If your customers are asking for something out of the ordinary or a plant that can’t be described as average, consider growing these selections. Some are tiny and some are towering.
Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicagoland Grows
‘Bad Hair Day’ switchgrass
This plant’s late-summer inflorescences are dense and cascade like its grayish, yellow-green foliage. When inflorescences go dormant, they turn yellowish brown. The inflorescences, which persist into fall, inspired the name. It is likely more drought and salt tolerant than other switchgrasses, in addition to being more heat and cold tolerant. It grows to 71 inches tall and 88 inches wide. It is hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8. In the landscape, use for the back of the border, as a screening plant or an accent plant.
Eupatorium (Eutrochium) maculatum ‘Summer Snow’
With its white florets blooming for 5-6 weeks from early July to mid- to late-August, this Joe-Pye weed variety is sure to catch your eye. The vanilla-scented, white flowers look bold when used as a landscape border, and it attracts many pollinators. It grows to 63 inches tall by 60 inches wide and is likely hardy to USDA Zones 3-8. It should be grown in full sun with good air circulation and with ample soil moisture. It can be propagated from shoot tip cuttings.
Veronica ‘Tidal Pool’
This hybrid of prostrate speedwells is a great short perennial to use as a groundcover, edging plant or in a rock garden. It is dense enough to suppress some weed growth and can tolerate light foot traffic. It’s deep violet flowers bloom from late April into mid-May. This delicate perennial grows to be 2-3 inches tall and up to 30 inches wide and is hardy to Zones 4-8. When not in bloom, it can tolerate cold, heat, humidity, rain and drought.
Another dainty perennial to pack a punch for your garden is this moss phlox variety. It blooms for four weeks starting late April or early May, but its color changes as it matures. At first, its flowers are a light pinkish-violet with a contrasting white eye. They turn to a medium to dark rose-violet color with no eye as they mature. Tightly clustered leaves stay evergreen, and this plant works well in rock gardens, patios and walkways, and grows over edges. Maxing out at 2½ inches tall and 16 inches wide, it’s hardy to Zones 4-8.
Verbena Buenos Aires
This V. bonariensis variety is a great tall perennial to use as an accent or as a height divider in a tender perennial border. Its raspberry flowers bloom from summer into the fall. Hardy to Zones 7a-9b, it grows 40-50 inches tall and 12-16 inches wide. The simple, but not plain, plant loves full sun and sparks intrigue with its small clusters of pink flowers.
Bellis perennis Bellissima
Needing no vernalization to flower, these stout perennials perform well in cool climates. Their fuzzy-looking flowers bloom in early spring and come in pink, white and red. Their height reaches only 6-10 inches and different color varieties work well together in a landscape. While its common name is daisy, it is unlike your traditional daisy in appearance and is sure to grab attention with its fully double flowers. It is hardy to Zones 4a-7b.
Gypsophila Pixie Splash
G. cerastiodes are early-spring perennials that make a great accent for front-of-border displays or look interesting spilling out of containers. Their white flowers with purple veining bloom in the spring, and the whole plant only grows to be 3-5 inches. It does well in partial to full sun and is hardy to Zones 4a-7b. Their white carpet appearance is great to balance out the other colors in your garden.
Southern Living Plant Collection, Sunset Plant Collection
Tecomaria Cape Town
Growing to be 4-5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, these cape honeysuckle command attention with their vivid colors. They bloom red hot, banana yellow, tropical orange or peachy pink in the summer and fall. Additionally, they bloom through winter in frost-free environments. They are great for pollinators and work well as accents, borders, in containers or even as cut flowers. They are heat tolerant and grow in a bushy, compact habit. They love full sun and are hardy to Zones 9a-11b.
Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’
It’s on the taller side for short selections, yet these fast-growing, butterfly magnets are sure to impress with their vibrant shades of orange and peach. The tangerine flowers bloom summer through fall. They are 14-18 inches tall by 18 inches wide and take full coastal sun to part shade in hotter climates. Thanks to its stunning flowers, this variety works well in borders, containers, rock gardens and even in cut floral arrangements. They are fast-growing and hardy to Zones 5-9b.
Panicum ‘Totem Pole’
This ornamental grass gets its name from its upright column of steel blue foliage and powdery blue stems. It measures 6 feet tall by 2½ feet wide, and its golden seed panicles burst from the top of the clump in early fall. Hardy to Zones 4-9, its narrow base makes it well suited to small places that need vertical height. This grass is sturdy and will stay upright in the winter unless there is heavy snow. It works well as a screen, alongside ponds or in large containers. It thrives in full sun and is deer resistant.
Sedum ‘Boogie Woogie’
Yellow flowers grow early to midsummer on this groovy perennial. Its leaves are variegated with cream that works well with the yellow flowers and adds some fun to your garden as a groundcover or accent in a rock garden. It is 6-8 inches tall and up to 18 inches wide and extremely drought tolerant. It’s hardy to Zones 3-9 and provides a low maintenance accent in the garden.