Members of the Perennial Plant Association are in the process of naming the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year. They are voting on four nominees:
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ is a Solomon’s seal cultivar with upright, arching stems, which are 2-3 feet tall. White bell-shaped flowers on short pedicels dangle in the spring from the leaf axils along and underneath the arching stems. Flowers are followed by blue-black berries in the autumn. The oval, parallel-veined leaves are a soft green with white tips and margins. The fall foliage color is a nice soft yellow. Combine this cultivar with other shade lovers, including ferns and hostas. This selection prefers a shaded site with moisture-retentive soil. Cold hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9.
Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ is a tall ornamental switchgrass cultivar, which features one of the best vertical forms of any of the switchgrass cultivars currently available in commerce. Olive-green to bluish-green foliage forms a compact, narrow, erect, 4- to 5-foot tall clump of foliage which is topped in late summer by finely-textured, yellow flower panicles which hover over the foliage like an airy cloud. Flower panicles typically bring the total plant height to 6 feet. This selection prefers full sun and moist fertile soil; however, it will tolerate sandy or clay soils or dry slopes. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’ is a long-blooming perennial that thrives in moist conditions. This cultivar has bronze-green foliage that turns a deeper green than the species, but is equally as showy. Short spikes of rosy-pink flowers that look like a turtle’s head with its mouth open occur in late summer. The upright, red stems provide additional interest throughout the season. This is the kind of plant that makes a great backdrop for shorter plants in the garden all season long, and suddenly catches everyone’s attention when in bloom. Hardy in Zones 4-7.
Sedum reflexum ‘Angelina’ is an easily grown and quick spreading ground cover with needle-like foliage. Leaves emerge with a chartreuse color and then turn to a golden yellow in the sun. In the fall the leaves turn to shades of orange and red. Yellow flowers are present in mid-summer. Sedum reflexum ‘Angelina’ prefers average to dry, well-drained soil in full sun. This sedum is great for containers and hanging baskets, or as an under planting in the full sun or bright shade garden. Height is 4-6 inches. Hardy in Zones 3-8.