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The Flower Show

Going for Gold! Introducing the 2022 PHS Gold Medal Plant Winners

March 24, 2022

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2022_GMP_abelia zanderi little richard


By Rachel Link

If you’ve been looking to add a new tree, shrub, vine, or perennial plant to your garden, our PHS Gold Medal Plant list is a great place to start. We recently awarded six new plants the distinguished title for 2022!  

What Makes a Plant a “Gold Medal Plant”? 

Gold Medal Plants are selected for their ease of cultivation, multiple seasons of interest, commercial availability, appropriateness for the Mid-Atlantic region, and value to wildlife.  PHS's database of these plants is highly sought-after by gardeners, nurseries, and other horticulturists to see the annual choices!

How are Gold Medal Plants Chosen? 

PHS annually convenes nursery owners, horticulturists, expert gardeners, and professional growers to conduct a review of both newly available and classic species and cultivars, selecting the best performing and most beautiful for inclusion in the Gold Medal Plant program.   
 

The PHS Gold Medal 2022 Winners 
 

1. Abelia x grandiflora ‘Little Richard’, glossy abelia
Hardiness Zones 6-9 
 

About this plant: An ornamental shrub with alluring small, white flowers that bloom from late spring to frost. In the fall, the foliage of this evergreen shrub changes to an orange-pink hue. ‘Little Richard’ is a fast-growing shrub that grows exceptionally well in containers, is deer resistant, and attracts pollinators.  

What we like: Particularly well-suited to small scale gardens, ‘Little Richard’ is in bloom for months on end, extending into fall when its foliage acquires a handsome coloration. Mostly evergreen, this plant retains its interest throughout most of the year. 

2022_GMP_abelia zanderi little richard

2. Acer x freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze®,’ Freeman maple
Hardiness Zones 4-8 
 

About this plant: A large native shade tree that has spectacular orange-red fall foliage. This native cultivar will cool surrounding temperatures, benefiting the environment by attracting native birds. It is also deer resistant. Autumn Blaze® is tolerant of dry and wet soils.  

What we like: A top pick for a street tree, although excessive salt will affect its growth. ‘Autumn Blaze’ is an easy to cultivate, quick growing, symmetrical, large tree that will stop traffic with its vivid red fall foliage. 

2022_GMP_freeman maple

3. Cornus kousa ‘Scarlet Fire®,’ Kousa dogwood
Hardiness Zones 5-8 
 

About this plant: A flowering dogwood with magnificent, fuchsia-colored flowers. Scarlet Fire® adapts very well in many different climates and soils. It is a medium-growing tree that blooms within two years of being planted. Scarlet Fire® is a relatively new addition to the ornamental landscape with its deer and disease resistant tolerance.  

What we like: The best pink blooming Kousa, with a color reminiscent of our beloved pink-flowering native dogwood, but with a bloom time extending for over a month. Beautiful scarlet fruits in fall extend the seasonal interest. 

2022_GMP_cornus kousa scarlet fire

4. Heuchera 'Caramel,' coral bells
Hardiness Zones 4-9 
 

About this plant: A perennial that works well in the landscape as a ground cover or for massing in the perennial border. ‘Caramel’ is a vigorous, clump-forming coral bells cultivar that features unique apricot foliage. It provides three seasons of interest: spring, summer, and fall. ‘Caramel’ is deer resistant.  

What we like: A fantastic plant to include in a permanent or semi-permanent mixed container planting, ‘Caramel’ looks great all year, even holding some color in winter. New growth in spring is pink, with fall color that shifts to golden, complementing classic seasonal color schemes. 

2022_GMP_heuchera villosa caramel

5. Ilex opaca 'Maryland Dwarf,' American holly
Hardiness Zones 6-9 
 

About this plant: A sun-loving, low-growing native holly that is shade tolerant and grows well in average to somewhat moist soil. This exceptional holly has broad spreading leaves that boost winter interest in the garden and landscape. It is beautiful in small garden spaces.  

What we like: As a substitute for boxwood, which is increasingly difficult to grow in our region, ‘Maryland Dwarf’ is an easy care, native option for creating a formal hedge or clipped specimen. 

2022_GMP_ilex opaca maryland drwaf

6. Pycnanthemum muticum, mountain mint
Hardiness Zones 4-8 
 

About this plant: A fragrant perennial with dark green leaves that smell like peppermint when crushed. This vigorous grower is not invasive like most other mints. It grows best in moist to medium moist soils, can be planted in meadows, and is a fantastic addition to a perennial garden. It also attracts pollinators and is one of the best perennials for deer resistance.  

What we like: Besides its merits as a garden plant, mountain mint is a great addition to floral arrangements. Intriguing cushion-like flowers, refreshing fragrance, and long vase life add sparkle to any design. 

2022_GMP_pycnanthemum muticum

Gold Medal plants take the gold for good reasons: they are great for our region, support pollinators and wildlife, and positively contribute to overall health and well-being. You can find more using our thorough database of all Gold Medal Plant winners! 

Want to see more? Explore the full list in the Gold Medal Plant Database.