Theodore Klein Plant Awards

Sun Perennials

Below you’ll find the Sun Perennials that have received the honor of “Theodore Klein Plant Award” in alphabetical order based on its Latin name.

Acanthus spinosus
Spiny Bears Breeches

Tough and durable herbaceous perennial prized for exceptional foliage, unique flowers and tremendous adaptability. This tough species offers glossy dark green spiny foliage in a mass up to about 24”. Late spring flowers of white, purple and mauve are produced on tall husky spikes that extend a foot or more about the foliage.

Ornamental Onion

This delightful hybrid forms tight masses of 8”-tall, strap like leaves topped with bright rosy/purple, rounded flower heads in summer. It is an excellent pollinator plant and the onion scent of the foliage deters both deer and rabbits. Best in full sun in any reasonable soil.

Blue Star

This fabulous, compact growing sun perennial is prized for its sky-blue spring flowers, dense and high quality summer foliage and glowing golden fall color. It makes a good cut flower and is not browsed by deer.

The previously awarded A. tabernaemontana ‘Blue Ice’ has in recent years developed susceptibility to several rust diseases and is no longer recommended.

Amsonia hubrechtii
Arkansas Blue Star'

An oustanding sun perennial primarily known for producing mounds of delicate, thread-like foliage foliage of bright green in summer and glowing gold in fall. Sky blue flowers cover plants in spring. An excellent plant for sunny sites and well drained soil.

Aster oblongifolius
'Raydon's Favorite'

A fabulous sun perennial that forms a 2′-3′ tall and wide, dense mass of fine, highly aromatic foliage and clouds of levender blue flowers in fall. Highly resistant to the foliage mildew problems that plagues so many asters. Incredibly drought tolerant, easy to grow and a killer pollinator plant for late in the season.

Baptista australis
Blue False Indigo

Long lived herbaceous perennial grown for its lavender-blue spring flower spikes.The plant combines excellent pest resistance with drought and heat tolerance that make it an excellent choice for just about any sunny garden. Does not transplant well after a few years in the ground so best to plant it and leave it be.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora
Feather Reed Grass
‘Karl Foerster’

This selection has earned top honors across the garden world. In full sun, strikingly upright plants grow 5’-6’ tall and 2’ wide. The stunning flower/seed plumes are effective summer and fall and last well through the winter. Plant in full sun and any reasonable soil and this plant will reward for years to come.

‘Ice Dance’

Outstanding evergreen groundcover that makes 15″-tall masses of broad, grass-like leaves edged in creamy white. Extremely vigorous and durable in sun and shade. Deer proof. Few pests. May be a bit too agressive for mixed planting with less vigorous perennials.

Carex oshimensis
Golden Sedge

Arching, grass-like foliage mounds of bright yellow, this durable evergreen sedge works well in ground beds or containers. Brightest color in full sun. Fades to a still-effective yellow green in shady sites. Highly resistant to deer browse. One of the best performing sedges in Yew Dell’s trials

Coreopsis tripteris
Tall Tickseed
‘Gold Standard’

From our friends at the Mt Cuba Center comes this stunning native perennial for the summer garden. A big grower to about 7’ tall, it forms large masses of upright stems topped with cheerful golden blooms from early summer through frost. Best in full sun and sparse soil.

Dianthus grantianopolitanus
Cheddar Pinks
'Bath's Pink'

Outstanding low, creeping sun perennial with blue-green mats of spring foliage to about 8″ tall and sweet/spicy fragrant, vibrant pink flowers in spring. Likes a well drained soil and looks best if spent flowers are removed after flowering. Easy to grow, makes and excellent cut flower and long lived in the garden.

Eupatorium maculatum
Joe Pye Weed

Large, sun perennial for the sunny garden on either wet or dry soils. Strong burgundy-colored stems yield flat topped domes of creamy white to pink blooms in mid summer with seed heads remaining effective through fall. Outstanding pollinator plant. ‘Gateway’ is a more compact grower (5′) with darker colored stems and uniform growth.

Geranium x cantabrigiense

This compact-growing herbaceous perennial is one of the best geraniums for this region. Plants grow 12-18” tall and spread to two feet or more in width. In spring, plants are covered with bright pink blossoms. Best in full sun or partial shade in about any reasonable garden soil.

Hakonechloa macra
Japanese Forest Grass
‘All Gold’

Stunning mound of arching, fine textured foliage that works well as a single specimen or a mass planting. This selection has intense yellow foliage in full sun, fading to a bright yellow/green in the shade. It is the most vigorous of all the Hakonechloa cultivars on the market. Provide supplemental irrigation during dry spells in full sun situations

Helianthus angustifolius
Swamp Sunflower
‘First Light’

Compact selection of an already excellent North American herbaceous perennial will top out at about 4’ tall. In September and October, it is smothered in 2-inch diameter, screaming yellow daisy flowers. Loves full sun and can handle damp soils but will adapt to any reasonable garden soil. Deer resistant.

Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra
False Sunflower
'Summer Sun' and 'Summer Nights'

These two outstanding summer blooming perennials are excellent additions to any sunny garden. Both provide masses of golden yellow blooms from mid Summer into Fall with Summer Sun offering double yellow blooms while Summer Nights produces single golden flowers with deeper centers. Excellent pollinator plants, easy to grow and deer proof.

Lonicera sempervirens
Trumpet Honeysuckle
‘Blanche Sandman’

This Kentucky native vine is excellent for trellises and for scrambling over stone walls where it produces late spring/early summer trumpets of red, orange and yellow and sporadically through the summer. An excellent hummingbird plant. Best for full sun sites in any average soil.

‘Walker’s Low’

This vigorous perennial is an excellent herbaceous perennial groundcover for sun gardens. Gray-green foliage forms the perfect foil for blue-lavender spring blooms. Will rebloom in summer if sheared after spring bloom. Provide well-drained soil. Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year 2007! See additional notes for newer introductions.

There are many new and excellent selections influding ‘Purrsian Blue’, ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ and others.

Intersectional Peony

This group is the result of crosses between traditional herbaceous peonies and woody tree peonies. Compared to both parents, intersectional peonies have superior quality foliage all through the summer, have a longer bloom period and their shorter and stockier build means they don’t flop over when in bloom.

Panicum virgatum
‘Cloud Nine’

This North American native grass will grow to 6’ tall or more, producing fine clouds of summer/fall blooms/seed heads that give the entire plant an airy feel. Best when planted in masses in full sun. Excellent for back of the border and naturalized masses.

‘Dark Towers’

This burgundy foliaged selection grows to 2-3’ tall and bears white blooms on straight, erect stems in summer. It works best in full sun in most soils and is quite drought tolerant. Excellent pollinator plant. See additional comments for newer selections.

The more recently released ‘Onyx and Pearls’ offers even better foliage color and vigor.

Pycnanthemum muticum
Short-Toothed Mountain Mint

Stunning 2’-tall perennial with silver/grey leaves and pale pink flowers that is an absolute pollinator magnet. Best in sun to light shade. Excellent for rain gardens, mixed borders or naturalizing at the woods edge.

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.

Solidago shortii
‘Solar Cascade’

A rather low-growing and sprawling goldenrod prized for its heavy flower production and vigorous growth. Selected by Steve Foltz of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, it has become popular for naturalizing plantings, to grow over retaining walls and to cover slopes. Outstanding pollinator plant.

Spigelia marilandica
Indian Pink

This low, mounded perennial is best known for its brilliant red flowers in spring. Typically found as a woodland wildflower, this one performs even better in full sun as long as it has adequate moisture. Excellent hummingbird plant and an easy care garden plant.

Vernonia lettermannii
Slimleaf Ironweed

Excellent texture plant for the sun garden. 2′-tall masses of extremely fine textured foliage are covered with violet flowers in late summer. Covered by multitudes of pollinators when in bloom. Tough and drought tolerant plant.

Iron Butterfly’ is the most common cultivar on the market.

Explore the other categories of plants that have been named recipients of the Theodore Klein Plant Awards:

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