Why We Absolutely Need New Plants

I was going back and forth about the topic of new plants with non-industry people who truly did not get it. The idea of piling on new petunias or ferns on top of old petunias and ferns just didn’t make sense to them, regardless of what I said about people accepting the fact that new car models, new computer games, and new phones hit the market every year. They felt that all this new stuff was lost on them, and they probably wouldn’t see any of the new plants at their local garden center. I understood their confusion.

After enough people beat up on me for getting so excited every time I come back from trials or shows, I was feeling a little disheartened. But then I talked to my colleague and friend Valery Cordrey, who, among many other extraordinary feats, owns East Coast Garden Center in Millsboro, DE, with her family. People come from miles to visit East Coast for the ambience, the beauty, and of course, the plants.

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Bring on the New Plants 

When I mentioned my dilemma with new plants, she stated in no uncertain terms that “we absolutely need new plants, the more the better.” Not for a second did she hesitate, there was absolutely no leeway in her belief. When Valery speaks, people listen. So, if any of you are tired of me talking about great new plants that make our industry stronger, take it up with Valery.

As for me, here are some potentially great plants I want to share. I believe that every plant should help to solve a problem, as well as be lovely to look at, so I mention a solution my choices provide and some additional reasons why I believe these will do well in the future.

Painted fern (Athyrium niponicum hyb) ‘Crested Surf’ (Proven Winners/Walters Gardens)

Solution it provides: year-round color for the shade

It is perennial to Zone 4 easily. The plant is colorful for the end user and no flowers are necessary for the producer. ‘Crested Surf’ is easy to finish from a starter cell. Landscapers and gardeners love ferns, especially no-brainer ferns like painted fern.

Impatiens Beacon (PanAmerican Seed) and Imara XDR Series (Syngenta Flowers)

Solution it provides: a bedding impatiens highly resistant to downy mildew

Even more important, these plants bring confidence back to the impatiens market. Both series have a range of colors. There has been no suitable replacement for bedding impatiens, disease resistance breeding is the only answer.

Spanish Lavender (Lavendula stoechas) ‘Madrid Lavish Pink’ (Green Fuse Botanicals)

Solution it provides: Lifestyle, that is, an herb with beautiful, full, long-lasting flowers

Foodscaping is a significant part of today’s lifestyle, and ornamental herbs fit this lifestyle easily, especially for a younger audience. This fits the bill for a handsome plant for the landscaper and a beautiful plant for the consumer desiring taste and fragrance.

Dahlia ‘Happy Days Purple’ (Syngenta Flowers)

Solution it provides: incredible in containers, provides a show by itself or provides colors easy to complement with additional fillers.

Everyone loves dahlias, and the single rose-pink flowers with dark mysterious leaves will be easy sells. Designers will have a field-day filling containers by the pool, while garden centers will have little problem selling these to consumers with decks and patios when they are in flower.

So, Valery, these are for you.