Gardening Trends- New Plants 2020

It is time for the Mid-Atlantic Nurseryman’s Show (MANTS) in Baltimore. After attending the show last week, I am stoked for the 2020 gardening year and the new plants that are hitting the nursery shelves. In this post, I list the plants that interested me, but there are lots of other new varieties that will be available at nurseries in 2020. For my 2019 review, go to Gardening Trends- New Plants for 2019.

Show stopping Foxborough’s Winterberry display at MANTS

On a wintry snowy morning in January, I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nurseryman’s Show (MANTS) at the Baltimore Convention Center.  Their fiftieth anniversary, I have participated for at least 30 of those years.

Selling to independent nurseries, this display included all kinds of fruit- a big trend in container gardening


‘GoodHearted’ Cherry Tomatoes

I loved this ‘Proven Harvest GoodHearted’ Cherry tomato for containers. A husky plant, unlike some mini tomatoes, this plant only grows 12″ tall and 18″ wide at maturity, and is chock full of large-sized cherry tomatoes. Normally container-sized tomato plants produce small harvests of tomatoes, but I was impressed with the number and quality of red and ripening tomatoes on the vine. For more information on this variety, go to Proven Winners. It should be out at the nurseries this year and I got to take one home from the show.

Loads of cherry tomatoes ready to be picked

Amazel Basil

Amazel Basil is a repeat from last year and I loved growing this one! Resistant to the Basil downy mildew that is rampant in my area of the mid-Atlantic, I made many pesto dishes with it. I included this one again, because it was such a good performer in my garden.

‘Amazel’ Basil from Proven Winners

The other resistant one that I grow comes from Burpee – ‘Party Pesto’. Never showing any signs of downy mildew, this was also a tough performer in my garden.

‘Pesto Party’ Basil from Burpee, photo from Burpee


‘Rock ‘N Grow Boogie Woogie’ Sedum

‘Boogie Woogie’ Sedum

Another plant that I got to take home and trial is ‘Boogie Woogie’ Sedum, a beautifully variegated sedum that only gets 6-8″ tall, but up to 18″ wide. The foliage colors are enough for me, but the yellow flowers are a bonus. Needing lots of sun, sedums are my go-to for planting on walls and around stepping stones. I noticed in the information of the Proven Winners website that this variety is resistant to rabbits. I was curious if deer browse on it, but will have to try it to make sure.

Flowering ‘Boogie Woogie’, photo from Proven Winners

‘Cat’s Pajamas’ Nepeta

A Proven Winners 2021 Perennial of the Year Winner

The Nepeta family has a lot of cultivars to choose from. ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ is one of the best. Flowering on a very long stem and not just the tips, when this Nepeta flowers –  it is a solid ball of lavender. In fact, you might mistake it for lavender. If you have trouble with deer browsing and have sun or part sunny areas, you should be growing this one for sure. Nepeta is my mainstay for deer problem areas. It even seems to repel them!

Nepeta ‘Cats Pajamas’

Growing only 14″ tall and 20″ wide, this variety doesn’t flop apart like larger varieties and stays tidier looking. Great for the front of the border and smaller gardens, when the stem is broken, it releases an aromatic scent that is said to attract cats, thus its common name ‘Catmint’.

‘Feather Falls’ Carex

‘Feather Falls’ Carex

Another deer resistant plant that is great for tough situations is Carex. Usually growing better in shade and slow growing, ‘Feather Falls’  is the opposite, growing quickly and doing well in both sun and shade. Vigorous, finely textured, variegated evergreen foliage will grow in full sun without burning. I can see these would be great planted in containers or in a large area.

‘Seersucker’ Carex

‘Seersucker’ Carex

Not so new to the trade, but new to me, was ‘Seersucker’ Sedge or Carex. A shade loving native with crinkly puckered bright green leaves, this is a great addition to other shade loving ground covers. I could envision mixing this with Hellebores, Brunnera, Ferns, and Pulmonarias.

‘Peachberry Ice’ Heuchera

Do we need another Heuchera, or Coral Bells? Breeding has gone crazy with this plant and the colors of the rainbow are found in this mostly foliage family. Some are known for their pretty flowers, but the majority of Heucheras are grown for colorful foliage, especially in containers.

Proven Winners, ‘Peachberry Ice’ hit me as I was browsing the new plants and since I am a sucker for peachy orange colors, I picked it up. I am going to see if it does better than ‘Georgia Peach’, which fizzles out on me. Many of these Heucheras fade away after a few seasons, never to reappear – a short-lived perennial. One oldie but goodie, called ‘Caramel’, keeps on chugging for me here in the mid-Atlantic and I have planted tons of it. Beware – Deer love these!

Array of Heucheras at Hampton Court Flower Show in the UK
‘Caramel’ on my property has a peachy tan leaf with a pink reverse


‘Peachberry Ice’ Heuchera, photo from Proven Winners

‘Shrimps on the Barbie’ Pulmonaria

Flowers of ‘Shrimp on the Barbie’ are gorgeous
The foliage is hairy and spotted and deer won’t eat it!

‘Shrimps on the Barbie’ Pulmonaria is a great looker. Pay attention deer haters! Pulmonaria is another plant like Nepeta that deer will never browse on. Usually adorned with blue flowers, ‘Shrimps on the Barbie’ is definitely hot pink and luscious. Growing in shade or partial shade this Pulmonaria is under-used in the landscape and this break-out pink color is wonderful.

‘Snowbells’ Helleborus

Helleborus or Lenten Rose. are my top deer resistant, shade loving, evergreen plants. There isn’t anything like them and I can’t plant enough of them. From Walters Gardens, this beauty stood out- ‘Snowbells’, a niger variety that blooms much earlier than orientalis. Walters Gardens describes it as: Semi-double, pure white flowers measure 2½-3″ across, with five petals and additional petaloids at the center. Unlike H. hybridus types, these flowers are naturally side-facing versus downward-facing, so you can enjoy the bright white flowers with little effort. 

‘Snowbells’ Helleborus niger, photo from Walters Gardens


A chartreuse ruffly edged Coleus ‘Wicked Witch’

‘Wicked Witch’ Coleus

Color Blaze ‘Wicked Witch’ Coleus is another new plant that caught my eye at the show. I am always looking for a distinctive Coleus variety for containers. Versatile and vigorous, this annual thrives in shade yet tolerates full sun without burning. An ideal container or landscape accent that is very late in blooming – another plus.

I loved the inky dark coloration edged with lime green and think it will show off a lot of annuals in a container.

‘Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes’ Salvia

‘Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes’ Salvia is an improvement on ‘Amistad’ Salvia. Attracting both butterflies and bees, this is a tough, drought tolerant Salvia, with  deep blue flowers and black calyxes. Growing to slightly over 3′ tall in the garden, you need some space for this one.

Salvias are generally left alone by deer, which is another reason to plant it. ‘Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes’ also is very similar to the Pantone Color of the Year, Classic Blue, which makes this plant very 2020.  On the Pantone website, it is described as a deep blue shade that’s “at once comforting and relatable”.

Salvia ‘Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes’, photo from Proven Winners
Photo from Proven Winners



‘Ember Waves’ Arborvitae

‘Ember Waves’ Arborvitae

A new cultivar from Monrovia caught my eye for doing winter arrangements. On Monrovia’s website, they describe it as; An exciting, new, colorful evergreen! Sunny yellow new growth emerges in striking contrast to maturing chartreuse to bright green foliage. The real drama arrives when the weather cools, and it transitions to deep gold, with glowing orange to russet red tips. Vigorous and virtually disease free. Superb accent or screen.

‘Ember Waves’ Winter coloring, photo from Monrovia

Growing moderately to 25′ tall and 8′ wide, I can see this as becoming an alternative to the all-green arborvitae screens that are planted everywhere by landscapers. An increased color palette is welcome for this great screening plant.

More and more, foliage colors are becoming increasingly important in the landscape, providing much-needed winter interest. This is on my list to buy!

‘NextGen’ Boxwood

‘NewGen’ Boxwood

Boxwood blight is running rampant now and keeps me from using this valuable evergreen shrub less in landscape jobs than I want. For great information on this fungal scourge go to Purdue University.

Started in the UK in the mid 1990’s, the blight entered the US in 2011 and is spreading rapidly. You might have seen that local nurseries are not accepting boxwood returns as they might have been in contact with blighted boxwoods, and the disease could spread and infect boxwoods in the nursery. New boxwood varieties are springing up that are resistant to the blight- one of them called ‘NewGen’.

Thanks to some genetic tinkering with vigorous boxwood genes, ‘NewGen’  plants from Saunders Brothers in Virginia, are starting to appear on the market and these should be available at nurseries this season.


One product/new exhibit stood out – The Curb Cabinet, by Tim Scofield of Tim Scofield Studios. Designed to improve historic urban streetscapes, hiding your trash cans, recycling bins, hose,  etc. in a ‘curb cabinet’ fabricated of metal is ingenious. The ugly stuff is hidden away and can be locked, plus you can dress it up with plants that can vine down and further hide and camouflage your outdoor stuff. Resistant to raccoons too! I can see this as wonderful addition to city streets with single or double door options.

Made in Baltimore, you can get more information by contacting Garden Arts at

The Curb Cabinet by Tim Scofield
Displaying plants on top of the Curb Cabinet
Hiding your ugly trash cans behind a metal cabinet is ingenious
Before and after of the curb cabinet

For a great read on gardening trends, go to House Beautiful. See you at MANTS next year!



3 Replies to “Gardening Trends- New Plants 2020”

  1. Claire – thanks for this! Was so hoping to attend MANTS after hearing about it from you, Kathy and Theresa but, alas, had the flu. So very appreciative of your great take! Also loved to see you were big on the native, seersucker sedge. I’m using it more and more for groundcover with winter interest (mine right now is fully green) and in containers too. Thanks again — Shari,

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