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.
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:
2006: 'Firewitch' Pinks
2005: Lenten Rose
Helleborus x hybridus
2004: Japanese Painted Fern
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.
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:
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.