Few activities are more inspirational for an avid gardener on a dreary February day than perusing seed catalogs to find the new annual bedding plant releases for the year. Each year brings with it a plethora on new choices for the garden—some probably better suited to our climate than others. Listed below are a number of new cultivars for 2016 that should perform well under Missouri conditions and warrant consideration.
Begonia BIG Rose Green Leaf (Begonia benariensis). If you have limited time, or are new to gardening, BIG Begonias are for you. They are one of the easiest plants to care for and are consistently winners in university trials across America. BIG Begonias are carefree and thrive in any location in sun or shade. Their huge flowers and naturally glossy foliage give them a manicured look. No matter what your gardening experience level, you will be successful with BIG Begonias.
Begonia Marshmallow (Begonia cultivars). Lots of two-tone blooms cover this strong-performing, compact begonia. Gardeners will get a high bloom count all summer long. The flowers start out white/cream and mature to a pink/rose hue. This new begonia is excellent for patio containers or hanging baskets.
Begonia Nonstop™ Joy Yellow (Begonia tuberhybrida). Begonia Nonstop™ Joy is a new type of tuberous begonia that is naturally self-branching and doesn’t break open or split in the rain or wind. It is a great choice for shady hanging baskets, pots, or mixed containers. The beautiful, bright yellow double flowers look elegant and clean against the plant’s dark green foliage. Nonstop begonias prefer partial to full shade.
Begonia San Francisco™ (Begonia boliviensis). Begonia San Francisco™ is the answer for those looking for a plant that produces lots of color but is easy to care for. Its huge, warm salmon-pink flowers look a lot like a fuchsia, but can handle all the sun and heat that Mother Nature can dish out. The full, lush plants will flower better in full sun, but can also tolerate some shade. It is a great choice for patio pots and baskets.
Begonia Unbelievable First Kiss (Begonia x hybrid). Big, bright blooms are what make this begonia unforgettable. Deep rose, semi-double flowers are set off against dark green, heavily serrated foliage. A great selection for adding texture and color to containers, baskets and garden beds, Unbelievable First Kiss thrives in the heat and performs well in both sun and shade.
Calibrachoa Aloha Blue Sky (Calibrachoa x hybrid). Vibrant, cheery flowers open deep blue and fade to lavender as they age, lending a gorgeous multi-toned effect to the plant. Naturally trailing, Aloha Blue Sky is an excellent choice for hanging baskets, or for spilling over the edge of a mixed planter. Its blue tone pairs well with purple, pink, yellow and orange flowers. Aloha thrives in the heat and blooms all summer long, tolerating wind, rain, and cool temperatures.
Calibrachoa Superbells® Holy Moly!™ (Calibrachoa hybrid). This unique pink and yellow bi-color bloom will really ads life to containers and hanging baskets. Perfect on its own or in a combination recipe with other similar colors. Easy to grow care for, Superbells Holy Moly! performs well spring through summer and right into fall with its cool tolerance, and ability to stay strong in heat and humidity too.
Celosia Arrabona Red (Celosia plumosa). This new celosia produces masses of striking red plumes that will last all summer long! Easy care for, it is drought tolerant and loves the heat. Arbonna's fiery red flowers look gorgeous in both borders and containers.
Celosia Dragon's Breath (Celosia plumosa). Gardeners will love the unique green-red foliage and blazing-red, long-lasting flowers of Dragon's Breath celosia. Dragon’s Breath is great in containers, beds and large landscapes. Dragon’s Breath exhibits even redder foliage and flowers when summers get hot and humid.
Coleus Main Street Granville Street (Solenostemon scuttelarioides). Brilliantly bright foliage makes this coleus the center of attention in any planting. A myriad of colors are displayed on large leaves with delicate scalloped edges. Colors range from pale chartreuse to pink to deep burgundy. It combines well with many other colors. Great as a “thriller” in mixed containers or incorporated into garden beds, this coleus is easy to care for both in sun or shade.
Cosmos Casanova (Cosmos bipinnatus). Casanova is a free-branching series of garden cosmos that will flower until frost. Exhibiting low day-length sensitivity, it flowers in both long and short day conditions. Available in four colors including a striking red, it should become the new standard for compact garden cosmos.
Cosmos Xanthos™ (Cosmos bipinnatus). Cosmos Xanthos™ is an amazing new cosmos. It has a unique soft-yellow color never seen before in early flowering garden cosmos. It produces nice compact, round flowers with a collarette in a sunning soft yellow with lighter edges.
Dahlia Miracle Princess (Dahlia hybrid). Miracle Princess bears a decorative-type flower that is both full and perfectly-formed. Blossoms often measure five inches in diameter. The flowers are orchid pink with a soft yellow glow at the center, and are earlier than most dahlias. The sturdy, 35 inch plants rarely need staking, and are a good choice for perennial borders, cutting gardens and large containers.
Geranium Brocade Fire and Brocade Cherry Night (Pelargonium x hortorum). Brocade geraniums are novelty geraniums prized for their unique, bright foliage. Both Brocade Fire and Brocade Cherry Night can be used as an accent plant in container combinations or as a landscape plant. Their lime green foliage looks great in the shade, or in contrast with dark-leaved plants. Easy to grow and very weather tolerant, these plants will last through throughout the summer. Both are AAS Winners.
Geranium Survivor Rose Pink (Pelargonium x hortorum). Incredible flower power makes Survivor Rose Pink a must-have for every gardener. It bears large flower-heads in a striking rose hue that are gracefully held above its dark green foliage. These survivors bloom through cold, heat, wind and rain. Plant among a mix of complementary annual flowers for an eye-catching mixed planter or plant alone in the landscape for a bold splash of color.
Gerbera Revolution Bicolor Yellow Orange™ (Gerbera jamesonii). This new gerbera offers brilliant shades of yellow and orange with a variable color pattern – some rings around the eye are large, some are smaller, and some flowers have almost a deep red ring around the eye. A great size for small container production, it represents a perfect for gift for others for adding color to interior spaces.
Gerbera Daisy Bengal ™ Red with Eye (Gerbera jamesonii). Bigger, beefier eye-catching blooms are the hallmark of this new gerbera. Strong, vigorous plants produce an abundance of blooms all season long. Bengal is adaptable to both indoor and outdoor decorating. The bright cheery colors are perfect for adding a splash of color to table tops, patio pots or a border’s edge.
Gladiolus Tricolore (Gladiolus hybrid). Gladiolus Tricolore will be the talk of a summer garden and a star attraction in flower arrangements. Each spike features 8-10 inch orchid-like blooms with crimson red petals and a maroon and purple throat. Its flowers have an elegant color combination that is thoroughly modern and totally riveting. Like all gladiolus, the corms are easy to grow in flower gardens, cutting gardens and containers.
Hibiscus Little Zin (Hibiscus acetosella). This attractive plant with dark burgundy foliage well in combination with other flowering plants in containers. Little Zin loves the heat and holds its color and upright form throughout the summer. Its serrated leaves offer texture and unique appeal in combination containers. Also, Little Zin remains more compact than other hibiscus varieties.
Impatiens SunPatiens® Spreading Clear Orange (Impatiens x hybrida). Garden success has never been simpler with easy-to-grow SunPatiens®. Their substantive flowers and tough foliage are less prone to disease than most impatiens; and their strong sturdy plants tolerate heat, humidity, rain and adverse weather conditions. SunPatiens’® exceptional outdoor performance has been proven time and again in numerous independent and university trials around the world. SunPatiens® are resistant to impatiens downy mildew, which plagues traditional impatiens.
Marigold, French Chica™ series (Tagetes patula). What’s not to like about marigolds? User-friendly, they flower prolifically through the hottest weather and provide color when it is needed most. The Chica™ series produce large flowers for a French marigold; colors available include gold, yellow and orange.
Melampodium Jackpot (Melampodium paludosum). Melampodium is an underused annual bedding plant. Adaptable, it tolerates cool springs, hot (dry) summers and flowers well into the fall. Melampodium Jackpot will maintain its attractive appearance with very little care all season long. It produces golden-orange flowers about one inch in diameter on plants that achieve a height of between 15-20 inches by summer’s end.
Petunia Easy Wave® Yellow (Petunia x hybrida). This new petunia is the first yellow in the Easy Wave® series. The plants are fast-growing and bloom freely all season in the garden or in hanging baskets and pots. Easy Wave® petunias are an easy way to add color to any outdoor living space. Also new for 2016 is Easy Wave® Pink Passion and Easy Wave® Silver. All mix well with other Easy Wave® varieties to form a spectacular color palette. Alternatively, blend them with any sun-loving flower for a great trailing component in mixed containers.
Petunia Limbo *GP* Blue Veined™ (Petunia x hybrida). This new petunia bears large, grandiflora-sized lavender blue flowers with dark blue veining making for a very attractive color combination. The Limbo *GP* series of hybrid petunias was bred to be genetically compact in the garden, so it won't get “stringy” like other petunia varieties in the heat of summer.
Petunia Picobella™ Cascade Sky Blue (Petunia milliflora). Talk about flower power, this
compact new petunia is smothered with a carpet of tiny 2-inch blooms that flower all season long. Eye-catching in the garden in addition to being a superb choice for hanging baskets, it grows 6-10 inches tall and spreads 16-18 inches wide.
Petunia Potunia® Blueberry Muffin (Petunia x hybrida). This new petunia bears striking star-patterned flowers with colors akin to a buttered blueberry muffin -- pale yellow alongside deep blue and lavender with delicate veining. Potunia® varieties are perfectly mounded and great in mixed containers, hanging baskets or in the landscape as a low groundcover. Top-performing, tough, and blooming from summer to frost, Potunia® adds color and interest to any garden.
Petunia Sanguna® Patio Pink Morn (Petunia x hybrida). Sanguna® Pink Morn petunia stands out in the garden due to the distinct, vibrant hot pink and white bi-color flower patterns. Plants initially grow upright and mound later; they can be planted in containers, baskets and in the bed or border. Due to its novelty bi-color flowers and controlled growth habit, it is extremely well suited as a combination item for a wide variety of containers.
Petunia Sanguna® Radiant Blue (Petunia x hybrida). This stunning new hybrid petunia packs a punch. With a bicolor flower pattern, Sanguna® Radiant Blue gracefully adds beauty to any container. While creating stand-out pots for porches and decks, it also performs well in garden beds. The versitility of this flower will provide many options to decorate garden spaces.
Petunia SuperCal® Light Yellow (Petchoa hybrid). Known for its large, vibrant flowers and superior outdoor performance, SuperCal® combines in one plant the desirable traits of both petunia and calibrachoa. SuperCal® offers exceptional garden performance under all kinds of weather -- from unexpected late frosts, to rainy cycles and even through the heat of summer.
Petunia Trilogy Deep Purple (Petunia x hybrida). Trilogy Deep Purple is a mounding, spreading petunia that is covered with vibrant, dark-purple flowers all season long. Trilogy petunias can be used in containers or in the garden and will spread up to 30 inches by season’s end and achieve a mature height of between 10-20 inches.
Salvia Black and Bloom (Salvia guarantica). This new salvia boasts vibrant dark blue and black flowers that last all season. It's a magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies. It is an outstanding garden performer that thrives in heat, drought and humidity. Its blue flower color against a nearly black stem stands out in every landscape or container.
Salvia Grandstand Red™ (Salvia splendens). Salvia Grandstand is humidity and heat tolerant for outstanding performance in all regions. The plant will continue to produce new flower spikes all season long, instead of flowering in cycles as some salvias are prone to do. Salvia Grandstand is an ideal plant for container gardens and in the landscape creating some height and dramatic color as combination or stand-alone plant.
Salvia Summer Jewel™ Lavender (Salvia coccinea). This new salvia flowers very early and continues blooming until frost. Naturally compact, it grows to be no more than 18 inches when mature. Summer Jewel Lavender is the first lavender colored form of Salvia coccinea. An AAS Regional Winner.
Sunflower Golden Bear (Helianthus annuus). Sunflower Golden Bear boasts plants 10 feet tall that bear single headed, bright golden yellow triple-full flower sunflower. Maturing in about 90 days, Golden Bear is a tall version of Teddy Bear, a popular dwarf sunflower. Because of its size it should be planted in the back of garden borders. Its highly ornate flowers are beautiful in large bouquets.
Sunflower Helios Flame (Helianthus annuus). This new sunflower’s attractive golden yellow/ mahogany flowers with clean, pollen-free dark disks create a perfect mid-to-late summer theme. Sunflower Helios Flame grows to a mature height of about four feet and is perfect for the back of garden borders or for use in cut flower arrangements.
Trifolium Limerick Estelle (Trifolium repens). Trifolium Limerick offers a unique option when looking for a foliage plant to serve as a “spiller” in combination plantings. It bears trifoliate, "shamrock-like" foliage that has bold patterns and is available in three varieties: Estelle, Isabella and Jessica.
Verbena Lanai® Blue Eyes (Verbena hybrida). Lanai® Blue Eyes verbena stands out because of its outstanding sky blue flower color which are accented by white eyes in the flower centers. It grows vigorously and performs well under hot and sunny conditions in large baskets, containers, and as ground cover. It is equally attractive when planted alone or combined with other plants in containers. As an added benefit, exhibits very high tolerance to powdery mildew.
Zinnia Zinderella Peach (Zinnia elegans). Zinnia Zinderella Peach bears novelty, scabiosa (pincushion flower) type blooms 2-2 ½ inches in diameter. About 80 percent of its blooms are fully double, semi-double with the remaining 20 percent being single flowers. Its flowers are a unique salmon color with cream to rose petals and a distinct dark eye. This new zinnia is a unique accent flower for bed, borders or used as a cut flower in bouquets.
Credit: National Garden Bureau
REVISED: February 29, 2016