Some "new" plant ideas for the new year

A new year... a new planting season just ahead... and some new plant ideas to bestow a fresh new look to your landscape.
At this time of year, we find ourselves seeking out things that are new and different. Several readers have contacted me at and asked for plant suggestions that are a little out of the ordinary. Today, I'll include a few of the suggestions that I sent to those readers.
What is "new and different" to one person is "been there, planted that" to another, but I hope that one or two of these will turn on a cartoon light bulb over your head!
Tennessee White Iris This is quite an unusual plant. It is an almost iridescent white crested Iris that was discovered in a patch of regular Iris cristata Alba and singled out for cultivation. The Tennessee White has a fast growth rate, is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and can be planted in full sun, partial sun or shade.
When planting, bear in mind the scale of surrounding plants as the Tennessee White Iris will only reach a height of 10" to 12" with a spread of about 12" at maturity. At the end of the season, you can take them up and divide them for a larger display next season. They are not easy to find but well worth the effort if you want something unusual and quite spectacular. Send me an e-mail if you need some shopping information.
Pink Weigela If you like the sight (and sound) of hummingbirds, the Pink Weigela acts like a hummingbird magnet when in full bloom. This is certainly not a "new" flowering shrub, but is being re-discovered by landscapers in many parts of the country. Cheryl and I have planted several and they are consistently covered in blooms through the spring and even re-bloom in the summer.
Leave them alone and they can reach 10 ft high and spread to 10 ft wide. However, when kept trimmed, a row of Pink Weigela make a delightfully colorful privacy hedge. They're quite fast growing and do fine in zones 3 to 9 in full or partial sun or shade.
Fothergilla Plant Fothergilla Hamamelidaceae and you'll have an interesting reminder of early American history. This shrub was named after Dr. John Fothergill, a friend of Benjamin Franklin and a supporter of the Colonial cause in England in the 18th century where he specialized in growing American plants.
When in bloom, the Fothergilla's dense, spiky white stamens resemble a bottle brush. In spring, the foliage ranges from blue-green to deep green and in fall, you're treated to colors that range from yellow to orange to scarlet.
The Fothergilla is best suited to zones 4 - 8 and prefers acid, well-drained, moist soil. At maturity, you'll see heights ranging from 3 ft to 6 ft.
Eldarica Pine I am often asked about trees that are suitable for screening, so here's one you might consider. The Eldarica matures to that familiar "Christmas tree" conical shape and can reach heights of 25 ft to 50 ft or more, with a spread of 25 ft to 40 ft.
It has a pleasant, fresh fragrance and is tolerant of marginal soils and tough climates in zones 3 to 9. It will do fine in hot, dry climates as well as colder climates and is drought, heat and wind tolerant once established.
Arizona Cypress And lastly, a tree that would be better planted in the Southwest, as the name implies. This fairly fast-growing cypress will top out at around 35 ft with a spread up to 20 ft and displays dense sprays of bright blue-green foliage. This tree is ideal for planting in zones 7, 8 and 9 where it will tolerate hot, dry conditions.
So there you have it. A few suggestions, some of which might be familiar and some might be new to you. As always, I'm happy to provide more information or maybe come up with some specific recommendations that suit your particular needs when you send me an e-mail.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to For resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, go to

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