While I love experimenting with new-to-me vegetable varieties, I sometimes forget to step out of the box and grow a handful of new-to-me ornamentals, too. This year, there are three new plants I’m very excited to try in my flower gardens and containers for the very first time.
A few new plants I’m going to grow for the first time in 2016
- Rex begonia vine (Cissus discolor): Though this is certainly not a fresh-from-the-breeder plant — it’s been grown by houseplant enthusiasts for many years — the rex begonia vine (shown in the feature photo above) is finally gaining a new posse of fans who grow it outdoors. A trailing plant that gracefully spills over the edges of containers, hanging baskets, and retaining walls, the Rex begonia vine is a perfect fit for areas that receive anything from full sun to full shade. The dark green, elongated heart-shaped leaves are accented by metallic silver markings. The striking maroon color of the leaf undersides add even more interest. Because the vines can reach five or six feet in a single season, I plan to use this plant as the “spiller” in several of my larger ceramic planters. It’s not tolerant of frosts, so at the end of the growing season, I’ll also be trying my hand at growing the rex begonia vine as a houseplant to see it through the winter.
- ‘Fairytale Cinderella’ flowering purslane (Portulaca oleracea ‘Fairytale Cinderella’): I fell in love with this plant when I spotted it growing in a container at the Naples Botanic Garden in Naples, Florida. I’m a big fan of portulaca for its drought- and heat-tolerance, but this particular variety really takes the cake. The flowers have large, yellow outer petals and a collection of fuzzy, hot pink smaller petals at their center. The hummingbirds adore this plant, and its quick-spreading habit makes it another good choice for containers where cascading plants can spill down over the edges. When I spotted this tender annual at the botanic garden, it was absolutely smothered in blooms, and I can’t wait to see how it does in my garden.
- Caladium ‘Red Flash’ (Caladium bicolor ‘Red Flash’): I’m a big fan of caladiums for the bold, tropical feel they lend to drab, shady corners of the garden. Grown from corms, I’ve experimented with many varieties of caladiums over the years, but I’m super excited to give ‘Red Flash’ a try. The white specks and red veination are simply stunning, and when I spotted this variety in someone’s garden last year, the plant was almost two feet tall! Said to be sun-tolerant, I may give ‘Red Flash’ a try in both my shade garden and my sun-soaked perennial bed just to see if the sun can stop this beauty from putting on a brilliant show.
Related post: Dreaming of colorful summer annuals
What varieties are you planning to try this year? Tell us about them in the comment section below.