Theodore Klein Plant Awards
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Calamagrostis x acutiflora
Feather Reed Grass
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Japanese Forest Grass
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.