The Wisconsin Nursery and Landscape Association recently announced its 2018 Plant of the Year selections: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Donna May’ PP 22,634 (Little Devil ninebark) and Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed).
The WNLA Plant of the Year program was initiated in 2002 to promote quality –and underused—plants to the public. Two categories were created to consider all plants: the Woody Ornamental category, which includes deciduous trees, evergreens, vines, deciduous shrubs, and shade trees, and the Perennial category, including herbaceous perennials, sub-shrubs, grasses, and ferns.
The woody ornamental winner, Little Devil ninebark, is a compact shrub that is virtually maintenance free, making it a wonderful addition to any landscape and a perfect substitute for barberry in areas where that plant may be invasive. It was bred by in Wisconsin by professor David Zlesak of UW-River Falls and is part of the Bailey Nurseries First Editions brand.
The perennial category winner, prairie dropseed, is a showy ornamental grass that works well in the parts of the landscape where other plants wither. Whether the soil is dry, shallow, rocky, or clay, the green foliage will thrive with full sun. With no serious insect or disease problems and the ability to withstand drought, air pollution, black walnut trees, and hungry deer, prairie dropseed is easy to grow and reliable.
Photo: Prairie Dropseed (left) and Little Devil Ninebark (right) provided by WNLA