5 Cool New Midwest Plants
For low-maintenance, bold color, try the new Superbells Blackberry Punch. The flowers (they look like little petunias) have a stunning almost-black purple center and magenta outer ring. These long, cascading annuals are tops for containers. They bloom from spring until first frost.
Give landscapes a stylish edge with pinwheel-stripe 'Phantom' petunias. The flower's yellow star pattern pops against a black background for an eye-catching look. Many people don't consider mixing black into their landscape's color palette, but it looks great in containers and window boxes, says Bill Calkins of Ball Horticultural Company. This new annual is easy to grow and has a long blooming season.
The new 'PowWow Wild Berry' coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) dazzles with its striking hot-pink/purple hue. "Everyone is wowed by the color of this flower," says Diane Blazek of All-America Selections and National Garden Bureau in Downers Grove, Illinois. This perennial is a drought-tolerant prairie native that requires little care. Plus, it flowers the first year you plant it.
Bigger, better begonia
'Gryphon', a new begonia with silvery-black foliage, adds sophisticated flair to shade gardens. Its foliage color is really trendy right now, says Bill Calkins of Ball Horticultural Company. And 'Gryphon' is all about the foliage, he adds. It grows fast and it gets big, up to 16x18 inches. Frost quickly kills this begonia, so bring it indoors for the winter. Then return it to the outdoors in the spring.
'Fireworks' variegated fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum) from Proven Winners is a showy grass (24-30 inches high) with green, white and pink stripes. Lori Yanny, horticulturist at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, gives it rave reviews. "I've never seen anything like this," Lori says. "The pink stays so bright all summer long." It's a warm-season grass, so treat it as an annual. It won't survive outside in the wintertime.