3 favorite plants you should try
Garden Gate staff
Test garden results are in! Meet 3 of our favorite new plants from the last few years’ trials.
Every year in our test garden we get to sample new plant introductions straight from the plant breeders. It’s like Christmas—unpacking the boxes to see the treasures inside. And just like brand-new toys, some plants get set aside to be rediscovered later and seen with fresh eyes. After growing these beauties for several seasons, we like them more and more and want you to know about them.
Keep clicking to look at a few of our found-again favorites for the garden.
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‘Sweet Summer Love’ clematis (Clematis hybrid)
If you thought purple clematis were ho-hum, you haven’t seen ‘Sweet Summer Love’. Infused with a little cranberry-red, this purple flower’s almost two-tone coloration will catch your eye. It’s loaded with blooms from midsummer to early fall so plant it where you’ll be able to enjoy the cherry-vanillalike fragrance. Give it plenty of room to spread and mulch the soil to keep roots cool in the heat of summer. It’s in pruning group 3 so cut vines back to about 12 in. from the ground in spring and it will bloom on new growth.
Type Perennial Blooms Cranberry-purple flowers from midsummer to early fall Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 8 to 15 ft. tall, spreading Cold-hardy USDA zones 4 to 9 Heat-tolerant AHS zones 9 to 1 Introducer Spring Meadow Nursery, 2014 Source Bluestone Perennials
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Opal Innocence® nemesia (Nemesia fruticans)
Just like the gem in its name, Opal Innocence nemesia has an iridescent quality to its hard-to-pinpoint color. Each bloom has a mix of rosy pink, white and lavender with a speck of yellow that works in any combination of bright or pastel colors. Grow it as an annual and give this fragrant cool-weather-lover a bit of shade. Trim the blooms back if they start to look ratty in the heat of summer. They’ll be refreshed by cooler weather in the fall.
Type Tender perennial Blooms Rosy-pink, white, and lavender flowers in spring to frost Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 10 to 16 in. tall, 8 to 10 in. wide Cold-hardy USDA zones 9 to 10 Heat-tolerant AHS zones 12 to 1 Introducer Proven Winners®, 2006 Source Local garden centers
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‘Cheyenne Sky’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
The short sibling in the switchgrass family, this cultivar forms a neat clump about 2 ft. tall before gaining a foot of height with purple panicles in late summer to fall. You’ll want to watch as the foliage transforms from blue-green to wine-red over the course of the fall season, starting with the leaf blade tips. It’s a standout performer in containers, alone or in combination with other fall bloomers. Though this warm-season grass is a bit slow to start in spring until the ground temps heat up, it can’t be easier to care for—just shear it off at the ground in early spring.
Type Perennial Blooms Purple panicles in late summer to fall Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 30 to 36 in. tall with panicles, 15 to 18 in. wide Cold-hardy USDA zones 4 to 9 Heat-tolerant AHS zones 9 to 1 Introducer Proven Winners®, 2009 Source Bluestone Perennials
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