Best drought-tolerant perennial
Agastache ‘Morello’ (Terra Nova Nurseries), North Carolina State University
‘Morello’ has dense, showy, deep pink colored flowers that the bees love. Our 100 degree-plus days didn’t keep this showstopper from flowering.
Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit (Kieft Seed), The Gardens at Ball
Well-established landscape coneflower. Held its incredible colors all summer. This All-America Selections Winner features high-demand prairie colors to the garden. The incredibly vibrant segregating mix delivers maximum flower power with superior garden performance. Plants are shorter, better branched, and fuller than tissue-culture varieties.
Echinacea Lakota Santa Fe (Proven Winners), Walters Gardens
We’ve been looking for easy-to-grow echinacea for years and one of the best that we’ve found
Delosperma Delmara Orange (Green Fuse Botanicals), Mast Young Plants
This first-year flowering perennial had significantly larger flowers and a heftier habit than
Perovskia ‘CrazyBlue’ (Darwin Perennials), The Gardens at Ball
Unique interlacing branches with deep blue flowers. Looked good all season through all weather. ‘CrazyBlue’ is deer resistant, as well. It holds up in the landscape or in large containers as a tall accent plant. Very hardy (Zone 4).
Salvia Mystic Spires Improved (Ball FloraPlant), Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Best heat-tolerant perennial
Eucalyptus Silver Drop (Proven Winners), Mast Young Plants
Gaillardia SpinTop Yellow Touch (Dümmen Orange), North Carolina State University
Nice compact plants that are covered with large, attractive orange flowers with the edges dipped in yellow. Thrived in our heat.
Pennisetum ‘Red Rocket’ (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens), Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Salvia Mirage Cherry Red (Darwin Perennials), The Gardens at Ball
Sedum Rock ‘N Grow ‘Popstar’ (Proven Winners), Walters Gardens
Finding a low-profile sedum that doesn’t lodge (open up) can be a challenge, however, ‘Popstar’ rose to the occasion. For most of the year, ‘Popstar’ looks great as a foliage plant with blue-green leaves. Later in the season, it explodes with salmon pink flowers. With its great habit, ‘Popstar’ is definitely an improvement over S.
Verbena Santos Purple (Kieft Seed), The Gardens at Ball
A tough, long-lasting landscape perennial through Zone 7. Very heat and drought tolerant, and performs well in cool weather, too. Santos Purple is compact and upright. The well-branched plants bloom late-spring through the summer. It showed high powdery mildew resistance. Makes a great addition to combo planters or baskets.
Best pollinator-friendly perennial
Dianthus Rockin’ Red (Kieft Seed), The Gardens at Ball
Very attractive color and a great landing pad for butterflies and bees. The soft scent and lacy florets were appealing in the garden all season. Reliably overwintered in Zone 5 and retained its dynamite red color.
Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit (Kieft Seed), Mast Young Plants
This colorful assortment of coneflowers isn’t
Monarda 'MO 017' (Dümmen Orange), North Carolina State University
Monardas are known for being pollinator-friendly and this one did not disappoint. ‘MO 017’ is a compact, well-behaved clumper that blooms prolifically. It is still in the experimental phase but one to keep a watch on.
Panicum Prairie Winds ‘Apache Rose’ (Proven Winners), Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Penstemon barbatus ‘Twizzle Purple’ (Van Hemert Seeds), Iowa State University
This plant is a first-year blooming perennial from seed. The color is an eye-catching purple that draws pollinators in with tube-shaped flowers. ‘Twizzle Purple’ overwinters well through bitter Iowa winters and blooms even earlier the second year.
Salvia ‘Bumbleberry’, Walters Gardens
If you’ve ever been around salvias in peak during the spring, you know that honeybees adore these flowers. ‘Bumbleberry’ has performed excellently in our finished plant trials, along with ‘Bumblesky’ and ‘Bumbleblue’. They’re easy to maintain as they are naturally
Salvia Fashionista Midnight Model (Walters Gardens), Smith Gardens
Such a great plant. Large flowers attract all kinds of pollinators from bees to butterflies to hummingbirds.
Salvia ‘Rose Marvel’ (Darwin Perennials), The Gardens at Ball
The large flower size of this salvia attracted many pollinating bees. The color was vibrant. The rich, deep rose color stood out in the trial beds. The ultra-large flowers provided more color and impact in the garden. ‘Rose Marvel’ also has a long flowering window for extended enjoyment.
Best overall performance
Coreopsis SunSwirl (Dümmen Orange), Smith Gardens
Great habit with large yellow
Dianthus Rockin’ Red (PanAmerican Seed), Mast Young Plants
Dianthus Rockin’ Red is a dynamite velvety red dianthus from PanAmerican Seed that is hardy to Zone 5 and very heat tolerant, flowering throughout the summer. It grows to about 2 feet tall and can be used in combos or as a back of the border garden plant.
Dianthus Rockin’ Red (Kieft Seed), The Gardens at Ball
Echinacea Kismet Raspberry (Terra Nova Nurseries), North Carolina State University
These compact coneflowers were covered in clear raspberry-colored flowers. They started blooming in June and there was still some sporadic flowering occurring in mid-September. The plants are very uniform in size.
Echinacea Sombrero Sangrita (Darwin Perennials), The Gardens at Ball
Excellent presentation – the burgundy flower stems really stood out. The Sombrero series is well-known for its compact and floriferous habit, with rich, bright colors. It attracts birds and other pollinators, too. A great native choice for full-sun gardens.
Heuchera PRIMO ‘Black Pearl’ (Proven Winners), Walters Gardens
We were wowed right away by the visuals of this plant, and once we got it into production, we continued to be impressed. In our trials, when we found we could finish this plant from a plug to a gallon container in 6 weeks in summer, we were floored. It truly lives up to the PRIMO name of larger, vigorous plants. Additionally, its glossy black foliage makes it easy to get ‘Black Pearl’ to look showy in a container.