Enhance your planting projects with hardy new varieties.
Every year, growers debut hundreds of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. Some plants have been discovered recently in wild populations, while others are hybrids that have taken years to develop. These introductions aren’t just pretty; they’re practical.
Clients are demanding extra bang for their bucks, so new plants must be more heat and disease tolerant, more water-wise and boast bigger, better blooms than older varieties.
Drought tolerance is a must. “The hot, dry weather we’ve had in recent years is impacting what contractors are installing,” says Jeff Gibson, landscape business manager with Ball Horticultural Company. “Clients want plants that don’t require a lot of water or maintenance.” Longer-lasting color is another frequent client request with landscape professionals opting for plants that bridge the gap between planting seasons. Interest in flowering shrubs is booming, too, because they’re hardy, cost-conscious and a more permanent color solution compared to annuals.
Demand for trees is also evolving. “Because there’s not always room for large trees with a huge canopy at maturity, a number of more compact varieties have been introduced to fit the shrinking urban landscape,” says Nancy Buley, director of communications for J. Frank Schmidt & Son Company.
Trees with a columnar habit or small trees that work in today’s downsized yards, next to sidewalks and under utility lines are becoming increasingly available. In addition, clients are asking for trees that thrive despite heat, humidity and low rainfall. There’s also more interest in native cultivars.
Consider a few of these appealing new varieties to update your design and installation projects.
|Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia)Large flowers with long flowering time do well in both containers and gardens. Improved varieties such as Archangel Raspberry Improved offer a pop of bright pink color and thrive in heat, humidity and drought. Grows about 12 to 14 inches tall, 10 to 12 inches wide. New Serenita series, available in a variety of colors, grows to 10 inches tall to provide more size options.*Hardy to 40 degrees F*Sun|
|Specialty Begonias (various)New varieties offer long-lasting color as a shade alternative for impatiens, which has been attacked by downy mildew in recent years. Introductions include the eye-catching orange blooms of Sparks Will Fly (Begonia x hybrida) and Million Kisses Honeymoon (Begonia boliviensis), a yellow trailing variety that works well in baskets. Sizes range from 15 to 18 inches high and wide to 10 to 12 inches high and 30 to 36 inches wide for trailing varieties.*Hardy to 34 degrees F*Shade to part sun|
|Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)Stunning new color combinations offer unexpected pops of color for the landscape. Honey Crisp boasts cream leaves flecked with gold and edged in rose with a red underside. Vino is a deep burgundy color, which intensifies in sun. Reaches 18 to 30 inches tall and 24 to 28 inches wide.*Hardy to 40 degrees F*Part sun|
|Heuchera (Heuchera x villosa)These heat-tolerant hybrids with mounding habits thrive in shade. Works well in dry shade under trees. Interesting new colors including Heuchera Carnival Peach Parfait (peachy pink), Carnival Limeade (bright spring green) and Carnival Watermelon (pale red). Grow 10 to 12 inches high and 12 to 14 inches wide.*Hardy to USDA Zones 4 to 9*Shade|
|Blue Rose Echeveria (Echeveria imbricata)Succulents are inexpensive, durable, heat-tolerant and water-wise, so they’re experiencing a resurgence of interest. This attractive new variety has rosettes of blue-green leaves edged in pink with clusters of small pink and yellow flowers in spring and summer. Thrives in rocky soils and as a container plant. Grows to 1 foot tall clumps.*Hardy from USDA Zones 9 to 11*Part to full sun|
|Brakelights Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’ P.P. #21,729)The deep red color of this flowering yucca is improvement to the standard variety, which is usually pink or salmon. Very low water use. Rarely sets seeds so it offers a long bloom season. Dramatic appearance when planted in mass. Reaches two feet wide and tall.*Hardy from USDA Zones 5 to 10*Full sun|
Crape Myrtle Enduring Summer (Lagerstroemia hybrids)
New variety blooms early and lasts longer than others. Vivid new colors include fuchsia, pink, red, and white. Tight habit and deer-resistant. Berries appear mid-summer. Grows 48 to 60 inches tall, 48 to 60 inches wide
*Hardy from USDA zones 6 to 10
|Hydrangea Paniculata Fire and Ice (Hydrangea paniculata)This cold-tolerant midsized variety is loaded with blooms. Spectacular three-season bloom color. Blooms start as pale greenish-white in spring, changes to pink by mid-summer, then burgundy in fall. Adapts well to many different conditions. Grows 36 to 60 inches tall, 36 to 48 inches wide.*Hardy from USDA Zones 3a to 8a*Part sun|
|Flutterby Flow Buddleia (Buddleia hybrid Podaras #12 PP22,098)This series has a mounding, low-growing habit that works beautifully as a groundcover. Extra-long bloom season from spring to frost. Available in lavender or mauve pink. Does well in containers. Grows 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall, spreads 3 to 4 feet wide.*Hardy to from USDA Zones 5 to 10*Sun|
|Crimson Sunset Maple (Acer truncatum x. A. Plat. ‘JFS-KW202” PP21838)This medium-sized tree boasts deep purple leaves that retain their glossy color in hot, humid and dry conditions, unlike other purple-foliaged trees that fade and scorch in late summer. Foliage turns red-bronze in autumn. Has an upright, symmetrical form with a strong central leader for easy maintenance. Grows to 35 feet, 25-foot spread.*Hardy to USDA Zone 4|
|Emerald City Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera ‘JFS-Oz’)This cultivar of the native tulip tree offers predictable performance and appearance with a straighter more upright shape. Glossy green foliage turns bright yellow in autumn. Tulip-shaped flowers appear in spring. Good shade tree for both streets and landscapes. Grows to 55 feet, 25-foot spread.*Hardy to USDA Zone 5|
|Prairie Sentinel Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis ‘JFS-KSU1’)This super-tough columnar tree adapts well to heat, drought and cold. Tight form and good yellow fall color. Grows to 45 feet, 12-foot spread.*Hardy to USDA Zone 4|