Greenhouse Canada

Perennials Showcase: The top picks

A look at dozens of the latest products.

October 26, 2022  By Andrew Snook

Kieft Seed Rudbeckia Goldblitz [1]

Greenhouse Canada recently reached out to perennial breeders and suppliers to learn more about their top picks (and to get some sneak peeks) for 2023.

Note: Varieties are not presented in any order.

Darwin Perennials and Kieft Seed
Chris Fifo, perennial products representative at Darwin Perennials, Kieft Seed, says that over this past year, growers have faced many obstacles. 


“After two years of record sales, growers were all ramped up for a third that flopped for many,” he says. “After working their way through supply chain challenges getting all the materials they needed to produce their crop, COVID isolation was coming to an end and the weather did not cooperate in many regions, leading to a lot of leftover perennials. This is leading to more growers trying their hand at overwintering.” 

Darwin Perennials has recognized this and is providing grower resources with its YouTube channel video, “3 and a Half Steps to Overwintering Success,” as well as an associated upcoming webinar. The video can be viewed here:

“Since there can always be variability in overwintering success, opportunities arise with first-year-flowering perennials. This allows growers flexibility in production planning that they need, as well as scheduling opportunities to hit their target dates with perennials in full flower,” he says, adding that Darwin Perennials’ First-Year-Flowering Scheduling Tool can be checked out at:

“Producing these crops can take a fair amount of labour in a very tight labour market. Leading to another trend of growing perennials that require less labour, fewer ‘touches,’ and less attention overall. This comes back to the breeders then to develop products like Leucanthemum White Lion or Achillea Milly Rock that require little attention and get themselves ready for retail,” Fifo says. 

Kieft Seed Rudbeckia Goldblitz [1]
Goldblitz is a natural daylength growing solution, so customers can enjoy this flower for earlier and longer during
the season. This first-year-flowering perennial provides a more economical input option for natural daylength growers, as the plugs do not require special treatment to perform to the same quality as Goldsturm. A recent Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner.

  • Height: 61-71cm/24-28”. 
  • Spread: 36-46cm / 14-18”. 
  • Exposure: Sun. 
  • Hardiness Zone: 3a to 9b.

Echinacea Artisan Yellow Ombre [2]
The first F1 hybrid seed Echinacea collection is expanding. New Yellow Ombre joins the Artisan Collection of seed Echinacea, which offers consistency of plant structure for uniform and highly branched, full plants in the landscape. The series also provides uniformity of flowering, so all plants are ready to show at the same time. The added benefit of a seed input means flexibility during production – fit Artisan right into your schedule.

  • Height: 61-86cm/24-34”. 
  • Spread: 25-64cm/10-25” 
  • Exposure: Sun. 
  • Hardiness Zone: 4a to 10b. 

Perovskia Bluesette [3]
This novelty perennial has a controlled habit, early flowering and early finishing, making growing Perovskia for the landscape market easy. Bluesette works well at the front of the garden border, in a single premium patio container, or in mixed combination with other sun-loving plants. Plants produce a pleasing sage fragrance and attracts bees and butterflies. 

  • Height: 36-56cm/14-22”. 
  • Spread: 36-61cm/14-24”. 
  • Exposure: Sun. 
  • Hardiness Zone: 4a to 9a.

Darwin Perennials Veronica Skyward [4]
This veronica offers a high flower count on a dense, upright habit and boasts continuous blooming. Its durability ensures plants grow and ship without breakage for more usable plants. Available in pink and blue. Pollinator friendly and powdery mildew resistant for perennial garden design success. 

  • Height: 36-46cm/14-18”. 
  • Spread: 36-43cm/14-17”. 
  • Exposure: Sun. 
  • Hardiness Zone 4b to 9a.

Echinacea Sombrero Poco Hot Pink [5]
This is the compact version of the popular Sombrero series of coneflower. The sturdy plants are covered in blooms with bright, rich colours. For spring 2023, Hot Pink joins the assortment and is well-matched in habit, timing and exceptional winter hardiness. 

  • Height: 36-41cm / 14-16”. 
  • Spread: 36-41cm / 14-16”. 
  • Exposure: Sun 
  • Hardiness Zone: 4b to 9b.

Polemonium ‘Golden Feathers’ [6]
Customers can add show-stopping colour to their shade garden designs with this exciting golden variegated Polemonium (Jacob’s Ladder). Bluish-purple flowers are a bonus in the late-spring to summer months. Great accent plant in rock gardens, landscapes or containers. 

  • Height: 15-20cm/6-8”. 
  • Spread: 30-36cm/12-14”. 
  • Exposure: Shade. 
  • Hardiness Zone: 5b to 9a.

Proven Winners Perennials Agastache MEANT TO BEE ‘Queen Nectarine’ [7]
Members of the MEANT TO BEE Collection were selected for their large, full habits, significant landscape presence, and hardiness. Soft peach flowers are held on the mauve calyxes of ‘Queen Nectarine’. Best performance comes in full sun with well drained soils. 

Astilbe ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ [8]
Rich deep chocolate burgundy leaves form an incredibly attractive mound of foliage. Dark stems hold raspberry buds that burst forth with rosy purple flowers. This performs best both for growing and flowering in full sun in the north with adequate moisture, but also grows in shade. 

Monarda UPSCALE ‘Red Velvet’ [9]
Taller than most other new introductions on the market, the UPSCALE collection average 2-2½’ tall and wide with flowering performance that covers the top half of the plant. ‘Red Velvet’ has large cherry red flowers. Newly emerging foliage has a bronze cast. 

Panicum PRAIRIE WINDS ‘Niagara Falls’ [10]
‘Niagara Falls’ is excellent for filling space in the landscape. This native ornamental grass that appears like a Miscanthus in the landscape with arching foliage, but adds the powder blue color characteristic of Switch Grass. In fall, sprays of cream seed heads pack the top of the plant. 

Phlox LUMINARY ‘Sunset Coral’ [11]
Just like the pink and orange hues that light up the sky during a sunset, ‘Sunset Coral’ lights up the landscape. Coral pink flowers have an orange tinge; the orange colour is especially noticeable when compared with true pink Phlox paniculata varieties. 


DüMMEN ORANGE Achillea Skysail Yellow [12]
Our new Achillea breeding features very large flowers umbels with bold colours on a strong, upright habit. This medium-height plant with strong peduncles performs well in containers and landscapes for a nice retail and garden show. Excellent heat and humidity tolerance.

Gaillardia Spin Top Mango [13]
New colour addition to the industry’s leading Gaillardia series. This series provides early colour and continues into the season on a mounding habit. Incredibly hardy and tolerant to hot and humid conditions. 

Dianthus Mad Magenta [14]
This large flower Dianthus is making headlines in the industry. This upright mounding variety, with its masses of electric magenta blooms starts earlier than any of our other perennial dianthus and continue non-stop throughout the season with no cycling.

Perovskia Jelena [15]
It’s compact habit make it a great selection for the landscape, making it more suitable for extensive commercial applications. Spikes of lavender-blue flowers add a sense of lightness to the garden. The compact upright nature of Jelena also makes it an ideal specimen as a thriller in summer combination containers.

Penstemon Pristine Princess Pink [16]
Beautiful Princess Pink is one of the three new colours additions that join the Pristine series. Pristine continues to be a grower favorite because of its medium-compact habit, intense colours, and naturally well-branching habit. With uniformity at the forefront of our breeding efforts, this series is easily grown under a universal production regimen.

Syngenta Flowers Erysistible [17]
Erysistible is the first Zone 5 hardy erysimum available in novelty colours. This year, the series is back with two new colours: Bronze Rose (pictured) and Yellow Pink. With medium-vigor and controlled habits, this series works well across all key container sizes.

Zephyr [18]
A densely branched and compact habit make Zephyr perovskia the best choice for small to mid-sized containers. It’s a tough drought tolerant variety and a magnet for pollinators. Zephyr is hardy from zones 4a-11a, and ideal for 1 qt and 2.5 qt containers.

Prairie Blaze [19]
Prairie Blaze is the first ever OP Echinacea available in novelty colours and optimized for mass production. This series offers four stunning colours: Orange Sunset, Vintage Lime, Golden Yellow, and Green. Varieties are efficient to produce in a wide range of container sizes, and ideally suited for 2.5-qt programs.

Alpino Early [20]
This year, our popular Alpino Early saxifraga series welcomes three new varieties: Alpino Early Carnival Imp (pictured), Alpino Early Deep Red, and Alpino Early Rose Imp. These new introductions offer improved flower form and habit. Try combining them for a cheery cotton candy hued mix. 

GoldiPhlox [21]
2022 was dubbed Year of the Phlox by the National Garden Bureau, but we’ll continue to celebrate in 2023 by introducing three new varieties to our GoldiPhlox series: GoldiPhlox Lavender Eye (pictured), GoldiPhlox Light Pink, and GoldiPhlox Pink Imp. This series is ideally suited for small- to medium-sized containers and is a must have for any perennial program big or small.

Terra Nova Nurseries
Rebecca Orr, marketing manager at Terra Nova Nurseries, says this year has been a bit less sensational for overall interest. “It is closer to what we saw previously but with a bit more general interest in the backyard beneficial garden with many multi-use plants. Retail customers are looking for more information about what they purchase than purely aesthetic impulse buys.”

Orr adds that the average gardener wants more from the amount of space they have. “It many be more compact and floriferous plants or items check many boxes. The rise in interest in container gardening, pollinator friendly planting, drought tolerance and cut flowers opens many new ventures for breeders but it also means that only items that are top performers in many areas will have longevity in the market.”

Bergenia VINTAGE ‘Blush’ [22]
Harkens back to older types of Bergenia that have survived in gardens for a century without care. Has medium-sized, paddle-shaped foliage in a rich pine-green colour that deepens with cold weather. The spring bloom is amazing; great numbers of flowering stems that are branched with several layers of flowers that are long lasting. Blush features a cascading style of flower truss; upright with flowers held like an orchid. Lovely blush pink flowers have a deep rose coloured eye. An easy and sturdy landscape plant.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-9.
  • Size (HT/W/FL HT): 10”/15”/16”.
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade.
  • Bloom Time(s): February, March, April.

Bergenia VINTAGE ‘Pink’ [23]
A stellar performer in containers and in the garden. Medium-small jade to emerald green foliage looks great even during the summer months. Flowering in early spring, VINTAGE Pink puts on a fantastic display of rose pink flowers in huge clusters. The waxy flowers last for over a month and have a light fragrance also.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-9. 
  • Size (HT/W/FL HT): 8”/12”/12”.
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade. 
  • Bloom Time(s): February, March, April.

Bergenia VINTAGE ‘Rose’ [24]
A very solid plant. Large clusters of bright rose flowers are held just above the lovely small, green foliage. Excellent scale in every aspect. The ratio of flowers to foliage is great, as is the complimenting flower and foliage colour. The rich, moss green foliage deeps in the winter and adds a beautiful burgundy halo around the edges of the foliage. Another rock hardy, easy to grow garden subject.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-9. 
  • Size (HT/W/FL HT): 7”/14”/12”.
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade. 
  • Bloom Time(s): February, March, April.

Dicentra AMORE ‘Titanium’ [25]
Absolutely one of the most pure, true white flowers we’ve seen in ages. The floral display of this Dicentra is stunning against the soft blue-green foliage. Exceptional vigour and easy culture make this new Bleeding Heart a garden essential. AMORE ‘Titanium’ arose as a spontaneous mutation of the popular AMORE ‘Pink’ and it’s a knockout. As with all the AMORE’s, they are very heat resistant and flower for many months, spring through summer. Grow AMORE ‘Titanium’ in the sun, or for an elegant woodlander, in the shade.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 5-9.
  • Size (HT/W/FL HT): 9”/18”/14”.
  • Exposure: Part Shade, Full Shade.
  • Bloom Time(s): May, June, July, August, September.

Echinacea CARA MIA ‘Spicy’ [26]
This plant ticked all the boxes for a number of visitors to Terra Nova’s field trials. This mid-border to background Echinacea made them all look twice. The added height, perfect stem and flower placement made it look like a living bouquet. Plus, the unusual Pomegranate colour makes it a showstopper. Terra Nova is happy to have another height range to offer its gardening friends… not everything should be knee high in a garden!

  • USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-9.
  • Size (HT/W/FL HT): 20”/24”/30”.
  • Exposure: Full Sun.
  • Bloom Time(s): July, August, September, October.

Polemonium ‘Hurricane Ridge’ [27]
Foliage favourite for the garden with many improvements. Named for one of the truest bluest views of the Olympic mountains in Washington State, where this nativar originates. It is a tough, hardy perennial that tolerates both sun and shade well. Repeating curved frond-like foliage has an attractive geometric element that is pleasing to the eye throughout its growth. Light lilac-blue toned flowers grace the top of the crisp green leafed cyclone mid-summer. Great for containers, added foliage texture and mixed sun/shade locations.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-9.
  • Size (HT/W/FL HT): 9”/18”/14”.
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade.
  • Bloom Time(s): May, June, July, August, September.

Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Frost’ [28]
A rare and beautiful sport of the very popular ‘Raspberry Splash’. As easy to grow as the original, ‘Raspberry Frost’ is enhanced by a cream-silver margin and a heavily veiled leaf surface for added interest. The bright coral-red flowers are showy in early spring and when finished are covered by newly emerging foliage for a very clean look. A fresh look for this popular plant.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-9. 
  • Size (HT/W/FL HT): 10”/18”/ 8”. 
  • Exposure: Part Shade, Full Shade. 
  • Bloom Time(s): March, April, May.

Pulmonaria ‘Silver Scimitar’ [29]
Large arching silver green foliage with wavy-edged, strap-like foliage. Full landscape sized plant, vigorous and fast, ‘Silver Scimitar’ has a stately presence. Emerges each spring in a tight mound covered in bicolour pink and purple flowers, an early season hummingbird favourite. Performs well in both shade and full sun, perfect for borders and edges.

  • USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-9.
  • Size (HT/W/FL HT): 8”/22”/9”.
  • Exposure: Part Shade, Full Shade.
  • Bloom Time(s): April, May.

Jelitto Perennial Seeds ALLIUM schoenoprasum ’Mixed One’ (Ornamental One Series) [30]
With the introduction of our popular ‘Ornamental One’ Chive Series in 2020, gardeners added beauty to their herb gardens and mixed containers in sturdy clumps from 3 single colour seed strains not available before from seed. First year flowering and deliciously edible, this highly ornamental series now includes the ’Mixed One,’ a nice assortment of pink, purple and white flowering plants with consistent medium sized foliage. Our customers figured this out and began asking for a mix of the colours and we happily obliged. It was not listed on our website as a possibility until now as so often these days the preference is for colours separately sorted. At 30 cm (12 in) tall in flower and hardy in zones 3-9, the humble chive is a versatile addition to any garden. These lovely chives are a candy store for bees, butterflies and other insects. Whether you love the ’Pink One’ or are looking for a drought tolerant groundcover in your white garden (the ’White One’) or want a violet flash of colour with the ’Purple One’, you have an additional choice. Now you can have them all united in one seed mix. Just ask for the ‘Mixed One.’

ALCEA Rosea-Hybr. ’Purple Rain’ (Spotlight Series) [31]
In 2010, Jelitto introduced the Spotlight Series – vigorous sturdy single-flowering Alceas in four wonderful colours: ’Mars Magic’ red, the black-purple ’Blacknight,’ ’Sunshine’ yellow, and the white ’Polarstar.’ In 2014 pink ’Radiant Rose’ was added to the series which has become an important component in today’s modern gardens. Breeding the series started in 1992, and 16 years ago Jelitto began its work to bring a blue-purple form to market. The earliest kernels of ’Purple Rain’ originated in a private garden in Romania. This form had deeply divided leaves, not matching the ideal form for our upcoming Spotlight Series, but was truly perennial. The best breeders have patience, lots of patience. Take one look at Purple Rain and you will see a work of art that is long in coming. Purple Rain has beautiful wide green foliage on sturdy upright stems, and deep blue violet single saucers. Plants grow to around 180 cm (70 inches), the same height as the rest of the seed-raised Spotlight Series, and if sown early in the year, are first-year flowering. Enjoy the vivid blue purple flowers May through October in a sunny area of the garden. Available as JET pure seed for easy sowing. 

LATHYRUS vernus ’Heavenly Blues’ [32]
Heavenly, perfectly describes the clear blue colour of Jelitto Perennial seeds newly bred seed strain of Lathyrus vernus. Blooming in early spring, just in time to welcome gardeners back to the garden, ’Heavenly Blues’ is a long-lived member of the Papilionaceae family of leguminous plants whose flowers have butterfly shaped corollas and attract masses of butterflies and bees, providing a valuable source of nectar early in the year. Lathyrus Heavenly Blues grows quickly to form nice clumps in an open woodland garden or rockery and thrives best in cooler summer climates. Heavenly azure-blue flowers present a unique colour rarely found among this hardy sweet pea group which normally flowers in red-violet shades. Lathyrus vernus grows best in well-drained woodland soils and valuably complements other early blooming perennials like Trillium, Helleborus, Doronicum and Dicentra, with its gently textured foliage. Jelitto offers this heavenly blue seed strain of perennial sweet pea Lathyrus vernus Heavenly Blues as a companion to the softly pink strain ’Rosenelfe.’ Or if you’d like to sample the candy store, the mixed colour strain ’Rainbow’ is for you. 

LOBELIA cardinalis f. albiflora ’White Cardinal’ [33]
Like the rare bird, ’White Cardinal’ is a unique form with brilliant pure white flowers accented by a delightful touch of reddish-pink flower tubes. Native to much of North America, the bright red common form includes names like Indian Pink, asthma weed and Indian Tobacco to reflect the many ways the cardinal flower was used by Native Americans. This treasure of a perennial grows like its red brother (winner of an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society) preferring moist to wet soil. Its large brilliant flowers with their deeply hidden nectaries are an excellent food source for hummingbirds and butterflies.
Jelitto is happy to offer seeds of this unusual colour variant. The company has taken care of the natural germination inhibition this species uses in its reproductive strategy with our Gold Nugget Seed process, allowing quick uniform germination. Plant ’White Cardinal’ where it will thrive: along a pond edge, wet meadow, or low wooded area. An extra bonus is its suitability as a cut flower, providing an attractive colour combination for floral bouquets. 

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