It can be difficult to select which varieties to add to and remove from your product offering each season. Consumer needs change, and new trends emerge. There are hundreds of thousands of beautiful plants to choose from; it’s really a good problem to have. Yet, decisions must be made. And where do you begin?
Each year, Lawn & Garden Retailer compiles a list of recent award-winning varieties to share with growers and garden center operators as they plan for the upcoming season. Organizations like the ones listed below are dedicated to the success of breeders, growers, retailers and gardeners. They evaluate numerous varieties every year and select those with the greatest potential and reliable performance. The varieties listed were tested, trialed, used in various applications and impressed judges and members of the industry with their beauty, presentation and versatility in use.
Echinacea ‘Sombrero Baja Burgundy’ (Darwin Perennials).
After being trialed over three tough winters, AAS judges noted this variety’s hardiness, sturdy branching and floriferous blooming habit. The deep reddish-burgundy flowers were a standout in trials, and the plants were consistently full and compact. Birds and pollinators love this beauty, and gardeners will appreciate its prolific blooms from mid-summer to first frost.
Coleus ‘Main Street Beale Street’ (Dümmen Orange). Beale Street is the first ever coleus to be named an AAS Winner. It boasts a darker red than the competition and can be successfully grown from full sun to full shade. The rich color does not fade, bleach or get spotty as the season progresses. An added bonus, it does not flower until very late in the season — up to six weeks later than comparisons.
Rudbeckia ‘American Gold Rush’ (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens).
This compact, upright, dome-shaped plant presents bright, golden-yellow flowers with black centers. Blooming from July to September, it shows no signs of fungus even in wet, humid conditions. It is incredibly easy to grow, and pollinators love it. The foliage texture, plant habit and flower show will create a beautiful presentation in any mass planting.
AMERICAN HOSTA GROWERS ASSOCIATION
Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ (Terpenig 2005). ‘Dancing Queen’ presents bright yellow foliage that is broad and wedge shaped with a rippled edge. Foliage turns pale yellow later in the season, and pale lavender flowers grow in mid-summer.
Celosia ‘Sol Gekko Green’ (PanAmerican Seed).
An impressive breeding achievement, this foliage celosia expands the options for sun-loving accent plants in containers as well as for shrub-like plants in borders. It holds very well on the shelves and offers retailers additional possibilities to develop trendy concepts for the patio and garden. Sol celosia flowers very late in the season, so the flowers don’t draw attention away from the unique bicolor foliage.
Rudbeckia ‘Amarillo Gold’ (Benary).
‘Amarillo Gold’ brings golden yellow brilliance to containers and landscapes. This Rudbeckia hirta displays large green disc flowers that bloom profusely from early summer to first frost. Flowers are larger than comparable varieties in trials, and judges appreciated the abundance of attractive flowers on short, sturdy stems. At retail, the huge flowers on short stems offer additional options for containers, baskets and front/middle line bedding.
Delphinium ‘Cheer Blue’ (Miyoshi & Co. Ltd.).
A popular cut flower and landscaping item, Delphinium grandiflorum is now available in a dwarf version. ‘Cheer Blue’ has shorter stems and upward-directed flowers, making it an excellent component in patio planters and borders. Judges described its flower color as innovative and striking. Consumers will appreciate its bright color and solid garden performance.
PERENNIAL PLANT ASSOCIATION
Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’. This high-impact perennial brings a bold pop of glowing color and texture to shade and part-shade borders. Bright yellow shoots emerge in spring, then grow up reaching up to 6 feet tall and nearly as wide. The small cream-colored umbels of flowers are attractive to bees and are flowed by tiny dark drupes. It is terrific in combination with hosta, ferns and past Perennial Plants of the Year, such as Polygonatium odoratum ‘Variegatum’ (2013) and Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’.