New plants for 2010

Garden Making

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‘Pretty much Picasso’ petunia

Eagerly anticipated by gardeners are the new plants that nurseries, seed companies and breeders roll out every year. It could be a new colour, a novel variation, or increased pest or disease tolerance in one of their old favourites that piques their interest. Here are a few of the new annuals, herbs, perennials and shrubs available this spring that came to our attention or performed well at the Guelph and Milton trial gardens in Ontario.

Note: Dimensions are approximate and given as height x width. Plants that can be grown from seed are identified.

Annuals and tender perennials

    • ‘Versa Burgundy to Green’ coleus24 x 18 in. (60 x 45 cm) — This is the best of the bunch in the Versa Series, according to Roger Tschanz, University of Guelph trial garden manager. Burgundy leaves with lime-green patches; does well in full sun or shade. Late blooming, which is a plus for gardeners who dislike coleus flowers. Seed.
    • ‘Henna’ coleus20 x 15 in. (50 x 38 cm) — Introduced last year, ‘Henna’ sold out quickly, which means this may be the first year it will be available for many. Non-blooming plants feature chartreuse- to copper-coloured leaves that are deeply toothed and ruffled. Full sun or shade.
    • ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ petuniaTrailing habit — Proven Winners describes the petals on ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ as soft violet with a chartreuse edge and deep violet throat. The unique colouring will definitely appeal to gardeners looking for a novelty. Tschanz found it to have a strong trailing habit and a more subtle appearance when viewed from a distance. Sun.
    • ‘Shock Wave Denim’ petunia8 x 30 in. (18 x 75 cm) — Rain can often mar the blooms on older petunia varieties, but the ‘Shockwave Denim’ specimens in the trial garden at Guelph fared well in the wet 2009 season. Soft blue blooms are petite but profuse on spreading plants. Sun; seed.
    • Rudbeckia ‘Denver Daisy’ — 20 x 12 in. (50 x 30 cm) — ‘Denver Daisy’ has larger flowers than ‘Tiger Eye Gold’, but was slightly less mildew resistant in Guelph’s trial garden, according to Tschanz. Large gold blooms have dark reddish-brown rings around the central cone. The name commemorates the 150th anniversary of Denver, Colorado. Sun; seed.
    • ‘Fandango Purple Picotee’ dianthus — 18 x 18 in. (45 x 45 cm) — Fragrant flowers with deep purple pattern against a soft purple background; suitable for cutting. Long blooming in Tschanz’s trials; may overwinter as a perennial. Sun; seed.
    • Whisper Series nicotiana — 40 x 18 in. (1 m x 45 cm) — The attractive fragrant blooms in a mix of white, pink and rose attracted a lot of attention from visitors in the trial garden, according to Tschanz. Sun to partial shade; seed.
    • Snow Princess lobularia hybrid — Trailing plant — This is not your mother’s sweet alyssum. ‘Snow Princess’ is a mounding alyssum that can hold its own in a hanging basket with vigorous petunias. Several plants in one basket will grow into a hefty sphere of fragrant white blooms. According to Tschanz, it doesn’t appear to set seed, which contributes to its extended bloom time. “Snow Princess didn’t receive many visitor votes,” he says, “but everyone who grows it is excited about it.” Sun to partial shade.
    • ‘Fandango Purple Picotee’ dianthus — 18 x 18 in. (45 x 45 cm) — Fragrant flowers with deep purple pattern against a soft purple background; suitable for cutting. Long blooming in Tschanz’s trials; may overwinter as a perennial. Sun; seed.
    • ‘Profusion Double Fire’ zinnia — 12 x 15 in. (30 x 38 cm) — A visitor favourite, Tschanz says. Dense, bushy plants produced many deep gold-range double flowers. Sun; seed.
    • ‘Zahara Fire’ zinnia — 15 x 15 in. (38 x 38 cm) — “A stunning colour,” says Tschanz. He found ‘Zahara Fire’ similar to the zinnias in the Profusion Series, but more resistant to powdery mildew. Sun; seed.
  • King Tut papyrus — 6 ft. x 36 in. (1.8 m x 90 cm) — King Tut is a papyrus that does well in a bed or border with normal moisture—a pond location isn’t necessary. “It looked elegant in our trial garden,” Tschanz says. If growing in a container, he recommends watering every day. Baby Tut, a variety of umbrella grass (Cyperus involucratus), is shorter (24 in./60 cm), more mounded and has broader leaves at the top. Both are tender perennials. Sun for both.
  • ‘Fireworks’ gomphrena — 36 x 36 in. (90 x 90 cm) — This is a well-branched gomphrena that works well in the landscape or as a cut flower. Hot pink, one-inch (2.5-cm) round flower heads are tipped with bright yellow. Sun; seed.
  • Rudbeckia ‘Tiger Eye Gold’ — 20 x 20 in. (50 x 50 cm) — The trial garden plants bloomed throughout the season and were resistant to powdery mildew, Tschanz says. Rudbeckias attract pollinators, another plus. Gold, semi-double blooms on compact plants make it also suitable for containers. Although ‘Tiger Eye Gold’ is a hybrid of R. hirta, a Zone 5 perennial, Tschanz says it’s too early to predict its winter hardiness. Sun; seed.


  • ‘Aristotle’ basil — 12 x 15 in. (30 x 38 cm) — A new basil with tidy, dense mounds of tiny fragrant leaves; highly ornamental and ideal for containers. Sun; seed.


    • ‘Mystery Tour’ peony— 26 x 30 in. (66 x 75 cm) — ‘Mystery Tour’ is an Itoh peony, a cross between a herbaceous peony and a tree peony. Semi to double blooms open creamy yellow with a flush of lilac-pink, aging to white with a pink edge. Valleybrook Garden describes ‘Mystery Tour’ as easy to grow and very hardy. Mild fragrance. Sun; Zone 3.
    • Coreopsis verticillata ‘Route 66’ — 24 x 24 in. (60 x 60 cm) — ‘Route 66’ is a thread-leaved coreopsis featuring two-inch (5-cm) bright yellow flowers with blood-red centres. The red centres infuse the flowers so that no two are alike, says Dugald Cameron of Gardenimport in Richmond Hill, Ont. Toward fall, blooms are predominately red. The plant is named after the highway immortalized in the song, which that runs by the Pennsylvania nursery where it was discovered. Sun; Zone 5.
    • ‘Hot Papaya’ echinacea — 30 x 24 in. (75 x 60 cm) — The first orange double echinacea has drooping orange ray petals with a deep papaya-coloured pom-pom in the centre. Like other coneflowers, ‘Hot Papaya’ is drought tolerant and makes a good cut flower. Sun; Zone 4.
    • ‘Chocolate Drop’ sedum — 10 x 20 in. (15 x 50 cm) — Small mounds of dark brown, lightly scalloped leaves topped with pink flowers in summer. Sun; Zone 4.
    • Campanula punctata ‘Viking’ — 18 x 24 in. (45 x 60 cm) — Purple torpedo-shaped buds open to lightly scented two-inch (5-cm) lilac-purple bells. Dugald Cameron of Gardenimport in Richmond Hill, Ont., says unlike most C. punctata, this floriferous ‘Viking’ is sterile and makes civilized clumps, rather than rampaging through borders like many members of this aggressive family. Attracts hummingbirds. Sun to part shade. Zone 3.
  • ‘Lime Marmalade’ heuchera10 x 18 in. (25 x 45 cm) — Lobed, ruffled leaves remain chartreuse all season. Tall stems with small brown flowers appear in early summer. This heuchera is a sport of ‘Marmalade’ and grows slightly larger than ‘Lime Rickey’. Shade to part sun; Zone 4.
  • ‘Banana Cream’ shasta daisy (Leucanthemum superbum ‘Banana Cream’) 15 x 18 in. (38 x 45 cm) — Four-inch (10-cm) wide, lemon-yellow blooms that mature to a light yellow, fading to creamy white. A second row of ray petals makes the flowers appear fuller. Plants bloom all summer long, according to Valleybrook Gardens, a perennial wholesaler and grower in Ontario and British Columbia. Sun; Zone 5.
  • ‘Diamonds Blue’ delphinium20 x 12 in. (50 x 30 cm) — Spurless, upward-facing true blue flowers are the attraction of this D. chinensis cultivar. Tschanz reports that ‘Diamonds Blue’ bloomed repeatedly in the trial garden. Sun; seed.
  • Monarda didyma ‘Purple Rooster’ — 36 x 26 in. (90 x 66 cm) — Tall and proud, ‘Purple Rooster’ sports large, royal purple flowers for most of the summer on clean, mildew resistant plants that never need staking, according to Cameron. Sun; Zone 4.


  • Cercis canadensis ‘Ace of Hearts’About 15 feet (4.5 m) — A more compact redbud cultivar that’s perfect for small gardens, according to Canadale Nurseries Ltd. in St. Thomas, Ont. Sun to part shade; Zone 5.
  • Sugartina clethra30 x 30 in (75 x 75 cm) — A compact, dark green mound of foliage covered with fragrant white candle-like blooms in late summer. “Thanks to her compact habit, Sugartina needs little pruning,” Cameron says. Popular with butterflies. Sun to part shade; Zone 5.
  • Snow Day pearl bush (Exochorda ‘Niagara’)3 x 4 ft. (90 x 120 cm) — Dugald Cameron of Gardenimport in Thornhill, Ont., says Snow Day will thrill gardeners with a fountain of snow-white flowers in early summer. The cross between E. x macrantha ‘The Bride’ and E. racemosa produces more flowers and has a more upright habit than its parents. Full sun to partial shade; Zone 5.
  • ‘Dart’s Little Dot’ hydrangea4 x 4 ft. (120 x 120 cm) — This compact peegee hydrangea has small white plumes that fade to pink, according to Canadale Nurseries. Sun to part shade; Zone 4.
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5 thoughts on “New plants for 2010”

  1. To Jodi, Oct. 10

    Hello Jodi,

    Yes, some petunias are strongly perfumed! I had a look at the Proven Winners web page for Supertunia Pretty Much Picasso and they don't mention a word about fragrance. But of course the flowers do have varying degrees of scent, although this seems unpredictable, and that's possibly why Proven Winners doean't address the issue. You might have noticed other scented flowers (like mignonette and nicotiana) release their scent at particular times of the day or night, usually in response to environmental factors. Certain combinations of temperature, humidity and light trigger the petals to release their perfume; and that, in turn, is often timed to provide an invitation to pollinators out and about in those hours. Your garden's micro-climate, working in concert with seasonal weather conditions, will influence when floral scents are released, and in what concentration. (It's possible that another gardener only a mile away could have a different experience with the same petunia.) After two years of trial, you can say that the scent of Pretty Much Picasso is certainly changed and deepened in cool and damp Maritime conditions. I think you're growing efforts and conclusions are valuable for other petunia growers to know — thanks for sharing!

  2. For two summers, I've had 'Pretty Much Picasso' plants to trial, courtesy of Proven Winners. Both years, it has been a dismal failure. Callibrachoas, nicotianas, and other solanaceous plants do well here, but I don't normally bother with petunias because they are messy, smelly, and they don't seem to care for my Fundy fog, cool temperatures, and wind. In talking with other friends trialing this plant elsewhere in North America, I'm hearing much the same report–the plants do well for a while, and then melt down. I was disappointed as I wanted to really like this petunia, but not all plants do well for everyone. Other Proven Winner annuals and shrubs have done beautifully.

  3. I grew "Pretty much Picasso" and it has done quite well for me. I actually had poor drainage in one pot so uprooted it and replanted it and it never looked back, it's flowered non-stop. To be honest I haven't noticed any fragrance or smell at all.

  4. About the e-mail I just posted – the stinky Petunia is called "Pretty Much Picasso", NOT 'Almost Picasso'.

    My apologies.

    M. Kreitzler

  5. Petunia 'Almost Picasso'

    We grew several of them in a window box. They looked lovely. Then we discovered the 'fragrance'. It was bad, very bad. You cold smell it on the road which is about 35 to 40 feet from our house. Our neighbours wondered what the smell was.

    No matter how lovely – it wound up as compost. Too bad, really.



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