A new year has arrived which means its time for new plants. Since the new year arrives in the coldest part of the year many of us aren’t able to get into the garden and plant right away. Therefore, we have to daydream, plot and plan for warmer days in the garden.
Dream with me a little about the sun, smell of earth, getting your hands in the dirt and new textures and colors in the garden. Even if the view outside is grey and cold fill your thoughts with plans for 2020 with this list of top 20 bulbs and perennials to plant.
This full sun perennial is easy to grow and will attract loads of butterflies to your yard. Planting just 1 butterfly weed on your property is beneficial to pollinators seeking host plants. The bright orange flowers appear in early summer with vigor. Throughout the season Butterfly Weed will continue to flower sporadically. When planting butterfly weed from a bare root please note they can be a bit slow to sprout. Therefore patience is the key when growing butterfly weed from a root, it can take up to 4-6 weeks before you see growth.
I adore green flowers and green gardens. Pineapple lily is a unique flower bulb with green flowers that resemble the shape of a pineapple. Pineapple lily is another easy to grow flower which in my eyes is always a bonus. These sun-loving flower bulbs will begin to bloom mid-summer and maintain a flowering appearance for weeks after the initial flowers fade. Pineapple lilies grow especially well in containers. The ability to grow pineapple lilies in containers makes them a versatile choice for most gardeners.
This fiery red perennial loves the sun and is drought tolerant. You may be familiar with bee balm as it is a popular perennial that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Some varieties of bee balm have a tendency to grow tall and lanky. Fireball Bee Balm is a compact variety only growing 12-18″ tall that stays neat and tidy in the garden. This hardy perennial looks best planted in groups of 3 or 5 planted with other bright and bold perennials such as Black-Eyed Susan and Autumn Joy Sedum.
Soulmate Swamp Milkweed is a relative of the Butterfly Weed; both perennials are from the genus Asclepias. However, they are different species that account for some of the differences between butterfly weed and milkweed. Soulmate Swamp Milkweed, like Butterfly Weed will attract loads of butterflies to your garden. It is also a host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars. The clusters of rosy pink blooms have a vanilla fragrance in early summer. You can never have too many butterflies or plants that attract and feed them. Therefore, both Butterfly Weed and Swamp Milkweed have a welcome place in any sunny garden location.
You may or may not know this but I am a huge fan of begonias. Each summer I always end up with at least 1 planter displaying beautiful begonia blooms. Typically the hardest decision for me when it comes to begonias is trying to decide which begonia I want to plant in my hanging baskets or big patio planter. In 2019 I had red begonias in my planters. For 2020 I am going to go with the Apricot and Scarlet Picotee Begonias. The depth of these begonia blooms with the red edges against the apricot flowers is impressive. Plant 3-5 Apricot & Scarlet Picotee Begonias alone in a planter or basket for a dramatic display. You can also combine these begonias with red, orange, yellow or purple blooms for a dynamic display of flowers.
Clematis vines are some of the showiest climbing plants. Clematis are known for their large blooms in shades of deep pink, purple and red. The blooms can also be light colors such as periwinkle, pale pink and even two-toned. Violet Stargazer has deep purple blooms similar to the popular Jackmanii Clematis, but the centers are a bright white color similar to a shining star. The best part about Violet Stargazer Clematis is the long bloom time which begins in June and ends in September. Violet Stargazer Cleamatis should be pruned to the ground in early spring before growth starts to emerge. Pruning in early spring will produce the best blooms and most vigorous vine.
It was the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year, and for good reason. Millennium Allium has many great qualities from the showy purple blooms to the compact habit. Unlike most allium bulbs that you plant in the fall, Millennium Allium is grown from roots. The long bloom time is another appealing feature of this easy to grow perennial. If rabbits or deer like to feast on your garden, you’re in luck since this hardy perennial is deer and rabbit resistant. With the ease of growing, long bloom time, compact 15-20″ height, it is no wonder this perennial claimed the title of Perennial Plant of the Year.
Peonies are a classic garden favorite known for their longevity in the garden. Popular colors of peony seen in gardens are pink, white and magenta, but true red peony blooms are not as common. Charles Burgess Peony is one of my favorite’s this year with its true red blooms. The compact habit of Charles Burgess Peony, only growing to 3′ tall makes it a great choice for garden borders, and perennial gardens.
Curcuma bulbs are a relatively new flower to the United States. These tropical bulbs are native to Southern Asia and are just starting to become popular in US gardens. Curcuma is a relative of the ginger plant and related to the popular superfood turmeric. You won’t be growing these bulbs for their health benefits though as they are best known for their long bloom time and showy flowers. Holland Bulb Farms offers 4 varieties of Curcuma bulbs for spring planting. Banrai Red Curcuma is my favorite of the 4 offerings as I like the deep blooms that have a glowing appearance. No matter which Curcuma you like best they should be planted in a warm and sunny area in a planting bed or border. They can also be planted in a container, making them a versatile choice for any garden location.
I have been a fan of Rose Turtlehead since the first time I saw them blooming in a garden center many years ago. The leaves are a rich green with a clean appearance to them. The blooms are a true pink which resembles the shape of a turtle head. Even though I am a big fan of turtles the turtle-shaped flowers aren’t my favorite part of the blooms, it’s the time of year that they bloom which I like best. Turtlehead is one of the last perennials to bloom in my garden. They begin flowering in late August to mid-September which is a time when not a lot of flowers are blooming. Turtlehead like moist soil. They will let you know if they are thirsty in summer as they tend to get a bit droopy. If you have a low spot in your garden where water gathers turtlehead is an excellent choice for this area.
Hostas are one of the best plants for shade. With their ease of growing and the hundreds of varieties to choose from it seems as if there is no end to how many hostas you can have in your garden. Big Daddy Hosta is a popular variety that has been on the garden scene for quite a while. It has held up its reputation is a strong grower when it comes to the larger varieties of hosta. The large blue leaves of Big Daddy Hosta are appealing in the shade garden to add texture. When fully grown Big Daddy Hosta will be approximately 2′ tall with a similar spread. Planting hosta that grows this large helps to fill in the shaded spots in your garden.
Calla Lilies are popular cut flowers for arrangements and vases. The calla lily I am most looking forward to seeing bloom in 2020 is Picasso Calla Lily. The two-toned white with purple blooms is exquisite. Planted with other white and purple flowers Picasso Calla Lily is a unique mid-summer flower to plant if you like vases of beautiful flowers in your home.
So many dahlias to choose from! It was hard to pick one–which I do have another dahlia on this list because there are so many beautiful choices. I like the Midnight Party Blend Dahlias because I know I will get a range of purple dahlia blooms in different colors and flower sizes. Since purple is my favorite color I know I won’t be disappointed with the variety of colors when this blend starts blooming.
Gladiolus are known for being popular cut flowers in arrangements on occasions like weddings and funerals. Charming Beauty Miniature Gladiolus is a bit different than the traditional gladiolus flowers you may be familiar with. Although, Charming Beauty does still make a great flower to be used in cut flower arrangements. My favorite part about Charming Beauty Miniature Gladiolus are the true pink blooms that really pop in the garden. The short stature of miniature gladiolus is popular as they don’t require staking like traditional taller gladiolus varieties do.
For my 2020 Garden Resolutions, I decided that planting more greenery like ferns was at the top of my list. Ferns thrive in moist and shaded environments. Adding ferns to your shady garden areas is beneficial to add texture to your garden beds. Lady Fern has a fine texture that looks great planted with other shade-loving perennials like hosta and bleeding hearts. Lady Ferns tolerate sun better than other ferns, which means they will do well in a partially shaded location as well as a full shade location.
Alexander’s Great Brunnera is another perennial that thrives in low light areas and would look nice with the Lady Ferns mentioned above. Brunnera plants produce small light blue flowers in spring. However, they are typically grown for their showy foliage. Alexander’s Great Brunnera has large leaves with silver foliage that is accented by green leaf veins. This deer-resistant perennial thrives in shade to part sun and is one of the best perennials for dry shade.
Yes, I mentioned how difficult it was to choose a dahlia that is my favorite for 2020 earlier, so I decided to pick two dahlias for this list. Fleurel Dahlia is a longtime garden favorite known for its huge blooms. This dinner plate dahlia should be planted in every dahlia lover’s garden as the large white blooms help to balance the more colorful varieties in their garden.
Even the name of this lily is beautiful. Anastasia Orienpet Lily is a hybrid lily that is a cross between a trumpet lily and oriental lily. Anastasia Orienpet Lily has large, showy, and fragrant pink blooms. Not only are the blooms showy the whole plant itself makes a statement reaching heights of up to 6′ when grown in the right conditions. If you need some height in the back of your perennial beds consider adding the Anastasia Lily for a dramatic display.
Itoh Hybrid Peonies are a newer plant to me and I am excited for the future developments in these hybrid peonies. For now, my favorite Itoh hybrid peony is the Cora Louise Itoh Hybrid and I hope one of my friends with a sunnier location will plant some. My favorite feature of Cora Louise Peony is the bloom color. The soft pink blooms really stand out with the deep purple centers they have. Itoh hybrids have sturdy stems that don’t require staking, which is another bonus to Cora Louis Itoh Hybrid Peony.
Most daylilies bloom for about a week in mid-summer and are done until the next season. Early Bird Cardinal Re-Blooming Daylily will bloom in profusion mid-summer and then continue blooming until late summer. The blooms are a lovely coral color that exemplifies the spirit of summer. These easy to grow perennials have a place in any sunny garden, and Early Bird Cardinal Daylily is a daylily you don’t want to miss out on!
Daydreaming of Flowers and Sunshine
Planning for spring and summer during the winter months is a fun pastime and way to escape the winter blues. My list of top 20 bulbs and perennials may change when it gets closer to planting time, but now these are the bulbs and perennials I am daydreaming about! Which bulbs and perennials are you most excited to plant in 2020?