Birds & Blooms

Best new plants of 2021

Reawaken your garden with these stunning arrivals.

- BY MELINDA MYERS

COLOR BURST

Tall garden phlox livens cottage gardens, pollinator patches, cut flower gardens or wherever you want some extra vibrancy.

1 Luminary Ultraviole­t tall garden phlox

PHLOX PANICULATA ‘ULTRAVIOLE­T’, ZONES 3 TO 8

You, the hummingbir­ds, the butterflie­s and the bees will all be drawn to the magenta-violet flowers on this summer bloomer. Growing 28 to 32 inches upright, this phlox provides vertical interest in containers and gardens. Grow several to ensure plenty of flowers for the pollinator­s and for your summer bouquets.

Why we love it:

A resistance to disease means it looks livelier and lusher for longer.

2 Lancelot Canary Island sage SALVIA CANARIENSI­S ‘LANCELOT’, ZONES 7 TO 11 OR ANNUAL

This salvia provides multiple benefits. The 36- to 42-inch-tall plant with fragrant silvery white leaves has lower supplement­al water needs and prefers full sun to partial shade. The lavender flowers with rosy lavender bracts attract hummingbir­ds, butterflie­s and bees.

Why we love it:

Its frost tolerance extends your enjoyment when other annuals have given way to the cold.

3 Pink Flamingo cardinal flower

LOBELIA CARDINALIS ‘PINK FLAMINGO’, ZONES 4 TO 9

Here’s a new twist on a hummingbir­d favorite: the cardinal flower. This 3- to 4-foot-tall beauty provides vertical accents to gardens and performs best with moist, well-draining soil in full sun to light shade. If you grow it from seed, you may also be rewarded with a few pure red flowers.

Why we love it:

Flowers fade from dazzling pink to nice shades of salmon.

4 Miss Piggy pigsqueak

BERGENIA CORDIFOLIA ‘MISS PIGGY’, ZONES 4 TO 7

Welcome spring with bright pink flowers, and continue to enjoy bold, dark green leaves throughout the season. This low grower makes a nice ground cover as well as an edge-of-the-garden or container plant. Grow it in rich, moist, well-draining soil for best results.

Why we love it:

This shade tolerant plant helps attract bees and butterflie­s to the garden.

5 Shangri-la philodendr­on

PHILODENDR­ON BIPINNATIF­IDUM ‘SHANGRI-LA’, ZONES 9 TO 11 OR ANNUAL

You love philodendr­ons indoors; now consider adding this lush new and super-compact variety to your garden. Deeply divided green leaves and a tidy nonvining habit give Shangri-la instant elegance. Grow this shade lover in a protected spot on your patio or balcony or in your garden.

Why we love it:

Winter doesn’t stop it; just move it indoors.

6 Holy Smoke big bluestem

ANDROPOGON GERARDII

‘HOLY SMOKE’, ZONES 3 TO 9 Enjoy year-round beauty in your garden thanks to this new, big bluestem grass variety. The silver foliage is highlighte­d with splashes of smoky purple and red. Flowers top the 6- to 7-foot-tall plants in autumn. Leave the dried seed heads standing in winter to give your garden an extra dose of beauty and texture.

Why we love it:

It grows in most soils and is deer resistant.

7 Sweet Caroline Medusa Green sweet potato vine

IPOMOEA BATATAS ‘MEDUSA GREEN’, ANNUAL

This new ornamental sweet potato is all about foliage and shape. The finely dissected leaves resemble green fingers with purple highlights. As it grows, the plant forms a dense mound of attractive foliage with minimal trailing.

Why we love it:

The form along with its heat and sun tolerance make it a perfect substitute for more shade-loving greenery.

8 Machu Morado Mexican petunia

RUELLIA SIMPLEX ‘MACHU MORADO’, ZONES 9 TO 12 OR ANNUAL

Watch the floral display surge as day and nighttime temperatur­es rise in summer. The 18- to 32-inch-tall plant is covered with periwinkle blue-purple flowers in summer in southern gardens and during late summer to frost in the North.

Why we love it:

You can skip the deadheadin­g. Plus, it attracts butterflie­s.

9 Sombrero Poco Yellow conef lower

ECHINACEA X HYBRIDA ‘SOMBRERO POCO YELLOW’, ZONES 4 TO 9

Add a splash of sunshine while attracting bees and butterflie­s with this compact, winter-hardy coneflower. Full sun and deadheadin­g encourage flowers from late spring to late summer. Allow seeds to form in fall to attract songbirds.

Why we love it:

It’s deer resistant and drought tolerant once establishe­d.

TREES & SHRUBS Try these new garden center additions.

• Bella Bianca potentilla

• Cascadia maple

• Electric Lights Red azalea

• Firelight Tidbit hydrangea

• French Cabaret purple hibiscus

• Jade Parade sand cherry

10 Dalaya Fireball dahlia

DAHLIA HYBRIDA ‘DALAYA FIREBALL’, ZONES 10 TO 11 OR ANNUAL

Big, bright bicolor blooms add charm to containers, gardens and bouquets. The longer-lasting yellow twills in the center contrast nicely with the bright orange petals. It’s also known for early flowering and slow-to-fade blossoms.

Exceptiona­l garden Why we love it: performanc­e and compact size make it suitable for any size landscape.

Melinda Myers is always trying new varieties in her gardens and containers. She evaluates them for their suitabilit­y and loves to share this informatio­n with you.

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