My Top 5 Picks - New Perennials for 2023

In the second installment of New Plants for 2023 comes my list of the Top 5 New Perennials for your consideration and viewing enjoyment! Now I must admit that not all my picks are new, but there are some very good reasons to include them.

My first pick just happens to be the Perennial Plant Associations “Perennial of the Year 2023”, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘American Gold Rush’ (Black Eyed Susan).

Zone 3 – 9

Full sun to part shade.

Height: 30-60 cm

Spread: 30-60 cm

The Perennial Plant of the Year designation began in 1990. The Perennial Plant of the Year is chosen by members of the American PP Association. Members are free to nominate a perennial of their choosing as long as it meets the following criteria. The perennial can be grown in a wide range of gardening zones. It must be low maintenance, have multiple season interest, and be relatively disease and pest free. The nominations are reviewed by a PPA committee and they select three to four of the nominated perennials to be placed on a voting ballot. If you are a paying member of the PPA, you can vote for your favorite of the three or four.

Though not new; American Gold Rush Rudbeckia is a glorious addition to any perennial border or bed. It has a compact, ball-shaped form that produces blooms from mid-summer into the fall. The blooms are a very bright yellow with an almost black central cone. You can see them from a mile away in the garden so a mass planting of them makes a real statement! Butterflies love them and birds feed on the seeds in the winter. More blooms are produced on plants grown in full sun. Yes, you have to dead-head to encourage more blooms but I really don’t consider deadheading ‘work’; do you? The leaves are thin and hairy which gives them a silvery look in the sun. Plant with other blue, purple and red blooming perennials/annuals for a real wow factor in the garden.

Rudbeckias are drought tolerant once established. They will grow in most soil types with adequate drainage and are not fussy as to soil pH. American Gold Rush is resistant to Septoria Leaf Spot.

From Proven Winners comes Sedum Rock ‘N Round ‘Bright Idea’

Zone: 3-9

Height: 25-30 cm. Spread/Width: 40-50 cm. Full Sun

Bright Idea is a ball-shaped sedum with red stems just perfect for a hot border or in the rock garden. And I love the name!  Also use it as a filler in mixed containers. The thick green serrated foliage holds up star-like yellow/green flowers that are showy from early summer through fall. The red stems shine through the foliage and this is perfect for the front of the border where they are easily admired. Bright Idea Sedum is perfect for a blue or red pot on its own or in a grouping of container plantings. It is rabbit resistant – bonus! Heat, salt and drought tolerant once established. Attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Appreciates a very well-drained soil and is not fussy to soil pH.

Phlox paniculata Luminary ‘Sunset Coral’ Proven Winners

Zone: 3-8

Height: 75-80 cm. Spread/Width: 75-80 cm. Full Sun – Part Shade

Bloom Time: Mid-summer

With a name like Luminary ‘Sunset Coral’ this perennial has a lot to live up to and boy, does it ever. This tall garden phlox has spectacular fragrant coral pink flowers that carry an orange tinge that glows in the sun. Sunset Coral Phlox is just perfect for the middle of the perennial border.

Sunset Coral needs a well - drained, neutral to acidic, rich soil that is kept moist in full sun. As you know tall garden phlox are often plagued by powdery mildew. Powdery mildew loves hot weather areas with high humidity and poor air flow around the plants. It is spread by splashing water from an affected plant to nearby plantings or just through the air. A good way to avoid powdery mildew is to be proactive and water at ground level and provide the plant with good air circulation. This phlox has very good disease resistance but keep a close eye out to catch any powdery mildew early.

Fertilize with an all -purpose water soluble perennial fertilizer in spring and midway through the growing season. You can also use slow-release perennial fertilizer.

Luminary ‘Sunset Coral’ attracts pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. Deadheading spent blooms prolongs flowering time. This phlox can also be used as a cut flower.

Make a mass planting of this perennial the focal point of a large perennial bed and you will have people knocking on your door asking what it is!

Hosta Shadowland ‘Voices in the Wind’ Zone: 3-9 Proven Winners

Height: 45 cm. Spread/Width: 90 cm. Shade to Part Shade

This is a beautiful large hosta with textured blue-green leaves that have ruffled creamy yellow edges that curve slightly inward. It has a mounded habit and likes a moist, well drained, fertile neutral to acidic soil that is well drained. This plant will certainly light up a shade garden landscape.

Pale lavender flowers appear from mid to late summer on two foot scapes (flower stalks). Hosta flowers attract hummingbirds.

Fertilize established plants with an all-purpose water soluble perennial fertilizer during the beginning of the growing season and again in late June.Clean up dead hosta leaves in late fall to help remove slug and leaf-eating insect eggs from the garden.Shadowland ‘Voices in the Wind’ Hosta can be used in mass plantings, perennial shade borders, single plantings in containers or in mixed containers.

Another Hosta Shadowland Series show-stopper is Empress Wu. While it is not a new hosta for 2023 it grows in our Zone and is worth a look. Check it out – you won’t be disappointed!

Upscale Series - Monarda or Bee Balm.

Zone: 3-4 to 8

Full Sun

If you love color (and who doesn’t!), these three Monarda cultivars are for you! The flowers are so bright and will not disappoint!

You will get varying opinions regarding growing zones – some say Zone 4, others say Zone 3. The real concern here in Saskatoon is with the winter hardiness of our perennials. As with other first year perennials, it is always advisable to mulch the plant(s) the first winter or two so they can get a good root system going. I will certainly buy one (or all three!) and trial them in my garden this season. Stay tuned!

Bee Balm prefers full sun. The flowers are loved by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Resistant to deer. All of the new cultivars have fragrant leaves and flowers. Grow in a rich, moist, alkaline to neutral soil. Some varieties/cultivars of Monarda are somewhat invasive. To counter this, divide the mother plants every two to three years and do not overwater. Once established, keep them on the dry side.

Monarda can be prone to powdery mildew. Always water at ground level and provide good air circulation around each plant.

The Upscale Series is composed of three new cultivars:

‘Lavender Taffeta’ - Height: 55 cm. – 65 cm. Width/Spread: 70 cm. – 75 cm. Dark lavender purple flowers blooming in late spring and throughout the summer. The bloom color pops against a backdrop of shiny dark green leaf.

‘Pink Chenille’ - Height: 50 cm. – 55 cm. Width/Spread: 45 cm. – 55 cm.

Large 7.5 cm diameter, fluorescent pink flowers that are abundantly produced in spring and summer.

‘Red Velvet’ – Height: 77 cm. Width/Spread: 80 cm.

Large bright cherry red flowers from mid- summer to fall. Newly emerging leaves have a bronze cast – this is natural.


Hosta of the Year 2023 – Hosta ‘Neptune’ has been chosen by the American Hosta Growers Association as Hosta of the Year.

Height: 60 cm. Spread/Width: 1.18 m.

A gorgeous glaucus blue leaf hosta with rippled leaf edges and a cascading form. The leaves are narrow and wedge-shaped. Like most hostas, it likes full to part shade and a nutrient rich soil. Keep the soil moist but not heavily saturated. In late summer to early fall, Neptune produces lavender flowers on tall arching scapes.

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