Susan Martin is an avid gardener and respected garden communicator for trade and consumer audiences. She enjoys gardening. Follow her on Facebook @ Gardener Sue’s News.

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New Plants to Try in the Midwest
by Susan Martin    

Our eyes are often bigger than our gardens, and we end up with more plants that we can use or plants unsuitable for our gardens. With a little advance research, you’ll be happier with your purchases in the long run. Here are 10 solid recommendations for you to consider.

Monarch Promise Butterfly Weed (Asclepias hybrid)

For the gardener who has everything, this is a completely novel annual butterfly weed that attracts monarchs and other butterflies, bees and hummingbirds with its brilliant orange-red blooms all summer long. Its variegated foliage is a remarkable mélange of silvery green, cream, pink and orange tones. Monarch Promise looks fantastic as a thriller in combination containers or paired with other colorful annuals and perennials in the landscape. Buy it as soon as you see it. Monarch Promise will be in short supply this year, and will surely sell out quickly this first year. Full sun. 24-30 inches tall. Annual.

Monarch Promise butterfly weed (Asclepias hybrid) offers the total package: dynamite blooms and fantastic foliage. 1

Meteor Shower vervain (Verbena bonariensis)

Meteor Shower verbena quickly rose to the top of everyone’s favorites list during the trials at Proven Winners. This is a shorter, fuller version of the species, with a key improvement being that plants set little seed, so it won’t become invasive in your garden. Butterflies and bees swarm its dainty periwinkle-purple flowers all summer. Use it as a flowering thriller in your containers, sprinkle it liberally throughout your landscape, and be sure to snip a few stems to accent your fresh bouquets. Full sun. 30-36 inches tall. Annual.

Meteor Shower Vervain (Verbena bonariensis) is very easy to grow in any sunny location and blooms all season long. 2

FlameThrower coleus (Plectrantus hybrid)

Loads of new coleuses have made their debut over the past two years and 2016 will yield more, new, must-have varieties. The FlameThrower series, which includes Chili Pepper, Chipotle and Spiced Curry, has incredibly distinctive, lightning rod-shaped leaves, and maintains its bushy habit all season in sun or shade, with very little maintenance. It is very late to flower, which is a desirable trait for coleus. Equally impressive with a similar look is Marquee Special Effects coleus, also debuting in 2016. Sun to shade. 18-24 inches tall. Annual. 

The new FlameThrower series of coleus (Plectranthus hybrid) delivers outstanding all-season performance in sun and shade  with very little maintenance required. 3

Coleus Flame Thrower  Spiced Curry 4

Coleus Flame Thrower  Chili Pepper. 5


‘Sandy’ Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

This 2015 All-America Selections award winner has everything you want in a head of lettuce. Sown from seed, you’ll have baby lettuce ready to pick in 30 days, or mature heads in 50 days during the cool growing seasons. Its sweet, dark green, frilly leaves are slow to bolt, even in the heat, and are resistant to powdery mildew, downy mildew and tip burn. ‘Sandy’ is well adapted to grow in containers and raised beds, but can also be grown in the garden. Sun to part sun. Under 10 inches tall. Vegetable.

2015 AAS winner ‘Sandy’ Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is well-adapted to  grow in containers and raised beds. 6

SunSparkler Sedoro ‘Blue Elf’ (xSedoro)

A brand new intergeneric cross, this is the world’s first Sedumx Orostachys cross that is hardy to USDA Zone 4, hybridized in West Michigan. In colder zones, this plant can be treated as a tender succulent, and brought indoors for winter. Steel-blue rosettes of tightly packed, succulent leaves form a low, 15-inch wide mound that becomes covered in sweetly fragrant, deep pink flowers, which attract bees and butterflies in late summer and early fall. Excellent for rock gardens, edging sunny pathways, and troughs. Full sun. 3 inches tall. USDA Zones 4-9. Perennial.

SunSparkler ‘Blue Elf’ (x Sedoro) is the world’s first USDA Zone 4 hardy  Sedoro. Its steel-blue foliage is blanketed by deep pink flowers from  late summer into fall. 7

Take It Easy shrub rose (Rosa ‘WEKyoopedko’)

“Take it Easy is an outstanding new rose that lives up to its name. It raises the bar and establishes a new standard for all roses of its type and class. It is the best new rose to come down the garden path in the last 10 years,” said rosarian Frank Vonn Koss of Ray Wiegand Nursery. This is a worry-free, lightly fragrant, classic red rose, with naturally pest and disease resistant, dark green, shiny foliage. Its excellent vigor and low maintenance mean you can just Take It Easy and enjoy its beautiful blooms. Full sun. 3-4 feet tall. USDA Zones 4-9. Shrub.

Take It Easy rose (Rosa ‘WEKyoopedko’) is the new gold standard  in red shrub roses, with naturally disease resistant foliage and lightly  scented blooms. 8



A version of this article appeared in a State-by-State Gardening Jan/Feb 2016 print edition.


Photo Credits: 
1 Photo courtesy Hort Couture
2 Photo courtesy Susan Martin
3-5 Photos courtesy Ball Horticultural Co
6 Photo courtesy All-America Selections
7 Photo courtesy Susan Martin
8 Photo courtesy Weeks Roses


Posted: 02/22/16   RSS | Print


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