How is the Perennial Plant of the Year Selected?



You have all heard of the Perennial Plant of the Year™ and most probably have them in your garden. Did you ever wonder how they got selected and by what criteria? The Plant of the Year was started in 1990 to highlight an exceptional perennial.


Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’

Each January the results of the section committee are announced.

Members of the Perennial Plant Association nominate perennials for the Plant of the Year based on a predetermined list of criteria from over 400 plants submitted. The Plant of the Year Committee reviews the ballots and narrows it down to 3 or 4 plants to be placed on the final ballot. A high number of members will vote each year and members can submit plants for future consideration as well. You may know some of the members, each state has representatives.



To make the list, plants must meet these qualifications:

  • Plants must be suitable for a wide range of climatic conditions and planting zones.
  • Keeping with customer demand, plants have to be low maintenance.
  • To be a good plant for gardens, they must be pest and disease resistant.
  • They must be easily obtainable in the year of promotion and be readily available to retailers.
  • They must have ornamental interest over multiple seasons.
  • The need to be easily  propagated by asexual or seed propagation.

‘Magnus’ and ‘Goldstrum’

Do you know you can get T-shirts and posters of the Plant of the Year from their website? Do you know the Plant of the Year for 2015?

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ is the 2015 Perennial Plant of the Year™. It was found as a naturally occurring hybrid of Geranium dalmaticum and Geranium macrorrhizum in the mountains of Croatia.


‘Becky’ and Phlox paniculata


Phlox ‘David’

Past winners are:

  • 1990 Phlox stolonifera
  • 1991  Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’
  • 1992  Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’
  • 1993  Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’
  • 1994  Astilbe ‘Sprite’
  • 1995  Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • 1996  Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’
  • 1997  Salvia ‘May Night’
  • 1998  Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’
  • 1999  Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’
  • 2000  Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’
  • 2001  Calamagrostis x acutiflora’Karl Foerster’
  • 2002  Phlox paniculata ‘David’
  • 2003  Leucanthemum ‘Becky’
  • 2004  Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’
  • 2005   Helleborus x hybridus
  • 2006   Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’
  • 2007   Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’
  • 2008  Geranium ‘Rozanne’
  • 2009  Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
  • 2010  Baptisia australis
  • 2011   Amsonia hubrichtii ‘Blue Arkansas’
  • 2012  Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’
  • 2013  Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’
  • 2014  Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’

Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’

How many do you have planted in your garden? I have 18 from the list in my garden, but have used all of them in my design work. As advertised, all are great garden plants.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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28 Responses to How is the Perennial Plant of the Year Selected?

  1. I don’t have as many as you do in my garden as many require full sun, but I agree, most are very good plants.

    • They are good in that they meet the criteria, but quite a few of them get very aggressive in a garden. This is great for very large gardens that have no care where and how they spread for the most part, but very difficult to keep the plants within the bounds of where they were designed for garden appearance. I think that needed to be one of the criteria. Do not spread excessively, it defeats the low maintenance requirement.

  2. Thanks for the review of the list and the info on how they’re selected–interesting. I only have four of them, but I have some of the straight species of some of the others. I also have the same issue as Carolyn with shade vs. sun. All are beautiful and versatile plants, though.

    • I was just wondering which “straight species” plants do you have instead? I do think they missed quite a few shade plants, but they do have Hellebore. The Hosta and Daylily clubs need more pull there. Not much is simpler to grow or propagate than a Hosta or Daylily.

  3. Victor Ho says:

    Thank you. We are about to ponder what to plant near the beach in Bethany Beach, Delaware. This list will help a ton.

  4. debsgarden says:

    Well, I only have seven! But then, I don’t have a large number of perennials, since my garden is focused more on flowering trees and shrubs and colorful foliage. Summer tends to be brutal on perennials here, but it always a delight to find those that do well. Thanks for the list.

  5. alesiablogs says:

    What an interesting post. I had no idea about such choosings……

  6. I have to check that list and their names… I may have 1-2 [only 😦

    • Having a balcony, that would be very good.

      • I know, however all my pots are full and mostly roots [I’ve had them for many years and it has become very hard to change to bigger pots as they are big already – no more space in the balcony either] and I am too fond of each one to replace it! Without any knowledge of plants, however, I believe I have created a balanced little garden and -so far- they seem to co-exist harmonically. Some of my plants are: Schefflera, Ficus Benjamina, one Pine tree [yes, in a pot!], Thyme, Lemongrass, Lavenders [lots], Rosemary, Sage, Peppermint, Pandorea jasminoides, Evening Primrose, Origano, Wild Rose, Camellia japonica, Aloe brevifolia, Avocado tree, Geranium, Ginger, Thuja Occidentalis, Lilac tree, Wisteria and for more color: Dimorphotheca ecklonis in 2 variations and Kalanchoe blossfeldiana [all colors!] on the window ledges. Pheww! Needless to say, I speak to them all! 😉
        Enjoy a beautiful new week!!! 🙂

  7. I counted eight of these that are in my garden, including ‘Biokovo’. I’m glad to hear that this is legit, I was afraid it might just be some marketing ploy.

  8. I wondered how they did it, Donna. Very informative posting! And of course your pictures are stunning. I love the way you put the perovskia in the background in the first one. P. x

  9. Indie says:

    Very interesting! I have had a number of those in my gardens. I would definitely consider them some of the ‘workhorses’ in the garden, with their prolific blooms.

  10. hoehoegrow says:

    Thanks for a very interesting post, I really enjoyed reading it. I grow 5 from the list and rely heavily on a couple of them. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ is one of my favourite plants and I have it all over my garden.

  11. I actually have all of them planted but about 75-80% survived. I actually already have planted this year’s plant. I did not know you can get t-shirts but why not…great post with lots of info…I love learning new information.

  12. A.M.B. says:

    I’ll have to take a closer look at this list, but I’m pretty sure the garden I grew up with has several of these varieties. The one at my house, though, probably doesn’t have any. It’s too new.

  13. rose says:

    Thanks for all this interesting info, Donna–I always wondered how these plants were selected each year. I do have quite a few of these in my garden, and they have done extremely well for me–obviously, they deserved their honors!

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