Top plant trends for 2017

We asked ten experts what plants they are most excited about growing in their gardens in the year ahead to create a definitive list of the top plant trends for 2017. 


Charlie Ryrie
Cut-flower grower and florist


Clematis Avant-garde (=‘Evipo033’)
I’m having a love affair with clematis as cut flowers. Delicate but robust, Avant-garde looks fully double with its central rosy-pink pompom of stamens backed by dark, velvety red petals, which recurve as they age. Trailing flower-covered stems add a wonderful touch of wild airiness to any arrangement and last happily in the vase.

Height 2.5-3m from hard pruning in spring.
Origin Sport of Clematis ‘Kermesina’.
Growing conditions Sun or part shade.
Hardiness USDA 4a-8b.
Season of interest Late June to September.


Dan Pearson
Garden Designer


Baptisia x variicolor ‘Twilite’
Baptisia are long-lived, reliable perennials and I have several new cultivars on trial, which show great promise as long-term favourites. ‘Chocolate Chip’, a smoky purple-brown cultivar and ‘Twilite’, which has a violet-burgundy flower with a yellow keel, are two that I have already been pleased with. As legumes they fix their own nitrogen.

Height 75cm.
Origin USA breeding programme.
Growing conditions Sun and free drainage.
Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b.
Season of interest May to June.




Cassian Schmidt
Garden director, Hermannshof, Germany


Helenium ‘Loysder Wieck’ 
Distinctive with quilted narrow petals set far apart like little sail arms of a windmill – wieck in Dutch. The medium-sized, multicoloured blooms in shades of yellow, caramel, red and brown are perfect for naturalistic prairie-style plantings. I like to combine it with Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Fire’ and the soft, lemon-yellow Solidago ‘Loysder Crown’. Excellent for bees.

Height 1m.
Origin Hybrid, found in Dutch garden in 2005.
Growing conditions Full sun, well-drained soil.
Hardiness RHS H5, USDA 4a-8a.
Season of interest July to early September.



Annie Godfrey
Nursery owner, Daisy Roots


Centaurea montana ‘Purple Heart’
This new form of an old favourite does a great job of filling the gap when spring bulbs are over and the rest of the border hasn’t quite got going. Buds resembling small pineapples covered in scales open to white, spidery flowers with a contrasting violet-purple centre. A bee magnet too.

Height 45cm.
Origin Mountains of southern Europe.
Growing conditions Well-drained soil in sun or light shade.
Hardiness RHS H6, USDA 3a-8b.
Season of interest May/June, later if cut back.




Todd Longstaffe-Gowan  
Landscape architect and historic gardens advisor


Deutzia setchuenensis var. corymbiflora ‘Kiftsgate’ 
My recent infatuation with Deutzia began on a hot August day when I stumbled across a galaxy of delicate, white florets twinkling above a tangle of dark, sandpaper-rough foliage. Most striking in bud, this deciduous shrub makes a bewitchingly luminous addition to the late-summer garden.

Height 2m.

Origin China.

Growing conditions Moist, well-drained soil; full sun or partial shade.

Hardiness RHS H5, USDA 6a-8a.

Season of interest July to August.


Ed Bowen
Nursery owner, Opus Plants


Sanguisorba ‘Cangshan Cranberry’ 
In contrast to usual trussed garden stasis, Sanguisorba is a study in dynamism, like kinetic Calder sculptures, rivalling and complementing ornamental grasses. ‘Cangshan Cranberry’ becomes a miasma of crimson orbs atop transparent stems, simultaneously a seasonal crescendo and a leavening agent to denser composites.

Height 2m.
Origin China, collected by Dan Hinkley.
Growing conditions Sun.
Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b.
Season of interest Late summer to autumn.


Tania Compton 
Garden designer


Dianthus ‘Rainbow Loveliness’ 
These flowered incessantly in my garden for five months from June. Their fringed flowers in mauve, pink and white need constant deadheading with the teensiest sharp scissors and eagle eyes, as there is only the subtlest difference between emerging and spent flowers, leading to an almost daily encounter with their scented blooms.

Height 25cm.
Origin Related to Dianthus superbus found throughout Europe and northern Asia.
Growing conditions Well-drained soil; full sun.
Hardiness USDA 3a-8b.
Season of interest June onwards.



Noël Kingsbury
Plantsman and writer


Phlox paniculata ‘Herbstwalzer’
Phlox are perfect for midsummer interest, but they vary enormously in their vigour and ability to thrive from year to year. This one is the best I have ever grown: healthy dark foliage sets off nearly three months of flowers on tall stems, which are, as the late Henk Gerritsen would have said, ‘strong enough to lean your bicycle against’.

Height 1.2m.
Origin Bred in Germany by Peter zur Linden.
Growing conditions Moist but well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.
Hardiness RHS H7.
Season of interest August to October.




Carol Klein
Plantswoman and TV garden presenter


Galega orientalis
A maverick of a plant, it pops up unexpectedly thanks to its rhizomatous, nitrogen-fixing roots (it is grown as a perennial fodder crop in the Caucasus). Its glories for us gardeners are all above ground. Fresh green leaves decorate tall strong stems laden with narrow spikes of brilliant, iridescent blue pea flowers, startling in full sun, glowing at dusk.

Height 1-2m with a random spread.
Origin Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia.
Growing conditions Easy going.
Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 3a-9b.
Season of interest Summer flowers.


Nick Bailey
Writer, TV presenter and Chelsea Physic Garden head gardener


Iris ‘Eye Catcher’ (Reticulata)
Thanks to decades of extensive wild collecting and breeding work this new reticulate iris was, for me, the plant of the 2016 RHS London Early Spring Plant Fair. It will produce a flurry of striking purple-blue, white and yellow blooms. Its elegant colours mean it glows with an attention-grabbing radiance that outshines others.

Height 10cm.
Origin Bred by Canadian Alan McMurtrie.
Growing conditions Moist but well-drained soil in reasonable light.
Hardiness RHS H7.
Season of interest Early spring.


Useful Information

For suppliers of each of these plants, it is best to check the RHS Plant Finder or the website


Taken from a longer feature in the January issue of Gardens Illustrated (243). 






Seed catalogues for 2017
previous feature Article
The best gardens to visit for culture
next feature Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here