12 New Perennials to Consider for Your 2020 Crop Mix

One of the highlights of the Perennial Plant Symposium each year is the “New to the Market” Forum, which allows perennial breeders and suppliers to highlight their hottest new offerings. This year’s event, held in Chicago in early August, was no exception with participation from several producers.

Keep reading to learn more about just some of the new varieties featured during the forum.

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Hibiscus ‘Summer Spice Bleu Brûlée’ (J. Berry Nursery)
Propagation method: Vegetative cuttings
Hardiness: Zone 5
Dimensions: 3 feet by 3 feet
Plant habit: Naturally compact and well branched
Cultural conditions: Heat and drought tolerant once established

The Summer Spice Hardy Hibiscus Collection offers never-before-seen bloom colors and an exceptionally compact habit. Plants in the collection have uniquely textured and colored foliage and are low maintenance. The Summer Spice Hardy Hibiscus Collection is the 2018 winner of Greenhouse Grower’s Editor’s and Reader’s Choice Medal of Excellence awards. It can be used in a mass for landscape plantings, as an outstanding specimen, or as a container garden feature.

Eupatorium maculatum ‘Summer Snow’ (Chicagoland Grows)
Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8
Dimensions: Two-year old plants measured 47 inches tall by 31 inches wide with 10 stems each, and three-year-old plants measured 63 inches tall by 60 inches wide and produced 20 stems each
Plant habit: A robust, upright perennial, somewhat vase shaped, with numerous upright stems
Cultural conditions: Full sun with good air circulation and moderately moist to moist soils; slight drought tolerance; excellent resistance to powdery mildew

‘Summer Snow’s’ attractive, bold foliage makes a statement in the landscape. The white florets are on display for five to six weeks from early July through mid to late-August, and they emit a faint vanilla-like fragrance. Like the species, ‘Summer Snow’ attracts a variety of pollinators. Both the stout stems and the bold foliage are a handsome green. It has also exhibited excellent resistance to powdery mildew. The white flowers are an excellent contrast to the species’ typical mauve-pink flowers. Place ‘Summer Snow’ in the back of a perennial or mixed border either singly or massed, use as a screening plant, in pollinator gardens, and in naturalized settings such as wet meadows and lake edges where it is provided with adequate soil moisture.

Digitalis × ‘Arctic Fox Rose’ (Darwin Perennials)
Propagation methods: Vegetative cuttings
Hardiness: Zones 5a to 9a
Dimensions: Height 18 to 24 inches, width 16 to 18 inches
Plant habit: Upright

This winter-hardy digitalis for Zone 5 flowers throughout the summer, and unlike many digitalis, it is considered a true perennial and does not exhibit biennial behavior.

Astilbe chinensis ‘Vision Inferno’ (De Vroomen Garden Products)
Propagation method: Division
Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8
Dimensions: Height 16 inches
Plant habit: Soft-pink flower plumes above lacy green foliage
Cultural conditions: Prefers a rich and moist soil in a shady location

‘Vision Inferno’ is a healthy and strong plant with large plumes. With a sweet and pleasant fragrance, it is an excellent garden plant. It works well for landscape use because its chinensis blood is more drought resistant.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Yellow Ribbons’ (Emerald Coast Growers)
Propagation methods: Division, tissue culture
Hardiness: Zones 5 to 9
Dimensions: 24 inches by 24 inches
Plant habit: Graceful, upright/arching form typical of the species
Cultural conditions: Full sun, moderate moisture

Slender, golden-yellow foliage matures to chartreuse by fall. Light-tan flowers appear in August and persist until October. Size and habit are similar to ‘Hameln,’ a well-known ornamental grasse. Use ‘Yellow Ribbons’ anywhere you would use P. alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ as a specimen or in masses.

Anemone ‘Spring Beauty’ (Gardenworld, Inc.)
Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8
Dimensions: Height 18 inches
Plant habit: Hot-pink flowers are held above very upright growing foliage. Sterile flowers won’t re-seed.
Cultural conditions: The plant grows best in moist, well-drained soil.

The first-ever spring blooming, hot-pink Anemone.

Iris versicolor ‘Purple Flame’ (North Creek Nurseries)
Propagation method: Tissue culture
Hardiness: Zones 2 to 7
Dimensions: 2 to 3 feet by 2 to 3 feet
Plant habit: An upright, clump-forming iris native to marshes, swamps, wet meadows, ditches, and shorelines from Manitoba to Nova Scotia south to Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, and Minnesota. It is a marginal aquatic plant that forms a clump of narrow, arching-to-erect, sword-shaped, deep-purple leaves that slowly transition to grey-green.
Cultural conditions: Plant in average to moist garden soils. To achieve the best early season color, plant along the water’s edge where roots receive constant moisture.

‘Purple Flame’ has a rich, more intense cast to stems and flowers. However, the true beauty lies in the irresistible foliage, which emerges in March. Purple, flame-like fans provide an unparalleled performance of vivid coloring followed by an encore of abundant flowers. North Creek has been awed by the strong performance and lasting impression of ‘Purple Flame.’ Foliage slowly transitions to a smoky green during the growing season.

Echibeckia ‘Summerina Blazing Fire’ (Pacific Plug and Liner)
Propagation method: Tissue culture
Hardiness: Zones 7 to 9
Dimensions: 18 to 22 inches by 12 to 18 inches
Plant habit: Mounding
Cultural conditions: Plants have not shown any issues with pests and have better disease tolerance than traditional Rudbeckia due to the breeding crosses made.

‘Blazing Fire’ holds up to the same standards as others in the Summerina series in that it is fast growing, can fill larger pots with only one liner, and flowers last for many weeks without needing to be deadheaded. ‘Blazing Fire’ will bloom continuously from late spring through first frost. The Summerinas are also a great alternative to mums in the summer months, as they can be finished in as little as six weeks with only one liner per pot. Plants have overwintered as far as Zone 6.

Geranium ‘All Summer Beauty’ (Plants Nouveau)
Propagation method: Tissue culture
Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8
Dimensions: 8 to 12 inches tall by 24 inches wide
Plant habit: Mounding
Cultural conditions: Average to dry garden soil, full sun

‘All Summer Beauty’ has periwinkle-blue flowers that continue all summer with multiple flushes of blooms. Foliage and flowers are more dainty and graceful, yet also more floriferous than ‘Rozanne.’ Plants work well for borders, walls, groundcovers, and large containers.

Crocosmia ‘Orange Pekoe’ (Rijnbeek and Son Perennials – Export B.V.)
Propagation method: Bulbs
Hardiness: Zones 5 to 9
Dimensions: 24 inches high
Cultural conditions: Easy-to-grow plant. Moist soil. 60/40 peat moss/bark.

‘Orange Pekoe’ features a unique and superb tri-color combination of yellow, orange, and red. It flowers from July until September.

Geum ‘Tempo Rose’ (Terra Nova Nurseries)
Propagation method: Tissue culture
Hardiness: Zones 5 to 9
Dimensions: 8 inches by 12 inches
Plant habit: Mounding
Cultural conditions: Deer resistant, pollinator attractor; full sun; dry moderately between waterings

Geum ‘Tempo Rose’ is an early bloomer that produces a plethora of dark, rose-pink flowers on short, dark stems. It has a long bloom time, allowing pollinators to enjoy this gem for months. It is bred for clean, attractive foliage even in the summer, and an extended blooming season to provide a delicate but impressive pop of color.

Sedum ‘Boogie Woogie’ (Walters Gardens)
Propagation method: Unrooted cutting
Hardiness: Zones 3 to 9
Dimensions: Height 6 to 8 inches, width 16 to 18 inches
Plant habit: Groundcover type sedum with a solid mat of foliage
Cultural conditions: Full sun, low water needs

Sedum ‘Boogie Woogie’ is a fantastic summer flowering, variegated groundcover sedum.