The Perennial Plant of the Year® (PPOY) program began in 1990 to showcase a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. The selection process is quite simple – PPA members vote for the Perennial Plant of the Year® each summer. At that time, in addition to the vote, each member may also nominate up to two plants for future consideration. The Perennial Plant of the Year® committee reviews the nominated perennials (more than 400 different perennials are often nominated each year) and selects 3 or 4 perennials to be placed on the ballot.
The 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year® is Aralia cordata ’Sun King’. It had been nominated again and again over the past years and finally came out on top – persistence pays off! Gold Japanese Spikenard (aka Sun King) is just excellent in terms of color in the shade; the huge compound leaves are a wonderful golden chartreuse-yellow. The big, bold, sunny foliage is further enhanced in summer when the plant bears 2-foot-long arching spikes of small white blooms that mature to sprays of purplish black fruit in the fall. This deciduous clump-former prefers moist, well drained soils and dappled shade. Use ‘Sun King’ as a moderate-scale ground cover, specimen, or companion to darker leaved, shade loving perennials such as Heuchera, hostas, astilbe, ferns, and sedges.
Growth Habit: shrubby
Average Mature Height: 2.5ft
Hardiness Zone: 3
Recommended Spacing: 1 1/2′-3′