Beautiful new plants you might want to add to your 2023 garden

Gardening expert Tara Nolan shares this year’s colourful picks for gardens, pots and hanging baskets.

Gardening expert Tara Nolan shares this year’s colourful picks for gardens, pots and hanging baskets

two images. left: multiple yellow rudbeckia flowers in a field. right: a light yellow rose in full bloom, with lots of green leaves around it.
(Source, left: @panamseed/Instagram; right: @jeffriesnurseriesltd/Instagram)

Every year, plant breeders release new plants that nurseries will grow to stock their shelves, and they'll all be vying for your attention as you stroll the aisles. That's when a list can come in handy. You might not have specific plants on yours, but you can make note of the spaces you need to fill and the pots you'd like to arrange. Perhaps you're looking for perennials and shrubs, which form the backbone of a garden, and you'd like to fill in holes with colourful annuals. Or maybe you need something for a balcony or small patio that will work well in a large pot.

For your consideration, I always have my favourite new releases, and this year is no different. Sometimes my first trip to the nursery is more of a reconnaissance mission where I see what's available, then mull it over at home. Of course, despite my best intentions, I can't say a year goes by without at least one impulse purchase! Either way, I hope these fresh recommendations help you plan ahead. 

Yukon Sun rose

My first selection is a rose that was developed in southern Ontario, not far from where I live. Yukon Sun is the newest rose to be launched as part of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre's 49th Parallel Collection. The flowers of this shrub rose are a cheerful, sunny yellow that really pop against the plant's deep green foliage. This is a low-maintenance rose that is resistant to black spot, a common rose affliction. Plants are hardy down to –35 C. 

Strawberry Sky petunia

I'm kind of a sucker for unique petunias. This soft-red gem has speckling that looks like it had a run-in with some bleach. Add it to your full-sun containers or hanging baskets, or along a garden border. Be sure to deadhead blooms throughout the growing season for continuous flowers. And while this plant tends to mound, you may still need to give it a good trim mid summer to prevent it from looking leggy.

Dark Side of the Moon astilbe

When you're browsing for plants, don't just look for pretty flowers. Sometimes the foliage can be the main event, and the deep, purple-black leaves of Dark Side of the Moon are perhaps what made this an award winner. Its characteristic fluffy, fuzzy flowers (also a shade of purple) add interest. This plant is very versatile and thrives in both full sun and full shade. It's also deer and rabbit resistant if that's a concern.

Rudbeckia Goldblitz

According to the National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization that promotes gardening across North America, 2023 is the year of the rudbeckia. Rudbeckia Goldblitz is a new variety that did very well in my hot, dry front-yard garden. Hardy down to –40 C, it is low maintenance and attracts pollinators like hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

Dragon Baby hardy hydrangea

If you've been searching for shrubs for a small-space garden, this diminutive hydrangea could be what you've been waiting for. Dragon Baby only grows to be about two to three feet tall and wide. The flowers of this dwarf panicle hydrangea start out a creamy lime green and gradually change to pink. Bring some of those impressive blooms indoors to dry in a vase so you can enjoy them through the fall and winter.

Rock 'N Round 'Bright Idea' stonecrop

Sedums, also known as stonecrops, are staples in my gardens. They flourish in my hot, sunny and dry front yard. Bright Idea has a unique look with its red stems and yellow flowers. Even though it's a heat lover, it will survive a frigid Canadian winter down to –40 C. This is the perfect plant to pop into an empty space because of its uniform, round shape. 

MiniFamous Uno Orange and Red Vein calibrachoa

The name of this calibrachoa is a mouthful, but the plant is true to the vein in its name: intricate patterns on the flower petals look like they've been carefully sketched. Calibrachoas are perfect "fillers" and "spillers" for a container. They are heat tolerant for those sunny spaces and self cleaning, meaning no deadheading is required. Match your complementary flowers and foliage to the elaborate flower pattern of this MiniFamous variety.

Stonehedge begonia

I plant begonias in hanging baskets along a narrow garden border in my side yard, and in containers. I like the look of Stonehedge, with its promising bronze leaves and pink flowers. This plant can grow to about three feet tall and is described as "vigorous." And given its size, it could stand in place of a small shrub! Plant in full sun to part shade.


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.

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