Plum Pudding Poppy

Most of us gardeners are thinking about what we want to plant this year, but the choices can be daunting! Whether you are a new gardener or are an expert, with all the new plant choices each year, how do you choose what to plant? I have three guidelines to choosing what to plant, and also our recommendations for the Best New Plants of 2014.

1. You can’t have it all, so pick one or two new plants to try. I, too, have been guilty of excitedly filling my cart at the nursery with every new plant I find. Restraint is key for two reason…first, you could very well go broke. Second, incorporating too many new plants each year will make your garden appear disconnected and haphazard.

2. Make sure you choose for the sites you have. I LOVE all the new Hosta varieties out today, but the plain truth is, 99% of my gardens in full sun. Yes, I did try to cheat and make a shady “enough” garden on the side of a fenced area… it was NOT shady “enough”.

3. Do your research. New plant choices can sometimes cost a little more, or have to be ordered online. Make sure the variety you love isn’t a high maintenance plant, when you are a low maintenance gardener. Trust me, love dies quickly when the hope you had for that gorgeous rare poppy has you out in the garden for two hours a day in the hot sun staking and watering and fussing, or picking slugs off those Hosta plants every day of the year!

We have made our choices based on awards, ease of care and beauty. Let us know in the comments which are your favorites!


Our featured plant, above – “Plum Pudding” Poppy – This is one of the most gorgeous poppies I’ve seen. Easy to grow, this poppy blooms in June, lasts longer than most other poppies, and many times will re-bloom in the fall! You have to grow it for this color alone! Hardy to zone 3, highly recommended.


“Bloomerang” Lilac – This selection is the winner of the Green Thumb award, and it’s a fragrant lilac hardy down to zone 3. What is different about this lilac is that it blooms in the spring, then it re-blooms midsummer to fall! Growing 4-6 feet and dark purple in flower, it is a strong grower that is deer and compact. Frankly I personally have my reservations about traditionally spring blooming plants being bred to re-bloom, but I’m including it because I know many of you readers will love this plant.



Coneflower “Supreme Cantaloupe” – Coneflowers have had new plant elections every year for awhile now, but we love this new one! Like all coneflowers, they are drought resistant and love the sun, and flower all summer. About 2 1/2 feet high, this one opens looking like a gerber daisy, then expands to a full coneflower’s look with orange petals and a brown eye that turns orange as it matures. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this plant, hardy to zone 4.



The Perennial Plant Association just named an ornamental grass as plant of the year 2014… Panicum “Northwind”. We are big fans of grasses, and this Switchgrass has a wonderful blue green color which turns yellow in the fall. A strong upright grower, it withstands windy areas and blooms in September. Tolerates wet soil, but is also drought tolerant once established. Very low care, just cut back in early spring. Hardy to zone 2!



Russian Sage “Peek a Blue”- We grow a lot of Russian Sage in the high desert, but this new variety is a compact form growing just 2 feet tall, with bright blue spires all summer. Drought and heat resistant, this is a great choice for a full sun garden to zone 4.



We have bought into the sedum craze, and although our fav is still “Angelina”, a new variety called “Lime Zinger” has caught the attention of garden writers. Hardy to zone 4, these tough plants spread quickly to 18 inches, then bloom in summer with rosy pink clusters. Ideal for hot, dry spots and poor soil. Great in containers.




Our final choice for plants we want to try, “Sugarberry Ruffles” Lavender. This is not a hardy plant, best suited to containers in most parts of the country. It’s hardy to zone 8, but might be worth a try in  a protected zone 7 garden. More resistant to heat and humidity than most lavender, its unique color of pink and lavender blooms and it’s tendency to re-bloom in the fall make it a great choice for your patio… Oh, and did I mention it’s heavenly fragrance? Already selling out, look quickly for this wonderful plant before it’s gone!

Try our choices for the best new plants for 2014, and remember it’s about the gardening journey!

Image Credits: T&M, Proven Winners, Terra Nova, Iowa Arboretum, White Flower Farm, Monrovia

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  1. Kris February 4, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Here in the Cincinnati area (zone 6) we are finding ‘Bloomerang’ Lilac may not be as winter hardy as originally thought. I would also say that the “reblooming” period is nothing to write home about. You may get a few blooms later in the season but not many, (even with dead heading the first blooms) and it surely is not as spectacular as the first time around. Love the idea though and hope others are not finding the same elsewhere!

    1. Kathy Woodard February 4, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks for your comments Kris!


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