Back to Tips & Tricks

Jo Ann’s Top 10

6 min read | Apr 20, 2023 | Plants 

10 Favorite Greenhouse Gems & Why

With so many plants to keep up with and learn about, it can be downright confusing (and even frustrating) to choose the right plant for the right spot in your garden. So to help our customers make better and more informed decisions we consulted our very own Jo Ann Dewar, owner and founder of Fairview Greenhouses and Garden Center, for advice on choosing the right plants this spring.

A wealth of endless knowledge, Jo Ann understands her plants better than most in the industry and has earned quite the reputation over the years. After convincing her to take a break from her propagation tables, we sat down with Jo Ann and got a little advice about some of her favorite greenhouse gems.

Thai Delight Bougainvillea 

Bougainvillea almost always make the list of favorites.  This popular shrubby vine that blossoms into colorful flower bracts. Jo Ann recently discovered Thai Delight with produces a riot of white bracts that quickly fade to shades of fuchsia.  It’s a showstopper in a hanging basket. Be careful though, with their beauty comes long sharp thorns. This plant can be trained to stand alone as a shrub or cover walls and spill out of beautiful hanging baskets. It can grow from 10 to 20 feet in a single growing season, but here in the Triangle, it won’t reach quite these lengths. Bougainvillea requires full sun. As a drought-tolerant plant, it actually performs best when its soil is left a little dry.


Bring on the hummingbirds!  Also known as the cigar plant, this annual plant is high impact and easy to grow.  This Cuphea produces bright orange-red, tubular shaped flowers with deep purple centers that attract pollinators.  It thrives in high summer heat and will tolerate drought conditions, but performs best with regular moisture.  In full sun, the Firecracker Plant can grow 18*-30″ tall and can be easily pruned late in the season to maintain it’s shape.

Intenz Celosia

This new Celosia variety is a unique annual with vibrant greenish-purple foliage that produces masses of bright magenta blooms from Spring through to autumn.  Celosia flowers are instantly eye catching in both their color and texture.  Intenz Celosia is a workhorse in the garden as it’s both heat loving and drought tolerant.  This plant grows 12-24″ tall by 6-12″ wide in full sun. 

Party Time Alternanthera

Jo Ann loves to mix these foliage plants into her annual color beds.  They are also great as an accent in container gardens or even grown as a houseplant.  These full sun foliage plants add a colorful punch that doesn’t focus on flowers. A few of our favorite varieties include ‘Little Ruby’ and ‘Party Time’. Little Ruby is a low growing spreader with deep purple foliage. Party Time is an upright grower with lush foliage and hot pink splotches.

Dragon Wing Begonias

Jo Ann has always loved to propagate Begonias.  Dragon Wing Begonias have always been an excellent go to plant for any garden whether it be sun or shade. Use it as a “thriller” or accent in your containers or as a focal point in your garden. This begonia can take full sun to part shade and will flourish and flower all spring and summer long. Make sure to keep it well watered and fertilize every other week with a general purpose fertilizer and you will have a gorgeous plant all season long.

Shrimp Plant

This garden classic gets it’s name from the shape and color of it’s blooms. The red blooming variety features a flower that has a weeping habit and a white-colored flower tip giving it the appearance of a shrimp. Another variety, sometimes called the Lollipop plant (pictured right, yellow), exhibits vibrant upright yellow blooms. Jo Ann enjoys both of these varieties not only because of their prolific blooms, but also because they serve as wildlife attractants. Every year, Jo Ann watches as butterflies and hummingbirds zoom in and out of the greenhouse just to get a taste of this beautiful plant.


Known for it’s large flower heads that are similar to a hydrangea, plumbago (pictured left, blue) has become a plant that many gardeners have grown to love. It is available in both blue and white blooms and, because it continues to bloom through the hot summer months, it has found it’s way onto Jo Ann’s favorites list. Excellent in container plantings, plumbago is certainly one plant the Jo Ann will continue to grow for many years to come.

New Lantana Colors

With so many great qualities and color varieties to choose from, there’s no surprise that lantana (pictured right, multicolor) would be among Jo Ann’s favorites. There’s no way around it, in the summer heat lantana is tough, drought tolerant and dependable. A difficult plant to beat, lantana is available in yellows, oranges, reds, pinks, whites, purples and even lots of new multi-colors. Jo Ann also likes the wildlife benefits of lantana as many different species of butterflies flutter on and around it’s blooms.


penta flowers

Blooming throughout the summer months, Pentas finds themselves high on Jo Ann’s pedestal of favorites. Pentas are best known for their clustered heads of star-shaped flowers that are available in a wide array of colors. On top of being one of the best butterfly attractants, Jo Ann points out one of the plants key features: no deadheading required! As most of us know, the words “no deadheading required” is music to every gardener’s ears!


Sometimes called Fairy Fan Flower, the first word that comes to Jo Ann’s mind when she hears Scaevola is “tough.” Blooming in shades of purple, pink and white, Scaevola (pictured right, purple) can be used as a trailing plant in a container, in a hanging basket and even as a ground cover. Jo Ann says that when the summer months turn really hot, Scaevola is one of the few plants thriving in the heat.

Ready to dig into the spring season, Jo Ann’s excitement has been felt by all here at Fairview. As our leading expert, she has shared her knowledge with us over the years and as a token of our appreciation we are more than excited to be able share it with you through this article.