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19 interesting plants you might want to try in your garden this year

SunPatens like these at Shotwell Floral & Greenhouses, Fargo, grow in sun, part sun or shade. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service1 / 5
Mandevilla like these at Shotwell Floral & Greenhouses, Fargo, enjoys full sun on decks and patios. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service2 / 5
Don Kinzler, gardening columnist 3 / 5
The Kong series of coleus like these at Shotwell Floral & Greenhouses, Fargo, has huge leaves on compact plants for shade locations. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service4 / 5
Thunbergia vines like these at Shotwell Floral & Greenhouses, Fargo, are vigorous heat lovers for trellised containers. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service5 / 5

Have you ever noticed that people who enjoy their yards and gardens like talking about plants nearly as much as they enjoy growing them? Striking up a conversation is easy. Just ask "Have you ever tried... (fill in the blank with the name of any plant)?"

Plant-growing discussions don't always involve brand-new varieties, but maybe older types that we're trying for the first time. One of gardening's fascinations is the endless number of plant possibilities, and we're nearing the peak of the garden center shopping season. Personally, I'd like at least one of everything.

An entire book could be filled with interesting plant suggestions, old and new. Have you tried the following?

• Angelonia—Thrives on heat and blooms prolifically as a vertical accent in flowerbeds or containers.

• Pure White Butterfly marguerite daisy—Heat tolerant white daisy that blooms all summer in pots and planters. Other marguerite varieties are good also.

• Million bells calibrachoa—Small petunia-like flowers with a cascading plant habit. The Superbells series is an improvement over older types.

• Toucan series canna—Striking flowers on large-leaved plants. Suitable accent for large planters or flowerbed backdrops.

• Sweet potato vine—Fresh lime green foliage or deep purple varieties are vigorous trailers in mixed containers.

• Coleus—Dozens of newer color tones for shade or part-sun. Kong series has huge leaves on compact plants.

• Bacopa—Many improvements over the older Snowstorm variety, like the Megacopa series and Snowglobe, with larger flower size.

• Dragon Wing begonia—One of the best begonias. Prolific bloomer in shade, part-shade and also sunshine.

• Bidens—Fern-like foliage and spritely yellow flowers on trailing plants.

• Cleome—Always an eye-catcher, the older Queen series creates a flowerbed backdrop at 4 or 5 feet high. The newer Sparkler series is shorter at 3 feet.

• Mandevilla—Wonderfully vigorous annual vine with trumpet-shaped flowers climbs readily on trellis or pole. Great for patio pots with small trellis inserted. Loves sun and warmth.

• Thunbergia black-eyed Susan vine—Bright yellow or orange blossoms on a vigorous vine for trellised patio pots. Thrives with plenty of sunshine and heat.

• Castor bean—Huge tropical-looking plant for flowerbed background. Always an eye-catcher.

• SunPatiens—Hybrid between two impatiens species which blooms strongly in shade, part-shade or even sun. Disease resistant.

• Bubblegum Vista Supertunia—Ever since Purple Wave petunia opened the way for the vigorous, rambling habit of trailing petunias, dozens of new varieties and series have been added. Bubblegum Vista is one of the best. It stays strong, full, well-branched and is covered with pink blossoms throughout the growing season in containers or flowerbeds.

• Quicksilver artemisia—Silver-foliaged plant looks similar to dusty miller except it trails beautifully in containers and planters.

• German ivy—An old-timer, but a fast-growing fresh green foliage trailer for mixed planters. Cuttings taken in fall root easily in water for a winter houseplant.

• Lemon Gem marigold—fern-like foliage on a mounded plant covered with masses of small yellow flowers. An old variety that deserves increased use for flowerbeds and planters.

• Lisianthus—Worth shopping around to locate. Visitors to your flowerbed will always ask the identity of this unique plant with rose-shaped blossoms.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler's Greenhouse in Fargo. Readers can reach him at

He also blogs at " target="_blank">