Add color and pizzazz to gardens with flowering plants

Is there anything more delightful to the eyes that the gorgeous blossoms of spring and summer? This growing season, brighten up your outdoor spaces with flowers.

There are hundreds of varieties of flowering plants available from online plant stores, mailorder catalogs and local garden centers. In addition to the old favorites, this spring there are some outstanding new varieties of flowering perennials, annuals and shrubs.

These beauties will thrive in a variety of growing conditions, and they will bring color and delight to your garden.


Lupine Gladiator is a real show-off in the garden

Lupine Gladiator web

Lupine ‘Gladiator’

Some plants are complete show-offs in the garden. But that can be a really good thing when you’re looking for a focal point in a perennial bed or an attention-getting plant to brighten-up a dull place in the landscape. Lupine Westcountry™ ‘Gladiator’ is one of those flowering plants that is comfortable in the spotlight. This lupine blooms from late spring to the peak of summer and sets large, vibrant spear-like blooms on tall stems.

‘Gladiator’ sends up massive torches of warm-orange and lemon-yellow blooms which attract hummingbirds—and plenty of human attention as well. The flower petals develop from the bottom up, so the maturing flower spikes are topped with immature lime green petals. With its dramatic contrast and bold colors, there are few things that shine brighter in the garden than this gorgeous Lupine!

Lupine Westcountry™ ‘Gladiator’ loves sunlight and is resistant to deer and rabbits. The flower spikes grow 24-30 inches tall and the plants stay a manageable 20-25 inches wide. This is a great plant in borders or when mass planted for dramatic effect, and the flower spikes look great in cut flower arrangements. This variety prefers moist, well-drained soil, but it can also handle occasional dry spells. ‘Gladiator is cold hardy throughout USDA zones 3-9. One plant in a one-quart container sells for $19.95, or buy three for $17.95 each at


2018 Perennial Plant of the Year

allium millenium web

Allium Millenium (photo by Walters Gardens)

Take one look at an Allium ‘Millenium’ in full bloom and it’s no wonder this stunning plant was selected the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. The globe-shaped lavender flower heads, arising by the dozen, last for a month or more. Millenium is a splendid late-summer bloomer, ready to deliver outstanding garden color just when many flowering plants are giving up their show for the season.

The flowerheads are perfectly round and reach about 2 inches in diameter, studded on all sides with purple florets tinged with red. Like all Allium, the plant has a scent (it’s an onion, after all), which keeps away nibbling rabbits, deer and other hungry creatures. On the other hand, butterflies and bees find the blooms enticing.

This ornamental onion reaches about a foot high and wide, with a dense bouquet of dark green stems topped by bobbing blooms. Unlike older varieties, it won’t scatter seed all over the garden; it concentrates all its energy on setting flowers instead of going to see– and the results are magnificent. Just give it plenty of sunshine, well-drained soil on the light side, and wait for the flowers. A one-quart plant sells for $16.95, or buy six or more for $13.95 each at Wayside Gardens,, 800-845-1124.


Gorgeous multi-color zinnias, all summer long

Forecast Zinnia web

Forecast Zinnia from Burpee

The forecast is for zinnias all summer long with a new variety of seeds called ‘Forecast’ Zinnia. This long-lasting zinnia blooms almost endlessly, and the plants are tenacious enough to thrive in virtually any growing conditions. Forecast Zinnia boasts mildew resistance that makes it a great choice for cut flowers in damp, cool areas like the Pacific Northwest and Canada—and everywhere else, too.

The annual plants bear purple, pink, orange, salmon, yellow or cream petals that surround bright-yellow stamens for a bloom that measures 2-3 inches across. The flowers reach up to 30 inches tall and the plants can reach a spread of 24 inches. A packet of 50 seeds sells for $5.99 exclusively from, 1-800-888-1447.   



A sparkling star in the garden

Astrantia Sparkling Stars web

Astrantia Sparkling Stars Pink

Astrantia Sparkling Stars Pink is quickly becoming a sparkling star in the landscape. This elegant show-stopper is beloved by bees and everyone else who beholds its striking flowers. The strawberry and cream, posy-like blooms of this perennial are anything but ordinary—and they attract droves of bees and butterflies with its rich nectar. The blooms appear in June and last until August in most gardens throughout USDA zones 4-7. The Sparkling Stars Pink blooms are stunning on the plant, and they also look great as both a dried and cut flower.

Sparkling Stars Pink will thrive in bright sunny garden spots and also in shaded areas such as under trees. The plant reaches 24-28” tall and 16” wide, and it prefers moist, fertile soil.  

Bareroot plants sell for $12.95, or buy six or more for $10.95 each at Wayside Gardens,, 800-845-1124.


Add some “Sunset Magic” to southern gardens

sunset magic crape myrtle

Sunset Magic Crape Myrtle

A crape myrtle shrub in full bloom is a focal point in any garden. A new variety called Sunset MagicTM Crape Myrtle has true red flowers— not “deep red-pink” or “violet-red” or even “reddish.” In full bloom, the large, crinkled, ruffled flowers cover the entire shrub, and Sunset Magic blooms more heavily than most other dark-leaved crape myrtles. The dark, purple-black leaves hold their deep color late into the summer. The leaves are flatter and more lustrous than other crape myrtles, too, so the red flowers really “pop.”

Sunset Magic is an easy-to-grow, disease resistant variety. It responds well to pruning, but it naturally stays a manageable size (5-10 feet tall and 4-8 feet wide) so it will fit nicely into smaller gardens. For a stunning garden effect, plant this variety with white- flowered crape myrtles or yellow daylilies. 

Sunset MagicTM Crape Myrtle thrives in USDA zones 7-9. Give it full sun in well-drained soil and it will delight year after year with stunning color. Each plant in a 1 gallon container sells for $39.95 from


Hibiscus ‘Pinot Noir’


Hibiscus Pinot Noir from Logee’s

Hibiscus are flowering plants that love the growing conditions found in their native tropical climates—sun, warm weather, regular watering and rich soils. Hibiscus plants are perhaps best known for their colorful, huge dinner-plate-sized flowers. ‘Pinot Noir’ is a new variety that has exceptionally large, 8- to 9-inch flowers that are light lavender with maroon centers. The flowers have a hint of pink in the petals.

‘Pinot Noir’ is easy to grow and forms a nice, upright bush. Like all hibiscus varieties, it grows best in full sun with plentiful water and fertilizer to optimize its blooming potential. This plant is cold hardy to USDA zone 10, so it should be grown outdoors in a container and brought inside during the colder months in most climates. A plant in a 4-inch pot sells for $19.95 from