University of Illinois Extension

Coming Soon to a Garden Center Near You

“Imagine walking into a space that has 140,000 square feet of floor space occupied by 1,440 vendors of horticultural products,” says Greg Stack, U of I horticulturist.  To a gardener this would be like the proverbial “kid in a candy store.”  To the professional horticulturist this is where they go to find out what is new in the way of growing innovations, marketing and plant material.

Eventually the gardener reaps the benefits of such “trade only” shows because retailers and growers want to be on the “front end” of what’s new in order to attract customers.  Because of this, many of the new products and plants seen here end up at a garden center near you. 

To list all of the new things coming to market would take up volumes and leave you so confused you may decide it is way too complicated to even bother making a choice.   Stack says, ”Here are a few of the interesting things to look for as you shop your favorite store in 2008.”

Don’t forget to be on the look out for the 2008 All-America Selections winners.  Two flowers were awarded AAS status.  ‘Asti White’ (right background) is the first all white osteospermum from seed.  ‘Asti White is a great plant for the early spring garden and fall garden as it can tolerate cold temperatures and light frosts while still providing color.  It can also be placed out in the garden weeks earlier in the spring than any other tender annual.  Viola ‘Skippy XL Plum Gold’ (right foreground) is a unique viola.  The small blooms are shades of plum surrounding a golden center.  They cover the plant from spring through the heat of the summer.  When planted in a well drained location, the robust root system offers better than average overwintering possibilities for a very early show of color in the spring.

In the world of impatiens look for a new series called ‘Fanfare’.  These impatiens are interspecific meaning the breeder has crossed New Guinea impatiens with regular garden impatiens.  The result is  very heat tolerant impatiens able to go from sun to shade.  They offer great colors, fast growth and excellent glossy foliage.  The unique mounding habit is covered with large flowers and is able to fill beds quickly and even recover from water stress (i.e. oops I forgot to water) without loosing any flowers or buds.

For those of you still looking to add to your Heuchera collection a new group of Heuchera are hitting the market.  The Villosa types of Heuchera are native to the U.S. and are tough, robust and adaptable.  They form large mounds and can take the heat, humidity and sun.  In addition, they make great plants for use in dry shade, an area that will challenge most gardeners.  Look for ‘Citronella’ (above, middle bottom) with iridescent lime green foliage and white flowers; ‘Mocha’ (above right) a compact mound of rich dark brown leaves and burgundy veins;   ‘Autumn Bride’ a rounded plant with fuzzy light green leaves and to round out the group ‘Brownies’ (above left) with chocolate colored leaves and red undersides.

In the ornamental grass world, there has been porcupine and zebra grass on the market for years.  But now there is ‘Gold Bar’.  This Miscanthus begs the question, “How many stripes can fit on a leaf?” and ‘Gold Bar’ answers with “a lot.”  This Miscanthus was selected for its amazing horizontal stripes – gold banding that never seems to quit going from the tip of the leaf to the ground.  This grass grows 3-5 feet tall and very erect, immune to flopping over late in the season and is hardy to zone 5.  It flowers very late so in some areas the season may not be long enough for flowers, but the foliage makes up for that short fall.

Caladiums are starting to be seen more and more in Midwest landscapes both in the garden and in containers.  While all caladiums perform well in full to partial shade, two new varieties stand out as excellent choices for full sun.  ‘Garden White’ is a tall (2’-3’) large leaved plant.  The leaves are pure white with dark green veins and marbling.  ‘Gray Ghost’ is a shorter fuller plant with grey white leaves.  Both will provide the tropical look in the full sun garden.

Coneflowers (Echinacea) have seen a lot of breeding and selecting activity.  With the introduction of the ‘Big Sky’ series, flower color now ranges from yellow to pink to orange, and they are fragrant.  Not to be outdone, the ‘Cone-fections’ series brings something new to coneflowers.  With names like ‘Coconut Lime’ (top) and ‘Pink Delight’ (bottom) gardeners now have double flowers with frilly cones.  ‘Pink Delight’ has double pompom flowers in bright clear pink.  ‘Coconut Lime’ has pompom flowers of creamy white and pale lime green frilly cones.

Look for these and others coming soon to a garden center near you.