Award-Winning Natives

Huge potential exists from Perennial Plant Association (PPA) Perennial Plant of the Year™ winners that also happen to be natives, says John Friel, marketing manager for Emerald Coast Growers and a past PPA President.

“Natives have been rediscovered. They’re very fashionable,” says John. “And when you add the assurance of the Plant of the Year recognition, you’ve got built-in sales appeal.” Some top picks:

The 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year Amsonia hubrichtii, a long-lived, graceful, upright plant, gives a brief early show of cool blue flowers, constant movement, and outstanding golden autumn color.

Baptisia australis, with dark spikes of indigo blue flowers over blue-green foliage in mid- to late spring. The 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year’s foliage remains attractive all summer long.

Echinacea ‘Magnus’, featuring a trifecta of improved color, horizontal form and easy care that made it 1998’s Perennial Plant of the Year.

Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’, with metallic-purple foliage that creates a tidy mound of color. The 1991 Perennial Plant of the Year kicked off the Heuchera revolution and still holds its own in trials.

Leucanthemum ‘Becky’, the 2003 Perennial Plant of the Year, delivering excellent performance in the South, where the dark-green foliage remains evergreen and large, single, white flowers stun.

2014 Perennial Plant of the Year Panicum ‘Northwind’, a very strong, upright grower with wide, steel-blue foliage and striking orange-yellow fall color.

Penstemon ‘Husker Red’
, 1996 Perennial Plant of the Year, featuring small, white, trumpet-shaped flowers with red stamens atop garnet-red foliage. Bred in Nebraska, so you know it’s tough.

Phlox ‘David’, the 2002 Perennial Plant of the Year, a Pennsylvania discovery with large, clear white flower heads and improved mildew resistance.

Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’
, golden-yellow flowers with black cones that attract butterflies. The 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year impresses in borders and mass plantings, and goes great with grasses.

You can find these and other potential-packed perennial selections at Emerald Coast Growers. Call 877-804-7277, e-mail or visit

This article originally appeared in Greenhouse Grower Magazine.