You’ll be certain to want to try many of the 2014 winning plants. Here’s the list – look for them at independent garden centers and mail-order nurseries this spring.
Hummingbird trumpet mint (Monardella macrantha ‘Marian Sampson’) is an intensely aromatic perennial from the mountains of California forming low mounds of semi-evergreen leaves. Exotic-looking clusters of brilliant, scarlet-orange trumpets appear just above the foliage late spring through summer. Performs best in dappled shade out of the heat of the sun in many types of soils. May need winter protection in some areas. Grows 3-6 inches tall and 8-12 inches wide. Hardy to USDA zones 5b-9.
UNDAUNTED® ruby muhly (Muhlenbergia reverchonii): This selection of long-lived grass was brought from the southern Great Plains by Lauren & Scott Ogden. Graceful fine-textured gray-green mounds are topped by clouds of tiny ruby flowers that glow brilliantly when backlit in autumn. Persistent winter beauty, superb in mass plantings; also for accents and erosion control. This plant is first in a series of UNDAUNTED® plants from the Ogdens. Plants are 15-18 inches tall; up to 30 inches in flower. Grows in full sun in moderate to dry conditions. Hardy to USDA zones 5-10. This plant is first in a series of UNDAUNTED® plants from the Ogdens.
Carolyn’s Hope pink penstemon (Penstemon x mexicali ‘Carolyn’s Hope’ PPAF) is a new, medium pink penstemon with white throats and dark pink buds nearly all summer long. Narrow, glossy green leaves form an attractive mound. Hybrid between Mexican and American wild penstemons, this plant was developed by Brian Core in honor of his wife. A portion of proceeds from all sales benefit breast cancer research. Plants grow to 15 inches tall by 12-15 inches wide in full sun to part shade with moderate water. Hardy to USDA zones 4b-8. Watch a video about the plant and fundraising efforts here.
WINDWALKERTM garnet penstemon (Penstemon x mexicali) is the fifth new Mexican/American hybrid penstemon introduced through Plant Select®. Ruby-red or garnet-colored tubular flowers with striped throats nearly all summer long. Narrow, glossy green leaves form an attractive mound. This selection was developed by Kelly Grummons and grows 15 inches tall by 12-15 inches wide in full sun to part shade with moderate water. Hardy to USDA zones 4b-8.
Autumn Amber sumac (Rhus trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’) is an ideal ground cover shrub for terraced walls, large open areas and dry shrub areas. It is graceful and delicate-looking, yet tough enough to be used in harsh planting sites. This low-growing selection of native three-leaf sumac was developed at the Los Lunas USDA-NRCS center, New Mexico. Summer leaves glossy, bright green; fall color is amber to reddish. Grows 6-18 inches tall by 6-8 feet wide in full sun. Requires little to no additional moisture once established. Hardy to USDA zones 4-8.
Smoky Hills skullcap (Scutelliaria resinosa ‘Smoky Hills’) forms tidy mounds of greenish-grey leaves covered with bright purple-blue flowers tipped with white during early summer. Thrives in hot, sunny locations with well-drained soil. This durable shortgrass prairie native was named for the Smoky Hills of north central Kansas where it was first collected and was originally introduced by Great Plants™ in 2004. Plants grow 8-10 inches tall and 10-14 inches wide. Hardy to USDA zones 4-9.
Golden flowered prairie zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora ‘Gold on Blue’) is an outstanding selection of native prairie zinnia chosen for its vigor, blue-green foliage and large golden flowers. Excellent choice for hot, dry sites; thrives in all soil types, even dry clay. Recommended for slopes, along driveways and other places where it can spread as a large scale groundcover. Developed by David Salman, it grows 8-10 inches tall and spreads more than 18 inches. Hardy to USDA zones 4-8.
The Plant Select® Petites program debuts noteworthy, well-adapted, unusual plants of smaller stature that have not yet been readily available or known to gardeners. The program also promotes innovative ways to plant and enjoy these treasures in garden situations where small gem-like but tough plants are best suited: troughs, permanent containers, rock gardens, patio gardens, fairy gardens, green roofs, and smaller gardens. Three plants are being promoted for 2014.
A low-growing diminutive perennial, Dalmatian pink cranesbill (Geranium dalmaticum) is covered with clear pink flowers in late spring to early summer. Daintily cleft, aromatic leaves are glossy green all season long turning red in fall and on into early winter before drying and dropping. Grows 4-6 inches tall by 10-15 inches wide in full sun to part shade. Hardy to USDA zones 5-7.
Dwarf beach-head iris (Iris hookeri) forms a compact, tidy clump with attractive green foliage framing large, porcelain-blue flowers in late spring and early summer. It is one of North America’s most beautiful native irises, and provides excellent foliage and textural accent for small gardens. Grows 8-12 inches tall and wide. Hardy to USDA zones 3-8.
Dwarf forms of native piñon pine (Pinus edulis) that grow extremely slowly, forming tight mounds over many years. Extremely drought-tolerant dwarf conifer, adapting well to harsh conditions. Excellent evergreen choice for small space gardening. Selected by Jerry Morris, Denver. Plants grow 1-3 inches tall and wide each year (20-30 inches in 10 years). Hardy to USDA zones 4-7.