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10 Low-Maintenance Plants for Landscapes Featuring the 2020 Plants of the Year

Proven Winners is all about trialing plants for years before deciding to add them to our line, and one of the criteria we test for is if the plant will perform well for home gardeners, with ease. For the past several years we have asked a wide range of professionals in our industry to help us select varieties to feature as National Plants of the Year. Here is the collection for 2020, plus three great new introductions that just missed being National Plants of the Year. You can be confident that these low-maintenance plants will surpass your expectations, without much help from you.

Contributors: Kerry Meyer

Diamond Collection Euphorbia

Common Name: Euphorbia

Fifteen years ago we introduced Diamond Frost® to the market. We knew it was a really cool and unusual plant, but you can never really know how people are going to react to any new plant. In this case though, as trial results rolled in from all across the country it became clear that Diamond Frost was an incredible plant—with stellar reports from every trial location we sent it to. Fifteen years later, it remains one of the best plants on the market, not to mention one of the most low-maintenance plants around. However, it no longer stands alone. We now offer Diamond Mountain®, a super-sized version of Diamond Frost.  While Diamond Frost is a champion weaver and mixer in combination planters and works well in the landscape with other plants of medium vigor, Diamond Mountain is an awesome landscape plant where it fills a lot of space and is great for combinations with other really vigorous plants.  Do you need a plant to mix with Supertunia Vista Petunias?  If so, then Diamond Mountain is your plant.

The third plant in the Diamond trio is Diamond Snow which is brand new for 2020. Diamond Snow is the same size as Diamond Frost but has double flowers and a dense habit. Where Diamond Frost is a weaver in combinations, Diamond Snow tends to be a bit chunkier when grown in combinations. The double flowers do add a more concentrated color to Diamond Snow. All three plants are as durable as they come and need very little care. They are drought-tolerant, love heat, deer don't find them particularly tasty and best of all--they’ll make you look like a gardening genius!

Uses: Mass Landscape Planting, Front to Middle of the border, Mono Baskets, Filler in Combination Recipes, Mono Patio Planters, Sun Gardens, Bright Shade Gardens, Low Maintenance Gardens

Sun to Light Shade. Annual, except in frost-free zones.


‘Denim ‘n Lace’ Perovskia

Common Name: Russian Sage

Gardeners have long loved Russian Sage for its airy texture and the ability to blend with pretty much any flower color. ‘Denim ‘n Lace’ doesn’t get too tall, has stronger stems than other similar varieties and had a more upright habit than most older varieties. Lacy looking, bright sky blue flowers are held on amethyst calyxes. Its calyxes are spaced very close together to give the flowers a very full look. The colorful calyxes make it look like it is still in bloom even when it is past peak. You’ll have great color nearly all season long. Hummingbirds will enjoy this plant and you’ll be happy to hear that deer don’t. Both the flowers and foliage are fragrant too. As long as you plant this in full sun, you can forget about it--‘Denim ‘n Lace’ is drought tolerant and thrives on neglect!

Uses: Borders, Cut Flower Gardens, Dried Flower, Low Water Usage gardens, Mass Plantings, Fragrant Flowers and Foliage, Cottage Gardens, Prairie Gardens, Low Maintenance Gardens

28-32” Tall. 34-38” wide. Zones 4-9. Full Sun.


Shadowland® ‘Coast to Coast’ Hosta

Common Name: Hosta

‘Coast to Coast’ is a giant, solid gold hosta that makes a striking specimen in the shade garden. Its foliage emerges gold in spring and turns lighter gold with a bit more sun exposure in the summer months. As the leaves mature, they become thick and puckered with wavy edges and have nearly white undersides. The upright vase-shaped clump is topped with green scapes carrying pale violet flowers in midsummer. This hosta tends to be more slug resistant because of its thick substance foliage and rigidly upright habit. It can be grown as a single specimen in a large container or in a prominent place in the landscape.

Uses: Shade Gardens, Cut Flower Gardens, Attracts Hummingbirds,
Large Containers, Landscapes, Cottage Gardens, Formal Gardens,
Woodland Gardens, Good as a Focal Point or Specimen Plant,
Large Containers.

30” Tall. 36” Wide. Zones 3-9. Perennial. Part Shade to Shade.


Gem Box® Ilex glabra

Common Name: Inkberry Holly

Gem Box® inkberry holly is a dense, ball-shaped plant with small dark green leaves. Foliage develops attractive red tips during the spring flush. It maintains good branching right to the ground so it never looks bare-legged like other cultivars can and is as versatile and good-looking as boxwood with no disease issues! Tiny white flowers will attract pollinators too.

Uses: Patio Planters, Garden Beds, Small Space Gardens, Native Plant Gardens, Formal Gardens, Deer Resistant, Edging Plant, Mass Plantings, Low Maintenance Gardens, Pollinator Friendly Gardens.

24-36” Tall; 24-36” Wide. Part sun to Sun. Zones 5-9. Shrub


Blue Chiffon® Hibiscus syricus

Common Name: Rose of Sharon

True blue is a rare sight in the garden, but you’ll find it in the buds of this enchanting rose of Sharon shrub. They unfurl all along the stems to reveal large, lavender-blue flowers with a fluffy anemone center. Bees and hummingbirds are frequent visitors as this robust flowering shrub is happy to provide them sustenance for months on end. Its impressive size, refined shape, and durable nature make Blue Chiffon an ideal foundation plant when establishing or renovating a landscape design.

Uses: Pollinator Gardens, Less Tasty to Deer, Hedge Rows, Specimen Plant, Borders, Low Maintenance Gardens,

8-12’ tall; 6-10’ wide. Full Sun. Zones 5-9. Shrub.



Oso Easy Double Red® Rosa

Common Name: Landscape Rose

There's so much to love about Oso Easy Double Red® rose, beginning with its lush, deep red color. Next is the way the blooms are held on long stems, well above the foliage, for a truly memorable display. And speaking of foliage, its a beautiful, lustrous green with excellent resistance to powdery mildew and black spot, so it stays looking good all season. And there is no need to deadhead to keep those beautiful blooms coming either! Oso Easy Double Red rose is a bit of a bigger plant, but give it enough space in a sunny location, and you've given yourself the gift of an easy-care rose that you'll love to look at all season long.

Uses:  Cut Flower Gardens, Rose Gardens, Mass Planting, Border Gardens, Pollinator Gardens, Cottage Gardens, Formal Gardens, Easy Care Gardens

3-4’ Tall. 3-4’ wide. full sun. Zones 4-9. Shrub.


Invincibelle® Ruby Hydrangea arborescens

Common Name: Smooth Hydrangea

The dark burgundy red flower buds of Invincibelle Ruby open to a two-toned combination of bright ruby red and silvery pink—an amazing variety to enjoy indoors as a cut flower. The foliage is extra dark and stems are strong, making this new hydrangea a gem in any garden. It is a strong rebloomer that will be an excellent addition to any garden. Like other smooth hydrangeas, it flowers on new growth and blooms every year without fail. The flowers are great for cut flower arrangements and stunning in bridal bouquets.

Uses: Cut Flower Gardens, Cottage Gardens, Formal Gardens, Native Gardens, Flowering Hedges, Foundation Plantings, Specimen Plant, Easy Care Gardens

3-4’ Tall; 3-4’ Wide. Part Sun to Sun. Zones 3-8. Shrub.


Scentara Pura® Syringia x hyacinthiflora

Common Name: Lilac

Lilacs are a classic spring-flowering plant and deservedly well-loved for their toughness, reliability and strong fragrance. For lilacs to thrive and flower they need to have a chill period in winter. Most lilacs do well when planted in zones 3 to 7. One of the great things about Scentara Lilacs is that they will also grow and bloom prolifically in zone 8. If you are in an area that is marginal or just outside of the normal range for Lilacs, Scentara is a great plant for you. Not only do they need less of a chill period, but they are also some of the most fragrant lilacs you can find. Add in a well-branched, semi-dwarf, compact habit, great disease resistance, and a really heavy bloom each spring and you have a wonderful plant for your garden. The flower buds are a mulberry purple color, with the flowers themselves a clear lavender purple.

Uses: Pollinator Gardens, Fragrant Gardens, Cottage Gardens, Cut Flower Gardens, Mass Plantings, Good for Screening, Flowering Hedge, Less Tasty to Deer, Borders

4-6’ Tall. 4-6 Wide. Full Sun. Shrub. Zone 2-8.


Firefly Achillea

Common Name: Yarrow

Fireflies, or whatever you call the insects that light up the night, are a sure sign of warm summer weather. Similarly, this new Yarrow collection will light up your summer garden with clusters of small flowers. Yarrow, in general, has a reputation for flopping over in the garden. However, the Fireflies are tall without compromising beautiful habits and sturdiness. At up to three feet in height, these are great plants for the middle or back of your garden beds. There is some variation in height between varieties, so be sure to check the tags for detailed information. We are starting with four colors: lavender, ivory, peach, and yellow. I’m thrilled to have these to add to my garden.

Uses:  Middle of the Bed Filler, Thriller in Patio Planters, Pollinator Gardens, Low Maintenance Gardens, Less Tasty to Deer, Cottage Gardens, Prairie Gardens, Border Plant, Cut Flower Gardens, Dried Flower Arrangements, Fragrant Flowers, Mass Plantings

18-36” Tall. 24-40” Wide. Full Sun. Zones 3-8. Perennial.


 Rainbow Rhythm® ‘Sound of My Heart’ Hemerocallis

Common Name: Reblooming Daylily

This new daylily from Walters Gardens hybridizer Chris Meyer (of ‘Going Bananas’ fame) has taken over a decade to reach critical mass in production and has outperformed a ruthless selection process to make our catalog. The 5” pastel pink flowers have a very wide, wine purple eye with a matching purple picotee edge on the ruffled margins. Petals open flat, maximizing the floral display. This is a gorgeous plant that is sure to catch the attention of everyone who visits your garden when it is blooming. The blooms are also quite attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Daylilies can survive many harsh conditions that other plants cannot including polluted city environments, slopes, poor and dry soils, near pavement that is salted in winter, and under Black Walnut trees (not affected by juglone). There’s a reason daylilies remain a mainstay in gardens.

Uses: Pollinator Gardens, Cottage Gardens, Formal Gardens, Borders,
Mass Plantings, Specimen Plant, Easy Care Gardens, Borders,
Low Water Use Gardens

Height: 28” Tall.  18-24” Wide. Full Sun.  Zones 3-9   Perennial.


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