New year brings new possibilities

By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

This time of year the gardening magazines check with the commercial nurseries to see what new plants they are developing for the coming gardening season. Here are a few for our 3B- 4A zone.

Baileys has a new big leaf hydrangea for us. Endless Summer Pop Star. It is a small one, only 18 to 36 inches tall depending how well it likes its spot. It is either neon blue or bright pinks depending how acid or alkaline the soil. It’s a lacecap. This type of flower “provides visual texture while catering to pollinators” according to the company. It is a rebloomer so you should have flowers on it all summer. Plant in sun or shade. 

Monrovia is introducing Seaside Serenade Glacier Bay bigleaf hydrangea. The sturdy black stems end in a white lacecap bloom. Another rebloomer, this is described as having a “rounded habit and substantial foliage” by the grower. They suggest it can be an accent plant or as “massed in the landscape.” She is 3X3 feet and needs part sun or filtered shade. In other words, don’t plant this girl in dense shade or full sun.  She may not need as much water as most hydrangeas. Most of them like damp feet. Not sure you could overwater most hydrangeas. 

Proven Winners has 2 new cultivars this spring. Invincibelle Sublime a smooth hydrangea is a bit taller than the last two, growing from three and a half feet to five. The mophead flowers are a “tourmaline green” what ever color that is. The dark green foliage sets off the lighter green of the flowers. This is an improvement over Lime Rickey as the color is better and has better heat tolerance. She wants full to part sun and moderate water. She flowers on new growth so cut all stems back to about a foot in the spring. 

Puffer Fish panicle is their other new cultivar. She has stems strong enough to support all her flowers.       This is a larger version of Bobo (still available). The fluffy blooms nearly cover the plant hiding the green leaves. “The flowers open white and as they age, turn lime green then a fresh sprig of white emerges from the tip of the panicle.” Unlike most panicles, she never turns white. Plant her in full to part sun. 

Bloomables is introducing Sweet Starlight panicle hydrangea this spring. She is 4X4 with strong stems that “promise to remain upright throughout the growing season.” She is so full of white blooms in the spring she looks like a snow pile. In early July the white flowers start turning pink that will age to dark pink. Plant in full sun to part shade. She is a zone 4-8 plant unlike the others who are 3 to 9. 

Proven Winners has some new and or improved plants out for spring. If you are into grasses Niagara Falls is a powder blue that mimics miscanthus with arching foliage. It has “interesting texture and movement with its gracefully drooping foliage.” In fall, it develops cream-colored heads. It is 4X4  and requires low to moderate water.  

Red Velvet bee balm is also theirs. One of the upscale series she is nearly 3 feet tall and wide. This one is mildew and deer resistant. The leaves emerge with a bronze cast. The large red flowers pop out mid to late summer. This is one of the tallest bee balms. She will take part shade but prefers full sun.