Gardeners, get ready to fall in love. Again.
Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just getting ready to plant your first flowerbed, there are dozens of new plants waiting to entice you this season.
Instead of falling for the first bloomin' plant you see, take the time to ask, "What's so special about that plant?"
Here are eight great answers.
Read Jodi Torpey on her blog, westerngardeners.com.
GREAT FOR HOT, DRY GARDENS Brakelights, a Texas red yucca, is a new variety of the plant (Hesperaloe parviflora) that is already generating a huge amount of interest, according to David Salman president and chief horticulturist at Santa Fe Greenhouses, home of High Country Gardens. "Brakelights is really going to be spectacular," he says. "Plant it in the hottest, driest spot like hell strips, hot south or west walls, or where other plants suffer from heat and water stress." Brakelights gets its name from its true red flowers that bloom for an especially long time. This semi-dwarf plant grows to about 30 inches tall and has a compact habit, so it fits into smaller spaces. (Provided by High Country Gardens)
A GREAT GROUNDCOVER Carpeting pincushion flower (Pterocephalus depressus) is a nearly perfect, weed-free groundcover. "This little fella has it all," Salman says. "It's completely evergreen and is a very dense grower because it roots as it spreads. It's about as weed-proof as you can get." A native of the high mountains of Morocco, this plant has large mauve flowers that grow close to the ground and form feathery seedheads. Because it can take light foot traffic, Salman recommends planting between pavers and flagstones. You'll likely find it where other rock-garden plants are sold. (Provided by High Country Gardens)
GREAT FOLIAGE AND FRUIT Ornamental pepper Black Olive is an All-America Selections winner for 2012, selected for its dark foliage and purple-black peppers that ripen to brilliant red. "I like it because it's a good size (20 inches tall) and is a multi-use plant," says Diane Blazek, AAS executive director. "I especially like it later in the season when the peppers turn red for a burst of color." Black Olive can be grown in containers, as a mid-height border plant or a specimen plant. But because this ornamental pepper was announced as a winner late last year, fewer plants may be available this season. Blazek advises asking for plants at local garden centers. (Provided by AAS Selections)
GREAT FOR HUMMINGBIRDS Summer Jewel Pink salvia is another AAS flower winner. The little sister to last season's Summer Jewel Red, this is a dwarf-sized, compact plant with dual-tone pink flowers. "It's an all-around good performer, very versatile and it looks good in mass plantings," Blazek says. "When I saw a 6-by-6 trial bed planted with about three dozen plants, there were six or seven hummingbirds around it all the time when they were in bloom." (Provided by AAS Selections)
GREAT FOR DENSE SHADE Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost is sure to add a cool touch to any shady perennial bed. The Perennial Plant Association selected this Siberian bugloss as the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year. The frosty-silver leaves with green veins are especially attractive and remind some gardeners of cracked porcelain. "Our members are always looking for a plant for the shade and the variegated foliage of this plant adds another attribute to the shade garden for designers," says Steven Still, the association's executive director. An added feature is that deer don't like the rough texture of the leaves. Jack Frost looks good planted along the front of moist shade borders with other shade lovers like hostas or in a shade container. Its Blue forget-me-not flowers bloom from mid- to late spring. (Provided by Walters Gardens)