Every year, I try out a number of uber-hyped plants in my home garden, so that I may report the truth to you, cherish readers. Most times, uber-hype translates to over-hype, but not in the case of this champ. Read on to see what Grumpy and 8 other garden experts from around the country picked as their favorite new plants for 2013.
As his favorite new plant for 2013, Grumpy chooses ‘Kong Jr.’ coleus — and not because it scoops up pretty blond girls, climbs to the top of the Empire State Building, and knocks vintage WWI biplanes out of the sky.
No, ‘Kong Jr.’ coleus is the latest version of its big daddy, ‘Kong’ coleus, that appeared in 2004. ‘Kong’ astonished gardeners with gaudily colored leaves up to 6 inches across. But its stems were a bit brittle and it tended to get a leggy unless you pinched it from time to time. ‘Kong Jr.’ has smaller, 4-inch leaves, but it makes a tidy, dense mound about 18 inches high and 30 inches wide that needs no grooming. No monkey business.
Grumpy grew ‘Kong Jr. Scarlet’ (up top), but it comes in 3 other forms — ‘Rose’ (deep pink with green edges), ‘Lime Vein’ (lime green with crimson veins), and ‘Green Halo’ (light green with cream splashes). Plants seldom flower (a big plus, as coleus blooms look hideous). Ball Horticultural Company, the developer, recommends ‘Kong Jr.’ for shade, but it did just fine in sun for me. Our abnormally cool, wet summer may have played a role, as did its steady diet of bananas and blonds.
To sum up, ‘Kong Jr.’ has provided Grumpy with easy, nonstop color from April to right now. It is the one plant non-gardeners consistently notice in my garden. That makes it my favorite new plant for 2013.
Here are more great plants Grumpy’s gardening buds picked as their faves. (All of the plants will grow throughout the country.) Click on the links to their blogs to learn more. Then tell Grumpy what was YOUR favorite new plant!
Faves from Grumpy’s Partners in Crime
Pick One: From Champaign, Illinois, home of the world’s finest bubbly — the very thoughtful and manly Chris Tidrick.
Gazania ‘New Day Bronze.’ An IT expert who is probably listening in on you right now, Chris explains his zany choice of orange flowers on his blog, “From the Soil.”
Pick Two: From Monticello, Florida, Thomas Jefferson’s beach home — Carolyn Binder. (Yes, Carolyn and I own the cutthroat law firm, Binder & Bender. Don’t cross us.)
Pick Three: From Raleigh, North Carolina, the incredibly confident Helen Yoest.
‘Pooh’ dahlia. Check out Helen’s debatable reasoning for not choosing dahlia ‘Eeyore’ by visiting her blog, “Gardening With Confidence.”
Pick Four: From Jacksonville, Florida, home of the always disappointing Jacksonville Jaguars — Steve Asbell.
‘Siam Queen’ Thai basil. When not running from army ants, Steve writes about tropical, semi-tropical, and other plants on his soggy blog, “The Rainforest Garden.”
Pick Five: From Haviland, Ohio, where corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye — Kylee Baumle.
‘Center Stage’ coreopsis. Kylee’s farm neighbors live pretty far away, so she’d love you to drop by her blog, “Our Little Acre.” Maybe you’ll meet Shoeless Joe Jackson on the baseball diamond she just built.
Pick Six: From Austin, Texas, where gardening is just one part of a strange, strange trip — Jenny Peterson.
‘Lemon Ball’ sedum. When she’s not feeding chickens and the neighbor’s donkey, she designs gardens for people. Read up on her inspired choice at J Peterson Garden Design.
Pick Seven: From Chicago, Illinois, where she learned to garden at the foot of Al Capone — Shawna Coronado.
‘Alaska Variegated’ Nasturtium. Shawna actually lives in the Chicago suburb of Warrenville, where she outrages the local government by growing veggies in her front yard. Learn more about her pick and her campaign of insurrection at Shawna Coronado.
Pick Eight: From Renton, Washington, where she designs some of the prettiest plant combos ever seen on the Left Coast or any other coast — Christina Salwitz.
‘Peachie’s Pick’ Stoke’s aster. You’ll find details about this plant and a ton of good ideas on her blog, the Personal Garden Coach. (Yes, I will have some more peach schnappes, thank you!)
Now It’s Your Turn
What has been YOUR favorite new plant in 2013?