Unusual Container Plants for 2009

With so much money to be made in new plant introductions, the world’s plant breeders are working overtime.

Baby Pete agapanthus

These are exciting times for plant nuts. With so much money to be made in new plant introductions (think about the Endless Summer hydrangea and the Wave series petunias), the world’s plant breeders are working overtime.

There are lots of terrific new plants being introduced this spring. Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight a few of them that have caught my eye. It’s not always easy to find these newest-of-the-new at local garden centers, so if you see one you like, you might want to consider ordering online to make sure you don’t miss out.

Here are a few new plants that I’m planning to have on my patio this coming spring:

Agapanthus orientalis ‘Baby Pete’
Since agapanthus are warm weather plants, hardy only to zone 7 and up, here in zone 4/5 we need to grow them in containers that can be moved indoors for the winter. Full size agapanthus cultivars can get pretty large and unruly for a pot, but there are now a number of shorter varieties bred for growing in containers.

New for 2009 is super-dwarf ‘Baby Pete’ which was developed by a breeder in Australia. It has blue/mauve flowers with a darker blue stripe. The foliage gets no more than 6 to 8 inches high, and the flower stems rise only an inch or two higher, which keeps the plant looking neat and tidy. ‘Baby Pete’ also doesn’t set seed, which means there are no ugly seedpods to be cut off.

Napoleon papyrus

Cyperus papyrus ‘Napoleon’
The first time I saw papyrus was at Chanticleer Garden in Pennsylvania, where it had been used to line both sides of a long narrow pool of water. Last year, near the end of the summer, I saw a miniature papyrus growing in a shallow bowl on someone’s deck. It turned out to be a new variety named ‘Napoleon’, which gets just 12-18” tall (unlike its big brother, King Tut, which zooms to a height of 5 or 6 feet). Though I’ll need to treat it as an annual, for me, papyrus is one of those “gotta try it” plants.

Solenostemon (Coleus) ‘Lancelot Velvet Mocha’
This plant isn’t totally new for 2009, but the first time I saw it was late last summer at a Proven Winners display garden event. They had planted up a window box (below), which featured Lancelot Velvet Mocha, Eucalyptus gunnii ‘Silver Drop’ and Liriope muscari ‘Silvery Sunproof’. Being a bit of a coleus freak, there were lots of great coleus that caught my eye that day. If I can find them, I’ll also be growing be growing at least two other new coleus varieties: ‘Mint Mocha’ and ‘Religious Radish’. Great names!

Lancelot Velvet Mocha coleus, Eucalyptus gunnii ‘Silver Drop’ and Liriope muscari ‘Silvery Sunproof’

Mint Mocha coleus

Religious Radish coleus
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2 Responses to Unusual Container Plants for 2009

  1. Of necessity I've come to believe that every plant is a container plant. I moved from a 5 acre flower & herb farm in PA to NYC where I tend the roof garden for my condo building. More than 80 containers big and small hold veggies, herbs, trees, vines, bulbs etc. Always looking to try something new and gorgeous but still love the splash of cactus- flowering zinnias.Ellen Spector Platt, gardenbytes.com

  2. Hi Ellen,Thanks for leaving a comment!It was fun to meet you and Ellen Zachos in Portland. Wow! Would love to see your rooftop garden next time I’m in NYC. Sounds terrific.Be well – Kathy

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