Must-Grow New Perennials for 2012

These brand-new varieties for 2012 offer exciting colors, more flowers, and other features so you can enjoy your best perennial garden ever.

By Karen Weir-Jimerson


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Echinacea 'Warm Summer'
1/26
'Warm Summer' Coneflower

    Enjoy a bounty of multihue blooms from this flowering coneflower. 'Warm Summer' blooms the first year planted from seed. Enjoy single-petal flowers in warm summer shades (think gorgeous sunsets) of orange, yellow, red, rose, purple, and cream. 'Warm Summer' produces flowers for bouquets from June through August. It fills a garden bed with warm color -- just sow seeds and enjoy flowers later in the season.

    Name: Echinacea 'Warm Summer'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 30 inches tall, 18 inches wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow It With: Black-eyed Susan

    Source: burpee.com

    Photo courtesy W. Atlee Burpee

2/26
Brakelights Red Yucca

    Appropriately named Brakelights, this is the first bright-red-flower red yucca. This new variety offers deeper, redder blooms than the standard form, whose flowers are lighter pink or salmon. Brakelights offers traffic-stopping (and long-lasting!) flower color and a compact form; plants reach about 2 feet tall. Its nectar-rich flowers attract hummingbirds. Mass this plant in groups for a textural and modern landscape planting. Or plant in a container so you can enjoy the foliage and flowers up close. Plants require adequate drainage. Red yucca is a stellar performer in dry landscapes because it's very drought-tolerant.

    Name: Brakelights Hesperaloe parviflora

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 24 inches tall, 30 inches wide

    Zones: 5-10

    Grow It With: Sedums

    Source: highcountrygardens.com

    Photo courtesy High Country Gardens

3/26
'My Valentine' Hardy Hibiscus

    Featuring a tighter habit that's less likely to sprawl over other plants than older hardy hibiscus varieties, 'My Valentine' is a new selection that shows off deep red flowers starting in midsummer and continuing until frost. Like other hardy hibiscus, it's virtually carefree when grown in a sunny spot.

    Name: Hibiscus 'My Valentine'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow It With: Spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center or visit perennialresource.com to find a retailer near you.

    Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

4/26
Sombrero Series Coneflowers

    The Sombrero series of coneflowers features stunning, color-rich blooms. This collection is a group of brightly colored single-flower echinaceas that are well-branched and compact. They flower the first year. Plants in the series include 'Hot Coral', 'Salsa Red', and 'Sandy Yellow'.

    Name: Sombrero series Echinacea purpurea

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 2 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

    Grow It With: Rudbeckia

    Source: Our Better Homes and Gardens Garden Store

    Photo courtesy National Green Centre

5/26
'Fanfare Blaze' Blanket Flower

    Warm up your landscape with a carpet of blooming blanket flower. 'Fanfare Blaze' offers pinwheels of orange flowers that stay in flower from early spring through fall. Flowers are borne above attractive gray-green hairy foliage. 'Fanfare Blaze' is ideal for pots and containers, and it's simply smashing as a massed planting. It has a compact, mounding growth habit.

    Name: Gaillardia aristata 'Fanfare Blaze'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 12 inches tall, 18 inches wide

    Zones: 5-9

    Grow It With: Sedums

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center.

    Photo courtesy National Green Centre

6/26
'Double Scoop Orangeberry' Coneflower

    You may not recognize 'Double Scoop Orangeberry' as a coneflower -- it looks a little like a dahlia. It features a petal-packed middle surrounded by a frill of single petals at the edges. This is one showy perennial! Plants produce lovely cut flowers for arrangements; they are both long-lasting and fragrant. This very hardy, well-branched compact plant grows in an upright way and seems to bloom forever -- from late spring through late summer. Butterflies love it, too.

    Name: Echinacea 'Double Scoop Orangeberry'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 30 inches tall, 22 inches wide

    Zones: 5-9

    Grow It With: Salvia

    Source: Our Better Homes and Gardens Garden Store or greatgardenplants.com

    Photo courtesy Ball Horticultural

7/26
Fire Spinner Iceplant

    This new, wildly colorful iceplant features 1-1/2-inch-wide flowers in a never-before-seen color combo: red-orange petals that surround a purple center. Fire Spinner is a fast-growing groundcover ideal for tucking amid stones in a rock garden or placing as footlights along a pathway. It blooms in late spring and early summer. Deer won't eat it, and it's drought-tolerant. For a splashy show of color, plant it in mass.

    Name: Fire Spinner Delosperma

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 2-3 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 5-8

    Grow It With: Sedums

    Source: highcountrygardens.com

    Photo courtesy High Country Gardens

8/26
Garnet Brocade Sedum

    Sedums are a lazy gardener's best friend. They thrive in hot weather, require little watering, and are butterfly and hummingbird magnets. Garnet Brocade is one of the most colorful, too; it bears beautiful burgundy foliage and flowers. This sedum has a compact growth habit and reaches 1-1/2 feet tall. The garnet-red flowers don't require deadheading -- they open up in late summer and bloom into fall. Let them be and enjoy the seed heads, which offer late-season color and texture.

    Name: Garnet Brocade Hylotelephium 'Garbro'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 12-18 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 3-9

    Grow it with: 'Karl Foerster' feather reedgrass

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center or find a retailer at provenwinners.com.

    Photo courtesy Proven Winners

9/26
'Tie Dye' Hardy Hibiscus

    A showy new bicolor hibiscus, 'Tie Dye' features bright pink-and-white blooms accented with a stunning cherry-red eye. There's no missing this bold bloomer in the garden or container: The flowers measure 8-10 inches across and are in bloom from midsummer to early fall. If you're looking for a colorful backdrop in your garden, plant a lineup of 'Tie Dye' at the back of the border?it offers a wall of blooms all summer. It's also a great container plant for patios and porches. Cottage gardeners will love the large, romantic blooms and pastel hues of 'Tie Dye'.

    Name: Hibiscus 'Tie Dye'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 5 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow it with: Lamb's-ears

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center or visit perennialresource.com to find a retailer near you.

    Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

10/26
'Berrylicious' Hardy Hibiscus

    Giant crepe-paper blooms that measure 8-9 inches across -- the swirling lavender flowers (with strawberry-color eye) of this gorgeous perennial hibiscus will stop garden visitors in their tracks. Plus, you can see these flowers from far away, so they add curb appeal when planted near the front of your home. This upright-growing perennial offers deep green, maple-shape leaves and blooms from mid- through late summer.

    Name: Hibiscus 'Berrylicious'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil

    Size: 4-1/2-5 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow It With: Siberian iris

    Source: Visit perennialresource.com to find a retailer near you.

    Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

11/26
'Little Prince' Hardy Hibiscus

    Many gardeners have fallen in love with easy-growing, bold hardy hibiscus but don't have room for 6-foot-tall plants. 'Little Prince' rides to the rescue; this new selection grows only 2-1/2 feet tall, so it's a perfect fit in any garden. Like its bigger cousins, 'Little Prince' hardy hibiscus bears 10-inch-wide flowers from summer to frost.

    Name: Hibiscus moscheutos 'Little Prince'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 2-1/2 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow it with: White bloody geranium

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center.

    Photo courtesy National Green Centre

12/26
Pincushion Flower

    Carpeting pincushion flower is a unique drought-tolerant groundcover that looks like dwarf scabiosa flowers. Mauve-pink flowers hold their 1-1/2-inch heads above a thick mat of gray-green crinkled leaves. Flowers appear in late spring and continue through summer. After the flowers fade, they are replaced with silvery-pink seed heads. The density of this plant even allows some foot traffic, so feel free to plant it between walkway stones or pavers.

    Name: Pterocephalus depressus

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 12 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

    Grow It With: Sedums

    Source: highcountrygardens.com

    Photo courtesy High Country Gardens

13/26
'Silver Star' Dianthus

    Add sweet fragrance to garden containers with the perfumed petals of 'Silver Star'. This snowy-white dianthus bears semidouble flowers in May and June. Blooms feature white-fringed petals with a deep cherry-color eye above blue-green leaves. The growth habit of this dianthus is compact and mounding, making it ideal for the front of a border.

    Name: Dianthus 'Silver Star'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 4-6 inches tall, 8 inches wide

    Zones: 5-8

    Grow It With: Lamb's-ears

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center.

    Photo courtesy National Green Centre

14/26
Pretty Lady Series Anemones

    Fall gardens just got a color windfall from some brand-new windflowers. The Pretty Lady series features dwarf plants with lots of blooms. 'Pretty Lady Diana' bears sweet pink-petal flowers; 'Pretty Lady Emily' features a frill of double petals; and 'Pretty Lady Susan' offers single-petal pink flowers that measure 2 inches across. Fall anemones offer fresh color in summer-tired gardens. Plant with hardy mums or asters for a fall floral show.

    Name: Pretty Lady series Anemone hupehensis

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil

    Size: 16 inches tall, 24 inches wide

    Zones: 5-9

    Grow It With: Asters

    Source: Look for these varieties at your local garden center.

    Photo courtesy Blooms of Bressingham

15/26
'Blueberry Sundae' Baptisia

    Baptisia, also called false indigo, is a thrill to see in late spring. Its flower-covered spires are among the stars of the late-spring and early-summer garden. The new-in-2012 Decadence series offers baptisia lovers an ice-cream-store array of colors. 'Blueberry Sundae' features rich blueberry-blue flowers accented with ice-cream-yellow middles. Its compact growth habit is perfect for small spaces. Try it in the back of a border.

    Name: Baptisia 'Blueberry Sundae'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 3 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow It With: Coneflower

    Source: Visit perennialresource.com to find a retailer near you.

    Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

16/26
'Lyrical Silvertone' Salvia

    'Lyrical Silvertone' is the only bicolor Salvia nemorosa. Each flower spike features deep blue flowers edged with a silvery glow. This perennial offers spires of flowers in spring and late spring, transporting the garden into its summer color. The upright plants grow 22-24 inches tall and are well branched (which means more flowers per plant!). 'Lyrical Silvertone' has long-lasting flowers and may rebloom.

    Name: Salvia nemerosa 'Lyrical Silvertone'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 22-24 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow It With: Daylily

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center.

    Photo courtesy Ball Horticultural

17/26
'Dutch Chocolate' Baptisia

    Cocoa-brown 'Dutch Chocolate' baptisia is an exotic choice for late-spring gardens. This new baptisia is one of the colorful Decadence series. Flowers are dark brown with purple tinges, and they're stunning in spring flower arrangements. Long sprays of blooms stay in flower for a long time in the garden. Plant this 3-foot-tall baptisia in the back of the border.

    Name: Baptisia 'Dutch Chocolate'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 3 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow It With: Coneflower

    Source: Visit perennialresource.com to find a retailer near you.

    Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

18/26
'Lemon Meringue' Baptisia

    A showy late-spring bloomer! This lemony baptisia produces long spires of bright yellow flowers that look lovely when planted alongside traditional blue baptisia. This back-of-the-border sparkler grows 3 feet tall. The flowers bloom from the base of the stem to the tip, so they offer long-lasting color. This new-for-2012 baptisia is one of the colorful Decadence series.

    Name: Baptisia 'Lemon Meringue'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 3 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow It With: Coneflower

    Source: Our Better Homes and Gardens Garden Store

    Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

19/26
'Amber Blush' Calamint

    A native of the Florida Panhandle, this new variety of calamint is called 'Amber Blush' for its fine amber-hue flowers. Plants offer tall masses of woody, dark green, see-through foliage dotted with small blooms. The tubular flowers start up in late summer as a soft, deep yellow that may deepen to an orangey-pink as summer temperatures cool. Blooms continue until frost. Hummingbirds will sip and savor the flowers.

    Name: Clinopodium coccineum 'Amber Blush'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 3-4 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide

    Zones: 7-10

    Grow It With: Yarrow

    Source: plantdelights.com

    Photo courtesy Plant Delights Nursery

20/26
'Tweety' Coreopsis

    Lemon-yellow 'Tweety' coreopsis shines all summer long in the garden. This compact, bushy plant is ideal for small gardens that need a burst of long-lasting bloom. Plant 'Tweety' in mass to create a sweep of sunshine along the sunny southern side of your home.

    Name: Coreopsis 'Tweety'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 16 inches tall and wide

    Zones: 5-9

    Grow It With: Yarrow

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center.

    Photo courtesy Ball Horticultural

21/26
'Sunny Side Up' Pokeweed

    A solid-gold selection for your garden, 'Sunny Side Up' offers height and color. Called pokeberry, this tall, leafy wonder is a North American native that deserves a place in your sunny or partially shaded garden. 'Sunny Side Up' bears bright gold leaves that sprout from red stalks. In late summer, it bears poisonous purple berries. Plant this 5- to 6-foot-tall beauty in the back of a border in full sun, where the foliage color will be in its full golden glory.

    Name: Phytolacca americana 'Sunny Side Up'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 5-6 feet tall

    Zones: 5-9

    Grow It With: Salvia

    Source: plantdelights.com

    Note: All parts of this plant are poisonous if eaten raw; young shoots and berries have been consumed if specially prepared first.

    Photo courtesy plantdelights.com

22/26
Sun Stripe Agapanthus

    It's hard to upstage the brilliant blue-purple blooms of agapanthus, but Sun Stripe may just pull it off with its beautiful leaves. The center of the wide, strappy foliage is marbled with cream stripes edged with a wide, soft yellow margin. Sun Stripe's flowers and foliage add pizzazz to perennial or landscape borders, or it looks stunning standing alone in a container. Blue flower stalks appear in summer.

    Name: Sun Stripe Agapanthus africanus

    Growing Conditions: Partial shade to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 20 inches tall, 24 inches wide

    Zones: 8-11

    Grow It With: Kangaroo paw

    Source: Visit monrovia.com to find a retailer near you.

    Photo courtesy Monrovia

23/26
Lady Elizabeth Daylily

    One of the Lovely Lady series of daylilies, Lady Elizabeth is a new, near-white selection whose creamy, lightly ruffled petals sport a lemony-green throat. This prolific plant is a dependable rebloomer, making it a must-have for gardeners who want tons of blooms with minimal fuss. Plant Lady Elizabeth in garden beds that receive full or part sun. The 5-1/2-inch blooms appear in midseason. Daylilies are hardy, spread well, and are nearly immune to pests.

    Name: Lady Elizabeth Hemerocallis

    Growing Conditions: Full to partial sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 24 inches tall, 18 inches wide

    Zones: 4-10

    Grow It With: Peonies and iris for a no-fuss combo

    Source: Our BHG Garden Store!

    Photo courtesy National Green Centre

24/26
'Cheyenne Sky' Switchgrass

    Red switchgrass is one of the shining stars of perennial ornamental grasses because it produces a fountain of foliage AND offers an array of seasonal color, making it ideal for landscapes or containers. 'Cheyenne Sky' grows a hefty 3 feet tall, forming a vaselike clump of blue-green foliage that switches color to a lovely burgundy red in early summer. In late summer, the plant is topped with small reddish flower panicles. And you can't beat 'Cheyenne Sky' for winter interest: This sturdy grass stands tall through frost and snow (until the heaviest of snow topples it). Plant in drifts in a perennial border, use as a privacy screen, or add as the thriller in a container.

    Name: Panicum virgatum 'Cheyenne Sky'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 3 feet tall, 18 inches wide

    Zones: 4-9

    Grow It With: Coreopsis

    Source: Visit perennialresource.com to find a retailer near you.

    Photo courtesy perennialresource.com

25/26
Tollway Sedge

    A native to the Midwest, this perennial sedge grass is finding favor as a trusty landscape plant because it tolerates so many different growing conditions. It can grow in wet spots, so it's a good choice for rain gardens. And it's salt-tolerant, which makes it ideal for areas that may receive runoff from salted streets or driveways; it also gets its name from this characteristic. Tollway sedge is short and green, so it can be used as an alternative to turf grass. It spreads by rhizomes to form a thick carpet, which makes it moderately treadable.

    Name: Carex praegracilis

    Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil

    Size: 6-8 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide

    Zones: 3-7

    Grow It With: Other ornamental grasses

    Source: Look for this variety at your local garden center.

    Photo courtesy National Green Centre

26/26
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