Organic gardener growing food and flowers, lovin' pollinators and birds.

Add these 9 new varieties to your 2020 garden

One of the best things about a new growing season is seeing the new varieties that make it to the retail bench in the spring. I was able to test* and grow some of the newest upcoming varieties in 2019, and out of all the new plants I trialed in my northeast garden**, nine annuals and perennials really stood out.

I grew all the annuals in containers, but they can be planted directly into your landscape as well. For the perennials, I mixed it up — some were planted in the ground and some in containers. All sample plants I received were given about the same amount of care: watering when containers were dry and placed in an area to meet their specified light requirements (full sun, part sun, shade).

New annuals 

Proven Winners 'Diamond Snow' Euphorbia is paired here with 'Supertunia Raspberry Rush', 'Supertunia Vista Snowdrift' and 'Superstar Pink' Penta (top center). 

Three annuals from Proven Winners stood out in this year's trial, including 'Diamond Snow' Euphorbia, which stayed compact and bloomed throughout the hot summer days. The Euphorbias ('Diamond Snow' and 'Diamond Frost') are Proven Winner's 2020 Annuals of the Year. I grew my sample plant in a side planted container mounted on a pillar (to add drama of course to the back garden), along with two plants each of 'Supertunia Raspberry Rush' and 'Supertunia Vista Snowdrift'. The Supertunias did not disappoint, and I think if the basket was a bit larger for the roots, they would have reached their maximum spread of 24-36 inches. Both Supertunias attracted hummingbirds throughout the summer as well.

Calibrachoa 'Kabloom Orange' blooming in containers in mid-July.

I grew Calibrachoa 'Kabloom Orange' (PanAmerican Seed) in containers, where they flowered continuously despite the very hot days. Usually the calibrachoas I grow peter out with the extreme heat, but this variety didn't seem to mind it. They spread horizontally and formed a nice 10" mound below the abutilon it was paired with. They grew between 8-12" tall in a sunny spot. The blooms were not as prolific in the fall but I think that had to do more with the container location, which received more part sun and late afternoon shade as the season grew cooler.

'Dekko Deep Lavender Vein' petunia in mid-July. 

Another great container plant was 'Dekko Deep Lavender Vein' Petunia (Syngenta), which offered cascading deep purple flowers throughout summer and into the fall. This variety stayed between 8-12" for me (in full sun) but if it was planted directly into a raised bed it might have expanded to its 18-22" width. I loved the deep moody color of the flowers, especially paired with the cobalt blue pots.

Angelonia 'Serenita Rose' provided non-stop blooms. 

Angelonia 'Serenita Rose' (PanAmerican Seed) is one of the first angelonias that I have grown that bloomed non-top throughout the summer. I planted all three sample plants together in one large container with two other annuals and even on 90°+ days, they performed really well. They formed 12-14" mounds and were a dusky pink color. I rarely went back and trimmed the spent flowers, but that didn't stop 'Serenita Rose' from sending up more flowers to bloom.

New perennials

'Super Star' Coreopsis was, sorry for the pun, a star in the garden.

'Super Star' Coreopsis (Darwin Perennials) flowered throughout the summer in my butterfly garden raised bed, where it was neighbors with milkweed and rue. This spot ended up getting part shade in the afternoon, but the plants still performed well and were always blooming. (The preferred planting area is full sun.) I especially loved Super Star — it stayed on the shorter side (it will reach 14-16 inches tall at full size) and the flowers were large and cheerful. The bees seemed to like it as well.

'Sky Blue Marvel'  Salvia nemorosa (Darwin Perennials) is the latest family member added to the Marvel family. For testing, I planted two in a raised bed and one in a container. The one in the container did well, sending up one or two bloom spikes, and the ones planted in ground had to (unfortunately) battle the many slugs that assaulted many of my perennials this past year (but they bounced back). This variety stays fairly short (14-16 inches), and I'm expecting it to act like its sibling 'Rose Marvel'  — which was a plant sample from a previous year. 'Rose Marvel' spent its first year getting settled in the garden and then the next year bloomed nonstop. 'Sky Blue' concentrated mainly on settling in this year as well, but when it did bloom the flower spikes were a pretty light blue. (I didn't get the timing right to photograph this one.)

Echinacea Sombrero® Baja Burgundy. Photo credit: All-America Selections.

Echinacea 'Sombrero Baja Burgundy' (Darwin Perennials) is bred to be hardy to Zone 4 (-30 to -25 degrees F) and is also a 2020 AAS Garden Winner (after being evaluated for three growing seasons). I planted two plants in my garden and one in my friend's garden (with slightly more sun). The test plant in my friend's garden was eaten by a groundhog early in the season, but it bounced back quickly. This plant stayed fairly compact in its first year in my garden (it didn't reach it's full size of 18-20 inches) but still sent up a bunch of smaller flowers (seen at right). This is another variety that I'm expecting to leap next year (remember the perennial adage, sleep, creep then leap?).

Whether for containers or planting in the landscape, one of the nine flowering varieties should easily fit into your gardening plans.

* All the plant varieties in this blog post were provided to me free of charge by the plant company listed. All opinions expressed above are my own.

**I garden in Zone 6b, where temperatures can get as low as -5° to 0°F.

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  1. Thank you for mentioning AAS! We appreciate the support.

  2. I liked 'Diamond Frost', so 'Diamond Snow' sounds promising. Also love orange flowers, so 'Kabloom Orange' sounds good, plus I like the subtlety of the name.


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