Every year, thousands of new plant varieties are released by professional breeders and growers to the landscape industry. There are many new plants — annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and more — that merit consideration by landscape professionals. Some of the new introductions for 2012 are as follows:
Urban Columnar Apple Series
Urban Columnar Apples by Garden Debut are new introductions that yield great-tasting apples in a tiny footprint. Now it’s easy to produce delicious, full-sized apples on slender, vertical trees that grow in large pots on sunny decks or balconies. Urban Columnar Apple trees are loaded with fruiting spurs along the main leader, and branches are short and upright, producing straight, upright-growing, cylindrical apple trees maturing at 8 to 10feet tall but less than 2 feet in diameter. Trees are extremely healthy and disease resistant, with romantic apple blossoms in spring. Plant Urban Columnar Apples in the ground, or transplant to large containers coordinated with home and architecture. When grown in full sun, expect full-sized fruit the first year, so long as there are two or more varieties for cross pollination. As trees mature, the yield of apples will increase. Be sure to maintain fertility levels for good growth and yields.
Four varieties ensure a wide selection of flavors, plus good cross-pollination and fruit set:
Tasty Red is a bright red apple with a sweet, juicy flavor.
Blushing Delight produces a blush of reddish-green fruit with a slightly sweeter taste.
Golden Treat greenish-gold apples are tart in early fall, but get sweeter the longer they are on the tree.
Tangy Green lime-green apples add a crisp, tart flavor to the series.
Crown Jewel Gardenia
Crown Jewel Gardenia PP19896 is a low-spreading, prostrate, evergreen gardenia with intensely fragrant, white, medium-sized, double flowers. The heavy May flush of blooms is followed by repeat blooming throughout the summer, until fall brings another heavy flush of blooms. Light pruning after the first bloom period will stimulate even more blossoms. Crown Jewel Gardenia blooms on both old and new wood, so late frosts will not harm the crop of fragrant white flowers.
Crown Jewel Gardenia is easy-care with a versatile dwarf size without pruning, ultimately reaching reach 2 to 2-1/2 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide, ideal for garden beds. The broad-leaf evergreen has bright dark-green foliage and is hardy to zone 6 (with cold testing ongoing in Zone 5). It is excellent as a low accent plant, for massing or in containers.
Garnet Fire Loropetalum
Named for the brilliant, deep-red gemstone, Garnet Fire Loropetalum is an ideally sized (6-feet-tall by 4-feet-wide) evergreen shrub (actually “ever-red”) due to its outstanding, shiny, dark-burgundy foliage. Colorful, fine-textured, deep maroon-red leaves persist throughout the year in zones 7 to 11, and add a blaze of color to the winter landscape.
Called Chinese Fringe Flower, hundreds of garnet-red, tassel-like flowers with narrow, fringe-like petals envelop the plant in late winter through spring. Individual flowers persist for weeks, and the plant is in bloom for months, beginning with sporadic flowering in fall. Honey bees appreciate the early pollen source, and the flowers attract butterflies.
The multi-faceted shrub reaches a useful 6 feet in height, and tolerates direct sun to partial shade for versatile landscape placement. Use as a specimen or accent plant, in the border, in front of the foundation plantings, as a container plant, for massing or as a screen. It is striking when planted next to pastel flowers, or beside yellow- or silvery- blue foliage that emphasize the burgundy foliage.
Wine Spritzer Beautyberry
Wine Spritzer Beautyberry is the toast of the town, and landscapers are clinking wine glasses over the distinctive variegated leaves of Garden Debut’s beautiful new shrub. The large, dazzling leaves of this spectacular new cultivar are creamy white and splashed with green speckles on wine-colored stems. The foliage looks like it has been heavily painted or “spritzed” with color, and in autumn the cream and green leaves turn yellow and green.
Slender branches arch gracefully on this Asian beauty, and in summer tiny, pollen-laden, pink to pale-lavender flowers appear in the axils of the opposite leaves, appealing to butterflies and bees. Wine Spritzer is not a prolific bloomer or fruit setter. The foliage carries the full burden of beauty and interest. When berries do appear, they persist as a late-season fruiting food source for birds after other berries are gone. Mature berries are not damaged by frost.
Wine Spritzer Beautyberry is moderate to vigorous growing, and matures at 5 to 6 feet tall with a slightly larger spread, cold hardy to USDA Zone 5, and prefers well-drained soils. Very flexible, it has terrific color in sun to partial shade and is used as a specimen in the landscape for the outstanding variegated leaves, also perfect for mass plantings or screens. Multiple plants in close proximity boosts berry production, and shrub size can be controlled with yearly pruning in late winter.
Giokumo Cryptomeria is an easy-care, evergreen dwarf Cryptomeria japonica selection with year-round interest introduced by Garden Debut. This compact, densely pyramidal Japanese Cedar has a vigorous growth rate. Early growth in the first 3 to 4 years is mounding and spreading, but it matures at a versatile landscape height between 8 and 10 feet tall and about 6 to 8 feet wide after 20 to 30 years. For added interest, Giokumo sports persistent, cinnamon-colored decorative female cones about 3/4-inch long.
Giokumo Cryptomeria has beautiful, deep-green coloration and 3/8-inch-long, spirally arranged, awl-shaped needles that curve inward. Numerous flexible branchlets are green and thickly covered with these short, spiraling needles, creating a thick, dense habit. Branchlets are eventually deciduous, typically lasting 3 to 4 years.
This pyramidal dwarf conifer has a stout trunk and is graceful in habit. In exposed areas of U.S.D.A. Zones 6 to 9, Giokumo exhibits a coppery or bronzy winter color, particularly when exposed to wind.
The beauty of the dwarf conifer is its versatility in the modern landscape. Giokumo is ideal in scale and provides horticultural interest for today’s gardens. Giokumo Cryptomeria has great resistance to insects and diseases, as well as improved hardiness and general ease of growth, growing on a broad range of soil types with good moisture levels and in full sun to part shade.
Agapanthus africanus ‘MonKageyama’
Sun Stripe Agapanthus
A unique variegated Agapanthus discovered by F.K. Nursery in Los Angeles. The center of the strap is green marbled with yellow stripes, bordered with a wide soft-yellow margin. One of the widest straps on a variegated Agapanthus. Blue flower stalks appear in summer. Excellent in perennial gardens or containers. Works well in morning sun, but appreciates dappled shade in hot afternoon. Reaches 20 inches tall and 24 inches wide. USDA Zone 8 – 11.
Summer Snow Beautyberry
Callicarpa Summer Snow
A sprightly variegated form of the Beautyberry, with leaves handsomely splashed in white, providing a strong contrast to the clusters of pink flowers produced in summer. In fall, crops of purplish-blue berries appear. Sensational in mixed perennial borders. Plant in well-drained soil. Prefers sandy to clay soil with pH range of 5.0 to 7.5. From the Dan Hinkley Collection. USDA Zone 6 – 10.
Pewter Pillar Winter’s Bark
Drimys winteri var. chiloense Pewter Pillar
Dan Hinkley selected this Chilean evergreen tree for its tight columnar growth habit and handsome leaf undersurface of silvery white. Bold, glossy green leaves are clad to upright stems rising to 20 feet, while pretty clusters of white flowers are presented at the end of each branch in late winter. A distinctive candidate as an unclipped hedge. Prefers well-drained soil. USDA Zone 7 – 10.
Dolly’s Dress Fuchsia
Fuchsia microphylla ssp. aprica ‘Dolly’s Dress’
Small-toothed leaves on upright twiggy stems bear large flared bright-pink tubular flowers all summer long. Named after the vernacular name for this plant, Dolly Mixtures, and for the dress shape of the flowers. This moderate grower will reach 5 feet tall and wide. From the Dan Hinkley Collection. USDA Zone 7 – 9.
Brakelights Red Yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’ P.P.A.F. Brakelights
A compact new color selection of Hesperaloe parviflora. The vibrant, brake-light red flowers are a wonderful contrast to the standard form, which tends to be more pink or salmon colored. Its long bloom season and attractive gray-green foliage is striking in containers or massed into groups. Compact grower, reaching 2 feet tall. Requires good drainage. Does not set seed, resulting in a longer bloom period. USDA Zone 6 – 10. Semi-exclusive.
Little Darling Hosta
Hosta hybrid ‘MonChard’ Little Darling P.P.A.F.
This dwarf Hosta has a very tidy, mounding habit. Its leaves have a bright green and yellow center with a stable variegation. Dainty lavender white flower spikes appear in July. A good garden performer and excellent small container plant. Reaches 10 inches tall and 14 inches wide. Prefers consistently moist, well-drained soil. USDA Zone 3 – 7.
Golden Crane Hydrangea
Hydrangea angustipetala ‘MonLongShou’ Golden Crane’
An exciting addition to American gardens, this precocious Hydrangea, with large lacecaps of white and chartreuse, not only presents its flowers in late spring — the earliest of all Hydrangeas to blossom — but is highly scented, a trait very rare in Hydrangeas. This selection will blossom on new growth; however, for best spring display of flowers do not prune after early September. This superb selection was made by Dan Hinkley from seed collected in Southern Sichuan Province, China. Prefers rich, porous soil. USDA Zone 6 – 10.
Emerald Colonnade Ilex
Ilex x ‘RutHol 1’ P.P.A.F.
A handsome, rounded to pyramidal evergreen male Holly that can be used as a single specimen, or small group planting. Can also be used in containers, utilizing its natural form or shaping into a formal topiary. Emerald Colonnade also makes a superb hedge, screen or windbreak. The creation of Dr. John M. Ruter, a renowned plant breeder and researcher at the University of Georgia. USDA Zone 7 – 9.
Strawberries and Cream and Blueberries and Cream gift hydrangeas
Tesselaar is introducing Strawberries and Cream and Blueberries and Cream, two new lacecap gift hydrangeas, serving up clusters of fruity-colored blooms with milky-white centers. Both hydrangea macrophyllas, specially bred for long-lasting indoor blooms, will be available this coming spring through Lowe’s, Home Depot and independent garden centers.
The dark-rosy-red-bloomed Strawberries and Cream (available previously in limited distribution) is now readily and widely available. Blueberries and Cream, offering scrumptious-blue flowers for cool-colored refreshment, will be available primarily in the Northeastern United States for the 2012 season, with greater distribution planned for 2013.
Both hydrangeas will bloom for one to two months indoors. If you’re going to plant them outdoors, wait till early summer; they’re specially grown in greenhouses so they’ll flower in time for Mother’s Day, and can’t take the cooler spring temperatures.
In zones 7 and above (after initial flowering), Strawberries and Cream and Blueberries and Cream can be planted outdoors in the garden from early summer on for a beautiful show the following year.
If you are in Zone 6 or lower and plant them outside for blooms the following year (again, only after indoor spring flowering), they must have winter protection.