Maria Zampini is the owner of UpShoot™ LLC, which markets and licenses new plant introductions including LCN Selections. She is a featured writer and columnist in consumer magazines and horticultural trade journals as well as a nationally known speaker on plant patents, trademarks and new plant introductions. Visit her website at

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2013 Best New Plants
by Maria Zampini    

So many new plants to choose from, so little space on the page to write about them. How will I ever choose which ones to share? I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what, I cannot possibly cover even a fraction of all the new plant introductions I’d like to tell you passionate plant people about. What to do? I’ll let someone else help me! Let me share with you some new plants that were recently recognized as winners — voted on by green industry professionals — at the New Varieties Showcase at the Farwest Trade Show in Portland, Oregon. 

Best of Show

Amber Jubilee® ninebark was actually named in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and its glowing foliage of orange, yellow and gold.

“Best of Show” was First Editions® Amber Jubilee® ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Jefam’). Developed in Manitoba, Canada, this compact ninebark is extremely hardy to Zone 2. Amber Jubilee is a cross between ‘Diablo’ and ‘Dart’s Gold’. This genetic combination created a ninebark with a blend of gold and yellow foliage that takes on hues of red and purple in the fall. A smaller-sized plant, it will reach 5 to 6 feet in height and 4 feet in width. It can be used alone, or if planted in a group it can be used as a screen or the perfect landscape backdrop. Full sunshine and selective yearly pruning will keep this plant looking its best in your yard.

Outstanding Plants

Above and right: Bring berry production to your front porch with Peach Sorbet™ compact blueberry, which is perfect for container gardening.

Three plants were bestowed the honor of “Outstanding Plant.” The first was Peach Sorbet™ blueberry from the BrazelBerries™ series (Vaccinium corymbosum Peach Sorbet™). Don’t let its name fool you; this is a compact blueberry with leaves that are peach to pink to orange in color. In most climates it will hold its foliage year round, turning an eggplant purple in winter. You can plant Peach Sorbet™ as a foundation plant or utilize it in a container or as a hedge. 

The same company who brings us Peach Sorbet™ has also introduced Raspberry Shortcake™ BrazelBerries™ raspberry (Rubus idaeus Raspberry Shortcake™). This thornless dwarf raspberry only grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide so it is ideal for large patio containers, but can still be planted in the landscape or garden. Best of all it requires no pollinator, trellising or staking.

Other “Outstanding Plant” winners include two Zone 7 selections: ‘Cathedral Gem’ sausage vine (Holboellia coriacea ‘Cathedral Gem’) and ‘Black Pantha’ agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox ssp. orientalis ‘Black Pantha’).

People’s Choice

Above: Pistachio hydrangea blooms are a psychedelic collage of red, green and violet hues. Below: ‘Everillo’ Sedge.

Sometimes twice is nice — Double Scoop™ ‘Cranberry’ coneflower’s cherry red flowers stay bright all growing season. 

The “People’s Choice Award” went to Pistachio hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Horwack’). You won’t find another hydrangea bloom that looks like this — individual scarlet red and green flowers with violet centers create a “psychedelic” looking bloom up to 5 inches across! This plant will be 2 to 3 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide at maturity.

Sunny Sedge

I wanted to include at least one ornamental grass-like plant; thus, I present ‘Everillo’ sedge (Carex oshimensis EverColor® ‘Everillo’). Discovered in Ireland, this is a sport from Carex ‘Evergold’. The leaves are a lime green that turn a solid gold so bright you’ve gotta wear shades! More compact than other species at only 20 inches tall, it will lighten up even the darkest corners of your yard.

Perennially Speaking

Really, who doesn’t love ice cream? No doubt you’ll crave Double Scoop™ ‘Cranberry’ coneflower (Echinacea purpurea Double Scoop™ ‘Cranberry’) for your perennial bed. It is shorter than other double-flowering Echinacea cultivars growing to 24 to 26 inches high and 16 to 22 inches wide. The cherry-red flowers will stay brilliant all summer long with no fading.

Sage Advice

I adore Russian sage for multiple reasons — late summer color, flowers can be cut, dried and enjoyed indoors, it is drought tolerant once established and it is deer resistant. Lacy Blue™ dwarf Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Lisslitt’) does all that and more. This new selection, at 18 to 20 inches high and 22 to 26 inches wide, has an improved habit plus upright, thicker and tighter branching that stands tall and does not fall over. This sun lover can be used in mixed containers, mass plantings or in the perennial bed.


Sunsparkler™ ‘Dazzleberry’ stonecrop (Sedum Sunsparkler™ ‘Dazzleberry’) is a mounding ground cover and can be utilized in rock gardens, hanging baskets, containers and in the perennial bed. It produces large, raspberry-red flower clusters from August through September that are great as cut flowers. This drought-tolerant plant, with its smoky blue foliage, will reach about 8 inches in height and spread to around 18 inches in width.

Left: Good things come in small packages; Lacey Blue™ dwarf Russian sage provides late-summer color you can cut and enjoy inside your home too. Below: Sunsparkler™ stonecrop produces clusters of raspberry red flower heads which make a great cut flower, as well as a stunning ground cover.

Golden Candle™ (Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Gocanzam’)

‘Wings of Fire’ weigela is one “hot” plant with its red new growth.


Slim and trim is in and Golden Candle™ goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata ‘Gocanzam’) easily squeezes into the tightest of spaces. An extremely upright and columnar selection, it grows only 4 feet wide and will reach up to 35 feet in height. Large, bright yellow flower panicles appear in early summer. It will tolerate drought, heat and urban conditions and makes an excellent street tree.

Hot Maple

‘Orange Flame’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Orange Flame’) is, well, orange! This Japanese maple has an upright habit and will mature to 15 to 18 feet high and 10 to 12 feet wide. New growth emerges orange and will eventually turn green, but petioles and bark will remain orange. In summer the tree is green with what looks almost like orange candles (the new growth) on the tips. It will need at least part to full sun for best color.

Hot Shrub

If you’re tired of the typical maroon- or green-leaved weigela then you’ll find ‘Wings of Fire’ (Weigela hybrida ‘Wings of Fire’) a refreshing change. Its leaves have red new growth that darkens during the summer months then finishes out to a wine-red in the fall. Pink blooms appear in late spring. It finishes at around 3 to 5 feet in height and width so it is a good accent plant in the border or in large mixed containers.

Green Is Still In

As Kermit the Frog said, “It’s not easy being green.” However, when decorating the outside of your home, one should consider “green” as the little black dress of the garden; it never goes out of style and it is a fundamental piece, crucial to the backbone of your landscape. Pantone is the color authority in the fashion industry. For spring 2013, the color green takes the spotlight with three shades that will be hot, hot, hot.  To be “in style” this spring, I offer up a list of the must-have greens through some newer plant choices that will make your yard in vogue.
Tender Shoots (Pantone 14-0446) – A vibrant, invigorating and cheerful yellow-green: Sedum ‘Elsie’s Gold’ (shown right) not only delivers the beautiful late-summer and early fall flowers (in soft shell pink) that sedum are known for but it also provides golden yellow variegated leaves that turn a creamy color through the growing season. This perennial is hardy to Zone 3 and will reach approximately 12 to 24 inches in height and 24 inches in width.

Similarly colored plants include: Colocasia ‘BWLEm’ Lemon Lime Gecko™, Echinacea purpurea ‘Green Jewel’ and Heuchera ‘Pistache’.

Grayed Jade (Pantone 14-6011) – A subtle, hushed green with gray:  Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobazam’ Mr. Bowling Ball® (shown right) gets a perfect score as a no-maintenance evergreen. It forms a perfect 2 ½ by 2 ½ foot round circle without any trimming. It has gray-green foliage that looks more like a Chamaecyparis spp. or a fine-needled juniper rather than an arborvitae. Its soft foliage takes heavy snow loads; branches won’t break and it will bounce back to its original shape. It is hardy to Zone 3.

Similarly colored plants: Ligularia dentata ‘Osiris Fantaisie’ and Astelia banksii ‘Shore’.

Sophisticated Emerald (Pantone 17-5641) – A lively, radiant green: Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mystical Emerald’ (shown right) flowers emerge pink with green eyes in spring. As the blooms mature they turn a soft green, which eventually intensifies to an emerald-green in summer. This Zone 5 to 8 hydrangea prefers full sun or partial shade and will reach 3 to 4 feet in height  and width.

A similarly colored plant is Heuchera ‘Carnival Limeade’.

From State-by-State Gardening January/February 2013. Photos courtesy of Maria Zampini.


Posted: 01/09/13   RSS | Print


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