The best new perennial flowers of 2023
Dark-leaved astilbe with purple flowers, and red-flowered delphinium, a native alternative to salvia and lavender, top the list of interesting new perennials making their debut in the 2023 growing season.
Growers, local garden centers and other plant experts selected the following 14 options for January’s four-part Best New Plants series.
The article on the best new flowers of 2023 appeared on January 5, while the annual best new flowers list was published last Thursday, January 12. The series concludes next Thursday, January 26, with a look at the world’s best new trees and shrubs. 2023.
The following new perennial flowers are available online and in some plant catalogs and will begin appearing in local garden centers in April.
Coneflower Artisan Yellow Ombre
This compact, disease-resistant, golden-yellow coneflower is the new favorite perennial of 2023 for Penn State Floral Trials Director Sinclair Adam.
Adam says Artisan Yellow Ombre blooms from June to September on plants grown only 10 inches tall in the Pennsylvania trials — much shorter than the expected height of 24 inches.
“The beautiful yellow color is a nice new addition to the Artisan Series,” he says, adding that all of the Artisan Collection coneflowers have scored very well in the Pennsylvania State Trials.
Yellow Ombre was also a strong enough performer at the National Trials where he won the 2023 All-America Selections in the Southeast and Northwest regions.
I tested two Yellow Ombres varieties last summer and also found one variety with large, vibrant flowers on short, stocky plants that were untouched by the resident deer.
Being a native species, this plant is also attractive to birds and butterflies. It does best in full sun and is very hardy once established.
Astilbe “The Dark Side of the Moon”
Dark-leafed astilbe breeders will love these new shade-tolerant perennials that are the first dark-leafed astilbe on the market with purple flowers.
Its leaves appear yellow with dark glossy edges, then turn to a uniform, dark chocolate/burgundy color, says Nicole Honhurst, spokeswoman for Michigan-based Walters Gardens, which offers the plant under the “Dark Side of the Moon” umbrella. Proven winning brand.
Honhurst named it her favorite new perennial of 2023. The variety also received the 2023 National Garden Bureau Green Thumb Award as New Perennial of the Year.
‘Dark Side of the Moon’ grows 20 to 22 inches tall, including pink-purple flower spikes in late summer. It will do well in shade or partial shade and even full sun if the soil remains moist.
‘Burgundy Mist’ is another new dark-leafed plant that Brian Benner, president of permaculture at Quality Greenhouses Wholesale near Dillsburg, considers his favorite new perennial for 2023.
Penner loves how the burgundy foliage contrasts with the yellow, star-shaped flowers. “Burgundy Haze,” he says, grows quickly and densely to form a colorful ground cover choked with weeds. It indicates that it is an original form of looseness (Lysimachia lanceolata) This is attractive to native bees.
‘Burgundy Mist’ has spear-like leaves, grows about 20 to 24 inches tall, and is resistant to heat, drought and deer. The flowers bloom in July and continue throughout the summer.
Delphinium ‘Red Lark’
Delphiniums are among the showiest of perennials with their huge blue or purple flowers, but the new coral-red blooms of ‘Red Lark’ caught the attention of Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses nursery manager Brandon Kuykendall at the 2022 Ohio Plant Industry Cultivate Show.
Kuykendall rates Red Lark as his favorite new perennial for 2023, not only because of its striking color but because it “doesn’t need to be staked and can get some repeat blooms if deadheaded.”
This new Darwin perennial blooms from late spring to summer, ideally in full sun, and makes an excellent cut flower. Including flower spikes, the plant is about four feet tall.
Kuykendall isn’t the only one who has noticed “Red Lark.” This variety turned enough other heads at the AmericanHort Cultivate Show last summer that it won the 2022 Retailer’s Choice Award as Best New Perennial with the potential to become a best-seller at the garden center.
hood (Scutellaria) “Appalachian Blues Music”
Here’s a new, bee-favorite hybrid natural perennial that will give gardeners a native alternative to sage and lavender, according to North Creek Nurseries, the Chester County grower offering ‘Appalachian Blues’ bonnet.
“The leaf edges are eggplant-purple and the flowers are similar to blue sage,” says Angela Treadwell Palmer, co-owner of plant-introduction company Plants Nouveau, who lists ‘Appalachian Blues’ as her favorite new perennial for 2023. “she is really beautiful.”
The flowers are a two-tone mix of blue and white and have black bases (calyxes), says Treadwell Palmer.
It is also a compact and difficult-to-dry plant, growing to 2 feet tall in sun or shade.
Salvia Blue by you
Another new drought-tolerant, bee-friendly perennial is Salvia Blue Bay You, a purple sun lover that was the only new perennial good enough to receive a 2023 National-America Selections award.
AAS judges said Blue by You stood out for its large purple flowers and early flowering time – two weeks earlier than most sagebrush plants that bloom in mid-May.
If you kill off the spent flowers, you will get a repeat bloom or two of this variety as well.
The Blue by You is about 22 inches long and is a good choice where deer or rabbits lurk.
Goldblitz is a densely flowered, black-eyed new Susan with an unusually long flowering period.
The plant begins blooming earlier than most other black-eyed Susans and retains its color until fall, says Katie Rotella, spokeswoman for Ball Horticulture Co., which offers Goldblitz in its Kieft Seed line.
As a native prairie plant, goldblitz is also “a great food source for bees, migratory birds and butterflies in the late season or early winter,” she adds.
Plants grow 24 to 28 inches tall and thrive best in full sun.
Agastache “Pink Pearl”
Another new perennial pollinator that blooms almost all season long is this pink-flowered version from the western United States.
It produces spikes of light pink, two-colored flowers that first bloom in late spring and remain showy until frost, says Katie Tamone, chief marketing officer at Monrovia Nurseries, which offers this variety.
Tamone calls ‘Pink Pearl’ a “powerful pollinator” that attracts bees, butterflies, and especially hummingbirds, and adds that it’s her favorite new perennial for 2023.
“It’s covered in flowers,” she says. “No photo can do it justice.”
‘Pink Pearl’ grows 16 inches tall, flowers best in full sun, and is deer resistant.
Lungweed (pulmonary) “Silver Sword”
The showy two-tone flowers and silvery foliage combine to make this shade-tolerant perennial the new favorite perennial of 2023 for Terra Nova Nurseries owner Dan Heims.
‘Silver Sword’ “reproduces quickly, is exceptionally large, and is very easy to grow,” Hymes says.
He particularly likes the plant’s wavy-edged, belt-like leaves that are almost pure silver and its pink-purple flowers, which appear in April and May.
The plants grow about eight inches tall and the flowers reach another nine inches. It grows best in shade or part sun and is deer resistant.
Prunera “Queen of Hearts”
If you like silver-leafed plants, another new beauty of shade is the proven winners introduction that has done well in trials at Penn State Trial Gardens in Lancaster County.
‘Queen of Hearts’ has the same attractive, silvery, heart-shaped leaves and non-like-me blue spring flowers as ‘Looking Glass’, ‘Sea Heart’ and other cultivars out there, but it does better in the heat. – And disease resistance.
It is also a deer and rabbit resistant plant.
‘Queen of Hearts’ grows 16 to 18 inches tall and prefers growing in shade to part sun.
Mint purple introduction
A new plant I tested last summer and liked is the new Prelude Purple mint from Darwin Perennials, which differs in its deep purple flowers rather than the traditional blue to blue-violet flowers of other mints.
Prelude Purple has bloomed for me almost all summer with tubular purple flowers nicely set above clumps of green foliage.
Like all cat species, this one appears to be heat- and drought-resistant, deer-resistant, and attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Plants grow about 30 inches tall and do best in full sun.
Little blue plants – the bright star and the “chameleon”
Lower Paxton Twp. Gardener David Wilson loves these two new varieties of our native little blue grass.
“Shining Star” and “Chameleon” are similar in some ways… “hardy, hardy, easy-to-grow varieties of native grass that are often left untouched by deer,” says Wilson, director of marketing for Overdevest Nurseries.
Both also take on attractive foliage shades of pink and purple, are hardy once established, and do well in poor, poor soil, he adds.
The differences are that Shining Star is “more vigorous and fuller-grown with creamy yellow colouration, while ‘Chameleon’ is more compact with white and bright green leaves,” Wilson adds. “Both deserve to be grown in our gardens.”
With seed stalks, plants grow about 30 inches tall and do best in full sun.
Fountain Weed “Water to Wine”
This new ornamental grass from Must Have Perennials features bottlebrush flowers that appear black, then turn cinnamon and finally turn brown as the season progresses.
“Water for Wine” is a winter- and drought-tolerant fountain grass (Penisetum) has bright green leaves and is usually dense and compact. In fall, the foliage takes on red and purple tones.
Including the flower stems/seeds, “Water to Wine” is approximately three feet tall. It does best in full sun to light shade.
- Read George’s post about the best new perennial flowers of 2022