Saturday, May 18, 2019

New Annuals and Shrubs for 2019 from Proven Winners


A couple of weeks ago I made a visit to one of my favourite nurseries only to discover that they are closing their retail operation in the fall. I am really going to miss Humber Nursery! For years, Humber has been a botanical reference library for me. For instance, if I wanted to write a blog post on Phlox paniculata, I knew I could go there and find almost twenty different types of phlox to show you. Yes, they had the new, early blooming introductions from Proven Winners, but they also had many of the old-fashioned varieties that I absolutely love. Where will I find these old favourites now? Most of the other nurseries in my area focus almost entirely on what's "new".

I have always had mixed feelings about new plant introductions. The problem is that new is not necessarily always better. Sometimes it's just "new". With the constant roll-out of new plants vying for space on nursery benches, they also have a here-today-gone-tomorrow quality. And these new introductions often come with a hefty price tag!

That being said, it's still fun to discover a new plant that has improved characteristics like bigger flowers or more compact size. Here are a few of the annuals and shrubs from Proven Winners for 2019 that caught my eye:

I was quite taken with the pretty pink Superbells® Doublette Love Swept that garden writer David Hobson had grown in a pot. I see from their website that Proven Winners also has a lemon-yellow Superbells® Double Chiffon.


Superbells® Doublette Love Swept has double petunia-like flowers that are pink with a white rim. A light pruning early in the season and mid-summer will encourage branching and new growth. No deadheading needed. This plant cascades nicely and does not like constantly damp soil, making it ideal for containers. Full sun to light shade. Height: 15-25 cm (6-10 inches), Spread: 30-60 cm (12-24 inches). 

Superbells® Doublette Chiffon has double petunia-like flowers that are soft yellow. Full sun to light shade. Height: 15-25 cm (6-12 inches), Spread: 30-60 cm (12-24 inches). 

Superbells® Doublette Love Swept in David Hobson's garden.

One of my favourite annuals last summer was a type of Coleus. With its velvety, red foliage and tall, striking size Coleus 'Campfire' looked just stunning in a large pot at the front of our house. Not surprisingly then, I was on the lookout for other new introductions. 

I like to buy small plants and grow them on for fall container plantings.


This arrangement shows Coleus, ColorBlaze 'Rediculous' in combination with a number of container plantings. I like that each pot has one type of plant. 1 & 5 Potato Vine, 'Sweet Caroline Bewitched After Midnight', Calibrachoa, 2. Supertunia 'Hot Pink Charm', 3. Colorblaze 'Rediculous'. 4. Verbena, Superbena 'Sparkling Ruby ' 6. Superbells 'Rising Star' 



Coleus, ColorBlaze 'Rediculous' has velvety-red foliage on well-branched plants. It's happy in sun or shade and is heat and drought tolerant. Height: 24-40 inches, Spread: 18-36 inches.


Coleus, ColorBlaze 'Chocolate Drop' Double Impatiens, 'Rockapulco Coral Reef' and
Sedum 'Lemon Coral'

What I really like about this next Coleus is its trailing habit. I have had a similar cultivar in the plant stand on my front porch and it looked terrific all summer long. While the information on the Proven Winners website suggests it is as "drought tolerant" as Coleus go, but I find that any Coleus still needs a regular source of water.


Coleus, ColorBlaze 'Chocolate Drop' has a trailing habit that works well in containers. It blooms late in the season or not at all. To keep foliage in top shape, pinch off any blooms as they appear. 'Chocolate Drop' is heat and drought tolerant. Sun or shade. Height: 14-20 inches, Spread: 12-18 inches.


The tiny flowers of annual Euphorbias may seem to lack a certain wow-factor, but I find they add such a nice soft touch to my containers. With summers getting hotter and drier, I really appreciate their heat and drought tolerance.

Diamond Mountain® Euphorbia produces clouds of airy-white flowers all summer long. It is a larger plant than Diamond Frost® making it perfect to pair with vigorous plants or to use in the landscape. No deadheading necessary. Like all Euphorbias, this plant produces a milky-white sap if cut or wounded that can cause some irritation to people with very sensitive skin. Part sun to sun. Height: 24-36 inches, Spread: 24-36 inches.


On to a couple of new shrubs. I am a sucker for any kind of lilac. Laura of Garden Answer showed the Scentara® Double Blue Lilac in one of her spring garden tours and gosh did it ever look pretty! The double flowers are extra fragrant as well.

Scentara® Double Blue Lilac has fragrant purple flowers that take on a blue tone in the spring sunshine. Lilacs are easy to care for provided they have full sun and well-drained soil. They bloom on old wood so prune them in the late spring after they finish flowering. This very heavy bloomer exhibits excellent disease resistance. Height: 6 ft-8ft, Spread: 6-8ft. USDA zones: 2-8.


With its interesting variegation, Sugar Tip®Gold Rose of Sharon also caught my attention. These keep the plant colorful and interesting in spring, then come summer, the playful foliage is accompanied by doubled purple flowers. For those of you who think that Rose of Sharon can be a nuisance self-seeder, this plant creates far fewer seed than conventional varieties. 

Sugar Tip®Gold rose of Sharon has double purple flowers and green foliage edged with creamy-yellow. Height: 1.2-1.5 meters (48-60 inches), Spread: 1.2-1.5 meters (48-60 inches). USDA zones: 2-8.

That's it for today. While I will continue to highlight new plants, I really want to make an effort to champion older plant varieties and native plants. With the closing of Humber Nursery's retail operation, it is going to be much harder to find these types of plants here in the Toronto area. Perhaps you are experiencing a similar situation where you live.  It feels like too much emphasis is put on "new" and I'm troubled by the lack of options.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored blog post. I'm simply highlighting a few of the new introductions 
that happened to catch my eye.

1 comment:

  1. I personally feel as though there is very little actual improvement in today's new introductions! What is the point in an echinacea with doubled flowers? I realize this is a matter of taste, but really. I can see improving health, or weather tolerance, or bloom length or maybe stretching the color palette, but a coneflower with a topknot was not anything I felt the lack of in my garden. And they seem to think shrinking everything is valuable. I realize many people garden in urban areas, on small lots or patios, but surely even a tiny garden needs a bit of height? I'd like a few things taller than a foot for my borders! I do very much appreciate the vigor Proven Winners seem to get into all their plants.

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