Most of my gardening friends are just as obsessed with plants as I am. Sure, we love the plants we already grow in our gardens, but every new season brings on a new case of plant fever. Here are some of the new shrubs that may ease my pain in 2018.
I am not normally a fan of barberries and their sharp thorns, but Monrovia has introduced a couple of new cultivars of Berberis thunbergii that just might make me their cheerleader. Golden Jackpot® is a compact variety – just 2 feet tall and wide – with bright yellow leaves. Lava Nugget™ sports brilliant orange red foliage that turns to deep burgundy as the season progresses. They grow 3 feet tall and wide.
Both are small enough to squeeze into perennial gardens, plant near the front of shrub borders, or use as an alternative for boxwood in short hedges. Golden Jackpot® and Lava Nugget™ are also suitable for adding texture and color to large container gardens.
The trick to growing barberries is well-drained soil. They prefer full sun, but tolerate part shade and rarely need pruning.
Beautyberries often remain unnoticed in the landscape until autumn when their violet-pink berries stop traffic. But now there is Pearl Glam®. It has something to celebrate in three seasons: dark purple foliage from spring to frost; white flowers in summer; and lots of traffic-stopping berries in fall.
Pearl Glam® grows 4 to 5 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide. Grow it in full sun. In extremely harsh winters, this cultivar may die back to the ground but will send up new growth, flower and still produce berries in the same year. It was developed by North Carolina State University together with Spring Meadow Nursery.
Another new shrub to come from the team of NC State University and Spring Meadow Nursery is Double Take Peach™ flowering quince. Chaenomeles speciosa, as flowering quince is botanically named, is one of the first shrubs to bloom in the spring. As its name implies, Double Take Peach™ boasts large peach-colored flowers on plants growing up to 5 feet tall and wide.
The entire Double Take series is thornless so mulching and weeding around them is pain free. Plant them in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. I just planted one of its siblings in my landscape last summer. I can’t wait to see daffodils blooming beside the rich red blooms of my Double Take Scarlet™.
Dogwoods are one of the go-to shrubs for gardens with areas that remain wet for a few days after heavy rains. They are also often chosen for their magnificent branches that add color to the winter landscape. And now we have Neon Burst™ that does this and flaunts vibrant chartreuse leaves all season until autumn paints them a tapestry of orange, purple, red and yellow.
Neon Burst™ grows up to 5 feet tall and wide. Choose it as a foundation shrub, for perennial or shrub borders, or for mass planting. Their intense red branches glow against snow. Cornus alba Neon Burst™ is a member of the First Editions® family offered by Bailey Nurseries.
You will want Red Rover® dogwood for its white flowers that support pollinators in late spring or early summer, blue berries and striking red fall foliage, and distinctive red stems in winter. Enjoy the blue berries while you can before the birds devour them.
This native silky dogwood grows 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. It’s an outstanding choice for moist soils in full sun to part shade. Cornus obliqua Red Rover® is from the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® group of flowering shrubs.
Also from Proven Winners® ColorChoice®, Winecraft Black® smokebush displays rich purple foliage in spring that ages to near-black in summer and then explodes into a mix of orange and red in fall. Its soft pink smoke blooms in early summer. This new smokebush has a rounded form and is just 4 to 6 feet tall and wide, making it easy to fit into almost any landscape.
Plant Winecraft Black® smokebush in well-drained soil in full sun for the best foliage color. I can imagine it planted with a small group of Northwind switchgrass and Viette’s Little Suzy black-eyed Susan. And I know right where I am going to plant them!
I am really excited about Pollypetite® rose of Sharon. It is much smaller – just 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. All summer, it blooms like other rose of Sharon shrubs more than twice its size. It is loaded with lavender-pink flowers! If you have had trouble with a rose of Sharon self-seeding itself a little too aggressively for your liking, this introduction by Proven Winners® ColorChoice® flowering shrubs is nearly seedless.
Plant Hibiscus sp. Pollypetite® in well-drained soil in full sun for best flowering. Tuck it in to perennial gardens or shrub borders, position it as a focal point or plant where I plan to, in one of my large container gardens.
There are so many new hydrangeas, it is impossible to try them all but, being an admitted hydrangea junkie, I do my best. There are three cultivars I am especially excited about this year.
Invincibelle Limetta® and Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® smooth hydrangeas are improvements over the classic Annabelle. If sited properly – in a spot with all morning sun and afternoon shade – their stems are strong enough to hold their large flowers without flopping. They grow 3 feet tall and wide and are perfect partners for hostas and astilbes. Invincibelle Limetta® features pale green flowers. Invincibelle Mini Mauvette® displays deep pink-mauve blooms. They should also be considered for large containers and for planting in drifts. Cut them back by a third of their height in early spring as new growth begins to maintain strong stems and for the most impressive flowering.
I can’t wait to plant a few Wee White™ smooth hydrangeas in containers for the season and then plant them in their permanent homes in my landscape in fall. Wee White™ is a petite cultivar of Hydrangea arborescens, growing just a couple feet tall and wide. Large, pure white flowers begin blooming in summer and age to pale pink in fall. Sturdy stems don’t flop.
Besides containers, Wee White™ could edge a shrub border, take the place of a perennial in a flower garden, or perform in a mass planting in a partly-shaded landscape.
Small cultivars of old favorites are a continuing trend, and this new ninebark ranks a 10 on my new plant wish list. The foliage of Little Angel emerges orange-red and slowly deepens to burgundy in summer, a perfect backdrop for the white flowers. At just 2 feet tall and a foot wide, it can planted as a low hedge, in perennial gardens, at the front of shrub borders, in containers or in foundation plantings. Plant Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Little Angel’ in full sun or light shade.
For folks who need a mid-sized shrub, First Editions® Opening Day™ doublefile viburnum is a beautiful choice. Introduced by Bailey Nurseries, it offers round clusters of spring-blooming white flowers the size of baseballs and dark green foliage that turns reddish-purple in fall. Opening Day™ grows at least 5 feet tall and wide. Plant it in full sun to part shade.
I am so lucky to have the opportunity to attend industry trade shows and visit display gardens to see new plant introductions. These are just thirteen of the new shrubs that will be available at local garden centers this spring. Will you add any of these to your plant wish list? Or are there any not listed here that YOU are excited about? I might need to add them to MY wish list.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts about new annuals and perennials. Garden with me!