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Must-Have Plants for 2023: Rare and unique flowers for collectors

Must-Have Plants for 2023: Rare and unique flowers for collectors

Must-Have Plants for 2023: Rare and unique flowers for collectors
blue and purple flower of Celebrations Mardi Gras Kangaroo Paw

Photos by Doreen Wynja

There's nothing like discovering new plants and feeling the awe that their novel texture, form, and color bring. Even better is the knowledge that these singular plants will bring enjoyment and pride for years to come.

The long, arduous hunt for an extraordinary plant is part of the discovery journey for some collectors. However, we know that not all plant lovers can go on time-consuming explorations to find new, amazing plants. So, we're making the quest for rare flowers and unusual plants more accessible to all gardeners. We've been collecting our favorites right here for all to enjoy.

Below, you'll find new, exciting flowers and foliage, plus plant explorer Dan Hinkley's far-flung discoveries from the wilderness of India and China. There are also edibles that are the outliers in their extraordinary performance, and conifers of such dramatic color that you won't believe your eyes.

(Above) Celebrations™ Mardi Gras Kangaroo Paw is a tough, durable, drought-resistant perennial that is causing widespread excitement with its vibrant color, which is unlike any other. It has clusters of fuzzy flowers in purple and peacock-blue — a color never seen before on a Kangaroo Paw. Partial to full sun. Up to 16" tall, 20" wide. Zones 9-11.

Discover truly special plants that make long-time collectors and new gardeners alike swoon below. You'll be hard-pressed to find these plants from any other grower. Therefore, when you uncover your must-have plants, go to your local Monrovia retailer and bring them home for lasting enjoyment. 

Our most unique plants include flower varieties that are rare in both appearance and performance. These new varieties can also be hard to find as they are getting introduced to the market. If you can't find a plant in your local garden center or by ordering online, make sure you request that your garden center carry it next year. 

Rare and Unique Flowers

Best of 2023

Itsy Bitsy® Peach 
Miniature Rose

The small size is just one aspect that makes Itsy Bitsy® special. It blooms in abundance throughout the growing season, with small deep yellow and orange blooms with light blushes of pink. A darling rose that is perfect in the garden or in containers. Has excellent resistance to mildew and rust. Full sun. Up to 18" tall, 24" wide.  Zones 5-9.

Eau De Parfum™ 
Bling Rose

Everyone is talking about the new Eau De Parfum™ Roses! As fragrant shrub roses, they are considered a huge breakthrough. Big, delightfully fragrant blooms provide the classic romance of roses with the added benefit of disease resistance brought to you by modern breeding. Full sun. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 5-10. 

Heavenly Ascent® Pink 
Climbing Rose

A climbing rose with the beloved rose scent? Yes, please! This climber has large, very fragrant, classic pink flowers that bloom abundantly and continuously. Trained onto a trellis, it provides a colorful vertical accent and a classic cottage garden look. Full sun. Up to 8' tall and wide. Zones 5-9.

Pink Pearl 
Agastache

Unique among Agastache for its shorter, compact growth habit and dense blooms that cover the entire plant. Spikes of light-pink flowers pair with darker buds for a lovely two-tone effect from late spring to frost.  Full sun. Up to 16" tall and wide. Zones 6-10. 

Ninja Star 
Toad Lily

Wonderful variegated foliage adds color to a shady garden, while fascinating spotted flowers draw you in for a closer look. Pair with ferns and hosta in a woodland garden to add variety and interest. Full to partial shade. Up to 18" tall, 36" wide. Zones 5-9.

Seaside Serenade® 
Crystal Cove Hydrangea

The frilly lacecap blooms of this reblooming hydrangea are causing a stir with edges that are deep purple-blue in acidic soils, and deep pink in neutral or alkaline soils, deepening in color as they age. Partial shade to partial sun. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Panama™ Red
Coneflower

Noted as a "Trial Standout" and voted a Best New Variety by Greenhouse Management Magazine. Enjoy deep red flowers with dark centers over a long bloom season on this short and compact variety. Great for wildlife gardens, loved by butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and birds.  Full sun. Up to 14" tall and wide. Zones 5-9. 

Mishimi Fire™
Gingerlily

Fragrant orange flower spikes and green, blade-like foliage lend a tropical look to the garden. Loves hot and humid summers. Makes a great addition to the edges of water gardens. Rhizomes can be overwintered indoors where not hardy. Partial to full sun. Up to 3' tall and wide. Zones 7-10.

Bridal Veil® 
Agapanthus

A stand-out in trials thanks to prolific brilliant-white flowers and vigorous growth. Both foliage and blooms are densely held, making for a wonderfully compact plant. The smaller size is great for containers or for massing in the front of perennial beds. Partial to full sun. Up to 1' tall and wide. Zones 7-11. 

Best of 2022

Heavenly Ascent®
Holboellia Vine

Exotic, fragrant, large, and white flowers with a deep purple tint at the base. These flowers bloom in spring on this vigorous evergreen climber. Produces edible, purple fruit when pollinated. Up to 20' tall with support. Zones 8-10.

Beesia

A stand-out evergreen groundcover for shade that gently spreads and makes a striking, fuss-free filler in woodland gardens. Shiny, heart-shaped leaves create a beautiful backdrop for the dainty star-shaped flowers. Up to 18" tall, 24" wide. Zones 6-8.

Plum Passion®
Improved Hydrangea

Dark green-purple foliage ages to a deep purple with rosy purple undersides. It creates a stunning backdrop for the bicolor lacecap summer blooms. In fall foliage develops golden topsides while retaining purple undersides. Up to 6' tall and wide.  Zones 7-10.

Hillier™ Porcelain
Blue Corydalis

An exquisite woodland plant with unusually vibrant aqua-blue flowers in spring, repeating profusely in late summer to fall. Finely-cut blue-green foliage may have a bronze cast in heat but does not suffer from summer dormancy like others. Up to 12" tall and wide. Zones 5-9.

FloralBerry® Sangria 
St. John's Wort

Originally bred for the cut-flower industry, it is like no other of its kind. With a well-branched habit, and rust-resistant dark-green foliage that has deep-red undersides. Dark stems and red berries make brilliant accents in flower arrangements. Up to 3' tall and wide Zones 5-9.

 

Little Darling®
Lilac

A fragrant lilac that blooms twice a year. With large clusters of dark purple buds that open to classic lilac-hued flowers. Blooms heavily in spring, with a second, lighter bloom set in fall. The compact, rounded shape also makes this a unique selection. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 4-8. 

Berry Bright™
Saxifrage

Sprays of bright magenta-pink flower clusters bloom in late fall to early winter, offering lively color to the cool-season garden. The fantastically dark, bronze-tinged foliage nearly shimmers in the shade and offers a dramatic contrast to the vivid flowers. Up to 10" tall, 12" wide. Zones 6-9.  

Seaside Serenade® Fire 
Island Hydrangea

A hydrangea that turns heads thanks to colorful, long-lasting, and bi-color blooms that make superb cut flowers on tough stems. White flowers have rich rosy-red edges that mature to deep pink. Robust, dark green foliage has a lovely maroon color in spring and fall. Up to 4' tall, 3' wide. Zones 4-9.

Evolution™ Chocolate Fountain Sedum

This delectable sedum produces a dense mound with multiple crowns of attractive, chocolate-colored, succulent foliage. This is salted with pretty rose-pink blooms in summer. Bred for strong basal branching with compact stems that don't fall open. Up to 15" tall and wide. Zones 4-9.

Dramatic New Foliage

Blackhawks 
Big Bluestem

People are fawning over the unique, dramatic color of this big bluestem! The foliage emerges green, then develops red-bronze hues towards the tips in summer, then continues to darken to deep purple until it's nearly black in fall. Purple plumes appear in late summer. Up to 2' wide, plumes 4 to 8' tall. Zones 3-9.

Ninetta™ 
Begonia

Delightful crinkled and spotted foliage is deeply dark green on top and burgundy red on the underside. Great in the garden where hardy, or makes a wonderful houseplant. Soft pink flowers bloom in summer and fall outdoors, sporadically through the year indoors. Bright Indirect light. Up to 2' tall, 3' wide. Zones 10-11 (grow as houseplant in all zones). 

Silver Shadow
Astelia

Long, silvery-green blades provide excellent texture all year long on this evergreen perennial. The metallic foliage creates an eye-catching display that brightens shady areas. A waterwise option that requires little ongoing care. Partial shade to partial sun. Up to 3' tall, 4' wide. Zones 8-10.

Exotic Foliage Plants Discovered by Plantsman Dan Hinkley

Tectonic™ Caldera
Begonia

Huge, glossy, heart-shaped leaves emerge red and unfurl to a bright green. A massive variety in its native range in northeastern India, with leaves up to two feet wide! If you need a show-stopping specimen, look no further. Up to 6' tall and wide (Smaller in containers). Zones 8-11.

Jurassic™ T-Rex
Wood Fern

A fern rarely seen in North America, hailing from the woodlands of Asia. Upright fronds in colors ranging from dark to light green form a vertical clump that's perfect for adding height. Also adding bold textural dimension in woodland settings. Up to 36" tall and wide. Zones 5-8.

Tectonic™ Pangea
Begonia

An unusual specimen from the forests of Northeastern India. With deep, dark green leaves that have a halo of lime green. The textured, shiny leaves have a magical glimmer that transfixes onlookers from containers, terrariums, and woodland gardens. Up to 18" tall and wide. Zones 8-11 (or indoors in all zones).

Camouflage®
Japanese Aralia

An immediate favorite for anyone who encounters it indoors or out. The yellow, lime and green colors illuminate a shady garden, and the unique textured foliage adds dimension. Blooms with showy white flower clusters in fall to winter. Up to 8' tall and wide. Zones 7-10 (grow indoors in all zones).

Sunny Daze®
Japanese Laurel

A gem for the collector, with colorfully variegated foliage that brightens dim spaces. The striking coloration makes it perfect as a container accent or in foundation plantings, woodland gardens, or low hedging. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 8-10 (grow indoors in all zones). 

Orangena™
Vaccinium

An evergreen shrub that's uniquely colorful, with orange-red new growth that holds its color through the summer. An intriguing alternative to boxwoods for lean, rocky soils. The tidy, mounding habit shears well into a hedge and also looks great in natural form. Up to 4' tall and wide. Zones 7-10. 

Extraordinary Edible Plants

Bountiful™ Delight
Blueberry

An ornamental appeal as impressive as its sweet fruit yield. This is an excellent blueberry for warm climates that experience occasional extreme heat. A beautiful plant in the landscape. Thanks to its compact form, abundant bloom, and foliage that emerges bright red and matures to a deep green. Up to 3' tall and wide. Zones 8-10.

Sweet n' Solo™
Kiwi 

The only high-quality fruiting kiwi available that is self-fertile. This vigorous vine produces juicy fruits on a single plant once established. Typically produces sweet, juicy, vitamin-packed fruit within three years. Perfect for a trellis, pergola, or south-facing wall. White flowers are tinted orange in full bloom. Up to 16' tall and wide. Zones 7-9.

Photo by Visions Pictures

Zestful™ Lollipop
Grape

A variety that lends itself perfectly to backyard growing. This fast-growing vine yields clusters of tasty, deep-red, and seedless grapes. The delicious fruit is great for snacking whether fresh or dried into raisins. Ideally suited for warmer regions, but continued trials are evaluating the winter hardiness of this new variety. Up to 25' tall. Zones 7-9. 

Photo by Brandon Friend-Solis. 

 Eye-catching Conifers

andean gold austrian pine has eyecatching yellow tip color

Andean Gold™
Austrian Pine

Showy yellow new growth ages to light green, and makes this gorgeous pine practically shimmer in the sun. Slower growing and more compact than other Austrian pines. Tolerates poor soils, and harsh, drying winds. Up to 30' tall and 15' wide. Zones 4-8. 

Sunburst™
Black Hills Spruce

The naturally symmetrical, cone-shaped, and dense habit of this dramatic evergreen gets an unexpected pop of color. With bright yellow new growth that bursts against the blue-green mature foliage. Up to 50' tall and 25' wide in ideal conditions. Zones 2-8.

Golden Duke®
Eastern Hemlock

Extraordinary for its glowing, golden yellow foliage that turns a bright yellow-orange in winter. The unique color, plus its improved sun tolerance and graceful, arching branches make it a superb evergreen. This specimen for containers and landscapes. Up to 10' tall and 3' wide.  Zones 4-8.

More Information About Incredible Plants

2022-12-07 19:49:00