Green Thumb – Springtime in the Garden

Posted: April 25, 2019

As gardeners, we have been patiently or perhaps not so patiently waiting for April and May and the beginning of the gardening season. We look forward to enjoying some of our old garden favorites but will also be interested in exploring new gardening trends and the new plants for this year.

One of the first landscaping trends for 2019 is designing a “low maintenance” garden by using perennial/native plants combined with easy care shrubs and trees.

Back by popular demand is “food production.” Every year, more and more families are producing their own fruits and vegetables in their home gardens. The new component this year is “giving back.” This involves producing more than just your family needs and having additional food supplies that can be donated to food banks and pantries.

“Staycation” is a fun new trend for families. This trend involves creating your own year-round vacation spot in your backyard. Suggestions for designing a great backyard vacation spot include an attractive outdoor area with many of your favorite, easy care plants. With an addition of comfortable furniture, appropriate lighting and a small outdoor kitchen, you are all set. You are now free of airport hassles, hotel scheduling and toting heavy luggage because you will be home enjoying your newly created “staycation.” Something to think about.

New plants for 2019

Every year there is an awesome number of new annual plants to select for your garden.

Hummelo Stachys makes the list of perennial plants for 2019 due to its prolific blooms.

Dwarf sunflower ‘Busy Bee’ can be a cheerful new addition to your garden. It is a magnet for butterflies and bees during the growing season and supplies an autumn and winter feast for birds.

The ‘Spellbound’ series of petunias will spread from 12-20” with large flower heads and fringed edges. It is outstanding for containers or in the front of the border.

There is a new entry for all of you that love to have a purple presence in your garden. Salvia ‘Big Blue’ has towering purple flower spikes that grow to three feet in full sun to dappled shade. This salvia is easy to grow and a generous host to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Big Blue Salvia has towering purple flowering spikes that grow to three feet.

Vinca ‘Orchid Halo’ comes in bright pink, burgundy and purple with white centers for a striking appearance. This heat and humidity tolerant plant was recognized by the All American Selections (AAS) annual judging committee.

The perennial plant for 2019 is stachys ‘Hummelo’. Though not a new variety, ‘Hummelo’ has been a popular plant for many years due to its prolific blooms starting in June and continuing on through the summer months. It is 18-24” and has tiny, rose/lavender flowers. It is a good plant for the front of the border and has real impact when displayed in a mass planting.

Imogen Rose is a popular and stunning English shrub rose.

A rose getting a lot of attention this year is ‘Imogen’, an English shrub rose. It is a delicate yellow and has contrasting dark green foliage.  It is from the David Austin line of roses and has been described as a stunner. It is hardy to Zone 5.

In the world of shrubs, many of the most admired shrub varieties are being re-invented in dwarf form. These newer, petite forms have the flexibility to be grown in the ground or in containers. Varieties to take a look at include Butterfly Bush ‘Pubster’, Weigela ‘Spilled Wine’ and Hydrangea ‘Little Lime’.

Each year, our gardens are different from previous years. Gardens evolve as new plants are added to old time favorites. Winter is over. It is time to enjoy your 2019 gardening season.

Got a Gardening Question?

Submit your questions to or call the University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Help Desk at 815-758-8194. The Desk is open for questions now to mid-October from 9 a.m. – Noon.