Hartley Magazine

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A Peek at New Perennials

Last month I attended the Garden Communicators International online conference. One of the presentations by the National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections featured the best new plants that will be available in nurseries next spring. These introductions are the result of years of development—chosen for better form, tougher hardiness, or disease resistance.

So, as the season winds down, this is the time to develop a shopping wish-list. This month I’m perusing perennials. I do recommend online ordering as soon as you can. Plants that arrive early can be sheltered in your greenhouse or a sunny room until conditions outdoors are optimal. Later, you will find many of these newbies in your independent garden centers for spring planting. Here are seven that caught my eye.

Agastache ‘Queen Nectarine’ has delicate flowers that belie how tough it really is.

Agastache ‘Queen Nectarine’ – The common name, hummingbird mint, tells you how attractive this plant is to those feisty flyers, but also pollinators of all kinds. Once established, ‘Queen Nectarine’ will be great for hot dry places in my water-restricted garden. At 36” tall and wide, the peach-colored airy blooms contrast well with other larger flowers. Zones 5-9.

Agapanthus ‘Poppin Purple’ is a rebloomer–great for extended garden color.


Agapanthus ‘Poppin Purple’ – Some of these strappy-leaved plants are not hardy in my garden, but this one goes down to Zone 7b, so I have high hopes. It’s also a rebloomer at 18-24” tall and 18” wide.


Heliopsis ‘Luna Roja’ shows off bright orange and red flowers.

Heliopsis ‘Luna Roja’ – All heliopsis have a long bloom-time, and this one has such cheerful orange-red blossoms on sturdy stems and a compact (12-16” by 16”) rounded shape. Hardy in Zones 3-9.

Monarda ‘Red Velvet’ thrusts its pollinator- attracting blooms up on three-foot sturdy stems.


Monarda UPSCALE™ Red Velvet – This one goes against the hort development trend for smaller varieties by topping out its red blooms at 36” tall and wide. Taller makes the long-blooming flowers stand out and pollinators love monardas. Zones 4-8.

Perovskia ‘Bluesette’ can be grown from seed started in the greenhouse.


Perovskia ‘Bluesette’ – Here’s a perennial from Pan American Seed you can sow in your greenhouse. It flowers earlier than other Russian sages and at 18” by 24” it will stay compact. It has a wide range of hardiness— Zones 4a-9a.

Salvia ‘Blue By You’ contributes swaths of summer blue color.


Salvia ‘Blue By You’ – I love having blue blossoms as a foil for my summer-gold flowers, and this compact (24” tall and wide) All-America Selection fills the bill for me. It has an extended blooming time in Zones 4b-9a. (I only got the musical bayou play on words as I typed this.)

Sedum ‘Bright Idea’ forms a full mounded dome in the front of the border.


Sedum ‘Bright Idea’ – I have heavy clay soil, so I didn’t think sedums would thrive. But I was so wrong, and now I’m looking to expand my collection. Bright Idea is compact, with a lovely rounded form under a foot tall with a 20” spread. The vivid yellow flowers are long lasting in Zones 3-9. Or, grow it in a container and enjoy the succulent dark green leaves on red stems in the winter greenhouse.