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Article

The Best New Plants for 2017

Fine Gardening – Issue 175

New plants can be dangerous to your health. I know I can’t be the only one whose pulse quickens, face flushes, and pupils dilate whenever I see a “new plants” sign at a nursery. As gardeners, we are predisposed to get excited about offerings never before available to the public, and this year’s crop of introductions is worth getting hot and bothered about. With new color breakthroughs, improved habits, and even better vigor, these plants prove they’re worthy of a spot in your landscape.

 

New Plants for 2017 Trees & Shrubs

 

The Biggest Blooms of any Hydrangea

‘Haas’ Halo’ Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea Arborescens ‘Haas’ Halo’)

It seems as if this plant should have a warning label that reads something like “Blossoms may appear larger in person.” This smooth hydrangea variety has lacy blooms that are anything but standard size (up to 14 inches across). The marketers claim that it’s drought resistant, too, so really, it won’t be hard to fall in love.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 5 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Introduced by Plants Nouveau

 

An Upgraded Version of a Shady Favorite

Bananappeal Small Anise Tree (Illicium Parviflorum ‘piiip-i’)

We’ve seen golden-leaved small anise trees before, but this new cultivar reportedly holds its yellow color throughout the winter, when other varieties tend to bleach out. It sports a compact habit, stays evergreen, and is deer resistant as well.

Zones: 7 to 9

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Partial to full shade; moist, well-drained soil

Introduced by Bailey Nurseries

 

New Plants for 2017 Trees & Shrubs

 

Light the Fall on Fire with this Small Tree

Firespire® Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana ‘J.N. Upright’)

It’s hard to resist columnar trees. Maybe it’s because their strong form makes them an instant focal point, or perhaps it’s because you can snug them into an assortment of tight spaces. Firespire® hornbeam fits both those bills. The tight, compact shape would be ideal for property lines or against a foundation, while the striking red-orange fall foliage color is hard to beat.

Zones: 3 to 9

Size: 15 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; rich, moist soil

Introduced by UpShoot LLC

 

 

Kick off Spring with this Profuse Bloomer

Opening Day Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum ‘PIIVIB-II’)

The only thing that says spring more than shopping for new plants at the nursery is, of course, baseball. Opening Day viburnum pays homage to both of these rituals. The pure white (with a hint of green) baseball-size blooms cover the entire shrub early in the season before falling away and leaving the dark green foliage behind. In fall, the leaves transition to a deep burgundy.

Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 5 to 8 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Introduced by Bailey Nurseries

 

 

An Unexpected Color from a Workhorse Shrub

Lemon Ice Weigela (Weigela florida ‘Lemiczam’)

Just when you thought you’d seen it all in regard to weigelas (including Technicolor foliage), Lemon Ice offers a new blossom color. Flowering begins in midspring and continues through summer, with occasional reblooming in fall. This tough shrub has light green foliage, and the new stems have a reddish tinge.

Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 5 to 6 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by UpShoot LLC

 

A No-Pruning-needed Crepe Myrtle

Bellini Grape Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Congrabel’)

A couple of things set this new crepe myrtle apart: its compact, rounded habit and its resistance to powdery mildew. This cultivar is also supposed to bloom prolifically in its first year, unlike other crepe myrtles that can take years to reach their bloom potential.

Zones: 6 to 9

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; moist, well-drained soil

Introduced by Star® Roses and Plants

 

This Juniper is anything but Ho-Hum

Jazzy Jewel Juniper (Juniperus Horizontalis ‘MonGeo’)

This variety proves not all junipers are boring. Splashes of white and gold accent the gray-green foliage of this drought-tolerant shrub. In winter, the mottled foliage flushes purple, further adding to its evergreen appeal.

Zones: 3 to 9

Size: 2 feet tall and 6 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by Monrovia Nursery

 

New Plants for 2017 Perennials

 

Disease Resistance and Saturated Coloring to Boot

‘Bee-Happy’ Bee Balm (Monarda ‘Bee-Happy’)

Similar to the popular red ‘Jacob Cline’ bee balm, ‘Bee-Happy’ allegedly boasts even better mildew resistance. This is the latest introduction from the Bee-You™ Series, known for its disease resistance and compact habits. The deep maroon or purple bracts contrast beautifully with the intense flower hue.

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 15 to 18 inches tall and 12 to 15 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by Plants Nouveau

 

This Plant Proves Treasures do come in Small Packages

Wateree River Toadshade (Trillium Oostingii)

Each of this woodland gem’s leaves looks like a painter came through and placed dark red brush strokes on it. Interesting doesn’t accurately describe the chartreuse-yellow petals that are burgundy toward the base, which appears to float above the foliage. This plant is about as uncommonly cool as it gets.

Zones: 6 to 9

Size: 8 inches tall and wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Introduced by Plant Delights Nursery

 

Blossom Color that will make you Love Baptisias Even More

‘Pink Lemonade’ Baptisia (Baptisia ‘Pink Lemonade’)

Wow, this is one pretty plant. The glaucous pealike leaves are typical of any baptisia, but the yellow to purple blooms are definitely unique. The huge flower spires start showing up in late spring and will continue for several weeks. What won’t show up are deer, since this plant is resistant to those four-legged foes.

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by Walters Gardens

 

Flowers Trump the Foliage on this Grass

‘Ginger Love’ Fountain Grass (Pennisetum Alopecuroides ‘Ginger Love’)

Usually, you buy an ornamental grass for its fine-textured foliage, and its flowers are just an afterthought. The blooms of ‘Ginger Love’, however, are large and reddish-burgundy, making this plant an undeniable focal point in late summer.

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 30 inches tall and 36 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by Intrinsic Perennial Gardens

 

A Scary name for a Breathtaking Daylily

‘Storm Shelter’ Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Storm Shelter’)

The coloring on these 5-inch-wide blossoms looks too intense to be real. The yellow throat is surrounded by aubergine with a lighter peach band along the outside. You can expect flowers from midsummer through early fall, with occasional reblooming if you’re lucky.

Zones: 3 to 9

Size: 18 to 24 inches tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by Walters Gardens

 

New Plants for 2017 Perennials

 

 It’s Almost too Pretty to be this Tough

‘Ritzy Rose’ Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium ‘Ritzy Rose’)

There’s a reason why so many municipal landscapers plant yarrow in the harshest spots: It’s tough with a capital “T.” ‘Ritzy Rose’ takes that toughness and tops it with intense pink blossoms. Naturally compact, this yarrow supposedly blooms earlier than other Achillea varieties, beginning in late spring instead of early summer.

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 10 to 14 inches tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by Rozanne and Friends™

 

Weird? Yes. Wonderful? Also Yes.

Chinese Pink Fairy Sedge (Carex Scaposa)

At first glance, this looks like it might be some sort of crazy tropical plant. But no, it’s actually a member of the well-known sedge family. This species sports wide bladelike green foliage that perfectly highlights the exotic-looking pink blooms that pop up in late summer. This is one of plant guru Tony Avent’s favorite new plants.

Zones: 6 to 9

Size: 1 foot tall and wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Introduced by Plant Delights Nursery

 

A Ground Cover with Pop

Gold ‘n Sapphires™ lithodora (Lithodora Diffusa ‘LITGS’)

Blue is always rare in the gardening world, but when it’s paired with golden yellow foliage, you have a stunning plant in the making. The key to keeping lithodora happy is not letting it sit in moisture for too long. If you’ve got a gravelly area between stepping stones or on an embankment, this may be a good plant choice.

Zones: 5 to 7

Size: 4 inches tall and 18 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by Terra Nova Nurseries

 

No Bloomless Legs on this Clematis

Boulevard® Daiyu clematis (Clematis ‘Evipo083’)

After seeing the rich pink blooms of this compact clematis, you’ll definitely want it to rebloom—and it will. Legginess shouldn’t be an issue, either, because this cultivar flowers from its leaf axils and its stems, ensuring color from tips to toes.

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 4 to 6 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Introduced by Monrovia Nursery

 

Big Flowers on a well-behaved Plant

‘Blue Frills’ Stoke’s Aster (Stokesia Laevis ‘Blue Frills’)

Stoke’s asters deserve more love. They’re generally trouble-free plants, are drought tolerant once established, and flower throughout the dog days of summer. ‘Blue Frills’ gives a little something more to love by way of its 3-inch-wide electric purple-blue blossoms. Bees and butterflies apparently approve, and no doubt you will, too.

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 16 to 18 inches tall and 20 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Introduced by Rozanne and Friends™

 

The Shimmering Appearance of this Hosta sets it Apart

‘Waterslide’ Hosta (Hosta ‘Waterslide’)

Can’t you just picture some little garden fairies sliding down the wavy silver leaves of this plant? If you can, the name seems quite appropriate. In a little bit of sun, the leaves take on more of a blue undertone. With coloring like this, it’s easy to imagine this hosta lighting up the darker corners of the garden.

Zones: 3 to 9

Size: 14 inches tall and 32 inches wide

Conditions: Partial to full shade; moist, well-drained soil

Introduced by Walters Gardens

 


 

Keep It In Mind

You may need more room

The mature size of certain new plants may be bigger than the tag claims. This is especially true for trees and shrubs, which can take a decade or more to reach their full size. When you invest in that new juniper, you may want to give it a little more space so hat you’re not forced to relocate it down the road.

 


 

Keep It In Mind

Hardiness is Still in Flux

The zones listed for new plants can be tricky. It’s important to remember that these selections have been in the testing phase for only a few years, and they may be a little less—or a little more—hardy than the plant breeders think. It’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and choose plants that claim to be hardy to a full zone colder than the one you live in.

 


 

Keep It In Mind

If you want it, get it now

Much like new seasonal nail polish colors, a new plant may be available only for one year. This may seem crazy, but the sad fact is that many new plants just don’t sell well and bring in disappointing revenues to the companies that market them. If you see something new at the nursery that you like, grab it now, because it may not be there next year.

 


Danielle Sherry is the senior editor.

Photos : courtesy of Bailey Nurseries; courtesy of Plant Delights Nursery Inc.; courtesy of Monrovia Nursery; courtesy of Proven Winners; courtesy of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens; courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries Inc.; courtesy of Plants Nouveau; courtesy of UpShoot LLC; courtesy of Rozanne and Friends™; courtesy of Monrovia Nursery by Doreen Wynja; courtesy of UpShoot Plants; courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

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