Heidi and Rod’s Top 15 New Plants for 2021

TOP NEW ANNUALS

ROD’S PICK: Double Up™ Red wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens)

Annuals that grow equally well in sun and shade, in the ground and in containers, are garden GOLD! This new series of bedding begonias from Proven Winners does just that—and in three colors: Red, Pink and White. We grew the red flowered selection in a pot in full sun and also in a shady area of our garden beds. Both performed beautifully, and we were pleasantly surprised how well the one in shade bloomed. The flowers were self-cleaning and bloomed non-stop all season on vigorous plants. Just don’t let them get too wet—begonias hate wet feet. 

Stats: Annual, 8-18” tall x 6-12” spread, full sun to full shade, heat tolerant

HEIDI’S PICK: Double Delight™ Blush Rose tuberous begonia (Begonia hybrid)

We often use begonias in our shade baskets and patio containers, and the new series of Double Delight tuberous begonias are some of the prettiest we’ve seen. Blush Rose has elegant, double, soft pink flowers with a yellow glow in the center. It also comes in a soft yellow color called Primrose. Both are surprisingly fragrant—such an unusual trait for begonias! Double Delight tuberous begonias tolerate full sun but are more often grown in part shade. To show off their cascading habit, grow them in a tall urn, window box or hanging basket. 

Stats: Annual, 8-14” tall x 12-24” spread, full sun to part shade

HEIDI’S PICK: ColorBlaze® Royale Pineapple Brandy™ coleus (Solenostemon)

If you want to feel really good about your gardening skills, grow this new coleus. We were super impressed with its strong vigor in our trials. It grew quickly, formed a sturdy, bushy clump, and looked amazing all season. Like the Double Up begonias, which would make great planting partners for this coleus, it grows well in both sun and shade, in containers and in the landscape. It keeps its bright yellow color without burning or bleaching in full sun, adding a bright pop of color all season. Like all ColorBlaze coleus, it blooms late or not at all, which helps it to keep its shape all the way until frost.

Stats: Annual, 20-30” tall x 12-16” spread, full sun to full shade, deer resistant, heat tolerant

HEIDI’S PICK: Americana® Violet Ice geranium (Pelargonium)

When I think back to all the plants I grew in my containers last summer, this new geranium really stands out. Its color could not have been any more vibrant! The large, showy flowers absolutely glowed in my deck pots up at the cottage. They were one of my favorite flowers of the season, and fortunately the deer that frequent our property didn’t share my opinion. Though they do bloom better when you remove the spent flower stalks, it isn’t necessary for the plants to continue to bloom prolifically all season.

Stats: Annual, 12-16” tall x 14-18” spread, full sun to part shade

ROD’S PICK: Sweet Caroline Medusa™ Green sweet potato vine (Ipomoea)

As a grower, sweet potato vines aren’t usually my favorite because their long, trailing stems can be a bear to handle in production. But this new Medusa Green variety is a totally different kind of sweet potato vine. It’s almost unrecognizable as an Ipomoea because of its one-of-a-kind, palm-shaped leaves and mounding, rather than strongly trailing, habit. In our patio containers, it easily grew big and full but never trailed far enough to need trimming off the ground. This is a very vigorous plant. Pair it with other strong growers like Supertunia Vista® petunias or grow it on its own in a hanging basket. This would make a fun alternative to a Boston fern in a hanging basket.

Stats: Annual, 6-12” tall x 18-30” spread, full sun to part shade, heat tolerant

ROD’S PICK:  Luscious® Royale Red Zone™ lantana (Lantana camara)

I love the color red and this new lantana is as red as it gets! The flower clusters are large, with the tiny florets opening a mix of red and orange and then transitioning to pure red. Those fiery blooms were perfect for attracting hummingbirds to our garden last summer. We grew it in containers where it played well with other sun and heat loving plants like Supertunia® petunias and Rockin’® salvias. Because this selection is sterile, it never goes to seed and keeps right on blooming into fall without deadheading. 

Stats: Annual, 12-26” tall x 12-24” spread, full sun, heat and drought tolerant, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, deer resistant

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TOP NEW PERENNIALS

HEIDI’S PICK: Boulevard® Sarah Elizabeth™ clematis (Clematis)

I love Clematis because of the way they add vertical color to the garden and bloom for most of the summer. If you coordinate your varieties well, you can have two or three different kinds of clematis growing on one trellis and enjoy a parade of blooms from spring to fall. Shorter varieties like the new Boulevard Sarah Elizabeth can be grown on a small obelisk in the center of a large container as a unique “thriller”. In my garden, its bubblegum pink flowers with rosy red anthers bloomed for most of the summer. I also like that this variety can tolerate a bit of shade and still bloom well. 

Stats: Hardy in zones 4-9, 4-5’ tall x 2’ spread, full sun to part shade, attracts hummingbirds, deer resistant

HEIDI’S PICK: Granita® Raspberry hardy ice plant (Delosperma)

Tender succulents are fun to grow, but perennial succulents that bloom like crazy are double the fun! Granita Raspberry ice plant drew my eye immediately in plant trials last year. Its flowers are an incredibly vibrant raspberry pink—brighter than any ice plant I’ve seen, and larger too. The low carpet of succulent green foliage was totally covered in flowers in May and June here in Michigan, and I noticed some rebloom throughout the summer. This is a great drought tolerant groundcover that requires no maintenance to thrive. It does require well-drained soil. 

Stats: Hardy in zones 6-10, 4” tall x 30” spread, full sun, heat and drought tolerant, deer resistant  

HEIDI’S PICK: ‘Born to Run’ daylily (Hemerocallis)

I’ve been watching this daylily for years as stock was being built up and I am so excited to be able to offer it for the first time this year. ‘Born to Run’ is a total head turner! It’s large 6” flowers are bright rosy red with an intensely frilled, creamy yellow edge and throat. The blossoms appear prolifically in midsummer and then again later in the season on thick stalks above strong plants. Daylilies are a staple perennial for sunny landscapes. They are easy to grow and become showier every year as the plants mature. 

Stats: Hardy in zones 3-9, 20-22” tall x 18-24” spread, full sun to part sun, rabbit resistant

ROD’S PICK: ‘Onyx and Pearls’ beardtongue (Penstemon)

Black and white patterns are popular these days, and this new perennial fits that trend perfectly. It is incredibly striking with its near-black foliage and cool white flowers. The contrast really makes this plant pop in the landscape. Despite the tall stems, they held up well without staking in trials and the plants were very drought tolerant. If you are looking for a plant to make a statement in the middle of a low maintenance garden bed, this is a great choice. It’s a favorite of pollinating bees and hummingbirds, too. 

Stats: Hardy in zones 3-8, 42” tall x 38-42” spread, full sun, drought tolerant, bee-friendly, attracts hummingbirds

ROD’S PICK: ‘Heaven Scent’ Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium)

In the past, we grew most varieties of Jacob’s ladder exclusively for their ornamental foliage. ‘Heaven Scent’ kicks it up a notch with the addition of its larger, sweetly fragrant, blue flowers that appear in late spring. They complement the ferny textured foliage which is blushed deep purple early in the season before maturing to olive green for the rest of the summer. We found that this plant pairs well with virtually everything in our shade garden. Its delicate looking foliage is especially good for breaking up masses of broad-leaved hostas. In cooler climates, it will also grow in full sun.

Stats: Hardy in zones 3-7, 18-24” tall x 15-18” spread, full sun to part shade, deer resistant

TOP NEW SHRUBS

HEIDI’S PICK: Perfecto Mundo® Orange azalea (Rhododendron)

We know the incredible breeding work that has gone on behind the scenes to create this amazing series of reblooming azaleas, and we are happy to bring you new colors this year. Though they are all fantastic plants, orange-flowered azaleas are pretty rare and elevates Perfecto Mundo Orange into our top 15 for 2021. The flowers are large and plentiful, blooming up to three times per season in spring, late summer and fall. Sun tolerance and lace bug resistance makes them easier to grow. Just watch the hardiness zone, as reblooming azaleas are not quite as cold hardy as the traditional spring blooming varieties we grow here in the North. 

Stats: Hardy in zones 6b-9, 2.5’ tall x 3-4’ spread, full sun to part shade

HEIDI’S PICK: Let’s Dance ¡Arriba!™ bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea hybrid) 

Hydrangeas have come a long way since we first started selling them, and Let’s Dance ¡Arriba! is the most prolific and reliable bloomer we’ve ever seen. In Michigan, it starts to bloom in June and continues to put out new flowers all the way until frost. This is a mophead style hydrangea with large, dense, rounded flower clusters in shades of hot pink to purple to blue depending on your soil. The spent flowers age to an attractive mauve pink. If you’ve struggled to get your bigleaf hydrangeas to bloom in the past, we highly recommend replacing them with this incredible new variety. 

Stats: Hardy in zones 4-9, 2-3’ tall x 2-3’ spread, full sun to part sun

ROD’S PICK: Simply Scentsational® sweetshrub (Calycanthus)
 

Here’s a plant that your nose will detect before you even see it. It’s said that notes of melon, banana, strawberry and Juicyfruit gum can be picked up as you pass by. After 18 years of breeding sweetshrub, our friends at Spring Meadow Nursery have introduced the most fragrant cultivar to date and appropriately named it Simply Scentsational. Unlike ‘Aphrodite’ which blooms mostly at the tips of the branches, this new cultivar has smaller, darker red flowers that are produced all the way up the stems. The plant’s shape is denser with smaller green leaves, too. We think there are plenty of reasons to grow both selections! 

Stats: Hardy in zones 4-9, 6’ tall x 4-5’ spread, full sun to part shade, deer resistant

ROD’S PICK: Very Fine Wine™ weigela (Weigela florida)

Purple foliage shrubs are always popular with our customers, so we know you will love this improved version of Fine Wine® weigela. We like that it blooms more prolifically with brighter hot pink flowers in spring and has even darker purple foliage than its predecessor. Standing about 2’ tall and wide, it’s easy to tuck into the border to complement plants with silver foliage and red or orange summer flowering perennials. It can also be trimmed to form a striking hedge. Plant it in full sun to maximize the deep foliage color and flower power.

Stats: Hardy in zones 4-8, 2-3’ tall x 2-3’ spread, full sun to part shade, bee-friendly, attracts hummingbirds, deer resistant

*As with all new plants, demand is high. We recommend placing your order early for best selection.

3 thoughts on “Heidi and Rod’s Top 15 New Plants for 2021”

  1. I’d like a Brunnera plant (it has periwinkle color flowers and good in shade.
    When do you take orders for potted plants you grow in the greenhouse until May?

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