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Missouri Environment & Garden


David Trinklein
University of Missouri
Plant Science & Technology
(573) 882-9631

New Annual Bedding Plants for 2021

David Trinklein
University of Missouri
(573) 882-9631

Published: February 5, 2021

pink flowers with green foliage

For the avid gardener, few activities relieve the doldrums of a typical February day more so than scanning gardening publications, seed catalogs or websites to read about the new bedding plant introductions for the year. Each new year brings with it a wide array of new choices for the garden—some probably better suited to our climate than others. Listed below are a number of new cultivars for 2021 that should perform well under Missouri conditions and warrant consideration. Because of the number of new introductions this year, we will cover the annuals this month and the perennials next month.

Begonia 'BIG® White Green Leaf' (Begonia benariensis). 'BIG® White Green Leaf' is an easy plant to grow. It's so different it has a Utility Patent. Extremely well-branched, it's covered with blooms all season. Plant it anywhere because 'BIG® White Green Leaf' has outstanding garden performance both in sunny and shade exposures. It even looks great in hanging baskets. Extremely heat tolerant, BIG® begonias are also fairly drought tolerant once established. 'White Green Leaf' is the newest of eight BIG® begonia colors. (From Ernst Benary of America).

Begonia 'Fiona White'. American Takii, Inc.

Begonia 'Fiona Pink' & 'Fiona White' (Begonia x semperflorens). Begonia 'Fiona Pink' and 'Fiona White' are both semi-double types and bear a plethora of strong, upright blooming flowers. Plants are self-cleaning and provide continuous color throughout the summer. (From American Takii, Inc.).

Begonia 'Florencio™ Pink' (Begonia hybrida). 'Florencio™ Pink' begonia is a beautiful variety with a multitude of soft pink flowers displayed on bold green foliage. With outstanding outdoor performance, 'Florencio Pink' holds up to the rigors of the summer season with non-stop color. Useful both as a container plant and in the landscape, it adds color to partial shade areas. (From Syngenta Flowers LLC).

Begonia 'Grace™ Dark Red' (Begonia hybrida). 'Grace™ Dark Red' begonia is a striking deep red double flowers and unique pendulous habit. This variety is well-suited for hanging baskets and large patio containers, and perfect for shady to partial sun locations. 'Grace™ Dark Red' is pollinator friendly and a strong performer that will bloom the entire season. (From Syngenta Flowers LLC).

Begonia 'Nonstop Mocca Deep Red' (Begonia x tuberhybrida). The Nonstop series of begonia needs no introduction to most gardening enthusiasts, because of its outstanding performance. New to the series this year is 'Mocca Deep Red,' which is the deepest red on the market with rich bronze foliage. Wow your neighbors with this unforgettable new variety. (From Ernst Benary of America).

Black-Eyed Susan 'Amarillo Gold'. Ernst Benary of America

Black-Eyed Susan 'Amarillo Gold' (Rudbeckia hirta). 'Amarillo Gold' is an annual black-eyed Susan with a bright green eye that gives it a fresh look in the garden. It has the same large, eye-catching flowers as 'Prairie Sun' on a much shorter plant. A great new variety, it performs well in patio pots, borders, or as a home garden cut-flower. (From Ernst Benary of America).

Black-Eyed Susan 'Dakota Gold' (Rudbeckia hirta). 'Dakota Gold' is another entirely new class of Rudbeckia hirta. This annual rudbeckia is daylength neutral, allowing for extended periods of blooming. Although its species is considered an annual 'Dakota Gold' is hardy through zone 5. Developed over nine years of breeding, 'Dakota Gold' is quick and consistent in its performance. It bears six-inch-wide flowers all season long. (From Green Fuse Botanicals, Inc.).

Calibrachoa 'Aloha Hula Gold Medal' (Calibrachoa x hybrida). 'Aloha Hula Gold Medal' calibrachoa exhibits unstoppable flower power and bold bicolor blooms with bright golden yellow color and a rich, contrasting orange eye. An outstanding selection for mono-culture baskets or in combination planters, it blooms from spring to early autumn and enjoys full sun to part shade exposures. (From Dummen Orange).

Celosia 'Kelos® Candela'. Beekenkamp Plants

Celosia 'Kelos® Candela' (Celosia spicata). All-America Selections winner. Unique, showy plumes of pink flowers that keep blooming and keep their color all season long is what made this new celosia an AAS winner. It is a perfect filler plant to add height and interest to a combination container planting. Though, it also is useful in mass plantings, borders, and general garden use. (From Beekenkamp Plants)

Celosia 'Sol™ Gekko Green' & 'Lizzard Leaf' (Celosia argentea). Excellent as border and patio plants, these two new celosias have bicolor foliage with burgundy-red undertones. They bring texture and add interest to containers, and provide a sun-loving accent foliage plant for patios or a low, shrub-like option for the front of the border. Available in two varieties: 'Gekko Green' and 'Lizzard Leaf.' Coloring is more intense under higher light levels. Soil needs to be moist but not wet. (From PanAmerican Seed Co.).

Cuphea 'Hummingbird's Lunch' (Cuphea ignea). 'Hummingbird's Lunch' is a fantastic addition to the pollinator garden. Bright cherry red flowers bloom continuously from early spring through fall. This plant will live up to its name and host many hummingbird's looking for lunch. Cuphea are real lower-producing machines and 'Hummingbird's Lunch' is no exception. (From PlantHaven International, Inc.).

Dahlia 'Burlesca' (Dahlia cv.) This adorable little dahlia may look pink at first glance, but what makes 'Burlesca' so special is the way it also pulls in hints of peach and lavender. Like other ball dahlias, the tight, 2-inch flower heads are both durable and long-lasting. Dahlias offer gardeners an incredible range of colors, sizes and flower styles. As the plants grow, stake them as you would a tomato. Flowering begins in mid to late summer and continues non-stop through the fall. (From Longfield Gardens LLC).

Dahlia 'Cornel' (Dahlia cv.). Excellent as a cut flower, 'Cornel' produces ball-type blossoms 3-4 inches in diameter. Flowers are perfectly round and tightly packed with petals. Their color is a true ruby-red without a hint of orange or violet. The bushy, 4-foot plants produce an incredible number of flowers with long stems that last for days in a vase. (From Longfield Gardens LLC).

Dahlia 'Dahlegria® Magenta Bicolor' (Dahlia hybrida). 'Dahlegria® Magenta Bicolor' dahlia is sure to be a hit with dahlia lovers everywhere. One of the most extraordinary new varieties out there, this dahlia offers electric pink petal tips with a soft pink center that stand out on top of almost-black foliage. Mildew tolerant, it attracts pollinators and is a striking addition to the garden.  (From Syngenta Flowers LLC).

Dahlia 'Dahlightful®' (Dahlia cv.) 'Dahlightful®' dahlias, bloom with big, bright, jewel-toned flowers atop rich, chocolate foliage, providing season-long color from late spring through fall. Available in five colors, this series displays exceptional resistance to most strains of powdery mildew. (From UpShoot LLC).

Dahlia 'Dalaya Fireball' (Dahlia hybrida). Boasting green leaves, big blooms and exotic bi-colored flowers 'Dalaya Fireball' is top choice for the garden. It bears anemone-type blooms and shows outstanding performance in beds or containers. Easy to grow in full sun, 'Dalaya Fireball' adds hot color to gardens from spring through the end of summer. (From Selecta North America).

Dahlia 'Hypnotica Limoncello'. Dummen Orange

Dahlia 'Hypnotica Limoncello' (Dahlia hybrida). 'Hypnotica Limoncello' might be the most vibrant bicolor dahlia on the market today. 'Hypnotica' varieties are outstanding in combination containers and in the garden. A garden classic incorporating compact growth and bombastic blooms, it bears a visually striking pompom-shaped flower that makes it a great candidate for a cut flower. (From Dummen Orange).

Dahlia 'Milena Fleur' (Dahlia cv.). 'Milena Fleur' produces flowers that are a soft, salmon-pink with pale yellow centers. They have an old-fashioned charm that's perfect for a cottage garden. 'Milena Fleur's' 4-inch blossoms are produced in abundance atop compact plants that grow just 24 to 30 inches tall. Blooming begins in mid to late summer and flowering continues non-stop through the fall. (From Longfield Gardens LLC).

Dahlia 'Zundert Mystery Fox' (Dahlia cv.). This fabulous new dahlia produces blossoms in a range of lovely warm hues, from terracotta to coral to dusky rose, all on the same plant. Like other ball dahlias, the 3 to 4-inch flowers are long lasting both on the plant and in a vase. 'Zundert Mystery Fox' starts blooming early and produces a multitude of flowers with nice, long stems. (From Longfield Gardens LLC).

Geranium 'Mojo™ Cranberry Splash'. Syngenta Flowers LLC

Geranium 'Mojo™ Cranberry Splash' (Pelargonium interspecific). 'Mojo™ Cranberry Splash' is a new color to the 'Mojo™' geranium series. It produces large double cranberry-colored flowers set against dark foliage which results in a striking combination. Attractive to pollinators, it is a perfect for containers and hanging baskets alike. (From Syngenta Flowers LLC).

Geranium 'Rosalie™ Antique Salmon' (Pelargonium zonale). 'Rosalie™ Antique Salmon' is a new double-flowered geranium that is hard to resist. It has soft pink rosebud-like flowers that resemble classic English roses. This variety is perfect for both containers and landscapes. Its controlled growth habit works well across a range of small-to-medium sized containers. (From Syngenta Flowers LLC).

Hibiscus HollywoodTM 'Earth Angel,' 'Glamour Gal' and 'Pop Star' (Hibiscus rosa sinensis). 'Earth Angel,' 'Glamour Gal' and 'Pop Star' are three new tropical hibiscus that are perfect for adding elegance and color to the landscape as tropical annuals. 'Hollywood™' hibiscus shine with vibrant color, long-lasting blooms and outstanding bud counts. 'Earth Angel' is pale ivory, while 'Glamour Gal' is red with a dark throat and 'Pop Star' is pink with a dark throat. All make beautiful container plants to display on a patio or around a pool. The series is resistant to bacterial leaf spot & whitefly. (From J. Berry Nursery).

Impatiens 'Beacon® Rose' (Impatiens walleriana). Finally, an impatiens with high resistance to impatiens downy mildew is available to gardeners. The 'Beacon®' series of impatiens was 10 years in the making. Gardeners can rely on 'Beacon®' impatiens to thrive in shady areas with lasting color in the garden all season. 'Beacon® Rose' is yet another color in the series. (From PanAmerican Seed Co.).

Impatiens 'Imara™ XDR Hot Mix' (Impatiens walleriana). Take back the shade. The new 'Imara™ XDR Hot Mix' offers a bold color combination that will make your shade garden vibrant throughout the season. Additionally, 'Imara™ XDR' shows high resistance to impatiens downy mildew. It has proven landscape performance with reliable flowering all season long. (From Syngenta Flowers LLC).

Impatiens New Guinea 'Magnum Midnight Orchid'. Dummen Orange

Impatiens New Guinea 'Magnum Midnight Orchid' (Impatiens hawkeri). An attention-grabber, this new variety has jet-black foliage with a contrasting soft orchid pink colored bloom. 'Magnum' New Guinea Impatiens are very impressive at the garden center with huge flowers early in the season that continue all summer. A stunning new variety with dramatic contrast, 'Magnum Midnight Orchid' works well in mass plantings or as focal point accents. It provides loads of color throughout the flowering season and is a proven performer with a profuse flower set. (From Dummen Orange).

Evolvulus 'Beach Bum Blue' (Evolvulus x hybrida). A non-vining morning glory that creates mounds of sprawling silver frosted foliage, 'Beach Bum Blue' is topped with periwinkle blue flowers. It works equally well as a ground cover in mass plantings or cascading over garden walls. It also looks nice in hanging baskets due to it spreading, trailing habit. Tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, it grows best in fertile, well drained soils. (From Dummen Orange).

Petunia 'Bee's Knees' (Petunia hybrida). Truly a game-changer among yellow vegetative petunias, 'Bee's Knees' is the brightest yellow petunia on the market. It is filled with lush blooms that put on a high-impact show all season long. It brings an intense yellow petunia color to gardens. Each plant has outstanding branching and dark green foliage. Gardeners will love its deep, rich yellow color and its versatile habit. Makes great mixed containers and hanging baskets. (From PanAmerican Seed Co.).

Petunia 'Easy Wave® Rose Fusion' (Petunia hybrida). Easy Wave® are fast-growing spreading petunias that bloom freely all season long and are available in a wide array of decorator colors. They're versatile for both containers or the landscape, and tolerate heat very well. This year, 'Easy Wave® Rose Fusion' is new to the series and should be eye-catching in any sunny space in the garden. Its mid-rose blooms have a deep veining pattern for a vibrant contrast. (From PanAmerican Seed Co.).

Petunia 'HeadlinerTM Electric Purple Sky®' & 'Headliner Crystal Sky®' (Petunia cvs.). The 'Headliner' series is a medium-vigor, mounded petunia with a dramatic color range, including new introductions into the Sky® family of patterned petunias. 'Electric Purple Sky®' is a dark-magenta bloom with starry speckles, and 'Crystal Sky®' is a light lavender color with a habit similar to the original 'Night Sky®'. Blooms will show more starry effects in cooler temperatures. (From PanAmerican Seed Co.).

Petunia 'HIPPY CHICK™ Violet' (Petunia hybrida). This new introduction produces a unique bloom shape for a petunia. The violet hued bicolor blooms with a distinctive pattern and white edge have made 'HIPPY CHICK™ Violet' a stand out at trials around the country. The mounding habit is perfect for premium hanging baskets and patio containers. (From Danziger "Dan" Flower Farm).

Petunia 'Itsy™ Magenta' (Petunia hybrida). 'Itsy™ Magenta' petunia might be small, but its mighty  and tough. This exciting new petunia has tons of tiny magenta blooms that form a blanket of color. With exceptional color coverage and good vigor, it is a great option for both in-ground landscape beds and patio containers. (From Syngenta Flowers LLC).

Petunia 'Opera Supreme Lemon'. American Takii, Inc.

Petunia 'Opera Supreme Lemon' (Petunia hybrida). Petunia 'Opera Supreme Lemon' features a plant with a magnificent 36 inch spread while maintaining a low habit, no more than 10 inches in height. Plants flower from the center out so the plant is full of color from center to tip. Bred to have tight internodes, each branch is packed with flowers that have excellent rain recovery. (From American Takii, Inc.).

Petunia 'Shock Wave® Purple Tie Dye' (Petunia hybrida). 'Shock Wave® Purple Tie Dye' is a playful spreading petunia with a purple-blue and white bicolor pattern. Each bloom is as unique as an artist's brush stroke. The pattern is variable so there's something new to experience all summer long. The random color will blanket hanging baskets with masses of petite, high-impact flowers. Easy to care for, it bounces back from overhead watering or spring showers to stay attractive. (From PanAmerican Seed Co.).

Petunia 'Surprise Sparkle Red' (Petunia hybrida). Sparkle petunia varieties have a medium vigorous semi-trailing habit and are perfect for hanging baskets and combinations. The blooms have distinctive white sparkles (sploches) that stay consistent through varying temperature and weather situations. 'Surprise Sparkle Red' is attractive to both hummingbirds and butterflies. It is early to flower and versatile in containers, hanging baskets or in the landscape. (From Dummen Orange).

Petunia 'Trilogy Pink Lips' (Petunia hybrida). Petunia 'Trilogy Pink Lips' is a colorful new addition to the 'Trilogy' series. It has the same tidy mounding growth habit as the rest of the 'Trilogy' series, but boasts a better mounding habit than other pink petunias on the market. Flowers are bubble gum pink with rounded petals. (From American Takii, Inc.).

Poppy 'Amazing Grey' (Papaver rhoeas). Well named, this stunning, award-winning introduction is amazing. It is quick to bloom and the color is steely grey and awe-inspiring. Crepe-paper like blooms unfurl into single and half-double blooms, each unique. A practically care-free annual and a pollinator favorite, this poppy reseeds itself making it ideal for naturalized areas. (From Botanical Interests, Inc.).

Salvia 'BODACIOUS®' (Salvia x guaranitica). The bright jewel tone flowers of 'Bodacious' salvia are carried on flower stems up to 18 inches in length. The elegant black stems really make the jewel tone flowers really stand out in the garden. It grows best when located in full sun and kept uniformly moist. (From PlantHaven International, Inc.).

Scaevola 'Purple Bird' (Scaevola aemula). 'Purple Bird' is the earliest flowering scaevola available. It blends well in hanging baskets and other combination planters. Like all scaevola, it is extremely heat and drought tolerant, for a full season of gardener performance. 'Purple Bird' produces a perpetual display of fan-shaped flowers from spring well into fall, giving it an exotic delicate look. However, the fan flower is very durable and will continue to bloom even when neglected. (From Dummen Orange).

Scaevola 'Surdiva® Purple' (Scaevola hybrid). 'Surdiva® Purple' scaevola is one of the most heat tolerant plants around and offers continuous color even through hot summers and unfavorable weather. Its blossoms are unique fan-shaped and produced well into the fall. With a compact and semi-trailing growth habit, it is easy to grow and maintain. It is deal for use in baskets, combination plantings, window boxes, and landscaping. (From Suntory Flowers Limited).

Senecio 'Skyscraper™ Mount Everest' (Senecio ficoides). Senecio 'Skyscraper™ Mount Everest' is a strong, upright grower, reaching 2-3 feet in one growing season. No staking or support is necessary. Its growth habit gives a new structural component for succulent gardens. Plant in well-drained garden soil in full sun to part shade. Once established, it has low water needs. (From Plant Development Services, Inc.).

Strawflower 'Granvia Gold'. Suntory Flowers Limited

Strawflower 'Granvia Gold' (Bracteantha bracteatum). Supersized, this new introduction bears flowers twice of size of other strawflowers and much more impressive. 'Granvia Gold' looks stunning in landscape beds and large patio pots. It also is resistant to mildew. (From Suntory Flowers Limited).

Sunflower 'Solsation™ F1 series' (Helianthus annuus). The 'Solsation™ F1 series' of sunflower is just in time for 2021 which has been declared "The Year of the Sunflower." This compact sunflower series is ideal for pots, containers, baskets, and garden beds and borders. It produces multiple successions of flowers, resulting in a radiant glow in the garden for months. Available in four colors: Yellow, Lemon, Flame and Yellow Spirit, it performs best in a well-draining soil mix. (From Evanthia Seeds & Plants).

Vinca Soiree® 'Kawaii Blueberry Kiss' (Catharanthus hybrid). Tiny but terrific is a good way to describe this new vinca. Soiree® is an exciting new collection of heat-loving vinca that retain a beautiful shape while providing outstanding coverage in containers and landscapes. Providing carefree color all summer, Soiree® vinca bear very small flowers which light up any garden with their amazing flower coverage and vivid eye-drawing colors. (From Suntory Flowers Limited).

Vinca 'Solar Avalanche Cherry Brilliant Eye' (Catharanthus roseus). 'Cherry Brilliant Eye' is the latest addition the 'Solar Avalanche' series of trailing Vinca and is a real knockout in color. The flower is a bright, bold cerise-red enhanced by a very large white center, producing contrast that truly is eye-catching. It is great for baskets and mixed containers and also makes an excellent ground cover for large areas. Remaining uniformly short, it provides color all summer long. (From Hem Genetics BV).

Vinca 'Virtuosa' (Catharanthus roseus). 'Virtuosa' is a new series of vinca with strong, overlapping petals resulting in a round flower shape. 'Virtuosa' vinca are dependable performers in the garden even under extreme conditions from warm and humid to cool with low light. The 'Virtuosa' series offers eight colors including a mix. (From Sakata Seeds America).

Zinnia 'Profusion Red Yellow Bicolor'. Sakata Seeds America

Zinnia 'Profusion Red Yellow Bicolor' (Zinnia hybrida). All-America Selections winner. 'Profusion Red Yellow Bicolor' is a beautiful new bicolor addition to the popular 'Profusion' series of zinnias. This gorgeous zinnia starts the season with a bold vibrant red center ring surrounded by golden-yellow outer petals. As the season progresses, the aging flowers morph into soft, beautiful shades of apricot, salmon, and dusty rose to bring a plethora of color to the garden. Known for their disease resistance, 'Profusion' zinnias will ultimately grow 14 inches tall and 15 inches wide. (From Sakata Seeds America).

(Credit: Plant characteristics provided by National Garden Bureau).

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REVISED: February 5, 2021