Perennial of the Year

Perennial of the Year 2021

Calamintha nepeta subs. nepeta

Like a cloud of confetti, tiny white flowers (sometimes touched with pale blue) appear from early summer to fall. Undemanding and dependable, calamint provides the perfect foil for other summer bloomers and foliage. This full-sun perennial has a low mounding or bushy habit, ideal for the front of the border, rock gardens, and more.

photo credit:  Storehouse Nursery

While durable and pest-free, calamint also checks two important boxes for gardeners: bees and other pollinators work the flowers throughout the summer and the aromatic foliage is deer-resistant.

Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta is a favorite low-growing component in stylized meadows, matrix plantings, and other modern perennial designs. Gardeners can also create a lovely monochromatic garden with more sure-thing perennials including past PPOYs such as Anemone xhybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ and Phlox paniculata ‘David’, or complemented with ornamental grasses such as Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ (switchgrass) or Schyzacharium scoparium (little bluestem).

 

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 7

Light: Full sun 

Size: Up to 18 inches tall and wide 

Native Range: Great Britain to Southern Europe (Griffiths, M. 1994. Index of Garden Plants, Timber Press: Portland, OR) 

Soil: Best with good drainage - tolerates some drought once established. 

Maintenance: Low-maintenance deciduous perennial.  Can shear back lightly if desired to create neater habit or refresh spent blooming stems.  Tolerates drought once established. 

Nomenclature: What's with the "subspecies"?  Abbreviated subsp. or spp., this is a naturally-occuring, phenotypic variation to a species that is usually related to a geographic situation.  This subspecies was selected for size and vigor.  May also be found under the following synonyms: Calamintha nepatoides and Clinopodium nepeta

The POTY Program is an initiative of the Perennial Plant Association. 

Perennial of the Year 2020

Aralia 'Sun King'

The Perennial Plant Association revealed their pick Aug. 1 during the PPA National Symposium in Chicago.

'Sun King' has a tropical look, but it's a fast-growing perennial that's hardy to USDA Zone 3 and grows to about 3 feet high and wide or larger in some cases. The large compound leaves measure up to 3 feet long, as well.

According to Walters Gardens, 'Sun King' emerges in mid-spring with bright gold leaves held on contrasting reddish-brown stems. If given at least a few hours of sun a day, the foliage will remain yellow all summer. In heavier shade, the foliage ranges from chartreuse to lime green.

It forms a large clump of foliage and produces racemes of small white flowers in mid to late summer followed by deep purple berries. It's a pollinator plant and is reportedly deer resistant. 

For cultural information, go here.

'Sun King' is not patented and was brought to market by Barry Yinger. 

 

 

Perennial of the Year 2019

Stachys 'Hummelo'

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 8, foliage may remain evergreen in warmer climates.

Light: Full sun to part shade.

Soil: Well drained soil; water as necessary.
Uses: This colorful and compact winner makes an excellent addition to the full sun perennial border.  Terrific in combination with ornamental grasses, Echinacea purpurea, and Asclepias tuberosa (2018 Perennial Plant of the Year®).  Wiry stems make for a great cut flower as well.
 
Unique Qualities: Pollinators can't resist the striking midsummer spikes of magenta flowers rising above bright green, trouble-free foliage.  'Hummelo' was the highest rated Stachys in the Chicago Botanic Garden Evaluation Trials for its strong flower production, vigor, habit, quality and winter hardiness.
 
Maintenance: Spreads slowly by creeping rhizomes.  May benefit from division every few years.  Strong stems and seed heads add to winter interest.  Considered deer-resistant!