Hot Varieties for 2010

January 19, 2010
Written by Brian Minter
Over the past few years, there has been a slowdown in great new introductions, but not so for 2010. There are lots of ‘hotties’ out there, and being prepared and well stocked with some of these top ten new plants will give you a great edge on spring sales.

The newest millet, called Pennisetum glaucum ‘Majestic’, will bring all the others back into popularity. I spotted this one at the new plant display at the July Short Course in Ohio, and what a stunner! It’s short, fat and adorable. Its foliage is a hot lime, which creates a nice accent, and it only grows up to one metre tall. What really caught my eye, however, was its huge 20 cm flower spikes that look like giant fuzzy dark brown bulrushes. It’s a natural in containers and equally at home in garden beds or blended in with cannas and other heat-loving summer showpieces.

The Proven Winner Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ and its new competitor, ‘Silver Fog’, from Dummen U.S.A. are truly great garden additions, but I have to say the new soft burgundy foliage of E. ‘Breathless Blush’, is quite something special with its white floral accents and contrasting dark foliage all summer. It’s a great new addition to the tender perennial euphorbia family.

The new ‘Seduction Series’ of achilleas (zone 4) deserves praise. In colours of strawberry, pink, peach and gold, this is the first real basil branching, compact variety that blooms almost continually from June until heavy frost. Its foliage is a silvery-green that blends beautifully not only with the flower colour but also with other companion plantings. These new achilleas belong anywhere in a sunny garden or container.

Good on the Pan American breeders for developing not only cool new colours, but also great names. ‘Sophistica Antique Shade’, ‘Sophistica Lime Bicolour’ and Proven Winners ‘Pretty Much Picasso’, a hot pink with lime edging, are petunias that capture young folk’s psyche. These are new colours that will result in new combinations that will attract the next generation of gardeners, and that’s a good thing!

Speaking of good things, the top attention getter for 2010 is the ‘Snow Princess’ Lobularia hybrid Sweet Alyssum. This is the first alyssum that you can use either by itself or in combination with other sun or shade loving plants. This new variety has been trialed in full sun and partial shade with equally great results. I like the fact that it can go out early because of its tolerance to cool temperatures, and it can hang in until the very end. Its delightful soft perfume is another great attraction. I see this variety as a wonderful addition to all containers and baskets. Its tolerance to a wide variety of conditions is a huge bonus.

Tomato ‘Tommacio’ is an amazing new variety from Israel that produces small cherry type tomatoes that can be sun dried or simply popped into the microwave. This variety adds a whole new element to a tomato garden. Once dried or preserved in oils, they can be used year round in pasta dishes and so much more.

A series of new hypericums from Novalis will bring new colour and life to a late summer and fall garden. A zone 5 shrub, it only grows 40 cm-by-40 cm and has masses of tiny yellow flowers. What’s so special about this ‘Mystical Series’ of hypericums is the amazing berries that form in mid-summer and hold well into heavy frosts. Hypericum berries have long been a florist’s dream used as accents in bouquets, and now for the first time people can grow them as colourful sun-loving shrubs. I particularly like the coral berried ones, but the black, green and red varieties make a statement as well. This is an innovative new plant that will combine particularly well with grasses.

Perhaps one of the most innovative new grasses to arrive on the scene this year is a dazzling cousin to the amazing Purple Fountain grass. Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ is a fabulous red and pink striped variety with the traditional ‘bunny tail’ plumes all summer long. Now our personal relationship with this grass did not initially go well. We tried this variety four years ago fresh from the breeder, but someone got something wrong because they just simply did not grow. They sat in pots for two summers and did virtually squat. Apparently it had some slow genes out of the gate, but I’ve been assured that this problem has been overcome. Well, we have some in our greenhouse growing now, and in three weeks there’s more growth on the new ones than three years of the old ones. Now I’m hot on this new grass, and I think it has a great opportunity this year to impress you too.

I’m surprised at the recent surge in popularity of Korean lilacs. The demand for these very hardy zone 3, compact (1-1.5 metre) lilacs has been overwhelming. The flowers are small, but there are lots of them, and the perfume they spill throughout a garden is quite amazing. There’s now a new kid on the block this year that not only blooms in early or late May, depending on the region, but Syringa ‘Bloomerang’ also provides a second show and more fragrance again in mid-summer. One of its parents, S. ‘José’, already does this but in an inconsistent way. ‘Bloomerang’ is beautiful, fragrant and blooms twice consistently. It needs sun and good drainage. I see a future for it in containers, especially with other colourful conifers, evergreen grasses and interesting perennials. It will be the hottie for 2010!

Hydrangea ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ from Proven Winners is going to be a huge new introduction. Not only will it have great press, but it’s also a zone 3 that complements the ever popular ‘Annabelle’ with a repeat blooming character. The blooms are smaller, but they more than make up for it in volume. It enjoys part sun and shade, and trials have all rated it highly. Part proceeds from this plant will also go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

These new plants, among many others, will be new perks for our customers and some, especially for the X and Y folks. Contact your local growers and make sure you’ve got them on your radar.

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