8 new flowering plants to show off in your gardens and containers this year
Annual and perennial superstar blooms for gardens big and small
Spring means the arrival of new plants at the garden centre — first, the varieties that don't mind our unpredictable temperature swings, like pansies and bulbs, followed by annuals and perennials, which will thrive in pots and gardens both big and small through the summer months. This time of year also means the introduction of new varieties you can add to your outdoor haven. These new plants will welcome pollinators, add splashes of colour with flowers and foliage, and hopefully, add to the everyday joy of nurturing a garden.
Plant some sunshine
I usually plant at least one variety of calibrachoa in my ornamental pots every year. I find they're great as both fillers and spillers, cascading over the side of their containers. Superbells Coral Sun from Proven Winners offers a gradient of coral and yellow hues to brighten up the garden. It's heat-tolerant, and you don't need to deadhead (snip off the dead flowers) to encourage more blooms.
Plant hardy perennials
Nepeta Blue Prelude blew me away with the large freckled flowers on a hardy mint-scented perennial," said Stephanie Rose, author of the book Garden Alchemy and creator of the Garden Therapy website. "This catnip was able to withstand the attention from my cat, Magic, enough to provide plenty of blooms for pollinators."
Plant a flower that repels hungry bunnies and deer
For a sunny spot in the garden or a container arrangement, Primavera Spanish lavender features stunning deep purple flowers topped with purple bracts (small leaflike structures). And while it's supposed to repel deer and rabbits, it will still attract valuable pollinators, like bees and butterflies. It's worth noting this is an annual lavender, which will last one season, whereas an English lavender is perennial and will survive Canadian winters.
Plant a showstopper in a container
Shock Wave Purple Tie Dye petunias are another new favourite of Rose's. "I planted these in the border around my vegetable garden," she said. "Each flower was different, and the blooms changed throughout the season, making them more interesting than your average petunia." These petunias would also make great "thrillers", for adding height to a container or hanging basket.
Plant a scatter garden
I plant zinnias in my raised beds every year and harvest them as I would a veggie — but for my vases, not to eat! The pollinators love them, and they make great cut flowers. Renee's Garden Seeds has new canisters of its Scatter Garden Seeds, including one with free-flowering rainbow zinnias. Choose a blank-slate area of your garden and fill it with this colourful medley.
Plant for winter interest and pollinators too
Echinacea is one of those perennials that feeds the birds in the fall once the flowers have faded. I've seen my neighbourhood sparrows resting on the cones while eating the seeds. Goldfinches, cardinals and blue jays also enjoy them. And then, in the winter months, even though the plants have faded, they still stand out in the snow. Of course, in the summer, they're stunning in full bloom. Look for the Echinacea Artisan Collection Red Ombre. It's hardy down to zone 4a and will grow to be between 41 cm and 71 cm.
Plant impatiens with ease
A few years ago, gardeners were warned against planting Impatiens walleriana, a ubiquitous shade plant, because of a disease called impatiens downy mildew. In fact, many garden centres stopped carrying it altogether. Now, plant breeders are coming out with disease-resistant varieties like Beacon impatiens. This easy-care plant comes in seven colours, and you can use it to fill in spots in a shade garden or in one that gets partial sun.
Plant a showy shrub
Hydrangeas can be showstoppers in a summer garden. Their spectacular blooms are perfect for vases — even when dried. The Kimono Big Leaf Hydrangea features two-toned flowers that are white and a pinkish red. The plant prefers part sun and will rebloom for you all season long.
Tara Nolan is the author of Gardening Your Front Yard and Raised Bed Revolution. She is also one-third of the popular gardening website Savvy Gardening.