New Perennials for 2003

Perennials are hot! Their popularity with gardeners is growing by leaps and bounds. To meet the demand for perennials, especially unusual perennials, nursery professionals introduce and market dozens of new cultivars every year. Below is a small sampling of new perennials making it to shelves in garden centers this spring.

Daylily 'Rosy Returns' and Romantic Returns' are repeat bloomers like 'Happy Returns' and 'Stella D'Oro' but only with pink flowers. They start blooming in early summer and continue until frost. Both cultivars are 2 feet tall and wide at maturity.

Coneflower 'Razzmatazz' has pompom mauve-pink flowers on 3-foot stems in summer. This is a whole new look for purple coneflower.

Phlox 'Natural Feelings' and 'Red Feelings' have showy lavender and dark pink blooms (respectively) for two months or more in summer. Both cultivars are 2-3 feet tall and 2 feet wide at maturity.

Salvia 'Marcus' is low-growing salvia that has bright blue flowers in late spring and early summer. The mat-like leaves and 6-8 inch flowers make this a wonderful plant for edging or containers. Deadheading encourages repeat blooms.

Sedum 'Angelina' looks more like a conifer than a perennial. It has needle-like golden leaves and cascading or creeping habit. The yellow flowers are attractive for several weeks in the summer.

Hosta 'Remember Me' is one of the many hostas being marketed this year. What make this one unique is not strictly aesthetics but the story that goes with the plant. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of plants goes to the American Cancer Society to support breast cancer research. Fortunately, an exceptional 1-foot tall plant with attractive creamy white leaf centers and dark green edges was chosen as a remembrance.

Foamy Bells 'Sunspot' is a cross between a Coral bell and Foamflower. This attractive 8-12 inch tall shade perennial has golden leaves with reddish centers and showy pink flowers in spring.

Japanese Painted Fern 'Burgundy Lace' and many other cultivars of painted ferns are attracting a lot of attention for the shade garden. 'Burgundy Lace' has burgundy and silver foliage on 12-15 inch tall plants that remain attractive all summer.

This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2003 issue, p. 34.


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