Bidens ferulaefolia has been a popular basket and container plant for many years. The ferny foliage and masses of flowers that keep on, relentlessly till the frosts have made it a summer essential. The bright yellow flowers attract bees and other insects and its lax habit has made it one of the few really good, yellow-flowered basket plants. It grows strongly and widely, sometimes elbowing out slower growers but you can always prune it a little to curtail its boisterous nature.
International companies have played around with the plant, creating their own versions with unique attributes that probably elude most consumers but times they are a changing. All of a sudden we have a flurry of new varieties in the usual yellow but with orange and brick red shades that makes them virtually ‘trailing rudbeckias’. I like the idea a lot providing that whatever was used to bring the new colour range has not weakened the constitution of what was a reliable and easy plant.
In the UK, Mr Fothergills are offering the ‘Hawaiian Flare’ series in three colours and from Suntory comes the Bee Dance series which should be released next spring.
So look out for these in garden centres in case some growers get hold of them early. Bidens are easy to grow and flower best in full sun. They thrive best in well-drained soil and are more forgiving of occasional drying out (and I mean slight) than petunias or other bedding. I am sure I will get fed up with new bidens in a decade when we have every colour imaginable but, for now, I am quite excited by the sudden widening of the colour range of this amenable and useful plant.
Update: May 2016
Since writing this I am pleased to say that I have been able to get my hands on some Bee Dance bidens which have been stocked by the local Springmount Garden Centre near Gorey, Co Wexford, and I am sure they are in other places too.
There seems to be a mix of at least four colours and, interesting though I though the bicolours would be, strangely I am most attracted by the rather plain, dark orange. But, planted all together I think they would all look attractive.
There is more on coloured bidens in this more recent post