close icon
leaf icon
leaf icon
leaf icon
calendar icon
Gardens To Visit
caret icon
Visit a PHS garden or landscape to help build stronger social connections with your community.
For Neighborhoods
caret icon
Explore programs that create healthy, livable environments and increase access to fresh food.
For Gardeners
caret icon
Engage with PHS on gardening, whether you’re an expert or a beginner.
About Us
caret icon
Get to know our story, become a part of our staff, or see what is in the news with PHS.
The Flower Show

Introducing the 2023 PHS Gold Medal Plant Winners

April 06, 2023

leaf icon gardening

leaf icon plants

leaf icon phs programs

Spigelia marilandica 2023 GMP

Have you been looking to add a new tree, shrub, edible, vine, or perennial plant to your garden? Check out the PHS Gold Medal Plant list for inspiration! We recently awarded six new plants with the distinguished title for 2023. 

“We hope that the PHS Gold Medal Plants list will help gardeners find the right species of plants to suit their garden’s unique needs, while also inspiring them to include plants they may not have considered before,” said Andrew Bunting, PHS’s Vice President of Horticulture. “Each year’s Gold Medal Plant winners include a variety of plants for every garden condition, size, and need.”   

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 2023 Winners

1. Spigelia marilandica 

Hardiness Zones 6 -9 

About this plant: A native perennial that blooms with red tubular flowers with yellow throats in early summer. This plant stands about 18”-24” and  thrives when kept mostly full sun and average to moist soils. It is also deer resistant. 

What we like: This beautiful plant provides a lovely pop of color to any garden and is especially good for small space gardens. The flowers are also very attractive to hummingbirds.

Spigelia marilandica 2023 GMP

2. Vernonia lettermannii 'Iron Butterfly' 

Hardiness Zones 4-8.  

About this plant: Another native perennial that produces many vibrant purple flowers in late summer through fall. Growing to 18 inches tall, the thread-like foliage is showy and turns brilliant golden hues in the fall. When in bloom, this plant attracts and is covered with butterflies. 

What we like: 'Iron Butterfly’ is very versatile as it thrives in a wide range of soil conditions and can withstand hot and dry conditions. This plant provides color year-round, and blooms when there are not as many plants flowering later into the season. It is also a great pollinator-attracting plant. 

vernonia lettermannii iron butterfly 10 13 17 ls 1

3. Juniperus 'Grey Owl’ 

Hardiness Zones 2-9. 

About this plant: This native shrub is known as a low-spreading evergreen that thrives in the sun. It has a high tolerance for extreme heat and cold and can grow in almost any soil. It is drought-resistant and has attractive evergreen silvery blue-green foliage. It also produces many berry-like bluish cones that attract birds. 

What we like: ‘Grey Owl’ is a low maintenance shrub that is perfect for covering sunny banks or large open areas. It is deer resistant, grows fast, attracts birds, and has winter interest. 

juniperus virginiana grey owl

4. Quercus bicolor 

Hardiness Zones 4-8. 

About this plant: This fast-growing oak tree thrives in both urban and rural settings. It grows about 1.5 to 2 feet a year and can reach over 100 feet with an equal spread. The leaves turn golden to yellow in the fall, and the acorns are an important source of food for wildlife. 

What we like: This beautiful and stately multi-season native tree is perfect to line streets or live in your yard. It tolerates most soil conditions better than many other oak species and will attract birds. 

quercus bicolor

5. Viburnum dentatum Chicago Lustre®

Hardiness Zones 3-8. 

About this plant: Chicago Lustre® arrowwood viburnum gets its name from its bright, shiny green mature foliage. This native shrub is an ideal plant for hedging, and it can grow to a mature size of 12' x 10'. It blooms in late May - early June with white flower clusters and blue-black fruit in the fall. 

What we like: This is a fantastic shrub to decorate your yard or to use for privacy. It will attract birds and various wildlife to your garden. 

viburnum dentatum chicago lustre photo by f d richards

6. Nyssa sylvatica Green Gable™ 

Hardiness Zones 4-8. 

About this plant: Known for its brilliant red fall color and shiny green foliage, this native tree is shade tolerant and excellent for erosion control. This tree will grow between 40 and 60 feet. 

What we like: This tough, abatable tree is great as a street tree in urban conditions. Green Gable™ adds beautiful color and shade to its surroundings. 

nyssa sylvatica green gable

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.