New is a relative term in the plant world. It could be a plant that is new to the world or just new to the area with plants now in stock. So, what’s new this year? What plants will gardeners be loving this year? Yes, the world of plants is large, but here is a list of beauties that caught our attention for 2020.
When you need color, you need annuals in the garden, whether you grow these in the ground or a container. There are many new annuals that we like.
The Supertunia Vista Snowdrift bloomed non-stop with white flowers and no deadheading. Raspberry Rush version has raspberry pink and white flowers. Let’s not forget Wave Petunias. The brand turns 25 this year and is still a standout in the garden. The lavender sky blue color is an attractive addition to the Easy Wave family.
Another blue to try is Rockin Blue Suede Shoes salvia, stunning with light sky blue flowers that attract pollinators. Both blues looked great against the Kabloom Orange Calibrachoa that was a true performer in the summer heat. If orange isn’t your favorite color, the Cabaret Good Night Kiss Calibrachoa is a deep pink with a yellow star center. Diamond Snow Euphorbia was a prolific bloomer covered in small white flowers. The Sunstar Pink Pentas series with cotton candy pink colored blooms stood up to the heat and humidity and lasted until the first frost.
The Hollywood Hibuscus brand just introduced Rico Suave, a tropical hibiscus (you’ll need to bring it indoors in winter) with a compact habit, easy maintenance, and non-stop blooms.
Finally, there is a breakthrough in Impatiens with the new Beacon series that promises high resistance to downy mildew. Let’s hope it brings impatiens back to shade gardens everywhere in the south.
How do you narrow the list of perennials to just a few? The hardy Summerific hibiscus in a bubblegum pink color ‘Candy Crush’ or the hot pink ‘Evening Rose’ are both Rose mallows that bloom mid to late summer until frost.
The Shortstop Shasta Daisy with its small habit will provide sunny yellow and white blooms in the summer garden. There are several new echinaceas that would be at home in the garden this year – Color Coded ‘Yellow My Darling’, Marry Me, Butterfly ‘Yellow Rainbow Marcella’ and Evolution Colorific in pink.
Shrubs seem to be the number one category at most plant shows. After all, what’s a garden without a good foundation of shrubs?
It’s the year of the hydrangea according to the National Garden Bureau, and there is a lot of talk about the Summer Crush hydrangea. In addition to being gorgeous with raspberry red mophead blooms, it’s small at less than three feet tall and wide. Another showstopper is the hydrangea Cherry Explosion that has the brightest cherry red flowers of any hydrangea we’ve seen. The large blooms of Kanmara Blue hydrangea will be the show-stealer this summer with large blooms in unique shades. More compact than other Hydrangea paniculatas, White Wedding supports its large, pillow-like, white blooms on sturdy, upright branches. This beauty dazzles as a cut flower.
Another shrub winner is Electric Love weigela, Plant of the Year for 2019 in Canada that’s finally making its way here. It’s the first dark-leafed weigela to feature true red flowers.
Love Child sweetspire is a petite form of Virginia sweetspire perfect for smaller gardens and foundation plantings. It blooms in spring with white racemes, followed by gorgeous shades of burgundy leaves in the fall.
Hollies are everywhere in gardens, but a new one on the market caught our attention. The Aim High series of Japanese hollies include a variety that stays tight and upright and doesn’t require shearing to keep its slender shape. Could this be competition for ‘Sky Pencil’, which tends to flop open as it grows?
For spring flowers, it’s hard to beat a viburnum. There are several new options on the market, including Moonlit Lace and Shades of Pink. For summer flowers, the Chateau Rose of Sharon has hollyhock like flowers that cover the stems from top to bottom.
The south loves its crapemyrtles in late summer when many other flowers have faded. The Infinitini purple is the brightest purple yet with blooms that continue into fall. And it’s a low growing dwarf variety. Colorama Scarlet crapemyrtle is taller and has deep red flowers. A new line called Perfect Storm has vibrant flowers and near-black foliage. It comes five colors. Both are vigorous growers.
Twenty years after the Knock Out Rose entered the market, a new miniature version is on the horizon. This first new Petite Knock Out Rose has non-stop blooms with bright red flowers and shiny green leaves. And it only grows to 18-inches tall. It should be available later this summer for fall planting.
The Oso Easy Pleasy landscape rose has bright pink flowers early summer through frost and is disease resistant.
For traditional English roses, it’s hard to resist David Austin roses. Three new varieties are available this year: Emily Bronte with soft pink and apricot blooms, Tottering-by-Gently covered in masses of single yellow flowers and The Mill on the Floss with a sweet fruity fragrance.
Everyone should love ornamental grasses more. In too many landscapes, these are filler when they should take center stage. The new Evercolor ‘Everglow’ carex will change that. This Gold Medal winner at Plantarium in 2018 has the perfect combo of color and habit with green foliage and creamy white and light orange margins. An bonus is the color deepens in the fall, giving off a warm glow.
While not completely new, the ‘Stellar Ruby’ magnolia will finally have more availability this fall. That means you’ll have a good chance of snagging this fast-growing magnolia known for its super fragrant pink to ruby-colored flowers that smell like bananas.
And while not fully available this year, be on the watch for the new Flame Thrower Cercis developed by the JC Raulston Arboretum.
Foodscaping should be part of every garden, even if it’s just a few plants in a container. Some smaller varieties to try are the Fire Away Hot and Heavy pepper and the Everleaf Emerald Towers basil. The small peppers (up to 3 ½ inches) start green and mature through yellow, orange and red shades. The basil is a columnar variety, perfect for fitting into small places.
Another small pepper is the Snack Pepper Mardi Gras Fun that comes in four colors that can be grown together in one large container. The plants continuously produce sweet, snackable peppers.
Beverly Hurley is the editor of Triangle Gardener.