Theodore Klein Plant Awards

Named for one of the patriarchs of the Kentucky Nursery Industry

Theodore Klein

A program promoting superior woody and herbaceous perennial plants for Kentucky Landscapes.

Named for one of the patriarchs of the Kentucky nursery industry, each year the Theodore Klein Plant Awards Committee announces a slate of plants that offer excellent ornamental and performance characteristics in the Kentucky climate. Award winners are selected each year by a panel of plant professionals from wholesale and retail nurseries, design firms, public horticulture and academic institutions.

Explore the Theodore Klein Plant Award Winners

2024 Theodore Klein Plant Award Winners Announced

They’re here! Each year a panel of Kentucky green industry professionals hunkers down in a dark and smoky room and battles it out to see which plant nominees will make the list. And this list that started back in 1999 now adds up to the go-to collection of woody and herbaceous garden plants for the region.

Magnolia
Hybrid Magnolia
‘Sunsation’

One of the latest yellow-flowered magnolias available, this hybrid of a native Kentucky species tends to miss the frosts that hit most spring-blooming magnolias. Spring branches are covered with large, fragrant, yellow blooms with pink/green basal highlights. It grows to form an upright 25-40’-tall tree with light gray bark. Plant in full sun and water through dry spells.

Phlox divaricata
Woodland Phlox
‘Blue Moon’, ‘May Breeze’

This well-behaved, spreading groundcover forms loose mats of fine-textured foliage that is covered with lightly fragrant, blue/lavender to rose/pink flowers in spring. Fairly drought tolerant once established, the only care needed is an occasional cut back to refresh foliage in mid-summer. Deer resistant and easy to grow. ‘May Breeze’ is an excellent selection with white flowers that can age to a pale purple. ‘Blue Moon’ is generally considered one of the best blue selections.


Pinus koraiensis
Korean Pine

This uncommon evergreen grows to about 60’ tall with a loosely upright, pyramidal outline. Four to five-inch-long, blue/green needles are fine in texture and provide a soft feel to the entire plant. Plant in full sun in all but very dry or very wet soil and it will reward with years of mostly trouble-free growth.

Schizachyrium scoparium
Little Blue Stem
'Standing Ovation'

This outstanding native grass forms 3’-4’ tall masses of fine textured, strongly erect foliage and summer clouds of seedheads that last well into winter. While many Blue Stem forms have a hard time standing up in the garden, ‘Standing Ovation’ stands tall all through the season. Incredibly drought tolerant and pest resistant. Best in masses where its blue/green summer foliage and purple/blue fall display look best.

Syringa reticulata subsp. pekinensis
Peking Lilac
Great Wall® (‘WFH2’), Beijing Gold™ (‘Zhang Zhiming’)

A tough and durable Asian native that is best known for masses of white, fragrant flowers in early summer, and mahogany-colored, peeling bark. Easy to grow in a wide range of soils. Beijing GoldTM offers creamy yellow flowers while Great Wall® was selected for upright, uniform growth and vigorous bloom set.

Viburnum carlesii
Korean Spice Viburnum
'Select S' (Sugar ‘n SpiceTM), ‘Compactum’, ‘Aurora’

This dense-growing shrub is best known for intensely fragrant flowers that start dark pink/red in bud and open to white. Slightly fuzzy, medium green summer foliage turns to shades of wine, red and orange. Drought tolerant once established and easy to grow. ‘Compactum’ grows to 3’-4’ tall and wide with smaller, white blooms. Sugar ‘n SpiceTM was selected for smaller but more numerous blooms. ‘Aurora’ has very deep red flower buds and is an RHS Award of Garden Merit winner.

Contact Us

We’d love to hear from you whether it’s regarding your visit, gardening questions, or sharing a horticultural fun fact!

*Required field