Perhaps the best thing that can be said about February is that it’s the shortest month of the year. The cold, dreary days of winter can be made a bit more tolerant, however, by poring over seed catalogs (and websites) wishfully thinking about the upcoming growing season. If the prospect of growing something new or different interests you, then 2013 should be quite a gardening treat. Seed companies have introduced 60 new varieties of annuals and perennials, several of which received the coveted All American Selection (AAS) Award. Below is a description of a number of the new bedding plants for 2013 that should, in most cases, fare well in Missouri.
Angelonia 'Serenita' (Angelonia angustifolia). 'Serenita' angelonia is a great choice for beds, borders, or containers for long-lasting color with very little maintenance. Free-blooming, it also is deer and rabbit resistant. For water-wise gardeners, 'Serenita' is heat and drought tolerant. Mix with other sun-loving annuals to add height and interest. This is a good plant for beginning gardeners and is available in several colors. From PanAmerican Seed.
Begonia 'Ikon Bronze' F1 (Begonia x hybrida). 'Ikon Bronze' is a true performer. Its rich, bronze foliage contrasts beautifully with its blush-white flowers. It displays a vigorous spreading/mounding growth habit making it ideal for containers, baskets and ground beds, either on its own or in combinations. It thrives in sunny or shady spots and can tolerate heat and humidity with minimal care. ‘Ikon Bronze’ is self-cleaning and drops its spent flowers.
Begonia 'Million Kisses Honeymoon' (Begonia boliviensis). Begonia 'Million Kisses Honeymoon' is a vigorous trailing begonia perfect for large-size hanging baskets. Its branches are full of large, light-yellow blooms that brighten up a shady setting. It also is easy to grow with little maintenance needed to keep it blooming summer through fall. From Ball Ingenuity.
Begonia 'Santa Cruz® Sunset' (Begonia boliviensis). Native to Bolivia, this tough plant is perfect for landscapes, hanging baskets or containers that need to tolerate extreme weather conditions. It branches naturally to produce a full, lush-looking plant that's loaded with flowers all season long. The large 5" wide bright scarlet flowers show off in any location from full sun to partial shade. 'Santa Cruz ® Sunset' doesn't need deadheading. In spite of the record breaking heat this past summer, 'Santa Cruz® Sunset' performed beautifully across the country.
Begonia 'Sparks Will Fly' (Begonia hybrida). 'Sparks Will Fly' begonia has dazzling tangerine flowers that shoot forth from bronze foliage. It is a great choice for brightening up shady garden areas, and ideal in small patio containers. 'Sparks Will Fly' is low-maintenance for easy gardening and decorating. Plants bloom until frost; flowers are flushed with yellow in the fall. From Burpee Home Gardens.
Buddleia 'Flutterby' (Buddleia hybrid). Tolerant of drought and heat, Buddleia 'Flutterby' does well in many landscape settings, or in large-size containers. Its fragrant flowers are richly colored and bloom continuously from early summer until frost. Nectar-producing plants such as buddleia attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators to the garden. From Ball Ornamentals.
Calibrachoa 'MiniFamous Double' (Calibrachoa cultivars). 'MiniFamous Double' calibrachoa has a true double flower and exhibits great performance in the garden across a range of exposures. It is ideal for creating an upscale look for pots and mixed combos. The ‘MiniFamous’ color range broadens this year with new ‘Rose Chai,’ ‘Deep Yellow’ and ‘Magenta.’ From Selecta.
Canna 'South Pacific Scarlet' F1 (Canna generalis). An AAS Award winner, ‘South Pacific’ will add a touch of the tropics to your garden with showy, 4” flowers that bloom all summer in a vibrant shade of scarlet. AAS judges raved about this seed-propagated F1 hybrid canna because it is such a free bloomer. ‘South Pacific’ grows up 4-5’ tall, providing a great grouping of specimen plants or a back-of-the-border focal point. Its colorful blooms are produced on a flower spike held above the large-leafed, statuesque plants. As with other cannas, ‘South Pacific’ tolerates moist soil so it can be used as a pond border or in other similar settings.
Celosia 'Intenz' (Celosia caracus). Celosia 'Intenz' has vibrant color on spiky blooms that add sought-after texture to mixed containers. ‘Intenz’ also is versatile. Plant it in beds, borders or patio containers. It performs great in full-sun and blooms all summer long. ‘Intenz’ is a low-maintenance plant with high appeal. From Ball Ingenuity.
Cosmos 'Rubenza' (Cosmos bipinnatus). 'Rubenza' represents a unique color for cosmos, with flowers that open as a dark ruby red and then mature to deep rose. Its color and visual effect in the garden is striking. It also attracts helpful pollinators like bees and butterflies. ' Rubenza' is gorgeous in flower beds and borders, and it also works well as a summertime cut flower. Like most cosmos, it performs well through heat, rain, and wind. Height: 24-32"; 14-20" spread.
Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' (Echinacea hybrida). This AAS Award winner is a stunning Echinacea that flowers the first year. It captures the spirit of the North American plains by producing a delightful mix of flower colors from rich purple, pink, red and orange tones to lighter yellows, creams and white. This wide range of flower colors on well-branched, durable plants are sure to please the color preferences of any gardener. As an added bonus, ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ does not require a lot of water and still offers a wide-range of uses including a perennial border, a mass landscape planting, a butterfly garden or as a cut flower.
Echinacea 'Sombrero Lemon Yellow' (Echinacea purpurea). 'Sombrero' Echinacea offers bright, vibrant flowers coupled with outstanding garden performance. It is perfect for cottage, perennial and butterfly gardens. 'Sombrero Lemon Yellow' produces a compact plant with good branching; its flowers are rich and bright in color. From Darwin Perennials.
Geranium 'Calliope® ‘Burgundy' &’Hot Pink’ (Pelargonium interspecific). Extremely well-branched, the Calliope® series is noted for vigorous, mounding growth habit with good heat tolerance. They are ideal for baskets, large pots and landscape applications. 'Calliope® ‘Burgundy' &’Hot Pink’ represent two new colors to the series. Both produce large, semi-double flowers with stunning color. Both do well in full sun or part-sun/shade exposures.
Geranium 'Pinto Premium White to Rose' F1 (Pelargonium x hortorum). This AAS Award winner is an addition to the 'Pinto Premium' series. Not only is the flower coloration unique and beautiful, but the numerous 5” blooms are long-lasting in the garden. Petals start out white then deepen to rose-pink as flowers mature, giving an attractive bicolor effect. Dense, well-branched plants sport deep green leaves with darker zones that contrast beautifully with the light colored flowers. 'Pinto Premium White to Rose' is a great choice for carefree, colorful summer garden beds or patio containers.
Geranium 'Salmon Frills' (Pelargonium x hortorum). 'Salmon Frills' bears large salmon blooms with white edges and is very free flowering. This variety has medium green foliage with a dark zone, adding additional interest. Extremely weather tolerant, this variety has good vigor for a nice sized container or garden bed. It exhibits good garden performance and performs well from full sun to part-shade exposures.
Heliomeris 'Sunsplash' (Heliomeris multiflora). This new selection provides a luminous burst of entrancing color. A native plant from the American prairies, this free-flowering beauty is a standout. An unusual bicolor of white and yellow, the daisylike flowers are a gorgeous variant on the usual solid yellow flowers of the heliomeris. Winter-hardy, perennial plants achieve a height of 10" and flower the freely the first year and all summer long.
Impatiens 'Patchwork Cosmic Orange' (Impatiens walleriana). 'Patchwork' impatiens brightens shady garden spaces. It makes gorgeous and colorful hanging baskets and is low-maintenance. Patchwork’s dark green-leaves showcase its vibrant tri-color blooms with non-stop flowers all season. Its unique colors “shimmer” in the shade. From Ball FloraPlant.
Impatiens 'SunPatiens® Compact Electric Orange' (Impatiens x hybrid hort). 'SunPatiens® Compact Electric Orange' will perform wonderfully in the landscape or in containers on a deck or patio. It produces dense plants that are covered with blooms from spring through a few light frosts. A robust grower, it can achieve a height of up to 36 inches in height and equal width in full to partial sun. SunPatiens® take heat and humidity well and keeps blooming all season.
Ornamental Pepper 'Cubana' (Capsicum annuum). This new ornamental pepper boasts large, vibrantly colored oval shaped peppers that are held above attractive, compact plants. Trendy, stylish and colorful, 'Cubana' makes an excellent fall display with its rich, autumnal colors. It is available in several colors including deep orange, light orange, red, yellow, multicolor orange and multicolor red.
Petchoa 'SuperCal® Violet' (Petchoa hybrid). Petchoa SuperCal® 'Violet' exhibits a wonderful combination of petunia and calibrachoa traits. The series offers large blooms in unique colors that are sure to brighten up a front porch or patio. Its foliage is not sticky, so the flowers drop easily from the plant as they age. Additionally, the plants hold up very well in all types of weather--including the heat. Since ‘SuperCal® Violet’ tolerates cooler weather too, so it will perform well early spring through fall.
Petunia 'Picobella™ Cascade Red' (Petunia x hybrida milliflora). Loaded with dainty flowers that top highly-branched, spreading plants, this new introduction is ideal for beds, borders and premium baskets. It flowers early, even under short days and rewards its caretakers with a season-long display of vibrant color.
Petunia 'Shock Wave Deep Purple' (Petunia x hybrida). For high visual impact to a garden or patio 'Shock Wave Deep Purple' is hard to beat. It bears vibrant, deep purple 1½ - 2" blooms that appear early in the season and literally blanket the plant with color. Its mounded, spreading plants lend a full, color-packed look to patio containers and hanging baskets. Additionally, they keep a neat appearance through heat, rain, wind, and light frosts. Plants grow to a height of 7-10" with a 30-36" spread.
Petunia 'Sophistica Lime Green' (Petunia x hybrida). Bring a twist of lime to your garden this summer with 'Sophistica Lime Green'. Its big, splashy blooms offer bold impact on their own, and provide a high-impact complement to deep purple, blue, and burgundy petunias. Its bright green-yellow blooms make excellent specimen plants in the garden and perform very well in baskets and containers. 'Sophistica Lime Green' produces upright plants 10-15" in height with a 10-12" spread that are easy to manage and tolerate heat.
Petunia 'Trellis Pink' (Petunia x hybrida). Another great petunia improvement, 'Trellis Pink' exhibits a unique upright growing habit and is aggressive. It produces a multitude of flowers on plants that lend themselves to trellis production. ‘Trellis Pink’ is the only petunia on the market with an upright growth habit.
Petunia 'Trilogy' (Petunia x hybrida). Petunia 'Trilogy' has a novel dome shape and produces an abundance of care-free color all summer long. Plants have excellent performance in containers, baskets and in the garden. 'Trilogy' will spread up to 30 to 36 inches when planted in the ground and will wow you with its unique shape and flower power.
Salvia ‘Lighthouse Purple’ (Salvia splendens). ‘Lighthouse Purple’ is an excellent background plant for the border. Planted behind the likes of petunias, marigolds or other low-growing flowers, the deep purple spikes with dark to black corollas of the statuesque 3 foot plants become beacons of mesmerizing color. Showy in the garden or in a container, it is easy to grow. Its upright, heat-tolerant plants are low-maintenance and have high visual impact.
Sunflower 'Zohar' F1 (Hellianthus annuus). 'Zohar' is an excellent sunflower for cutting. It produces straight, single sturdy stems that rise 3-4 feet in height and produce blooms 4-6 inches in diameter. Its flower petals are rays of rich orange surrounding a dark center disk. 'Zohar' is a pollen-less sunflower of superior quality. It can be used as a cut flower in as little as 40-50 days, when the first sign of color appears on the petals.
Sunflower 'Solar Flare' (Helianthus annuus). 'Solar Flare' is a glowing, showy sunflower that is a real attention-getter. This dazzling flame-type sunflower offers a unique color contrast. Its dark black disk is orbited by ray petals scarlet-red in color, finishing to gold at their tapered tips. It grows to 5-6 feet tall and its flowers are long-lived when cut.
Verbena 'Lanai® Candy Cane' (Verbena hybrida). 'Lanai® Candy Cane' is early to bloom and bears large, striking flowers in a wide assortment of colors. It exhibits exceptional powdery mildew resistance and tolerates heat well.
Zinnia 'Profusion Double Deep Salmon' (Zinnia hybrida). This AAS Award winner features an abundance of salmon colored, double flowers that cover attractive compact mounded plants from late spring through fall. It exhibits outstanding garden performance and offers disease resistance to both Alternaria and powdery mildew. Like all zinnias it puts up well with heat and is nearly maintenance-free.
Zinnia 'Profusion Double Hot Cherry' (Zinnia hybrida). This AAS award winner bears an abundance of double flowers deep rose in color. It blooms continuously from late spring through fall and covers attractive, well-mounded plants with a profusion of flowers.
Credit: Adapted from a National Garden Bureau publication.
REVISED: January 3, 2013