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The Flower Show

Gold Medal Plants

2020 gold medal plants web hero with logo

The PHS Gold Medal Plant Program is a resource for anyone looking for the perfect tree, shrub, vine, or perennial plant to add to their garden. Gold Medal Plants have been selected for their ease of cultivation, multiple seasons of interest, commercial availability, appropriateness for the Mid-Atlantic region, and value to wildlife.

Explore the Gold Medal Plant Database.

What Makes a Plant a “Gold Medal Plant”? 

Each year, PHS 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 Program.  

How to Use the Gold Medal Plant Database 

Watch our user video on how to best navigate the database, including sorting, alphabetizing, viewing images, printing a shopping list, and more!

2023 Gold Medal Plant Winners

1. Spigelia marilandica

This native perennial blooms in early summer with red tubular flowers with yellow throats held above green foliage. It is very attractive to hummingbirds. Best in mostly full sun and average to moist soils. About 18-24" tall and does not flop with adequate sunshine. Mature clumps will bloom on new younger stems later in the summer, providing a long period of interest. Deer resistant, but not rabbit resistant. Deer resistant and good for small space gardens.  Hardy in zones 6 thru 9.  

spigelia marilandica by tgpotterfield
Spigelia marilandica

2. Vernonia lettermannii 'Iron Butterfly'

A native perennial that thrives in a wide range of soil conditions from hot and dry to periods of inundation. It blooms at the time of the year when there is limited color in the garden. Stems are topped with a multitude of fine bright purple flowers in late summer and fall. The thread-like foliage is showy and clean, almost fern-like. The plant is covered in butterflies when in bloom. After it is done blooming, the seedheads remain very showy and the plant's sturdy stems hold up well throughout the winter providing visual interest. It is hardy in zones 4 thru 8. 

vernonia lettermannii iron butterfly 10 13 17 ls 1
Vernonia lettermannii 'Iron Butterfly'

3. Juniperus 'Grey Owl'

This native shrub has a proven track record as a low spreading evergreen that thrives in the sun.  It tolerates extreme heat and cold and tolerates fairly poor soil. It is drought-resistant and has attractive evergreen silvery-blue-green foliage. It produces many berry-like bluish cones that birds like.  Grey Owl grows fast too making it an excellent choice for covering a sunny bank or other large, open area. It is deer resistant, attracts birds and has winter interest. It is hardy in zones 2 thru 9.

juniperus virginiana grey owl
Juniperus 'Grey Owl'

4.  Quercus bicolor

A multi-season native tree that will survive in both urban and rural settings and tolerates most soils better than many other Oak cultivars. A beautiful stately tree. The acorns are an important source of food for wildlife. Good fall color and it retains tan leaves in winter. This oak grows to about 50 feet in most urban conditions. Its growth rate is fairly fast (1½ to 2 feet per year) The branching habit resembles that of pin oak (a.k.a. "swamp red oak"), but the branches are shorter and stouter, and more dense. It attracts birds and is hardy to zones 4 thru 8. 

quercus bicolor
Quercus bicolor

5.  Viburnum dentatum Chicago Lustre(R)

CHICAGO LUSTRE® arrowwood viburnum gets its name from the bright, shiny green mature foliage. This native shrub is an Ideal plant for hedging. It can grow to a mature size of 12' x 10', blooms in late May-early June with white flower clusters and blue-black fruit in the fall. It attracts birds and wildlife and is hardy in zones 3 thru 8.

viburnum dentatum chicago lustre photo by f d richards
Viburnum dentatum Chicago Lustre(R)

6.  Nyssa sylvatica Green Gable™

This native tree is known for its brilliant fall color and green foliage.  It is shade tolerant and excellent for erosion control.  It is a great substitute of the pear tree.  It will grow to 40'-60' adding stately to its long list of features. Its tough, adaptable and mess free, making it a low maintenance multi-seasonal plant. It is hardy in zones 4 thru 8.   

nyssa sylvatica green gable
Nyssa sylvatica Green Gable™