The annual California new plant introduction pilgrimage returned in June 2021 after a brief (online) hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few varieties flagged by GIE Media editors during their time in the Golden State.

PlantHaven

Salvia guaranitica ‘Bodacious Hummingbird Falls’

The breeder says this is the world’s first hanging basket salvia introduction, and the dark blue-purplish blooms dotted with black calyx will be a guaranteed conversation starter in the landscape. It was selected for improved branching habit, which limits climbing and spreading. That also results in a tighter, more rounded habit throughout the season. The pitcher-like blooms are a favorite of hummingbirds and other pollinators, too.

Benary

Ptilotus ‘Joey Improved’

Benary introduced this Australian native years ago and is launching this improved version. While the original Ptilotus Joey would be wobbly and hard to ship if it became rootbound in plug trays, this new version recovers well. Improvements include better branching as well. With large, fuzzy spikes and silver-green foliage, it makes for great impulse buys. It thrives in hot, dry climates and performs well in pots and landscape beds.

Darwin Perennials

Nepeta subsessilis ‘Prelude Purple’

The new purple shade grows to 3 feet in the landscape, offering pest and disease resistance with non-fading dark purple blooms on a mounding habit. “It’s a great border option and it brings in pollinators, but you don’t have to shear it back every year [in the landscape],” says Katie Rotella, senior public relations manager at Ball Horticultural. The versatile plant is ideal for 2.5-quart and 1-gallon pot sizes.

Dümmen Orange

Dianthus

Odessa Twiggy

This new for 2021 dianthus introduction has dazzling double flowers that the breeder says will stick around for the entire growing season, and it reportedly has impressive heat, drought and cold tolerance, as well as the versatility for landscape or container plantings. This introduction clearly checks the box on the bold and striking perennial trend that is becoming more prevalent.

Kieft Seed

Leucanthemum ‘White Lion’

Another solid candidate for the early spring sales season, this version does not require any vernalization. It was also selected for its stepped-up disease resistance. The variety’s Zone 4 hardiness unlocks a significant portion of the North American flower market for cultivation, and it reportedly thrives in overwintered production scenarios. This is versatility in plant form.