New Plants for 2012

by Jan Cashman 2/10/12

There’s a garden full of new plants introduced to the retail market again this year.  Here are a few of these exciting new plants that should do well in our climate:


In the milder northern climates of Des Moines, Iowa, or Fort Collins, Colorado, ornamental pears are commonly used in their landscapes where a small, flowering tree is needed.  Ornamental pears give four seasons of beauty and the new Mountain Frost variety is improved over slow-growing Prairie Gem, the ornamental pear we used here in the past.  Mountain Frost is covered with attractive white flowers in the spring, has dark green leathery leaves which turn yellow in the fall, and reddish-brown bark.  Plant Mountain Frost instead of a flowering crab—this ornamental pear has little to no fruit.

Another even smaller (15’) ornamental tree that does well here is Crusader Hawthorn.  Not new, but new to us, Crusader has beautiful white flowers in the spring, bright red fruit in the summer, and orange leaves in the fall.  A mature specimen of Crusader Hawthorn can be seen in front of Northern Lights on West Babcock.

Celebration is a new narrow maple good for smaller yards; it grows to only 40 feet tall and 20 feet wide.   Drought tolerant and adaptable to various soils, Celebration should do well in our climate.  Leaves turn red and gold in the fall.


Ninebark shrubs (native species of ninebarks are found in surrounding areas) continue to gain in popularity because of new, improved, hardy varieties with unusual leaf colors.   Coppertina Ninebark, a new hybrid listed as Zone 3, grows to a large shrub, over 8 feet tall with a 5-6 foot spread.  Its leaves emerge copper-colored in the spring and soon turn a rich burgundy.  The bark is attractive and peeling; in the fall it has bright red seed capsules.  Try Coppertina ninebark where you need a tall shrub—it is drought tolerant and adaptable to many soil types.

Center Glow is another new ninebark from the University of Minnesota, so we know it will be hardy.  It grows to 6 to 8 feet with leaves that are red with a golden center, hence the name. Later the leaves turn deep burgundy.   It has creamy white flowers in the spring.  Ninebarks need to be planted in full sun for the best foliage color.


New to us, Honeysweet Rose, is a  Zone 4 shrub rose from Iowa that blooms all summer with fragrant, clustered pinkish-orange roses and dark green foliage.  Its height is 3 to 4 feet.


We’re always looking for the perfect tomato variety that ripens early enough for our climate, and is sweet, and delicious.  One recommendation by our bedding plant grower, Nancy Berg, is called Belii Naliv, from Timiryazen Agricultural Academy in Russia, 20 miles south of Moscow, developed in the 1960’s.  Nancy tried it in her garden last summer and it produced an abundant yield of 3 to 3.5” tomatoes.  She also trialed Beaver Lodge Slicer, a small plant good for growing in pots which produced lots of 2” tomatoes.


Gloriosa daisy or brown eyed susan are two common names for Rudbeckia, a bright yellow daisy-like perennial flower that blooms in late summer when many of the other perennials are finished blooming.  Tall (2-3’) Goldstrum is the hardy rudbeckia many of us are growing in our perennial flower beds but if you’re looking for something shorter try new Little Goldstar Rudbeckia which is only 14 to 16” tall.  Little Goldstar is more floriferous than Goldstrum and blooms earlier.  It looks great in a pretty container planted with mixed annuals and perennials.  Another perennial flower becoming more popular because of new colorful varieties (orange, yellow, blue, or red) and its attraction for bees and hummingbirds is Agastache.  The new Nectar Series is great for containers but could also be planted in your vegetable garden to attract bees for pollination.


The new wave and supertunia petunias and calibrachaos (that look like miniature trailing petunias) have revolutionized plants we use in hanging baskets and containers.  There are two new petunia series, Potunia  with a rounded, mounding growth habit great for pots, and Surprise, which trails, and has large flowers with large, vivid blooms of intense purple, orange with red veins, pink with a yellow center, or bright yellow.

Plan on planting some of these new, exceptional plant introductions in your yard this spring!