When you are dreaming of seeing some colour other than white in your gardens, how about considering some of these little “gems” for your beds this year.
Lee Valley Newsletter Home…
Text and photo by Nikki Jabbour
Niki Jabbour is the author of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, Groundbreaking Food Gardens and the upcoming Veggie Garden Remix (February 2018). Find her at:
(Photo: Proven Winners – www.provenwinners.com)
(Photo: All-America Selections – https://all-americaselections.org)
New Plants for 2018
Seed and plant breeding companies put a lot of research, time and money into developing new plants for home gardeners. Many of the latest vegetable introductions offer outstanding characteristics such as improved disease resistance, drought tolerance, increased yield or better flavor. New flowers often produce more blooms per stem, have compact growth, are less susceptible to common diseases such as powdery mildew or boast distinctive color combinations. Here are my favorite new plants for 2018.
Salvia Rockin’™ Deep Purple
Black is one of the most elusive colors in the garden, but one of the dominant hues of the new 2018 Proven Winners introduction Salvia Rockin’ Deep Purple. The flowers of this dramatic annual have midnight-black calyxes and deep purple petals – an eye-catching combination. The flower spikes grow up to 40 inches, making them a perfect “thriller” for large containers. Plus, the pretty blooms attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The flowers are sterile and don’t produce seeds, which means that plants continue to produce fresh blooms until frost. To make the dark blooms pop, plant Rockin’ Deep Purple with yellow-flowering varieties of million bells, petunias or bidens in containers and planters.
Supertunia® Hot Pink Charm
Petunias are a container garden classic, with trumpet-shaped flowers produced in abundance from spring to fall. Hot Pink Charm is a new introduction for 2018, with mounding vines that grow up to two feet long. Plant in hanging baskets or tuck along the edge of large planters. It will also do well when grown as a bedding plant along pathways or at the front of a flower border. The small, bubblegum-pink flowers are self-shedding and don’t require deadheading, making this a very low-maintenance plant. The flowers are also popular with hummingbirds.
Zinnia Queeny Lime Orange
Zinnias are old-fashioned annuals with modern appeal. They are ideal for both flower and food gardens, as well as containers. The large, ombré-hued blooms of this award-winning new variety range from orange to peach to coral to gold – all on one flower! Use zinnias in the vegetable garden to attract beneficial insects and pollinators or tuck them in the flower border for a non-stop show from June through to frost. This variety is also a long-lasting cut flower, with the bloom lasting for weeks in a vase.
Marigold Super Hero™ Spry
Need to jazz up your garden, deck or patio? Super Hero Spry to the rescue! This easy-to-grow annual reaches just ten to 12 inches, making it a superb choice for edging garden beds or adding bright color to containers and window boxes. A 2018 All-America Selections winner, Super Hero Spry has many outstanding qualities including early and continuous bloom and an unusual color combination – wine-red lower petals topped with bright gold petals. Bonus: the flowers are self-shedding, so no need to deadhead.
Coneflower Butterfly™ ‘Cleopatra’
Coneflowers are incredibly popular perennials thanks to their beautiful flowers, drought tolerance, disease resistance and long blooming period, which is measured in months, not weeks. The Butterfly series of coneflowers is a breakthrough in breeding that has resulted in compact plants that grow just 15 to 18 inches tall but still bear large three-and-a-half-inch diameter flowers. Cleopatra is a striking cultivar with beautiful yellow flowers that are very attractive to butterflies and bees. Plus, they’re fragrant! Expect Cleopatra to begin flowering in mid-summer and continue blooming into autumn.
Rudbeckia Little Goldstar
Also called brown-eyed Susan, rudbeckia is very similar to coneflowers. Both have daisy-like flowers, are drought resistant, offer a long flowering period and are popular with pollinators. And, if the seed heads are left in the garden for winter, they supply a protein-rich snack for hungry birds. Little Goldstar is a fantastic introduction, with bright-gold petals and chocolate-brown center cones. But its compact growth is what makes it a standout. The sturdy plants grow just 14 to 16 inches tall and, when planted in groups of three to five, quickly form an eye-catching drift of gold from July through September.
Okay, I’m cheating a bit here because Millenium isn’t a new plant, but it is the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year® as chosen by the Perennial Plant Association. And, it’s an excellent choice for a flower border or the edge of a vegetable garden. Millennium’s pom-pom purple flowers bloom in mid-summer and attract bees, butterflies and beneficial insects from miles around. It is drought tolerant, disease resistant and the flowers are sterile, which means you won’t have seedlings popping up all over the garden. The plants form tidy clumps, which can be divided every few years and moved to new spots in your garden.
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