12 Perennials You Need To Grow
What’s new in the perennial world? A little bit of everything, from dwarf varieties of monarda and perovskia to a grower-friendly veronica.
February 7, 2013
Blooms of Bressingham
Leucanthemum ×superbum ’Freak!’
Winner of Greenhouse Grower’s Readers’ Choice Award, ‘Freak!’ is a dream variety for growers and retailers. It’s programmable for weekly flowering with a compact habit and first-year flowering. A showstopper covered with 2 to 2.5-inch diameter flowers, ‘Freak!’ blooms from June to frost. Its normal garden height is 13 inches, but in containers it is a more compact 9 inches. Hardy to USDA Zone 5.
Veronica longifolia ‘First Love’
From Rene van Gaalen, this is the first introduction in a series of three colors, which also includes ‘First Glory’, a deep blue, and ‘First Lady,’ a crisp white.
Featuring numerous, sturdy stems with rich-pink flower spikes and well-branched green foliage, this veronica is easy to produce and flower for a late spring-early summer crop since it performs well from unvernalized liners. ‘First Love’ blooms from June to September. In full sun and fertile soil, it will grow to 22 inches tall in the garden. Hardy to Zone 4.
Phygelius ‘Tie Dye Rosy Cheeks’
This compact, very well-branched grower has tons of deep, dark-pink tubular flowers set against burgundy-colored calyces and green foliage. ‘Rosy Cheeks’ commands attention and is sure to liven up any mixed container or garden planting. There are three additional colors in the Tie Dye series: ‘Magic Mandarin,’ a peachy-orange; ‘Radiant Red,’ a dark rosy-red; and ‘Yellow Submarine,’ a bright yellow. All four have a lavish flower display and are easy to grow. Phygelius prefers full sun to part shade. The height for all four cultivars is 10 to 14 inches. Hardy to Zone 6b.
Terra Nova Nurseries
With its huge, deep-rose flower heads and stout, upright stems, ‘Thunderhead’ is ideal for mixed beds, borders and dry gardens. The handsome, grey-green foliage is the perfect foil for its dramatic, long-lasting flowers. The average height of this variety when in bloom is 30 inches.
Echinacea ‘Big Kahuna’
Echinacea ‘Big Kahuna’ has big, informal, honey-mango-colored flowers that sit atop strong stems. The sweet scent of the flower goes right along with its Hawaiian name. ‘Big Kahuna’ is perfect for garden borders and is a beautiful cut flower. It requires full sun and prefers to be moderately dry between waterings. With a sturdy, upright habit, it reaches 27 inches tall in flower.
Echinacea Sombrero Series
This very well-branched series is well-matched for habit and timing, and perfect for use in spring-planted programs. Sturdy, compact plants have proven hardiness and drought resistance. These echinaceas are very floriferous and have bright, richly colored blooms. Plant in full sun and well-drained fertile soil. Drought resistant. Deadheading will prolong the flowering period.
Salvia nemerosa ‘Lyrical Rose’
Featuring intense pink flowers on a sturdy, mounding plant, ‘Lyrical Rose’ sells well because it blooms at retail. It’s the newest member of this very hardy series that also includes ‘Lyrical Blue’ (deep blue with purple stems) and ‘Lyrical Silvertone’ (blue bicolor).
Monarda didyma ‘Pardon My Purple’
A new dwarf monarda just a foot tall, ‘Pardon My Purple’ has full-size flowers that add a splash of color to both containers and borders. A bonus is its good resistance to powdery mildew. Its sister cultivar, ‘Pardon My Pink,’ has beautiful clear-pink flowers. Hardy to Zone 4 and maybe slightly colder, both varieties attract hummingbirds and grow well in sunny locations.
Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Peek A Blue’
Even smaller than Perovskia ‘Little Spire,’ this new Russian sage measures just over two feet tall in flower. Attractive, silvery, finely dissected foliage provides a beautiful contrast to the lavender flowers, which appear in mid-summer and stay until fall.
Lewisia 'Little Tutti Frutti'
This is a colorful mix that sprouted from the popular and durable Lewisia longipetala series that includes ’Little Plum’, ’Little Peach’ and ’Little Mango.' All of them have proved more tolerant of wet winters. ’Little Tutti Frutti’ contains a balanced
mix of colors that includes white, magenta, pinkish-red, orange, plum, peach and mango. It is an excellent blend for containers or the rock garden and has colorful blooms from May through mid-June and again in September.
Salvia scabra ’Good Hope’
Salvia scabra has its origins on South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. After observing the delightful wild coastal sage for a few years in the garden, 'Good Hope' brought good news. The long-flowering sage required little watering or care. Jelitto then selected for a shorter (16-inch) and more compact seed strain. ’Good Hope’ is first-year flowering, hardy to at least Zone 9, always looks tidy and is easily
grown as an annual for pots or the border. The tubular, clear light-pink blooms last from May until frost.
Veronica orchidea ’Blue Fingers’
The little-known Veronica orchidea, an endangered species in Austria, was once
considered a subspecies of the horticulturally popular Veronica spicata.
Jelitto began observing this interesting veronica in 1996, but it took many years to realize the full potential of ’Blue Fingers.’ The species was blessed with wide, glossy green leaves that grew in thick clumps. ’Blue Fingers’ is a more disease resistant, shorter (18-inch) form. In addition, the sturdier flowering spikes have lovely blooms, with slightly twisting petals, of brilliant medium blue color. ’Blue Fingers’ is first-year flowering from seed. GG
Robin Siktberg is editor of Greenhouse Grower.