The Perennial Plant of the Year™
The Perennial Plant of the Year™ (POY™) 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. If you are looking for an excellent perennial for your next landscape project or something reliable for your gardens, make sure to check out the Perennial Plant of the Year™ archive list. For information about other perennials, be sure to search the Plant Database.
Since the Perennial Plant of the Year™ was introduced in 1990, the Perennial Plant Association has received frequent inquiries about how the Perennial Plant of the Year™ is selected. 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.
Nominations generally need to satisfy the following criteria:
- Suitability for a wide range of climatic conditions
- Low-maintenance requirements
- Relative pest- and disease-resistance
- Ready availability in the year of promotion
- Multiple seasons of ornamental interest
2013 Perennial Plant of the Year™
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ is the Perennial Plant Association’s 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year™. Polygonatum odoratum, pronounced po-lig-o-nay’tum o-do-ray’tum vair-e-ah-gay’tum, carries the common names of variegated Solomon’s Seal, striped Solomon’s Seal, fragrant Solomon’s Seal and variegated fragrant Solomon’s Seal. This all-season perennial has greenish-white flowers in late spring and variegated foliage throughout the growing season. The foliage turns yellow in the fall and grows well in moist soil in partial to full shade.
The genus Polygonatum, native to Europe, Asia, and North America is a member of the Asparagaceae family. It was formerly found in the family Liliaceae. Regardless of its new location, members of Polygonatum are excellent perennials for the landscape. The genus botanical name (Polygonatum) comes from poly (many) and gonu (knee joints) and refers to the many-jointed rhizome from which the leaves arise. The common name Solomon’s Seal has several proposed derivations. The first is that the scar that remains on the rootstock after the leaf stalks die off in the fall resembles the seal impressed on wax on documents in the past. The second source is that John Gerard, the English botanist and herbalist, suggested that the powdered roots were an excellent remedy for broken bones. He also felt that the plant had the capacity for “sealing wounds,” which was why the perennial received the common name – Solomon’s Seal.
Light: Variegated Solomon’s seal performs well in part to full shade conditions.
Soil: Variegated Solomon’s seal prefers moist, well-drained soil.
Uses: This perennial offers vivid highlights in shaded areas of borders, woodland gardens, or naturalized areas. The variegated foliage is attractive in flower arrangements.
Unique Qualities: Solomon’s Seal has arching stems that carry pairs of small, bell-shaped, white flowers in mid to late spring. The variegated ovate leaves are soft green with white tips and margins. Fall leaf color is yellow.
Maintenance: There are no serious insect or disease problems with variegated Solomon’s seal. Plants may be divided in the spring or fall. The white rhizomes should be planted just below the soil surface. Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ is a very easy perennial to grow and will enhance any shade area.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 8.
Photos by Steven Still/Perennial Plant Association