New and Exciting Foliage to Watch For

My road trip last spring with the National Garden Bureau was a hortiholics adventure of the first order. I was one of four garden writers invited to attend the 2018 California Spring Trials (CAST) as their guest on a week long, plant-peeping extravaganza.

CAST is the opportunity for plant breeders across the country to showcase their latest introductions, hoping that plant growers will select, grow and then sell these treasures onto the retail nurseries where you and I can finally get our hands on them!

Most of the plants shown here will be available for the first time this spring – this is your insider's peek into what's happening behind the scenes, focusing specifically on plants which had outstanding foliage. (Because you all know by now that the best designs have a strong foliage framework…) .

New Succulent Creations

Echeveria Coral Reef Aqua – by Greenfuse Botanicals Inc.

Echeveria Coral Reef Aqua – by Greenfuse Botanicals Inc.

Yes please!! I'll take half a dozen of these! LOVED the dual-tone, ruffled edges on this Coral Reef Aqua echeveria by Greenfuse Botanicals. Fabulous color blend. So easy to repeat these apricot tones with foliage and flowers too – or simply plant this solo in a terracotta vessel for easy elegance.

Coral Creations from Proven Winners

Coral Creations from Proven Winners

Succulent breeder Chris Hansen has teamed up with Proven Winners to come up with what is sure to be a HOT collection of succulents  called Coral Creations.  Their display at CAST showed some highly desirable planters brimming with these colorful treasures. Chris has even provided recipes for attractive, long-lasting  combinations that production greenhouses can use to mimic these designs.

Design by Proven Winners

Design by Proven Winners

I for one would be hard-pressed to only pick up one of these! Thankfully the plants will also be sold individually I believe, so we can pick and choose our own selections.

A New Deer Resistant Perennial

Walberton's Silver Fountain Gaura by Plant Haven

Walberton's Silver Fountain Gaura by Plant Haven

I'm a huge fan of gaura for their drought tolerance, deer resistance, and long flowering display. Walberton's Silver Fountain is a new variegated form that promises cold hardiness down to zone 5 and a tidy habit. I know of at least one plant producer that has purchased this from the breeder so I for one will be knocking on their greenhouse door next spring!

So many Coleus!

There were extensive coleus displays throughout our tour – these were just two that stood out to me.

Coleus Pinkplosion by BallFloraPlant

Coleus Pinkplosion by BallFloraPlant

Coleus Pinkplosion had a fun twist to the end of each leaf, as well as a clean multi-colored variegation and a distinctive purple margin and purple stems. I found myself drawn to it time and again.

Coleus Main Street Rodeo Drive by Dummen Orange

Coleus Main Street Rodeo Drive by Dummen Orange

This one had serious SASSITUDE! Main Street Rodeo Drive was fun, flirty, crinkled, frilly, colorful in a "Look at ME!" kind of way…. you know what? Adjectives just aren't enough. Here's another photo:

Coleus Main Street Rodeo Drive by Dummen Orange

See the incredible pattern of veins underneath the leaves? And the molded-tortilla shape?

Silver Standouts

Dib's Moonlight begonia by Greenfuse

Dib's Moonlight begonia by Greenfuse

The photo of Dib's Moonlight begonia really doesn't do it justice, check out this image on the breeder's website to get a better sense. Each leaf was almost the size of my hand, and the silver color shone as though polished. With burgundy undersides and stems, and a crinkled texture reminiscent of dinosaur kale it was far superior to any similarly colored begonias introduced to market so far in my opinion.

Here's a fun tidbit: The Dibley family are from Wales and have been working with the Greenfuse for many years, breeding this and other outstanding Rex begonias. Readers in the UK  may enjoy visiting their nursery which specializes in begonias and streptocarpus.

Artemisia 'Makana Silver' by Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc

Artemisia 'Makana Silver' by Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc

Be jealous – I tested these Artemisia 'Makana Silver' in the landscape and containers last year and they were fabulous! This annual opens a pale seafoam green before maturing to a metallic silver that is nothing short of stunning.

Deer resistant, rabbit resistant, and drought tolerant – you knew I'd love this one didn't you?

Last but not Least

Trifolium 4luck Red Green by Greenfuse Botanicals

Trifolium 4luck Red Green by Greenfuse Botanicals

When I posted this photo of Trifolium 4luck Red Green on Facebook it drew a lot of interest. Really pretty, perennial groundcover for shady spots. (Note that the colors of my photo are accurate – those on this website link are not).

Trifolium 4luck Red Stripes

Trifolium 4luck Red Stripes

It's new relative Trifolium 4luck Red Stripes is equally beautiful – reminds me of a kaleidoscope.

Alternanthera 'Choco Chili' from Westhoff

Alternanthera 'Choco Chili' from Westhoff

Voted "Outstanding Plant of 2017", Alternanthera 'Choco Chili' was a very attractive annual foliage plant, at first glance reminiscent of a fringeflower (Loropetalum) but with softer leaves. Suitable for full or partial sun, the colors will be darker in full sun (greenhouse conditions had lessened the color during CAST). Noted for its heat tolerance.

Look familiar?

This post was first published in 2018 in the (now archived) blog Fine Foliage. I have modified it and re-published it here as many of you won't have seen it at all and because THIS is the time you are likely to see these fabulous foliage plants in the nurseries!

Enjoy your treasure hunt!

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2 Comments

  1. Sue Montgomery on April 18, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks Karen – these are fabulous finds! Can you tell me where to find them in the Seattle Eastside area?
    Molbaks?



    • Karen Chapman on April 19, 2019 at 8:27 am

      Molbaks and other major nurseries will be buying from these growers but of course no one nursery will have them all, all the time. Sky (Aurora) is also a good place to check