KnowingNature Microgreens plant trays come in several attractive colors. The sturdy, reusable planter is dishwasher-safe and made from BPA-free, food-grade plastic.

As I write this, it is steadily snowing outside my window — yet, spring will be here soon! Your local garden centers, nurseries, and landscape designers are preparing for the busy growing season ahead by ordering new products, gathering inspiration, and collecting knowledge by attending the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS).
This year’s event was held Jan. 10-12 in Baltimore.
As a garden communicator, I attend each year and am able to get an early glimpse of these new offerings that may be for sale this year at a local garden center near you.
Because I’m experiencing cabin-fever and am craving all things green, let me start with the new plants I learned about at the event.
The biggest plant debut at the show was the Hydrangea macrophylla Eclipse from Bailey Nurseries. What makes this plant unique is its almost black foliage and contrasting red-pink flowers. It grows to about 3 to 5 feet wide and high. This is a show-stopper and I could picture it in containers as well as a foundation planting.
Proven Winners Colorchoice Flowering Shrubs collections introduced the Fire Ball Seedless Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus).
This shrub provides blazing fall color without the worry of it being invasive amd spreading into wild areas. It does best in full sun and is fairly drought-tolerant once established.
Butterfly Candy buddleia from Plant Development Services, Inc. also addresses the invasive question by offering a line of sterile butterfly bushes. They are available in five bright colors from pink to purple to red and are all compact in size. They are guaranteed to attract pollinators to your garden and bloom all season long.
Waverly Farm, based in Adamstown, Md., showed its field-planted hedges that they are growing. You can order the hedges by the linear foot and they will dig and install for you creating instant screening.
Encore Azaleas brought out ‘Autumn Moonstruck’ azalea, which has variegated evergreen leaves and a double-white flower. It blooms on-and-off from spring through fall like many of the other Encore Azaleas do. It would be suitable also to grow in a container because of its vertical growing habit.
Famed plantsmen David Culp is working with Cavano’s Perennials, based in Kingsville, Md., to introduce the Brandywine Cottage line of plants.
This is an expertly curated line of premium plants that are proven to do well in our Mid-Atlantic region. It includes native selections and also plants exclusively available to the line including the ‘Aurora’ Baptisia.
On the houseplant side of things, Optimara featured the ‘White Splash’ Pilea peperomioides, which is an exciting variegated form of the popular solid green Pilea. If you are into houseplants, this is one you will definitely want to add to your collection.
A few products I saw included Rosy Soil, an eco-friendly soil mix for indoor gardening. The mixes are sustainable with bio-char compost, mycorrhizae, and pine bark fines. They do not include peat or any synthetic additives. The soils are created to boost plant health by increasing nutrient-uptake and good drainage.
One that caught my eye as a great gift for budding gardeners was the KnowingNature Microgreens plant tray. It comes in several attractive colors. The sturdy, reusable planter is dishwasher-safe and made from BPA-free, food-grade plastic. You can use it to grow microgreens or even cat grass on any indoor windowsill in your home.
The Oasis Forage booth featured a mini kit that was perfect for the beginning flower arranger. It includes a small pot and brick of Oasis Forage floral foam block along with twine. The kit is designed for you to “create foraged designs made from plant material foraged by you.”
Visiting the displays at MANTS always leaves me ready and recharged for the coming growing season. I look forward to trying out these new plants and products in my own garden and hope you will add a few to yours as well!
(Editor’s note: Kathy Jentz is the Editor/Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine and hosts the popular GardenDC Podcast. She is the co-author of “The Urban Garden: 101 Ways to Grow Food and Beauty in the City” and author of “Groundcover Revolution.” A life-long gardener, she believes that growing plants should be stress-free and enjoyable. Her philosophy is inspiration over perspiration. She can be reached at or