. They grow in clumps 6-10 inches high and a foot or more wide and bloom all season with flowers in shades and hues of red, orange, pink,and purple. They like full sun and well-drained soil. They take little care. Deadheading produces more flowers. In killing-frost climates they must be grown as annuals but can be brought inside for the winter.
|'Aztec Silver Magic' Verbena|
Steinert offers the 'Aztec Silver Magic' Verbena (Verbena x hybrida 'Aztec Silver Magic'), from the Aztec series of perennial verbenas. Early-blooming and mildew-resistant, it likes well-drained, fertile soil and can grow to 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide. Bonus: It bears its unique silvery lavender flower clusters all season long.
|'Babylon Light Blue' Verbena|
The 'Babylon Light Blue' Verbena (Verbena hybrid 'Babylon Light Blue' is another early-blooming, mildew-resistant Verbena that provides color right up until frost. Vigorous and easy to grow, it likes full sun and fertile soil and can grow to 9 inches tall with a spread of 24 inches.
|Abunda 'Ghost' Bacopa|
As the above Verbenas suggest, Steinert's offers a remarkable range of bedding plants. Among the most distinctive is this white Bacopa variety, a hybrid from the the Abunda series 'Ghost'. Its delicacy and lovely trailing habit make it superb as a complement plant in hanging baskets or mixed containers. It blooms profusely and all season long.
Among its already diverse plant stock, the nursery now and again turns up such extra-charming surprises as these Sunset Group Lewisia cotyledon hybrids. From the species native to the Rockies, these little perennial hybrids bloom from basal rosettes with pink, orange, red, or yellow flowers that are often striped.They grow to 6 inches tall, love full sun, and to avoid rot must have excellent drainage. Note: As lovely as these plants are, don't they deserve a better common name than Bitterroot?
|Inside the Nursery|
Not all of the surprises at Steinert's are in the plants outside. Inside the building visitors might encounter something like this remarkable Angel's Trumpet. Of tropical origin, this dramatically beautiful plant with its large, pendulous blossoms is of the Brugsmansia species and grown in containers in the Ozarks. Some hybrids can grow to 20 feet in height. Before you try it, though, be aware that as fascinating as it is, all parts of the plant are poisonous.
What could be more intriguing than this Pitcher Plant (unless you're a fly)? It's another tropical treat inside the nursery. The term Pitcher Plant applies to several plant species that attract and feed on insects. This one from its appearance and coloring is most likely Nepenthes burkei, native to the Philippines and said to be relatively easy to grow if warm and often misted. The pitchers here are about 6 inches long and can reach 8 inches. Note: If you are a fly, do not climb into a pitcher.
|ROSES, ROSES, AND MORE ROSES...|
It wouldn't be stretching the truth to call Steinert's a rose-lover's oasis. The nursery has a region-wide reputation for offering a great many of the most beautiful, most interesting roses available. "We order each fall for the next season. We get the number one roses of the year and add in the favorites, plus Knock Outs. We usually do 2,000-2,500 roses and sell them all," says Theta.
The nursery's roses are all field-grown in Arizona and California and graded in the fields. "We refuse anything that isn't number one," says Theta. "We prune the roots and make 'em look decent and put 'em up in 5-gallon cans."
It must be noted that in addition to providing such high quality roses to Ozarks gardeners, Steinert's also has donated, and continues to contribute, all of the roses in the beautiful Rose Garden in the Springfield Botanical Gardens in Springfield, Missouri.
That said, here are some prize examples:
|The 'Ultimate Pink' Rose|
'Ultimate Pink' is for many the most beautiful of all pink roses. A hybrid tea, it grows to 4 1/2 feet tall with deep-pink blossoms 4 1/2 inches wide on very long stems. The blooms first appear as exquisite, ovoid, pointed buds and open as flowers with a light, sweet fragrance.
|The 'Oranges 'n Lemons' Rose|
A true conversation piece, the Oranges 'n Lemons Rose is available as a floribunda, grandiflora, hybrid tea, or shrub rose. As a shrub rose it has a beautiful fountain-like habit and can also be trained to climb as high as 8 feet. The flowers in all forms of the plant also have a lovely citrus fragrance. Note: We've grown this rose ourselves and found it wonderful in every way.
|The 'Pope John Paul II' Rose|
'Pope John Paul II' has been widely praised as "the best white rose ever." A hybrid tea, it features glossy green leaves and pristine white blossoms with a crisp, clean, citrusy fragrance.
|The 'Europeana' Rose|
'Europeana' is a classic floribunda rose developed in Holland that has won many medals worldwide and was an All-America Rose Selection in 1968. A superb landscaping rose with attractive bronze-green foliage, it bears large clusters of dark red, highly fragrant flowers all season long and is said to be spectacular when planted in groups.
|The 'Milwaukee's Calatrava' Rose|
One of Steinert's latest rose offerings is the 'Milwaukee's Calatrava' (Rosa 'Radfragwhite'), a new white rose named for famed architect Santiago Calatrava. Bred by Bill Radler, who created the enormously popular Knock Out Rose, from spring to frost it produces an abundance of uniquely lovely soft white double flowers with intoxicating fragrance. It grows upright and can reach 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Highly disease resistant, it performs beautifully in Ozarks gardens. We know, because we have one ourselves and it's been a joy in every way.
|The 'Showbiz' Rose|
The 'Showbiz' Rose is an eye-catching--you might even say show-stopping-- floribunda rose with up to 12 brilliant-red blooms on each stem. In 1985 it was honored as an All-American Rose Selection.
|The 'Veterans Honor' Rose|
A favorite of gardeners throughtout the world, 'Veterans Honor' is an elegant hybrid tea rose that grows to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide with exquisite, bright red flowers as much as 5 inches wide.
|The 'New Dawn' Rose|
The lovely, pale pink rose graces the arbor at the nursery's entryway. It's 'New Dawn', and Theta says it's the first climbing rose ever patented. Extremely vigorous and disease-resistant, it produces an abundance of gorgeous, fragrant flowers throughout the season.
|The 'Peace' Rose|
'Peace' is widely regarded as the most famous and most successful rose of all time. A hybrid tea, its blossoms are 5-6 inches in width, sweetly fragrant, contain 40 petals, and are golden yellow in color with blushing pink edging. The plant grows 4-6 feet tall with a 24-inch spread. Note: Originally named 'Madame A. Meilland' the name 'Peace' was requested by its developer, French horticulturist Francis Meilland, as a more enduring appelation. The new name was announced the day Berlin surrendered to the Allies in World War II, April 29, 1945.
Note: These are a very few of Steinert's roses. To see those in the Rose Garden in the Springfield Botanical Gardens, click here.
We can't resist including these wonderful pots made by Felix, a Mexican artist who visits the nursery every year to sell his handiwork. No two are similar, says Theta, because all are handmade.
|And Pure Whimsy....|
We love these container figurines--is that what they're called, or should they be referred to as "fun thingies"? We're not sure. What we are sure of is that they make us laugh and we love 'em and they're by the same artist who created the pots above.
Note: you've absolutely got to click on these pics to get the full effect of these goodies,
|Back to More Plants--and More Garden Color|
But turning back to plants. among the most colorful annuals Steinert's offers are Celosia in several species and varieties. Native to Africa, Celosia are named after the Greek word kelos, meaning "burned," which refers to those with flame-like flower heads. Celosia can be spectacular in Ozarks gardens, thriving even in our hottest midwestern summers. But read on....
|'Century Fire' Celosia|
'Century Fire' Celosia (Celosia plumosa 'Century Fire') features tall, feathery flower plumes deep red in color. This well-branched annual grows 24 inches tall and blooms early in the season and up till frost. It's an easy-to-grow, highly eye-catching addition to any garden and also works wonderfully well in containers.
|'New Look' Celosia|
Its beautiful deep-red foliage is fast-making 'New Look' Celosia (Celosia argentea plumosa 'New Look') a great favorite with gardeners who like vivid color. Extremely easy to grow, it grows to 14 inches tall and a foot wide and blooms beautifully all season long. Note: Foliage and flower color deepen as the season progresses.
|'Double Bridal Wreath' Spirea|
'Double Bridal Wreath' Spirea (Spirea cantoniensis 'Double Bridal Wreath') gets its name for its breathtaking double clusters of tiny white flowers. It grows upright with arching branches of dark bluish green foliage and blossoms from mid-spring to early summer. Given full sun or part shade, it can grow to 4-6 feet tall and as wide. Long treasured in the Ozarks, Spirea are becoming even more popular as more and more new hybrids appear.
|An Ocean of Lantanas|
Lantanas provide great garden color from spring to frost in the Ozarks, and Steinert's grows an ocean of them. Varieties of Lantana camara produce multicolor flowers and grow to 4 feet high and 6 feet wide. Those of Lantana montevidensis produce single-color flowers and grow to 1-1/2 feet tall with a spread up to 4 feet. Note: Superb on their own, they're almost always an extra-appealing addition to containers and hanging baskets.
|'Coral Nymph' Sage|
Ranking high among Steinert's most beautiful annuals is 'Coral Nymph Sage' (Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph') with its bright green leaves and lovely spikes of delicate rose-pink and white flowers. This garden marvel grows to 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide, and sometimes even larger, with as little as 3 hours of direct sun per day. Best, it blooms prolifically all season long. A Big Bonus: It reseeds very nicely in the garden.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) gets its common name from the conical form and spiny texture of its center. The species name Echinacea
is Latin for "hedgehog." This vigorous wildflower's color, uniquely graceful blossoms, and
3-5-foot height make it very striking in the garden. In addition, as the presence of this Monarch
might testify, butterflies love it.
|'Sizzler Purple' Sage|
'Sizzler Purple' Sage (Salvia splendens 'Sizzler Purple') is an annual dwarf sage that grows 10 inches high and a foot wide. In the garden the dense, flat, deep-purple flower spikes make it an unusual presence and an interesting counterpoint to more finely defined flowers. Good for beds and borders, it needs full sun and moderately fertile, well-drained soil. It blooms in summer and fall and responds well to deadheading.
|'Blue Eyes' Nierembergia|
'Blue Eyes' Nierembergia (Nierembergia frutescens 'Blue Eyes') is a lovely annual that produces an abundance of beautiful white, lavender-shaded, inch-wide, saucer-shaped flowers with blue and yellow centers. Given full sun, it can grow to 16 inches tall with a 36-inch spread. It blooms all summer long, is perfect for borders or containers, and is especially appealing in hanging baskets.
|Nemesia in Colors|
The white Nemesia is Sunsatia Coconut, one of the remarkable Sunsatia hybrids that also include Sunsatia Cranberry, Lemon, Mango, Peach, Pineapple, and Raspberry. Sunsatias are crosses between annual and perennial Nemesia and while all have beautiful coloration, some characteristics vary. Note: The purple Nemesia in this photo is most likely 'Bluebird' (Nemesia fruticans 'Bluebird'), a lovely, very fragrant annual that grows in an upright clump to a foot tall and 10 inches wide and blooms from spring to fall.
|'Bressingham Purple' Polemonium|
'Bressingham Purple' Polemonium (Polemonium 'Bressingham Purple') may be best described as a compact Jacob's Ladder. This remarkable annual features very showy, fragrant, lavender flowers in April and May in part-to-full-shade exposures. It grows as tall as 18 inches with a similar spread. The common name: Jacob's Ladder.
|Orange New Zealand Sedge|
Orange New Zealand Sedge (Carex testacea) is a grass that provides wonderful variety in the garden with its needle-like orange-coppery foliage. A welcome addition to any border or cottage garden, it grows in a clump 2 feet tall that can spread to 5 feet if not controlled. It likes moist, well-drained soil and does well in full sun to part shade. Light green in spring, its coloring turns darker in fall and winter.
|Maiden Hair Grass|
Maiden Hair Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus') is a tall, beautifully showy ornamental grass that features graceful, arching green foliage and very striking feathery, copper-colored flower plumes in fall. Growing to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide, it's a guaranteed standout in garden or the landscape.
|'Dream Queen' Hosta|
Steinert's also manages to stock some unusually engaging hosta varieties. 'Dream Queen', for example, features large, nearly round leaves blue-green in color with creamy yellow centers and a uniquely free-spirited variegation pattern. It tolerates more sun than most hostas and grows to 16-18 inches tall and 24-26 inches wide.
|'Brim Cup' Hosta|
Many gardeners think 'Brim Cup' indispensable for variety in the hosta garden, thanks to its thick, horizontal, puckered and cupped leaves and striking creamy chartreuse edges. The plant can reach 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
|'Wide Brim' Hosta|
The Hosta 'Wide Brim' is especially striking for wide, irregular, creamy leaf margins that develop gold tints as it matures. The leaves are an engaging, broadly ovoid shape and the plant grows to 20 inches high and 3 feet wide. It needs full shade and moist, well-drained soil. Important Note: Gardeners say this is one of the best of all hostas for bringing vivid color to the shade garden.
'Twilight' is a beautiful Hosta that sports nicely shaped, rich green leaves with margins that can range from cream to yellow. It grows to 18 inches high and 36 inches wide. The leaves are about 7 inches long and In July and August the plant sends up lavender flowers.
|Miniature Hosta Varieties|
Steinert's also has a superb collection of miniature and dwarf hostas. Ideal for rock gardens and small containers, they can be as small as 6 inches wide when mature, but still command attention.
|The Popcorn Plant|
Steinert's now and again comes up with offbeat, rather delightful treats, and here's one. The Popcorn Plant (Senna didymobotrya, sometimes Cassia didymobotrya) is grown as an annual in the Ozarks and can grow as tall and wide as 8 feet. With its bright yellow blossoms and locust-like foliage, it's a real eyecatcher and conversation piece in the garden or in very large containers. Its name comes from the scent of the flowers, which many compare to that of burnt popcorn. One caution: The plant is poisonous.