Now that you’ve been inundated with seed catalogs and you’re well into planning your garden for the coming spring, which Punxsutawney Phil says is going to be early, by the way, I’ll bet you’re wondering what you’ll find in the way of new plants in the garden centers.
I don’t have any inside information on what our local garden centers will have, but I can tell you what might be there, at least in regard to plants by Proven Winners. Each year, I get to trial an assortment of their plants in my garden. A few perennials, annuals and shrubs find their way to my place and in the last couple of years, vegetables. It’s almost like Christmas as I open the boxes and see what’s been sent.
Some of the plants I trial are ones that are being considered for the Proven Winners line. By the time they make it to my garden, the plants have gone through a rigorous evaluation process over several years, with attention to vigor, ease of care, disease resistance, versatility, color, growth habit, uniqueness, and a number of other factors.
About half of what I trial each year is not yet on the market, but may be scheduled for sale to the public the following year. It’s kind of fun getting to grow plants that are brand spankin’ new like that. I’ve been introduced to plants I would not have otherwise grown and in some cases not even known existed in any form, let alone a new and improved one.
So let’s look at a few that are new to the public from Proven Winners this year. I grew a few of these and the others I haven’t.
A stonecrop sedum new to their Rock ‘N Grow® series is a gorgeous variegated selection called ‘Boogie Woogie’. I’m partial to variegated plants anyway, because the two-toned foliage provides interest even when the plants aren’t in bloom. This perennial groundcover blooms yellow in summer on mounded 6-8” tall plants.
‘Yellow My Darling’ is new for the Color Coded™ line of echinaceas, and features short golden yellow petals surrounding the typical stiff coneflower centers. This open center is important for attracting pollinators versus those double varieties with the frilly centers, which they tend to avoid. ‘Orange You Awesome’ is another new one in the series this year, with two more on the way in 2021.
In the annual department, there’s a literal explosion of new caladiums – 20 of them! While caladiums are generally a shade plant, eleven of the twenty can be grown in places that get morning sun. These bulbs perform best when grown in containers outside, but they make great houseplants if you’ve got a sunny window, too. They do well for me in the ground as long as I keep them well watered.
A must-have annual for my garden this year will be a new Bidens, Campfire® Flame. The color is just hot, being a luscious reddish-orange with subtle yellow shading at the base of the petals. Heat tolerant and a continuous bloomer, you can’t go wrong with this one. It tops out at 8-14”.
Now that calibrachoas have been bred so that they’re easier to grow by being less fussy about watering, I’m not afraid to grow them. I’ve had fantastic success with them the last couple of years. My favorite of the new ones is Superbells® Blackcurrant Punch™, which I trialed last summer. It’s magenta with a dark purple eye and very striking.
I don’t really have an ideal place to put this new shrub, mockorange Illuminati Tower™, but after the disappointment in the mockorange I planted several years ago, I’ll find a spot. I bought the first one because I wanted its fragrant white blooms. It’s beautiful, but not fragrant! This new one is a space saver, growing vertically, with its flowers stacked up and down its stems, and it’s purported to be “very fragrant.”
And one more – dwarf pomegranate Peppy Le Pom™. It’s not hardy here (rated Zone 7), but with its adorable mini fruits and a name like that, how can you not grow it? It makes a great houseplant, so you can grow it in a container and bring it inside for the winter.
There are many more new varieties to be seen on the Proven Winners website ( and in case you didn’t know, you can order directly from them. That way you can have an unboxing party on your front porch, too.
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