As I look out the window while writing this the snow is continuing to fall. While it may be cold and blustery outside it still is never too early to plan which new plants that you would like to add to you landscape this year.

Just imagine that once spring starts and you take that first step into the greenhouses and experience what many consider plant overload. It can be overwhelming when you have so many beautiful plants before your eyes. I tend to be a plant hoarder and tend to buy one of everything. I consider it like a plant trialing system, only I never get paid for it. However, I feel that the beauty of being able to walk outside and seeing so many great plants blooming is payment enough.

Luckily plant breeders introduce a plethora of new plants each year. 2019 has some neat plants that are going to be finding a place in my garden. I figured that there should be plenty to go around and that I can tell you all about them, so that you can start trying now to find a spot for them at your house too. I tend to like bright plants and ones that are truly eye catching.

My all-time favorite plant this year is the “Shimmerific Holy Grail” Rose Mallow Hibiscus. Not only does it have a cool name, but it looks amazing. It has dark burgundy leaves with bright fire engine red flowers. It stands between 48-54” and is sure to standout in your garden.

Other beauties new this year that are noteworthy are the “Violet Profusion” salvia which leans more toward a blue hued side of violet. Size-wise it comes in around 14-16” tall. If you have ever grown Salvia, you already are familiar with how hardy of a plant species they are. This one is no exception.

Another tough plant species is Catmint-Nepeta. One of the new varieties this year is named “Cats Pajamas,” which is worth buying for the name alone. All catmints seem to be attractive to cats of course — catnip is right there in the same family, which is a bonus if you have felines in your life. “Cats Pajamas” measures in at 10-14” and is heat tolerant as well as drought tolerant. So, no worries about thinking that you must baby your plants during the summer, at least not this one.

Both Salvia and Catmint benefit from a good pruning after each round of flowering to keep them blooming their best. If you choose not to prune them back, they will still bloom just less sporadic than the first time.

Monardas are always a favorite of mine as well. Commonly known as Bee Balm, they attract an array of pollinators including hummingbirds. This year “Leading Lady Orchid” may just outshine all prior Bee Balms. This is more of a two-tone pink variety that is a dwarf version ranging from 10-14” in height which is much shorter than the standard varieties. I have a feeling I will be adding multiples of these into my flowerbeds.

If you are looking for something that is sure to be all the rage in gardening this year, look no further than the newest Baptisia False Indigo that is on the market. “Decadence Dark Chocolate” is the darkest burgundy that you can imagine. It seriously looks the color of chocolate. These plants will stand around 36-42” and will be great in the back of a border where they will still more than show up. False Indigo is another resilient plant that thrives in poor soil and is about as low maintenance as a plant can get, all the while looking beautiful still.

If you have more shade than sun in your landscape, there are a bunch of new Hostas as there are every year. My favorite introduction this year is the “Wu-la-La” variety. Years ago, I fell in love with “Empress Wu” which is an extra large Hosta that has grown better than I would have ever imagined. “Wu-La-La” is a variety like “Empress Wu” and grows 36-48” tall, and that is just the leaf height. The flower stalks reach even higher. This variety is a beautiful blue/ green and like most large varieties takes around 5 years to fully mature. Be sure to leave some space around it for it to grow full size without being crowded.

Now you know my top picks, but there are hundreds of new introductions each year. My best advice would be to figure out where you have space and how much space before heading to the garden shops. And do your best to be realistic about it. If you run out of space in an existing bed, see if you have space to extend that area or create an entirely new bed. The latter is my favorite, but if you choose this, be sure to plot carefully so that you don’t add hours onto your mowing time each week.


Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at

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