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Perennial Plants of the Year

Category Perennials
A nursery full of beautiful plants.
Each year the members of the Perennial Plant Association choose a plant of the year. This is a guide about perennial plants of the year.


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December 23, 20110 found this helpful

With all of the new plants being introduced to the gardening marketplace each year, it's hard to know which are worthy of your time and attention. Here are four award winning plants-proven performers in gardens around the country-to keep an eye out for in 2012.


Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' (2012 Perennial Plant of the Year)

If you've never grown a Brunnera before, you're in for a real treat. These classic woodland plants are prized for their shade tolerance, as well as their handsome foliage and delicate sky blue flowers. Bred by Walters Gardens, Inc., 'Jack Frost' was first introduced to the marketplace in 2000 and has since proven itself to be a beautiful and reliable perennial plant for shade gardening. The dark green leaves are frosted with a metallic silver finish.

From mid to late spring, clusters of baby blue, forget-me-not type blossoms appear on airy stems several inches above the foliage. In the landscape, use Brunnera in groups or in mass plantings as a slow-spreading groundcover. Plants grow in clumps and perform best if grown in moist, rich soil. Brunnera also make good container plants, and once established, require very little care. Leave old foliage intact until the spring to help to protect the crown during the winter. Winter mulching is also recommended.

Common names: False Forget-Me-Not, Siberian Bugloss, and Heartleaf Brunnera
Hardiness zones: 3 to 9
Life cycle: perennial
Site: partial to full shade; moist, rich soil
Mature size: 12-20 inches high; 12-24 inches wide
Bloom period: mid-to late spring; clusters of petite, baby blue flowers
Unique to this variety: deer resistant; tolerates heat

Salvia 'Summer Jewel Pink' (2012 All-American Selection Bedding Plant)

Salvia 'Summer Jewel Pink' is a dwarf-sized, compact annual, worthy of accolades due to its early spikes of pink blooms that last throughout the entire growing season. Sister to earlier AAS winner Salvia 'Summer Jewel Red', the blooms on 'Summer Jewel Pink' appear almost two weeks earlier than the other pink salvias. Annual salvias are beautiful to look at, and well-loved for their tolerance to heat and drought. Pollinators find them irresistible, especially hummingbirds, who love their colorful, tubular flowers.


Hardiness zones: all
Life cycle: annual
Sun exposure: full sun
Time from sowing to flower: 50 days
Maximum size: 20 inches tall; 16 inches wide
Bloom period: all season; spikes of 1/2 inch, light pink blooms on green foliage
Unique to this variety: early blooms, prolific flowering throughout the season

Pepper 'Cayennetta' F1 (2012 All-American Selection Vegetable)

Bred by Floranova, Ltd., 'Cayennetta' is an excellent tasting pepper that is very easy to grow, even for the novice gardener. This pepper makes an excellent container plant for the patio, because its well-branched upright structure requires no staking, and it produces a prolific amount of 3 to 4 inch fruits. Unlike some pepper varieties, 'Cayennetta' is also very tolerant of cold and heat, which makes it less prone to aborting flowers during fruit set.

Sun exposure: full sun
Plant size: 24 inches tall; 20 inches wide
Fruits: 3-4 inches long; mildly spicy
Spacing: 20 inches
Time to harvest: 69 days from transplant; 97 days from sowing
Unique characteristics: good cold and heat tolerance; dense foliage protects fruits from sun scorch.

Watermelon 'Faerie' F1 (2012 All-American Selection Vegetable)

Non-traditional in appearance, the 'Faerie' watermelon has a creamy yellow rind with thin stripes, yet it still yields a sweet, pink flesh with a high sugar content and crisp texture. With the vines that spread only to 11 feet, this melon uses less space in the garden and is ideal for gardeners with limited space. Bred by Known-You Seed Company, each 7 to 8-inch fruit weighs approximately 4 to 6 pounds-the perfect size for families.

Sun exposure: full sun
Plant size: 11 1/2 foot spread; 4 to 6 pound fruits
Spacing: 8 to 10 feet apart
Time to harvest: 72 days from sowing
Unique to this variety: early and easy fruit setting; space efficient; pink flesh with a light yellow striped rind.



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February 21, 2008
Editor's Note: This is such a beautiful plant we decided to republish Ellen's article to reintroduce you to this gorgeous blue geranium.

Recently, The Perennial Plant Association has announced that the 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year is Geranium 'Rozanne' (Rozanne cranesbill geranium). I'm not the least bit surprised. I stumbled on 'Rozanne' only a few years ago (I'm rather a late bloomer) and found it to be a real gem. This lively geranium has large, jewel-toned violet-blue flowers set on deep green, lightly marbled foliage. With its versatility in the garden and vibrant, long-lasting blooms, it's no wonder 'Rozanne' has been labled "the geranium of the millennium."


Background and Appearance

Husband and wife, Donald and Rozanne Waterer, first discovered this sturdy geranium in their Somerset, England garden in 1989. It is reported that in their never ending quest for pollen, the bees in the Waterer's garden inadvertently crossed two blue hardy geraniums, one G. himalayense, normally flowering in early June with G. wallichianum 'Buxton's Variety', which usually starts in late July or August. The resulting offspring was the very first appearance of 'Rozanne'. With its 2.5-inch, iridescent violet-blue, cup-shaped flowers with purple-violet veins and radiant white center, 'Rozanne' easily stood out among its peers. Among it many merits are a long bloom time (late spring to early autumn) and also its vigorous, dark green foliage, which is deeply cut and lightly marbled with chartreuse. Rozanne's foliage turns red in the autumn for additional impact.

Cultivation and Maintenance

'Rozanne' reaches 20-inches high and mounds to a 24-28 inch spread. A vigorous plant will cover 2-3 square feet in the garden very nicely. This geranium thrives in full sun to partial shade (afternoon shade is recommended in hot climates) and in sites offering moist, well-draining soil. Once established, however, 'Rozanne' shows exceptional tolerance to heat and drought among geraniums. An easy to care for plant, 'Rozanne' requires very little in the way of maintenance. Preserving its peak appearance requires no more than shearing back a few inches of old foliage in late summer, which will quickly be replaced by a fresh flush of flowers. Division is seldom required of this geranium-plan on once every 3-4 years. Geranium 'Roxanne' is hardy to USDA zones 5-8.

Landscape Use

Use Rozanne in front borders, as a tall groundcover or filler plant, or in hanging baskets. Plan to give it plenty of elbowroom, as it can overtake nearby plants once it reaches maturity. Yellow or chartreuse flowers or foliage are wonderful compliments to the vibrant purple flowers of 'Rozanne'. For an early summer pairing, try Leucanthemum 'Snowcap' or 'Silberprinzesschen' (Silver Princess). For long season performance, try pairing 'Rozanne' with salvias like "Rose Queen' or 'Pink Friesland.' Another great violet/pink combo includes Veronica spicata 'Tickled Pink'.

To emphasize autumn interest, shorter grasses such as Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Little Honey' are superb companions to Geranium 'Rozanne'. You'll find that 'Rozanne' also fills in nicely between daylilies and phlox, or with the foliage of nearby blue-gray or yellowish green hostas. Massed plantings of Rozanne provide carefree, billowy-textured mounds that look beautiful in front of bushy roses, such as the free-flowering, golden 'Graham Thomas.' In my own flower garden, I enjoy pairing "Roxanne' with bright fuchsia-colored Coral Bells.

Growing Guide At-A Glance

Hardiness: USDA zones 5 to 8

Flowers: The large, violet-blue flowers with purple-violet veins and small white centers offer non-stop flowering throughout the growing season-late spring to early fall.

Growth Rate/ Habits: Medium growth rate; height of 20-inches; free-flowing mounds with a 24-28-inch spread.

Exposure: Geranium 'Rozanne' thrives in full sun to partial shade. Afternoon shade is recommended in hot climates.

Soil: Rozanne prefers a site with moist, well-draining soil and has average water needs. Once established, it is both heat and drought tolerant.

Uses: The free-flowing flowers of Rozanne work well when used as a ground cover, mass planted as a front-border specimen, in hanging baskets, window boxes, or in patio containers.

Unique Characteristics: Deer and rabbit resistant. No known disease or insect problems.

Companions: Coral Bells, Ornamental Grasses, Hosta, Bearded Iris, Daylilies, Stonecrop, Bell Flowers, and Rose Bushes.

Identification Note: Occasionally in reference books, you may see the name GERWAT associated with Geranium 'Rosanne.' GERWAT is the identifier for this plant used in association with European Plant Breeders Rights: "GER" for geranium and "WAT" for the discoverer Waterer.

About the Perennial Plant Association

The Perennial Plant Association is a trade association made of perennial industry experts that helps consumers select plants that are easy to grow, low-maintenance, suitable for a wide range of climate types, and exhibit multi-seasonal interest. Essentially, perennial plant industry experts have done the homework, so all you have to do is plant and enjoy! According to Steven Still, Executive Director of the Perennial Plant Association, "Home owners can have great confidence the Perennial Plant of the Year will grow well in the garden."
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January 18, 2007

The Perennial Plant Association is a trade organization made up of nurseries, landscapers, and other garden industry experts, dedicated to educating gardeners on exceptional perennial plants.

Walker's Low catmint

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April 26, 2006

When shopping for perennial bedding plants this year, you can expect to see a lot of plant labels marked 'Cheddar Pink'. That's because the Perennial Plant Association awarded Dianthus gratianopolitanus (also known as 'Feuerhexe' or 'Firewitch') the 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year.


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February 22, 20170 found this helpful

This drought tolerant and disease resistant perennial, native to Arkansas and Oklahoma, is grown for its feathery foliage and pretty blue flowers. Birds and insects like the flower nectar and deer are repelled by the milky sap. This is a guide about growing Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas blue star).


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