The Perennial Plant Association’s 2022 Perennial Plant of the Year is Schizachyrium scoparium and cultivars. Little bluestem is a spiky, tough and dependable clumping grass with a superior, tight, upright habit. It blends well with perennials such as asters, sedums, coneflowers, and other grasses. Native to a broad swath of North America, it was one of the dominant grasses of the vast tallgrass prairies.
‘Standing Ovation‘ is a cultivar that works extremely well in Lakes Region Gardens. It puts on three seasons of color starting with a bluish leaf, with a deeper purple tone towards the base in summer. Small, tan seed heads also appear in late summer. Then in fall, desert sunset shades of red, orange and purple take over. When the weather turns wintery, the grass dries to a pretty wheat gold. These blades are thicker than those of most other Schizachyrium, which means they stay upright—a great vertical accent for a garden border. Alternatively, you could plant it as a screen for unsightly things in the landscape like a gas meter. Because it changes colors, it can fit into a few different color palettes. You can also dry it for long-lasting interior décor. This grass does well in a wide range of soils. It’s especially handy for soils that dry out quickly, because it is drought tolerant. Be sure to make room in your Lakes Region garden plan for some Schizachyrium scoparium. You’ll be glad you did!
Size: 2-3′ tall x 15-18ʺ wide
Blooms: Late summer to fall
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to xeric
Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8
Pairs well with:
• Cone flower – all varieties
• Shasta daisy – all varieties
The 2018 Perennial of the Year will have both people and pollinators buzzing with joy! Allium ‘Millenium’ is a relative of the common onion and a standout in a late summer garden here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Blooming at a time when most of the garden begins to fade, it offers a welcome wave of color. It is a low maintenance, dependable perennial that puts out masses of purple blooms above neat, grass-like green foliage that remains long after the flower passes. Hummingbirds, bees, beneficial insects, and butterflies love the flowers, which are laden with pollen and nectar. They grow best in full sun and have a very drought resistant constitution. ‘Millenium’ will grow foliage around 10-15” tall with each scape producing two or three showy two-inch globes of purple florets that will last as long as four weeks.
‘Millenium’ will live happily in USDA zones 4-9. Once established, about the only maintenance it needs is cutting back foliage in late fall after the plants fade. A large mass of ‘Millenium’ looks amazing on it’s own, but it also plays well with others and looks great paired with numerous perennials. Shorter goldenrods like ‘Little Lemon’ in front and the lacy silver foliage of a Russian Sage behind, would make a lovely show in the garden.
2018 Perennial of the Year Allium ‘Millenium’
No serious pest problems have been reported. Leaf spot may occur in overcrowded growing conditions. Deer and rabbits leave ‘Millenium’ alone. Alliums are sometimes avoided due to their reseeding behavior. Fortunately ‘Millenium’ exhibits 50% reduced seed production, raising less concern for self-sown seedlings.
Allium ‘Millenium’ has a fibrous root structure forming an ornamental herbaceous clump easily propagated by division. Once in the garden, ‘Millenium’ can easily be lifted and divided in either spring or fall.
The Perennial Plant of the Year showcases 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. At Miracle Farms we often chose plants on the list of past Perennial of the Year winners to be reliable bloomers year after year.
Here is the list we often choose from:
Previous PPA Perennial Plant of the Year winners:
· 2016 Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ (windflower)
· 2015 Geranium ‘Biokova’ (dwarf cranesbill, hardy geranium)
· 2014 Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ (tall switch grass)
· 2013 Polygonatum odoratum variegatum (Solomon’s seal)
· 2012 Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ (Siberian bugloss)
· 2011 Amsonia hubrichtii (blue star)
· 2010 Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)
· 2009 Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (Japanese forest grass)
· 2008 Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (cranesbill, hardy geranium)
· 2007 Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’ (catmint)
· 2006 Dianthus ‘Feuerhexe’ (aka ‘Firewitch’) (cheddar pink)
· 2005 Helleborus x hybridus (hellebore, Lenten rose)
· 2004 Athyrium niponicum pictum (Japanese painted fern)
· 2003 Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’ (shasta daisy)
· 2002 Phlox paniculata ‘David’ (garden phlox)
· 2001 Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (feather reed grass)
· 2000 Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ (pincushion flower)
· 1999 Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ (black-eyed Susan)
· 1998 Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ (purple coneflower)
· 1997 Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ (aka ‘May Night’ ) (wood sage)
· 1996 Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (beardtongue)
· 1995 Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage)
· 1994 Astilbe ‘Sprite’ (dwarf astilbe)
· 1993 Veronica ‘Sunny Border Blue’ (speedwell)
· 1992 Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ (threadleaf coreopsis)
· 1991 Heuchera micrantha diversifolia ‘Palace Purple’ (coral bells)
· 1990 Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox)
The garden in winter doesn’t normally get a lot of attention. However, with a little time and energy during the growing season you can add some ornamental grasses that will give life to your wintertime garden as well. We know ornamental grasses accent a garden at any time of year, but they just might be at their best in the dead of the winter. They provide texture and movement in the winter landscape – elements often lacking when the rest of the garden has gone to sleep. When the rest of your landscape is taking a visual rest, the colors, textures and movement of the grasses has a beauty all its own. Many varieties do double duty by attracting birds to your winter garden providing shelter and food. Maintenance is simple – cut back in the spring before new growth appears. Honestly, we think they’re worth growing for their winter interest alone!
Why we love ornamental grasses
- Natural appearance
- Deer resistant—white-tailed deer do not eat most ornamental grasses
- Few insect or disease problems
- Low nutrient requirements
- Little maintenance, except spring cutback
- More than one season of interest
- Fast growth—most are mature size by three years
- Varied texture, from fine fescues to coarse giantMiscanthus
- An array of foliage colors from many shades of green to blue, yellow, bronze, and red, as well as several variegated forms
- Movement with the wind provides visual and audio interest, susurration—a whispering or rustling sound—that is pleasing and unique
- Beautiful effect when planted en masse
Two of our favorites that are super hardy zone 4 grasses are panicum Northwind and calamagrostis Karl Foerster. Try them in your garden this year!