All About Award Winning Plants
Why Award-Winning Plants Matter
Just like watching movies that have won top accolades means that you're more likely to enjoy your time viewing them, you can also have better luck working with plants that have been vouched-for.
More than just a popularity contest, award-winning plant lists are a great way to get familiar with plants that really perform. You can be sure that any plant who's received one of these prestigious honors will be an easy to grow, eye-catching variety. After all, these are the flowers that help set the standards plant breeders are aiming for.
Who Chooses Award Winning Plants?
Several organizations offer awards for outstanding plants and each has its own criteria for selecting winners. Some of the groups are regional and promote plants that are particularly well-suited to that climate; others are international in scope. Some promote only new varieties, while others award plants of outstanding merit, new or not. Some, like the non-profit plant trialers at All-America Selections, limit their choices to varieties available as seed.
Many organizations pick winning plants in very specific categories, such as: Daylily of the Year, Hosta of the Year, and even the Urban Tree of the Year.
Since 1990, the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) has chosen a stand-out flower variety to bestow their greatest honor upon: the Plant of the Year. With the entire membership casting their vote, plant contenders must be able to grow in a wide variety of climates, be easy to care for, and fairly-resistant to disease.
To date, there are 30 winning varieties that have laid claim to the Plant of the Year Title:
2018: 'Millenium' Allium
2017: Butterfly Weed
2016: 'Honorine Jobert' Anemone
2015: 'Biokovo' Cranesbill
2014: 'Northwind' Switchgrass
2013: Variegated Solomon's Seal
2012: 'Jack Frost' Brunnera
2011: Arkansas Blue Star
2010: Blue False Indigo
2009: 'Aureola' Japanese Forest Grass
2008: 'Rozanne' Cranesbill
2007: 'Walker's Low'
2006: 'Firewitch' Pinks
2005: Lenten Rose
Helleborus x hybridus
2004: Japanese Painted Fern
2003: 'Becky' Shasta Daisy
2002: 'David' Phlox
2001: 'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass
2000: 'Butterfly Blue' Pincushion Flower
1999: 'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan
1998: 'Magnus' Purple Coneflower
1997: 'May Night' Meadow Sage
1996: 'Husker Red' Beardtongue
1995: Russian Sage
1994: 'Sprite' Dwarf Astilbe
1993: 'Sunny Border Blue' Speedwell
1992: 'Moonbeam' Tickseed
1991: 'Palace Purple' Coral Bells
More Award-Winning Plants
Veggie varieties and annual flowers are also planted in trial beds and put through rigorous observation and testing before being selected and promoted as award winners.
All-America Selections Awards for Outstanding Seed Varieties
The mission statement of All-America Selections (AAS) is "To promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America." To this end, since 1932 AAS has worked with seed companies to conduct trials nationwide to evaluate plants under a range of growing conditions. Many of the winners have been around for decades and continue to be popular in home gardens. For example:
- Golden Beauty Yellow Corn Seeds, 1955 Winner
- Zinnia Seeds Persian Carpet, 1952 Winner
- Cosmos Seeds Radiance, 1948 Winner
- Straight Eight Cucumber Seeds, 1935 Winner
Fleuroselect Home Garden Association - International Selections
An international trade group of the ornamental plants industry, Fleuroselect tests and promotes new annual and perennial flower varieties, and also acts as a watchdog for illegal propagation of patent-protected varieties. Toward its goal of supporting growers and stimulating plant breeding efforts, Fleuroselect conducts plant trials across Europe. Here are a few past winners:
- Bellflower Champion Blue, 1998 Winner
- Bellflower Champion Pink, 1998 Winner
- Coreopsis Early Sunrise, 1989 Winner
So what will the best-dressed gardens be wearing this season? You can bet this year's award-winning plants will be in vogue. However, if you're like us, your garden might wear the latest plant fashions but you, on the other hand, will be far less fashionable — unless old T-shirts and muddy work boots find their way to Paris runways.