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February arrives with a thud.

Indoors, it’s too early to switch out winter décor for spring — what would be left for me to do in March and April? Outdoors, the dormant gardens look forlorn and dreary. Days are getting a smidgen longer, but every evening I anticipate the moment when the white Christmas lights draped on my fence automatically pop on.

By now I’ve removed most signs of the holidays, including bright red bows from my window wreaths, but I stubbornly refuse to take down those last few light strands. The fence is in my backyard, dividing a sidewalk from a garden bed. No one really sees it but me, and the lights offer a bit of cheer in the darkness.

Also offering a late winter pick-me-up is the list of new “Superbells” that will be ringing in spring from Proven Winners. These calibrachoa varieties are charming and sweet, perfect for annual containers and hanging baskets, as well as spilling over borders in the garden. Bonus: All Superbells attract hummingbirds.

Colors and combinations are vivid and remain vibrant until fall. No deadheading is required to keep the flowers pushing blooms and plants are easy to care for, although it’s vital to provide good drainage.

Proven Winners advises that calibrachoa do best when fertilized on a regular basis. The plants are sensitive to both high and low pH and respond to a well-balanced 20-10-20 water soluble fertilizer.

Look for these varieties in nurseries and garden centers this spring:

“Blue Moon Punch” — Petite flowers in lavender with scalloped edges have dark purple eyes. The cascading plant blooms all season long and is heat tolerant. Similar to “Superbells Pink,” plants have great flower coverage.

“Double Orchid” — This double-flowering calibrachoa in the “Double Superbells” series produces small, rose-like flowers in soft pink-lavender tones. The plant has a mounding, trailing habit and is a robust grower, resistant to rain and wind, and blooms continuously.

“Double Ruby” — Another new introduction in the series, “Double Ruby” is red with small flowers, a mounding, trailing habit and robust production.

“Over Easy Improved” — It’s an apt name for a flower that is white with an intense yolk-yellow throat. It’s a cascading plant that produces abundant flowers all season long. Improvements include better flower coverage, a more compact habit amd earlier flowering.

“Plum Improved” — A richer, stronger plum color with a yellow throat, this one colors up more quickly in spring and produces better flower coverage earlier than before.

“Rising Star” — A new variety with rich magenta pink petals intersected by a bright yellow and white star pattern, the cascading plant is a real looker. It produces an abundance of small, petunia-like flowers until fall.

“White Improved” — Crisp white flowers have a yellow throat. Improvements include more uniform branching, a more controlled habit and improved flower coverage.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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