Upgrade your Landscape: New Plant Introductions

Plant breeders are constantly looking to bring new plants to the market. Some are definite improvements on existing varieties, others…not so much. New Garden assesses new introductions before we recommend them to determine if they truly represent an improvement on existing plant selections. Here are a few new trees and shrubs that we feel represent a true improvement and can be purchased with confidence.


Cercis ‘Merlot’ (Redbud)
Improvement: Better sun tolerance

‘Merlot’ represents a more color-stable and sun tolerant purple leafed redbud than ‘Forest Pansy’. Developed by NC State University, it has been trialed in our summer sun and resists leaf scorch due to the inclusion of Cercis texensis in its breeding. ‘Merlot’ retains the purple leaf color better than ‘Forest pansy’, though some greening is to be expected as the season progresses. (H 12-15’ W 15-18’, full sun to part shade, Zone 6-9)

Cercis ‘Ruby Falls’
Improvement: Holds leaf color in summer

‘Ruby Falls’ is a small weeping redbud suitable as a specimen. Like ‘Merlot’, it keeps its purple leaf color and actually gets darker through summer rather than turning green, though it is still prone to leaf scorch in full sun. Ideally planted as a specimen where its leaf color can be appreciated in summer, and elegant weeping form can be appreciated in winter.  (H 4-6’, W 8-10’, part shade to shade, Zone 5-9)

'The Rising Sun' redbud showing the stunning color of new leaves

'The Rising Sun' redbud showing the stunning color of new leaves

Cercis ‘The Rising Sun’
Improvement: New color foliage in redbuds

New growth is golden-apricot on this newer cultivar, with mature foliage a lime green. For part of the season, all colors are present at the same time and it is spectacular. ‘The Rising Sun’ is also sun tolerant and resists leaf scorch. A small tree, it should be planted where the spectacular color can be appreciated up close. (H 12’ W 8’, full to part sun, Zone 5-9)


'Soft Serve' Falsecypress
Improvement: Compact soft-textured growth with fern-like branches

A truly compact falsecypress, Soft Serve is a good alternative to sometimes-finicky Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Bright green, ferny branches have a silver-blue underside. Deer resistant        and tolerant of heavier clay soils, making it a nice choice for a low evergreen screening hedge. (H 6-10’ W 5-6’, part to full sun, Zone 5-7)

'Jubilation' Gardenia
Improvement:  Stronger than Kleim’s Hardy; better dwarf form; more fragrant, open flower

Jubilation is a strong improvement in dwarf gardenias. Sporting a more classic gardenia flower shape rather than the pinwheel flower form of Kleim’s Hardy, Jubilation tolerates full sun well, making it a versatile landscape gardenia. (H 3-4’ W 3’, Full sun to part shade, Zone 7-10)


'Summer Snow' Gardenia
Improvement: Hardiest large leaf/large flower gardenia

Summer Snow was selected and trialed by Buds & Blooms Nursery in Browns Summit, proving it can tolerate Triad summers and winters!  Boasting large, fragrant flowers evocative of the tropics, Summer Snow is strong and fast growing, drought tolerant and disease resistant. An ideal flowering landscape plant. (H 4-5’ W 4-5’, Full to Part sun (prefers some PM shade), Zone 6-10)

Abelia ‘Radiance’
Improvement: Brighter variegation, better leaf retention in winter

‘Radiance’ has a bright white and green variegation in summer without the yellow and pink tones of ‘Kaleidescope’.  In winter ‘Radiance’ develops a slight rose tinge and also has better leaf retention than other variegated abelias. Fragrant white flowers in late summer and deer resistance too! (H 2-3’ W 3-4’, Full sun to part shade, Zone 6-9)

‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia
Improvement: Spineless, soft texture; compact size

Mahonias are great shade shrubs, providing winter interest with their evergreen foliage and bright yellow winter blooms but they have rather spiny leaves. ‘Soft Caress’ improves on common mahonia with a spineless, fine textured leaf. ‘Soft Caress’ is also an ideal size to use in containers. (H 3’ W 3-5’, Part sun to Shade, Zone 7-9)

‘Obsession’ Nandina
Improvement: Brighter red fall color, denser growth

Nandinas are workhorses of Triad landscapes, tolerating a wide range of conditions well. ‘Obsession’ boasts a denser habit and better fall color than older nandinas, increasing its year-round landscape appeal. This dwarf form is also ideal for containers. (H 3-4’ W 3-4’, Sun to shade, Zone 6-10)

Loropetalum 'Crimson Fire' has hot pink, fringey flowers in spring which look great against the dark purple leaves.

Loropetalum 'Crimson Fire' has hot pink, fringey flowers in spring which look great against the dark purple leaves.

Loropetalum ‘Crimson Fire’
Improvement: More cold hardy than other dwarf purple-leafed loropetalums

If ‘Purple Pixie’ has proven less than fully winter hardy for you, give ‘Crimson Fire’ a try.  Dwarf loropetalums add great color and texture to landscapes with hot pink flowers in spring and a low spreading habit.  (H 2-3’ W 3-4’, Sun to part shade, Zone 7-9)