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The Flower Show

Plant a 2021 PHS Gold Medal Plant in Your Garden this Spring

March 18, 2021

leaf icon plants

cercis canadensis appalachia

By Wendy Lam and Marion McParland 

With the official start of Spring only two days from now, this is the perfect time to visit your local nursery and look for PHS’s newly crowned 2021 Gold Medal Plant winners. Our selected Gold Medal Plants are chosen by a group of expert gardeners and horticulturists each year for their suitability to the region, hardiness, pest resistance, ease of maintenance, and multiple seasons of visual interest. PHS is dedicated to helping gardeners find plants that benefit our natural ecosystem as well as provide beauty for years to come. 
“The purpose of Gold Medal Plants is to help gardeners find a plant that is a perfect fit for their garden’s needs,” says Andrew Bunting, PHS Vice President of Public Horticulture. Bunting oversees the PHS Gold Medal Plant Committee in selecting winners each year. The process starts with submissions from many types of horticulturists such as garden designers, home gardeners, landscape architects, nursery owners, and plant propagators. Diverse submissions help inform the selection of newly available and classic species and cultivars chosen each year.  

2021 Gold Medal Plant Winners

 Cercis canadensis  ‘Appalachian Red’  

A cultivar of one of the mid-Atlantic’s best spring-flowering small native trees, ‘Appalachian Red’ has clear, bright rose-pink flowers for two to three weeks in April. 

cercis canadensis appalachia

Rudbeckia ‘American Gold Rush’  

A slightly more compact selection of our native black-eyed Susan, this disease-resistant perennial blooms from July to September.


Paeonia ‘Bartzella’  

A hybrid between a tree and herbaceous peony, this beauty features dozens of fragrant, semi-double, sulphur-yellow flowers on sturdy stems that don’t require staking. 


Hydrangea paniculata Bobo®  

A diminutive variety, this heavily flowering shrub features large conical clusters of white flowers beginning in midsummer, which fade to pink and last into fall. 


Platanus x acerfolia Exclamation! ™  

For over a century, the London planetree has been a classic tree in the urban landscape, prized for its grand proportions, pollution tolerance, and beautiful exfoliating bark. Exclamation! ™ is an improved cultivar that is disease resistant. 

Platanus acerifolia exclamation_tree-02

Sarcococca hookeriana ‘Fragrant Valley’  

This elegant evergreen groundcover features small, glossy foliage, and is perfect for dry shade. It produces miniscule, wonderfully fragrant flowers in March.


Dryopteris x australis  

Native Dixie wood fern adds a statuesque vertical element to the shade garden, with bright green, glossy, upright fronds that remain evergreen throughout winter.  


Visit the Gold Medal Plant Database 

Curious to learn more about all the Gold Medal Plant recipients? Browse through decades of plant expertise in the PHS Gold Medal Plant database! Here you can explore all the winners since the beginning of the awards program and also customize your search. There are currently more than 150 praiseworthy trees, shrubs, and flowers just waiting to be discovered for your garden needs. 

Shopping Guide 

Visit these local nurseries to find the seven award winners for 2021, as well as winners from years past. Call first to make sure the plants you are shopping for are currently in stock. PHS recommends: 

With the Gold Medal Plant database presenting the best options for you, you’ll have more time in the garden doing what you love. PHS encourages you to get outdoors and garden this Spring with these awardees! 


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