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10 Landscape Plants for 2021 Gardening

Diverse plant offerings for post-pandemic environments

Spring clean-ups are in full swing and local nurseries are getting ready for a new gardening season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of their new releases and explore why they’ve ended up on our must-have list for 2021. For this occasion, we’ve included a variety of worthy garden selections, from grasses and ferns to evergreen trees and shrubs.

We know you’ve been cooped up long enough and are ready to get your hands dirty. The following gardening plant list is inspired by the previous year in isolation and what it means to be adaptable and resilient. Let’s begin!



1. Burgundy Manor Masterwort – Astrantia major ‘Burgundy Manor’
gardening plants

Credit: Bluestone Perennials

It’s time this perennial gets the praise it deserves. Considering this plant’s features, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t heard of it before. Burgundy Manor has a lengthy summer bloom, attracts pollinators, and is a staple cut flower. If you’re looking for a plant that will provide a splash of color in a moist, partially shaded garden area, look no further. Dense foliage allows for use in the front or middle parts of the garden.

Height: 24-28″

Spread: 20-24″

Zone: 4-7

Soil: Moist to Average

Notes: Deadhead for re-bloom



2. Blue Jean Baby Russian Sage – Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Jean Baby’

Credit: Walters Gardens

‘Walker’s Low’ Catmint, you have a problem. Often avoided due to their floppy nature, Russian Sage has a new member in the lineup. Welcome ‘Blue Jean Baby’, a more compact, yet still extremely long-flowering addition. Landscapers have know about Russian Sage for a while now, but ‘Blue Jean Baby’ will have them looking like heroes. The one drawback to this species is its rather late emergence in Spring, so be sure to mix it in next to companions like Daylily, Lady’s Mantle, or Baptisia.

Height: 28-34″

Spread: 36″

Zone: 4-9

Soil: Versatile; well-drained, dry

Notes: Considered a subshrub or woody perennial



3. Godzilla Japanese Painted Fern – Athyrium niponicum pictum ‘Godzilla’

Ferns evoke strong emotions from garden clients. You’re either are on board the fern train or you’re bailing quickly. A growing trend to connect people to nature are in every fern’s favor. Some feel like ferns belong nowhere near a cultivated landscape. But what happens when you have a show-stopper like ‘Godzilla’ Japanese Painted Fern? A presence so demanding, you can’t help but take notice. Discovered in the 90’s, this fern is likely to see a big increase in popularity in 2021 gardening applications. Combine with smaller, broad leaf hostas and red foliage bugbane for a dramatic effect in the moist, shade garden.


Credit: Weston Nurseries

Height: 36″

Spread: 48″

Zone: 3-8

Soil: Moist, moderately acidic

Notes: Cut back in Spring when new fronds are 6″ tall




4. Dallas Blue Switch Grass – Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blue’
gardening vermont

Credit: Johnson Nursery Corp.

‘Heavy Metal’ just got a big brother and turned the volume to 11! Appropriately named, Dallas Blue Switch Grass grows to 8′ high and 6′ wide. Commonly used in drift effects in meadow plantings, we’d recommend rethinking that idea when using ‘Dallas Blue’. Sure to fill a space and make an impact, this Switch Grass is one of the best ornamental grasses on the market today.

Height: 6-8′

Spread: 5-6′

Zone: 4-9

Soil: Versatile, from sand to clay

Notes: Plant in full sun to avoid flopping


5. Grape Taffy False Indigo – Baptisia ‘Grape Taffy’

Let’s reign this list in a bit and get back to familiarity. Baptisia is a staple in many New England gardens and was actually the first subsidized agricultural crop in the United States. Like Russian Sage, Grape Taffy False Indigo can be considered a substitution for shrubs and has been selected for its compact nature. Extremely versatile and easy to grow, this Baptisia will thrive in your garden for years to come.


Credit: Walters Gardens

Height: 2.5′

Spread: 2.5′

Zone: 4-9

Soil: Poor to Average, slightly acidic

Notes: Low-maintenance and best in full sun






6. Sterling Silver Siberian Bugloss – Brunnera macrophylla ‘Sterling Silver’

Much has been said about this new introduction of Siberian Bugloss. ‘Sterling Silver’ improves upon the ‘Looking Glass’ Bugloss with more structural leaf veining and overall heat tolerance. There aren’t many options when it comes to bold texture in the garden, but Sterling Silver Bugloss offers just that. A great substitute and very comparable to Hosta. A great option for challenging, dry shade gardening areas, despite what you may have read.

Height: 12-14″

Spread: 18-24″

Zone: 3-8

Soil: Moist to average; can tolerate dry; neutral to alkaline

Notes: Low-maintenance; cut back in Spring to protect crowns


7. Firefly Nightglow Bush Honeysuckle

Simmer down, it’s not the invasive honeysuckle. Firefly Nightglow is a hybrid between the native Southern Bush and more hardy, Dwarf-bush Honeysuckle. This genus is one of the toughest around and now that hybridization of them has increased, we expect to see them gain in popularity. Firefly Nightglow is actually named after its ridiculously bright, chartreuse flowers. Additionally, having access to a red foliage landscape plant that can withstand the harshest conditions should have us all excited. If it were any larger, Purpleleaf Sandcherry would be out of business.

tough garden plants

Credit: NVK Nurseries

Height: 3′

Spread: 3′

Zone: 4-8

Soil: Adaptable/poor; takes abuse

Notes: Foliage intensifies as Summer progresses




8. Red Arrow Blackhaw Viburnum – Viburnum prunifolium ‘Red Arrow’

An introduction so new, we could barely find photos of the Red Arrow Viburnum, but are intrigued by its potential. This genus lands at the very top of our list when used correctly. Much has been said about the invasive Viburnum Leaf Beetle, but fear not, Blackhaw is one of the least susceptible species. Red Arrow might be the tallest shrub with the shortest width we’ve seen. Perfect for hedging and just about as tough as our friend Diervilla.

tough shrubs

Credit: Millican Nurseries

Height: 10-15′

Spread: 4-5′

Zone: 4

Soil: Adaptable; does well in dry soils

Notes: Slow grower, so buy large





9. Humphrey Welch Hemlock – Tsuga canadensis ‘Humphrey Welch’

Honey, I shrunk the Hemlock? That’s exactly what looks to have happened with this offering. Humphrey Welch Hemlock has the graceful habit of the full-size Eastern Hemlock without all the size. Availability of this specimen may be limited due to the interstate restrictions of Hemlock due to woolly adelgid. Ask your nursery supplier to grow this one today!

evergreen gardening

Credit: Millican Nurseries

Height: 10-15′

Spread: 6-8′

Zone: 4

Soil: Moist, well-drained, acid soils, rocky bluffs or sandy soils

Notes: Transplants well; one of the best evergreens






10. Great Wall Lilac Tree – Syringa pekinensis ‘Great Wall’

Easy gardening button-engage. For years now, city developers have been using the Lilac Tree due to its high tolerance of urban pollutants and ability to thrive in poor conditions. How many trees can you name that are extremely tough, highly ornamental in flower, and have exfoliating bark? When used at the woodland edge (as shown) it nearly resembles a native Dogwood which aren’t that hardy in Zone 4. The more you learn about this tree, the more attractive it becomes. Considering Great Wall’s mature size is even less than that of its known predecessors, it’s sure to be high on the list for 2021 landscapes.

Height: 20′

Spread: 12′

Zone: 3

Soil: Adaptable; average to evenly moist is best; well drained

Notes: Lives 50 years or more



Thinking of using one of the plants on our list but not sure where to find them? Give us a call at 802-798-2573 or email us at to have them delivered to your doorstep! In any event, we’re wishing you a happy and prosperous 2021 gardening season.