Theodore Klein Plant Awards
Kentucky Native Plants
Below you’ll find the Kentucky Native Plants that have received the honor of “Theodore Klein Plant Award” in alphabetical order based on its Latin name.
Bonfire™, Commemoration®, Fall Fiesta™ 'Bailsta', Green Mountain®, Legacy®
An excellent collection of superior performing sugar maple selections, these will all create upright rounded shade trees with uniform outline, attractive, scaly gray bark and brilliant red/orange fall foliage color. Best on a good quality soil with adequate moisture.
Serviceberry is an excellent small flowering tree known for its informal, upright form covered with white flowers in spring, blueberry-live summer fruit (that are loved by many bird species) and red/orange fall foliage color. It works well in both full sun and light shade. Easy to grow and a multi-season plant. ‘Cumulus’ is known for excellent foliage quality and fall color
Common Blue Star
A winner for the sunny or lightly shaded garden, this Bluestar selection is a bit more compact growing (15”-18”) and with deeper blue flowers than the typical form. Mid-spring flowers gradually fade from deep blue buds to baby blue when fully open. Nice quality green foliage all summer turns bright yellow in fall. Long lived, easy care and dependable!
In recent years, ‘Blue Ice’ has started to show susceptiblity to a rust disease. Other new selections have been released that, while taller plants, are much more disease resistant: Storm Cloud and Starstruck
The fuzzy grey-green, heart shaped leaves of wild ginger form a stunning mat of foliage up to about 8” tall. It is an excellent groundcover choice for any shady garden where it aggressively crowds out weeds. Small brown flowers form under the leaves in spring.
A native woodland tree throughout Kentucky, Paw Paw bears large, tropical-looking leaves, small unique dark burgundy flowers and distinct banana-like fruit. Paw Paw requires a moist rich soil and is happiest in full sun to partial shade.
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.
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.
Atrosanguinea', 'Tangerine Beauty', 'Jekyll'
Wonderful climbing vine that produces clouds of trumpet flowers in shades ranging from golden yellow to orange and deep red. While this plant is found in the wild as an understory plant, it performs best in full sun where its early summer flowers are frequented by hummingbirds.
Native Flame® ('JFS-KW6'), Ball O’Fire™ (‘JN Globe’), FireSpire™ (JN Upright), and ‘JN Strain’
This outstanding small to medium tree makes a long lived, pest resistant specimen that has unique, muscular branching, smooth, dark gray bark and excellent deep green summer foliage. The listed cultivars have been selected for excellent and consistent red fall foliage color.
Magical® Moonlight (Plant Nouveau)
One of the most adaptable of our native shrubs, button bush produces spherical, fragrant white blooms about 1.5″ in diameter. Glossy summer foliage turns a clear golden yellow in fall. Excellent pollinator plant and adaptable from dry soils to sites with standing water.
Magical® Moonlight (‘Kolmoon’)
This excellent Kentucky native is one of our favorite pollinator shrubs, offering up honey-scented, golf ball sized flowers in late spring and glossy green summer foliage. This selection is more compact than the straight species, topping out at about 5’ tall and wide. It will tolerate everything from sopping wet soil to drought conditions.
This medium-sized tree is prized for late spring crops of white, sweetly fragrant and slightly pendulous flower clusters. Bright green summer foliage turns a glowing yellow in fall. The bark is a smooth gray and adds interest all year long. Likes a moist and rich soil.
This delightful North American native shrub is covered in late spring/early summer with sweetly fragrant, white flower spikes that are covered with a long list of pollinators. Bright golden fall foliage adds a nice touch in autumn. Likes a soil with reasonable moisture and performs best in full sun to light shade. The straight species grows to about 6′ tall x 6′ wide but ‘Hummingbird’ is a more compact selection that matures at around 3’x3′.
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.
This Tennessee introduction is the most disease-resistant flowering dogwood on the market today. Classic white spring blooms, bright red fall fruit and red/ orange fall foliage combine to make the perfect package. Plant in rich, moist soil in partial shade.
An adaptable and long lived tree best known for its delicious fall-ripening fruit. Growing to 40’-50’ tall, this Kentucky native tree grows into an upright oval shape and is easily identified by its deeply furrowed, gray bark. Male and female flowers are born on separate trees so both are required for fruit production.
Dryopteris x australis
Dixie Wood Fern
This 3’-4′-tall, upright arching fern is one of the best choices for specimen or mass planting. It works well in any shaded site with a good garden soil. Vigorous grower that is not browsed by deer and has few other insect or pest problems. An easy to grow fern.
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.
A noble tree if there ever was one! Growing to 60’ tall and wide with strong branching and beautifully smooth gray bark, it loves deep, rich and moist soil and is typically a long lived specimen in the landscape. Avoid extreme drought and soil compaction in the root zone.
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Attractive and durable shade tree with unique, scaly gray bark, blue/green summer foliage and clear yellow fall color. Open branching makes trees look a bit sparse in youth but result in strong branching and beautiful shape with age. Female plants produce large, leathery seed pods. Most named cultivars are males.
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
'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.
'NCHA2' Invincibelle® Spirit II
A wonderful, deep pink flowered form of our Kentucky native hydrangea. Flowers on new growth so it blooms even after winter pruning. Excellent 3’ tall option for full sun or light shade and most soils.
American holly forms an attractive, upright, conical evergreen in the landscape, typically with spined, leathery leaves and bright red fruit on female specimens. The Theodore Klein selection ‘Judy Evans’ stands out as superior by virtue of its dense, regular outline, dark green foliage, heavy crops of red fruit and vigorous growth. It is considered one of the best of the female cultivars. A long lived and dependable garden plant.
The winterberry hollies are stars of the fall and winter landscape with female selections producing massive crops of fire engine red fruits that hang on for a long time. Ranging in size from 3′ to more than 10′ (depending on cultivar) this deciduous shrub species will handle any soil from consistently wet to slightly dry. It is easy to grow, has few pests and offers birds a loved food source in winter. ‘Red Sprite’ is one of the smaller female selections, maturing at about 4′ tall and wide with large fruits. Requires a male pollinator.
A vigorous, spreading shrub with upright arching stems bearing clear white flowers in late spring. In fall, the foliage develops a brilliant, scarlet color that lasts through much of the fall. A tough, durable and drought tolerant species although best flowering and fall color on a soil with reasonable moisture. ‘Henry’s Garnet’ is a selection for superior, bright red fall foliage color.
This large woodland shrub is grown for its subtle spring flowers of yellow/green and summer/fall red fruit. It is the preferred host to the spicebush swallowtail butterfly. An excellent choice for sun or dappled shade and is tolerant of a wide range of soils.
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.
Magnolia virginiana var. australis
'Henry Hicks', 'Northern Bell', 'Aiken County', 'Green Bay' syn. 'Green Shadow'
This upright oval magnolia is best known for its crops of creamy white, lemon-scented flowers cast against dark green foliage. Easy to grow in any reasonable soil, it is an excellent selection for lengthening the spring bloom season. The variety australis is the evergreen form of the species.
An excellent upright growing shade tree with glossy green summer foliage, small blue fruits (on female plants) and gleaming fall foliage in shades of red, orange, yellow and burgundy. Tolerant of heavy soils. Numerous cultivars have been introduced for more consistent fall color and vigor. Excellent Kentucky native tree.
Numerous cultivars have been introduced for leaf spot resistance, consistent fall color and growth rate: Red Rage – large leaves with bright red color some years. Good spot resistance. Wildfire – red new leaves and moderate fall color display with good spot resistance. Green Gable – glossy dark green summer leaves and good vigor.
'Seward' , Summer Wine™
This almost indestructible shrub is a standout for the summer garden. Mahogany foliage is deeper and holds its color better than other varieties. Pink/white late spring flowers offer excellent contrast and are attractive to a wide range of pollinators.
Easy to grow evergreen fern for the shade garden. Growing 12″-24″ tall and wide, its slightly leathery foliage starts out spring fairly upright and gradually relaxes to the ground through the winter. Deer browse resistant.
This long-lived and durable shade tree is among the most attractive of the oaks. Broad-spreading limbs and leathery dark green leaves offer excellent shade and beautiful texture. Adaptable to a wide range of soils.
Swamp White Oak
Swamp White Oak is one of our most outstanding native oaks. Growing to 50-60’ tall with an upright oval outline, it makes an excellent shade tree specimen and is also useful in street tree and parking lot plantings. This long-lived species is tremendously adaptable and once established, it is tolerant of both wet and dry soils. Summer foliage is a dark glossy green with a bit of yellow in the Autumn.
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.
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.
'Mickelson' Shawnee Brave™
This strongly upright species is fast growing, pest resistant and provides a very fine texture in the landscape. Bald cypress is tolerant of a wide range of soils (even standing water!) and exposures and is unusual in that it is one of the few conifers that looses its needles in the winter. Shawnee Brave was selected for improved cold hardiness, vigor and uniform growth.
This fabulous North American native herbaceous groundcover is perfect for the shade garden. Growing to about 10” tall, its bright green leaves are flecked with deep red through the summer and the color intensifies after fall frost. Spikes of clear white flowers cover plants in spring. Avoid dry soils.
A large, deciduous shrub grown for late spring, creamy white flowers, showy masses of fall fruit and glowing, maroon fall foliage color. It is adaptable to a wide range of conditions from full sun to light shade, is an excellent pollinator plant when in bloom and the fruit crops are favored by many bird species. Tolerant of very wet soils. The selection ‘Winterthur’ has improved fall color and fruit set compared to the straight species.