10 Trendy Plants for Midwest Gardens in 2021
Brighten your backyard with these cheery new plants. Yellow is the standout color this year; look for top-performing new types of petunias, zinnias, clematis, sunflowers, gaillardia and more.
'Bees Knees' Petunias
"Everyone is talking about the cheerful yellow," says Diane, referring to one of Pantone's 2021 Colors of the Year – "Illuminating" yellow. "And the great thing is this year's yellow has enough hues like soft yellow for spring, bright yellow for summer and gold yellow for fall that we can all take advantage of it."
Check out 10 plants that will bring some cheer to your landscape—starting with 'Bees Knees' petunias.
These non-stop petunias shine all summer long with intense color that doesn't fade in the sun. Blazek suggests planting them in containers, hanging baskets or flower beds in a sunny location. (Annual; 8-10" H)
'Profusion Red Yellow Bicolor' Zinnias
This AAS gold medal winner has unique color-changing blooms that start off yellow and red then morph to softer shades of apricot and dusty rose in late summer. Blazek says to look for more color-changing flowers, like 'Chameleon' calibrachoas that expand the color range through the season. (Annual; 14-18")
'Sunset Halo' Gaillardia
This new super-compact blanket flower blooms in dazzling yellow-ruby colors from late spring to fall. It's a sun-loving native cultivar that checks all the boxes— drought and heat tolerance, deer resistance, pollinator appeal and long bloom time. (Perennial; Zones: 4-8 24" H)
'Little Lemons' Clematis
This charming new dwarf clematis is perfect for patios and pots. The nodding bell-shaped flowers cover the plant all summer and return for a second flush in fall. Unlike vining clematis, Blazek says this compact bushy variety is ideal for containers or tucked in a sunny perennial border. Remember to prune them back each spring. (Perennial; zones: 5-9; 8-12" H)
'American Gold Rush' Rudbeckia
Finally, a Black-eyed Susan that's resistant to leaf spot. Blazek recommends this AAS winner not only for its disease resistance but also its profuse daisy-like flowers that bloom from July through September. This native cultivar is also deer resistant and a pollinator favorite. (Perennial; zones: 4-9; 22-26" H)
'Apple Yellow' Tomatoes
Personal-sized veggies, like mini eggplants, baby watermelons and bite-size tomatoes, are an edible gardening trend for 2021. Blazek recommends 'Apple Yellow' tomato, an AAS winner that offers a bounty of dimpled apple-shaped fruit with a sweet citrus taste and firm texture.
"I grew one last year in a big container, and you just can't keep up with the tomatoes," says Blazek. "They're so cute, just like little apples." (1 ½' fruits on vines up to 5')
'Sombrero Summer Solstice' Echinacea
Reports say these coneflowers were standouts in Midwestern trial gardens for their hardiness, strong stems and vibrantly colored blooms. Here, 'Summer Solstice' features bright yellow flowers with white center rings. Also try Lemon Yellow and Granada, two other yellow standouts in the series. (Perennial: 4b-9b; 18-20" H)
Blazek shares 2021 is the "Year of the Sunflower" at the National Garden Bureau and recommends this multi-stem variety. "It took the industry by storm for its abundance of blooms," she says.
Try planting them in containers, sunny borders or along a fence or garden shed. The flowers are pollen free for no-mess cut flowers yet still offer nectar for pollinators. (Annual; 3-4' H)
'Believe It Or Not' Forsythia
Yes, forsythia is a Midwestern favorite for its early blaze of color, but it loses its landscape luster the rest of the season. This new variety changes that with golden variegated foliage that lasts until frost. "All year, you get yellow with this new forsythia," says Blazek. (Shrub; zones: 5a-8a; 4-5' H)
Blazek slips in one non-yellow yet breeding breakthrough for impatiens fans. A decade ago, downy mildew wiped out these colorful go-tos for shade gardens. This spring, two new disease-resistant varieties—Beacon and Imara XDR Hot Mix (pictured) impatiens—are available in garden centers. (Annual: 10-12" H)
For more new plants, see a full list at National Garden Bureau.