Bloom Where You Are Planted

Delight in growing the brightest and most beautiful plants for any garden.

Article by Abby Lapides, Sugar Creek Gardens

Photography by Sugar Creek Gardens

Originally published in Kirkwood City Lifestyle

We've got the top plants for 2023. Here are few of our favorites along with tips for keeping your garden bright and beautiful all year long. 

Indian Summer Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia 

The National Garden Bureau has designated Rudbeckia as the 2023 Perennial Plant of the Year, and the Missouri Botanical Garden has recognized it as a ''Plant of Merit'' for its outstanding qualities. Indian Summer Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia has enormous 6-9" flower heads that appear all summer into fall to give you armloads of sunny yellow daisies. Fantastic in pots on patios and entranceways, mixed pots, and in the garden. While they are not long-lived, they reseed perfectly for years and years of flowers.

Tip: Plant in full sun to part shade. Although drought tolerant, for best results, keep well-watered, especially when plants are setting up buds and blooming.

BerryBux Blueberry Bush

This plant looks like a dwarf boxwood but has the bonus of blueberries! Its boxwood-like foliage and compact habit make it perfect for planting as a hedge or in groups in the garden. With the addition of white flowers that ripen into a dramatic display of berries that turn a deep blue when ripe, this variety is a treat unlike any other! 

Tip: Plant BerryBux Blueberry bush in full sun in moist, well-drained areas. Blueberries require acidic soils, around a pH of 5. Amend with compost before planting and use a fertilizer for acid-loving plants. Adding garden sulfur can help lower pH as needed. BerryBux will also thrive in a larger container.

Bear's Breeches

This beauty impresses us with majestic spires of purple and white hooded flowers and architecturally bold foliage. Its deeply cut, spiny leaves make large clumps that always take center stage. Easy to grow in part shade container or garden locations and is deer and rabbit resistant. Its fascinating foliage looks incredible all season.

Tip: Add organic matter when planting. For best blooming, keep consistently moist, especially when plants are setting up buds and blooming.

Raspberry Shortcake

Completely thornless, compact, and tough, Raspberry Shortcake offers everyone a chance to enjoy raspberries like never before. Raspberry Shortcake features a tight, rounded growth habit that thrives in a patio pot or a landscape. Perfect for children and adults, this carefree, nutritious raspberry requires no staking or big garden spaces. Its sweet, vanilla flavor is uniquely delicious!

Tip: Plant in full sun in moist, well-drained areas. Raspberry Shortcake will also thrive in a larger container. Fertilize regularly during spring and summer for the best berry production.

Kirigami Ornamental Oregano

Here's something new, different, and fun. Kirigami Ornamental Oregano, Origanum, brings soft color and fascinating form to the garden and containers. Semi-prostrate branching stems produce hop-like pods and soft pink to lavender florets in late spring, summer, and fall. Incredible in containers, as an edger, or growing over walls or boulders. It's non-edible, but this non-culinary oregano features large purple-green bracts, rose flowers, and clear, light green foliage, with a delicious fragrance to attract pollinators.

Tip: Plant in full sun. Perfect for hanging baskets or in borders and rock gardens. It can also be dried for use in flower arrangements. Deer and rabbit resistant.

Variegated Toad Lily

With its gorgeous mounding habit and stunning blossoms that resemble orchids, plus other outstanding attributes, Variegated Toad Lily, Tricyrtis, makes an excellent selection for the shade garden. Let's start with its foliage. Beautiful green leaves edged in gold grow in a graceful aching ladder pattern that forms a large clump. In late summer and fall, when the shade garden desperately needs flowers, Variegated Toad Lily magically produces ethereal orchid-like flowers of white with purple speckles along the whole stem. The flowers appear in every leaf axil on the cascading branches. Although looking like a fussy grand princess, this graceful plant is tough, thriving in neglected areas of the shade garden. It easily grows under trees in dry shade, where little else will grow. Plant Variegated Toad Lily in the woodland garden, under trees, in formal and informal settings. Once established, little care is needed. Drought tolerant. Deer and rabbits leave it alone. A reliably hardy perennial that thrives for years. 

Tip: Plant in shade or part shade. Although drought tolerant, keep well-watered. 

Puffer Fish Hydrangea

Enjoy huge over-the-top flowers on Puffer Fish Panicle Hydrangea. In summer, the blooms appear on squat stems, completely covering the shrub. The ginormous blooms hide almost all the greenery. As the central flowers dry to a lime green, a small tuft of new white flowers appears, adding a fun little show. Growing 3-5′ tall and wide, Puffer Fish makes an excellent showy hedge, accent, or backdrop in a mixed garden. Puffer Fish also would be a choice plant for large containers where a low-maintenance show is needed.

Tip: Plant in full sun to part shade in soil with compost. Apply a starter or all-purpose fertilizer when planting, like Starter with Bio Tone Organic Fertilizer. Fertilizing consistently will give you the best results. Stop fertilizing in late summer. Although fancy pruning is unnecessary, you can prune in late winter to early spring by cutting them back to the ground, or if you want taller plants cut them back to 1-3′ feet.

Stand By Me Bush Clematis

Stand By Me Bush Clematis paints the garden with gorgeous bell-shaped flowers for months. In late May, masses of clear blue, adorable dangling flowers adorn its 1-2′ tall stems. This sturdy bloom continues well through June, and it continues to flower with a lighter bloom for the remainder of the summer into October. Its fantastic flowers, tremendous vigor, and proven performance make it a superior variety we strongly recommend.

A Sugar Creek gardener reported, "Once it started blooming, it never stopped. It just kept blooming and blooming well into October."

Bush-type Clematis benefit from staking or support from neighboring plants, and if given no support Stand By Me will turn into a rambling ground cover. It also looks fabulous against fences as a striking focal point in garden beds and containers. You and butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and other essential pollinators will be delighted by its continuous bloom.

Tip: Plant in rich soil or soil with organic matter. This Clematis prefers full sun to light shade; for best results, keep consistently watered, especially when plants are setting up buds and blooming. Prune in late winter or early spring to 3-4" tall. New shoots should emerge from the crown beneath the soil.

Sweet Sandia Coneflower

Sweet Sandia Coneflower, Echinacea, brings flowers that look like a slice of watermelon. Its large petals display beautiful shades of pink, green, and purple. Blooming begins in summer and continues into fall. The plants are vigorous and healthy and have multiple buds per stem. Thick, strong stems hold these delectable flowers upright. A hardy perennial with loads of blossoms, Sweet Sandia Coneflower creates gorgeous displays for gardens, containers, cut flower bouquets, and dried arrangements. Excellent for mass plantings, meadows, or naturalized areas. Fantastic as a seasonal plant for the focal point of container compositions. Coneflower seed heads are a favorite for dried flower arrangements and add considerable interest to winter outdoor landscapes. Goldfinches and other birds swarm to Coneflower seeds.

Tip: Plant in full sun, at least 6 hours of sun a day, in well-draining soil. Add organic matter to the soil when planting. For best flowering, keep well-watered, especially when plants are setting up and blooming. Let plants dry out between watering. An occasional squirt of liquid fertilizer will improve flowering. Although they will bloom continually without deadheading, cutting back spent blooms will encourage more flowers.

Blue Bubbly False Indigo

Blue Bubbly produces massive 16″ long flowers in baby blue to lavender. Its vase-like habit is covered with densely packed blossoms in spring. The large, 16″ flower spikes extend the blooming season longer than others. The Baby Bubbly is a member of the outstanding DECADENCE DELUX series of Baptisia. All Baptisia have a substantial presence in the garden, but the members of the DECADENCE DELUXE series are larger than most. Use in place of a shrub in the landscape or as a centerpiece in the garden. Due to its native Missouri plant heritage, this Baptisia easily grows in St. Louis and will thrive with little maintenance. It matures into an incredibly full and bushy plant, a perfect substitution for shrubs if you're looking for structure in the garden. 

Tip: Plant in full sun, at least 6 hours of sun a day. Due to its long tap root, carefully plan where to plant this beauty as plants prefer to stay put.

Cardinal Basil

Enjoy the delicious minty flower bracts and spicy and sweet leaves of Cardinal Basil, Ocimum. Classic-tasting basil leaves and extremely showy purple flower bracts create a stunning show in the herb garden or just planted for its ornamental value. The deep purple bracts are simply fabulous, luxurious, and edible with a delightful mint flavor. Small white flowers bloom in between the showy bracts attracting pollinators.

For the best leaf flavor, cut off flowers once they bloom. Fantastic as a culinary herb or used as an ornamental for containers, landscapes, and gardens. This plant makes a delightful, long-lasting, and fragrant cut flower.

Tip: Cardinal Basil prefers full sun to light shade. For best results, give consistent moisture and grow in an eco-earth-friendly pot.

Visit www.sugarcreekgardens.com for a full list of gardening favorites. 

A Sugar Creek gardener reported, "Once the Stand By Me Bush Clematis started blooming, it never stopped. It just kept blooming and blooming well into October."

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