New Plants for 2019

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There are plenty of new plants that will be showing up in garden centers shortly or that you can order by mail right now. Here are just a few of those that caught my attention for 2019:

Strawberry Berried Treasure™ Red

(Fragaria ananassa Berried Treasure™ Red)
Also sold as Summer Breeze™ Deep Rose

Photo: http://www.povenwinners.com

I’m in a bit of a pickle with this plant, as I don’t know which name is legitimate: Berried Treasure™ Red or Summer Breeze™ Deep Rose. However, whatever name you find it under, it’s a beauty. Deepest pink semi-double flowers (the closest I’ve ever seen to a red flower on a strawberry!) are borne all season long, followed by delicious, full-size, sweet-tasting strawberries. Yes, right up until frost! It will look plantabulous in a container, but will grow just as well in the ground. Heat tolerant and probably more winter hardy than the hardiness zone on its label.

Height: 12–16 inches (30–40 cm)
Diameter:  18–24 inches (45–60 cm)
Light:  sun
Soil:  average to fertile
Watering needs: average
Hardiness zones:  4–9

Rieger Begonia ‘Valentino Pink’

(Begoniahiemalis ’KRVALP101’)

Photo: Koppe

Don’t those semi-double deepest pink flowers with a brilliant gold heart up to 8 cm in diameter just knock you off your feet? I’ve never seen a begonia even close to this one. Dense and floriferous, with attractive dark green foliage (that you’ll scarcely notice as it’s covered with bloom), this plant with a rounded habit is bound to be a star! As a Rieger begonia, it will be sold as a summer container plant, but would make a great houseplant as well. Theoretically, it’s an annual, but try cutting it back harshly in the fall and bringing it indoors, growing it a cool, sunny spot under short days. With a little luck, it will grow back and start to bloom anew for next season!

Height: 8–10 inches (20 à 25 cm)
Diameter: 8 inches (20 cm)
Light: partial shade
Soil: average to fertile
Watering needs: consistently moist

Basil ‘Purple Ball’

(Ocimum basilicum ‘Purple Ball’)

Photo: http://www.fleuroselect.com.

Height: 8–12 inches (20–30 cm)
Diameter: 10–14 inches (25–35 cm)
Light: sun
Soil: well drained
Watering needs: average

Ornamental and delicious! The tiny deepest purple leaves are borne densely on a ball-shaped plant that will stand out in both containers and the garden. No need to pinch, either: the tubular flowers are late to appear, adding extra color to the plant, and don’t reduce the plant’s productivity. Easy from seed … start it indoors from seed about 4 weeks before the last frost date and don’t plant out until the soil and air have thoroughly warmed up. Winner of a Fleuroselect award. Consider it an annual and start new plants from seed each summer.

Canna ‘Fire Dragon’

(Canna indica ‘Fire Dragon’)

Photo: Pierre Boucher, Domaine Jolie de Lotbinière

Height: 48–60 inches (120–150 cm)
Diameter: 36 inches (90 cm)
Light: sun
Soil: rich, well-drained
Watering needs: consistently moist
Hardiness zones: 7b-12

A real stunner! The brilliant deep velvety red of the flowers of this modest-sized canna simply grabs your eye, contrasted by the fresh green foliage. And it’s self-cleaning, too. It’s been called the “best red canna to hit the market” by canna experts. This Israeli hybrid is virus-free and long-blooming: non-stop from June to September in the trial garden near my home. Hummingbirds will love it! Lift the rhizomes in the fall and store indoors for the winter in a cool dry place before replanting the following spring. Only in mild climates can you leave it outdoors permanently.

Cabbage Edibliss™ ‘Heavy Metal’

(Brassica Edibliss ‘Heavy Metal’)

Photo: http://www.hortcoutureplants.com

Height: 15 inches (38 cm)
Diameter: 24 inches (60 cm)
Light: sun
Soil: rich, well-drained
Watering needs: average

Big, huge beautiful rosettes of puckered, deep purple, shiny leaves would make this plant a star in any flower bed, but hey! It’s actually a vegetable! Savor the delicious leaves all summer long by harvesting just the lower ones and letting the rosette continue to grow. We all know that cabbages have their insect problems, but any insect pest wearing green camouflage will be immediately visible on the dark foliage, allowing you to pick them off before any damage is done.

Hosta Shadowland® ‘Waterslide’

(Hosta Shadowland ‘Waterslide’)

Photo: http://www.povenwinners.com

I keep telling myself I don’t need any more hostas, but then Shadowland ‘Waterslide’ started showing up in just about plant catalog I receive. How can I say no to the striking wavy, thick, blue-green leaves of this shade-tolerant beauty, especially since it’s slug-resistant too! It has lavender blooms in midsummer if you want to know, but I figure its foliage alone will ensure it’ll sell on sight!

Height: 14–16 inches (35–40 cm) 
Diameter: 30 inches (75 cm)
Light: partial shade to shade
Soil: average
Watering needs: average
Hardiness zones: 3–9

Black-eyed Susan ‘American Gold Rush’

(Rudbeckia x ‘American Gold Rush’)

Photo: http://www.pinterest.at

It seems to me I’ve been growing Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ since forever, but over the last few years, I’ve watched the plants in other people’s gardens be decimated by septoria leaf spot, turning the green leaves black by late summer. How long will it be before my plants too pick up the disease? Well, with ‘American Gold Rush’, I won’t have to worry about that, and neither will you, because the leaves are disease-free! Narrow and hairy, they seem to shrug off the fungus, even under wet humid conditions. And the flowers, golden yellow with that dark brown raised eye we all love, are borne in huge numbers from midsummer well into fall and attract bees, butterflies and songbirds. Excellent cut flower. This is going to become a classic garden perennial, people! 

Height: 22–26 inches (55–65 cm) 
Diameter: 40–44 inches (100–110 cm) 
Light: full sun is best
Soil: average
Watering needs: average to low
Hardiness zones: 4 to 9

Sedum Atlantis™

(Sedum takesimense ‘Nonsitnal’)

Photo: http://www.perennialresource.com

Just one look was all it took, goes the song. And so it was for me. The gorgeous evergreen succulent creamy-yellow leaves, with their scalloped edges and just a smidgen of contrasting deep green in the center, just grab the eye. And they’re highlighted by clusters of starry yellow flowers at stem tips in midsummer and then are flushed with pink in the late fall. The plant forms a compact carpet, ideal for containers and rock gardens. Highly drought-tolerant.

Height: 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) 
Diameter: 10–12 inches (25–30 cm) 
Light: sun
Soil: well drained, poor to average
Watering needs: low
Hardiness zones: 5–9

Cucumber ‘Itachi’ F1

(Cucumis sativus ‘Itachi’)

Photo: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/

No need to peel this cucumber! The paper-thin rind is perfectly white, just like the flesh. This unique Asian type cucumber, with tiny seeds and lacking any bitterness, produces sweet and crispy 9 to 11 inch (23–28 cm) long, narrow fruits in profusion. For straight fruits, do be sure to grow this climber on a support or trellis. Start indoors a few weeks before the last frost, in peat pots, but don’t plant out until both soil and air have warmed up. 

Height: 3–6 feet (90–180 cm) 
Diameter: 12 inches (30 cm)
Light: sun
Soil: rich, well-drained
Watering needs: keep evenly moist
Days to harvest: 54 days

Sunflower Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl

(Helianthus x ‘TMSNBLEV01’)

Photo: http://www.smallholder.co.uk

This is not your traditional sunflower! A cutting-grown annual, multi-branching with a rounded habit, it blooms all summer long and even well into fall (no, that is not an exaggeration!), with flower after flower, all with yellow rays and a dash of rich red around a chocolate center. That’s up to 1,000 2 to 3.5 inch (5–9 cm) flowers per plant! Heat tolerant and seedless, so it is non-invasive, but on the downside, although it will attract bees and other pollinators, it offers nothing to feed birds, unlike traditional sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). For borders and containers and it’s an excellent cut flower too! This innovation won a 3rd prize at the famous Chelsea Flower Show in London in 2018. It’s actually a perennial in the tropics, but should be grown as an annual elsewhere.

Height: 32 inches (80 cm) 
Diameter: 40 inches (100 cm)
Light: sun
Soil: rich, well-drained
Watering needs: keep evenly moist
Hardiness zones: 11–12

Polka Dot Plant Hippo® Rose

Hypoestes phyllostachya ’G14160’

Photo: http://www.povenwinners.com

I first grew the polka dot plant as a houseplant decades ago. It had small green leaves with a few pink spots on a rather wimpy plant we all thought was cute. Well, Hippo Rose is a whole new plant! First, no spots of pink. Most of the leaf is now deep rose with only a bit of green marbling. And the leaves are huge! 3 inches (7.5 cm) long, borne not on short, weak stems, but thicker upright ones, giving a bushy plant with color galore that doesn’t need bloom to add color to your garden. The flowers, however, are quite ordinary and no one will blame you if you pinch them off. Now, if rosy pink isn’t your thing, the Hippo series also comes in pink, red and white too. Makes a great houseplant too!

Height: 16–22 inches (40–55 cm) 
Diameter: 8–14 inches (20–35 cm) 
Light: sun to shade
Soil: average
Watering needs: evenly moist
Hardiness zones: 10–12

Nepeta ‘Cat’s Pajamas’

(Nepeta ‘Cat’s Pajamas’)

Photo: http://www.perennialresource.com

Nepetas or catmints just keep getting better and better, don’t they? This is the most compact one yet, blooming from the ground to the tip with dense indigo flowers that pretty much hide the tiny mint-scented leaves whose odor keeps deer and rabbits at bay. Behind the late spring through midsummer flowers are rosy purple calyxes that will help carry the plant through the rest of the season, although you can also shear it back after its first flush of bloom to stimulate rebloom. The blooms attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. An ideal border plant and great in containers too. 

Height: 12–14 inches (30–35 cm)
Diameter: 18–20 inches (45–55 cm) 
Light: sun
Soil: well drained, not overly acid
Watering needs: low
Hardiness zones: 3–8

Panicle Hydrangea Lavalamp™ Candelabra™

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Hpopr013’

Photo: http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com

Who doesn’t like panicle hydrangeas? But most are a bit big for today’s landscape. The Lavalamp™ series changes that, remaining a reasonable 4 to 6 feet (120–180 cm) with no pruning and less than 4 feet if cut back annually. There are 2 other cultivars in the series, but I prefer Candelabra for its numerous huge upright flower stalks that go from creamy white when they open midsummer to a deep pink cone with a white top by late fall, then turn beige and stay on the shrub for a stunning winter display. The flowers are fragrant, too! The red stems not only help the flowers stand out, but are thick and sturdy. That means no flopping! If you feel the need to prune, do so in early spring. Winner of a Retailer’s Choice Award at Cultivate ’17. 

Height: 4–6 feet (120–180 cm) 
Diameter: 4–6 feet (120–180 cm)
Light: sun
Soil: well drained
Watering needs: average
Hardiness zones: 3–9

Tomato ‘Patio Choice Yellow’ F1

(Solanum lycopersicum ‘Patio Choice Yellow’)

Photo: all-americaselections.org

What a stunning little tomato plant! Developed, as the name suggests, for growing in a pot on a patio or balcony, it’s a determinate tomato, very short and compact and needs no staking. It blooms heavily and beautifully, then produces hordes of perfectly round golden-yellow cherry tomatoes about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter: 100 or more per plant! The fruits are delicious: mild and sweet with just a touch of acidity. Easily grown from seed: start them indoors about 5 weeks before setting out. Good disease resistance. And ‘Patio Choice Yellow’ is quite widely available, too: check your favorite seed catalogs and see. Winner of an All-America Selections award in 2017.

Height: 15–18 inches (37–45 cm) 
Diameter: 18–60 inches (45–60 cm) 
Light: sun
Soil: rich, well-drained
Watering needs: average
Days to harvest: 45

Clematis ‘Taiga’

(Clematis ‘Taiga’)

Clematis Taiga

This stunning new clematis was bred in Japan in 2007. The 3- to 6-inch (7.5–15 cm) flowers open semi-double, then fill in with extra petals until they’re about as double as a flower can be. Its name, ‘Taiga’, means big river, as the purple-blue and greenish white flowers are said to resemble the flow of a rushing river with white-capped waves. It’s small for a clematis, and for that reason, ideal for pot culture, although it grows perfectly well in the ground too. It blooms on both old and new wood, from early summer to late summer, although sometimes with a bit of a break between flushes. It’s not a very hardy plant and is being sold as a “temperennial” (i.e. an annual) in colder climates. Or you could try moving it to a cold but frost-free basement or garage for the winter and keeping it dormant. It does best when cut back to just above ground level at season’s end. ‘Taiga’ won a silver medal at Plantarium 2016 and was on the short list at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2017.

Height: 4–7 feet (1.2–2 m) 
Diameter: 3–4 feet (90–120 cm)
Light: sun or partial shade
Soil: well drained
Watering needs: average
Hardiness zones: 7 to 8

Korean fir ‘Ice Breaker’

(Abies koreana ‘Ice Breaker’, syn. ‘Kohout’s Icebreaker’)

Photo: conifersociety.org

This very dense dwarf conifer has actually been around for ages in conifer collections, but only seems now to be making it into mainstream nurseries. It forms a small “bun” of short, stubby branches covered with recurved needles showing their silvery-white underside, making it look like a snowball! It first appeared as a witch’s broom on the popular silvery Korean fir ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’. It grows slowly, about 1 to 3 inches (2.5–8 cm) per year, but, as with all dwarf conifers, will continue to increase in size over time, eventually losing its globular shape to form a leader and thus becoming a small squat tree. You may also find it sold grafted onto a straight trunk, lollipop fashion. 

Height: 2 feet (60 cm) after 10 years
Diameter: 2 inches (60 cm) after 10 years
Light: sun
Soil: well drained
Watering needs: average
Hardiness zones: 3


And there you go: sixteen great plants for you to discover this coming summer!

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5 thoughts on “New Plants for 2019

  1. alderrin

    Please allow me to share my experience on Clematis Taiga’s frost hardiness. I live in Warsaw, Poland which is zone 6. I keep my clematises in large pots on a balcony. Usually I cover the pots with styrofoam for the winter, but for the last two years I was unable to do so. None of my large flowered hybrids (supposedly hardy up to zone 4) survived, but Taiga did quite well. It bloomed last year and is already growing fresh shoots this year. Because this winter was unusually warm (-12°C/10°F), Taiga even retained some of it’s old leaves.

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