Top 10 Best New Plants for 2018

The latest and greatest in the garden world have arrived!

Celebrate the best that the garden world has to over this year with these brand-new plants and flowers for 2018. Introduce any one of these jaw-dropping plants to your garden or backyard and see how quickly it becomes your new favorite. Many of these 2018 all-stars likely won’t be available at your favorite local garden center just yet. Keep them on your radar or check the AAS website (all-americaselections.org/buy-winners) for a list of local suppliers.

Check out our “best of” lists from previous years, too:

More New Plants to Try in 2018:

Think of these new 2018 plants are our honorable mentions!

  • Megawatt Red bronze leaf begonia (Begonia interspecific): Reaching 20 to 28 inches high, these begonias are great for shade to part shade.
  • Lucky Star pentas (Pentas lanceolata): This series in dark red, deep pink, lavender, violet or white reblooms faster than any other.
  • Super Hero Spry marigold (Tagetes patula): Maroon lower petals and golden upper petals will win you over.
photo credit: All-America Selections

1. Onyx Red ornamental pepper

Capsicum annuum ‘Onyx Red’, annual

Onyx Red ornamental pepper is a gorgeous 2018 All-America Selections winner in the flower—not vegetable—category. With black foliage and red fruits, Onyx Red stands out. One All-America Selections judge said it offers “real WOW power in the landscape.”

Why we love it: The deep black foliage, dark fruits that turn bright red, and compact, bushy form (6-inch rounded mass in a pot, 10 inches in the ground) made this a standout in All-America Selections trials. Grow Onyx in full sun.

photo credit: Proven Winners

2. Pugster series butterfly bush

Buddleia x hybrids, Zones 5 to 9

The Pugster series of butterfly bushes grows full-sized flowers on plants that are only 2 feet tall but up to 4 feet wide. Thick stems and good branching make for better winter survival, but invasiveness may be an issue in some areas.

Why we love it: Like pug dogs, they’re short, stocky and cute! Choose from blue, periwinkle, pink or white.

photo credit: All-America Selections

3. Queeny Lime Orange zinnia

Zinnia elegans ‘Queeny Lime Orange’, annual

Two-inch dahlialike blooms in shades of lime, yellow, peach, salmon and orange turn light peach with a dark center as the flowers age. Add this 1½- to 2-foot-tall zinnia to your garden and watch people and pollinators go wild.

Why we love it: As a cut flower, this zinnia lasts more than a week without preservatives.

photo credit: courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries Inc.

4. Prima Ginger coneflower

Echinacea prima ginger ‘TNECHPG’, Zones 4 to 10

This cute orange coneflower is so compact it will grow well in containers. Flowers reach 16 inches tall, and the leaves spread to about 15 inches. Even in its first year, you can expect multiple soft orange blooms that age to pink.

Why we love it: Finches and other birds love the dried seedheads.

photo credit: Proven Winners

5. Rockin’ Deep Purple salvia

Salvia hybrid ‘BBSAL09001’, Perennial in Zones 10 to 11, annual elsewhere

This salvia is so pretty and easy you’ll want to grow it year after year. Because it never sets seed, the electric purple blooms just keep coming, and they fall off on their own when spent. If you want a bushier plant, clip off the ends to force more branching. Plant it in full to part sun.

Why we love it: Four words: hummingbird magnet, deer resistant.

photo credit: Ball Horticultural Company

6. Solar Tower Lime sweet potato vine

Pomoea batatas ‘Balsotowime’, Perennial in Zone 11, annual elsewhere

Sweet potato vines have long been a great choice to trail down containers or ramble through a bed. SolarTower is the first self-climbing variety that can grow on a trellis or wall or be shaped as topiary. It reaches 4 to 7 feet long and performs best in full sun.

Why we love it: You can interweave it with SolarTower Black.

photo credit: Keith Williamson

7. Sky’s Edge scutellaria

Scutellaria scordifolia ‘Pat Hayward’, zones 5 to 10

If you have a rock garden or soil that drains rapidly and your landscape has sunny, moderate to dry conditions, look to Sky’s Edge scutellaria, a 2018 Plant Select award winner chosen for its hardiness, long bloom time and season-long glossy green foliage.

Why we love it: It features a hard-to-find flower color—intense violet-blue. Plus it attracts bees and butterflies.

photo credit: Plants Nouveau, plantsnouveau.com

8. Bee-You series bee balm

Monarda, Zones 5 to 9

Hummingbirds and butterflies duke it out with bees for the nectar in this bee balm. The Bee-You series plants are compact—15 to 18 inches tall, 12 to 15 inches wide—and mildew resistant. Plant Bee-Merry bee balm near Black Truffle cardinal flower, ornamental grasses like Prairie Munchkin little bluestem and the Butterfly series of coneflowers to maximize the pollinator guests in your garden.

Why we love it: Plants in the series have super cute names: Bee-lieve (soft pink), Bee-Happy (vermillion red), Bee-Free (electric purple) and Bee-Merry (coral pink).

photo credit: Ball Horticultural Company

9. Purple Prince alternanthera

Alternanthera brasiliana ‘Purple Prince’, Perennial in zone 11, annual elsewhere

Burgundy-purple leaves with ruby-rose undersides coordinate with most things in your garden. The mounded, spreading, low-maintenance grower keeps its color best in full to part sun.

Why we love it: This gorgeous foliage reaches at least 10 to 16 inches tall and about 18 to 20 inches wide. The compact size works well in containers.

photo credit: Chickcharms.net

10. Cosmic Candy Chick Charms red cobweb hens-and-chicks

Sempervivum, Zones 4 to 8

This unusual—and vigorous—cobweb sempervivum stays red all year. Beware: It can’t tolerate the heat and humidity of Zones 9 to 11.

Why we love it: Nearly 99 percent of all cobweb sempervivum types have green leaves with silver hairs, but Cosmic Candy sports red leaves with silver hairs.

Deb Wiley
Deb Wiley is a freelance writer and editor from Des Moines, Iowa. She loves plants that attract birds to her garden.