This category is reserved for plants that really grabbed our attention at each evaluation throughout the summer, and scored an average of 5.0 at the end of the season. It varies from year to year the number of plants we put in this category, and a particular plant might be in this category for consecutive years.

If you would like to see a .pdf of all the plants that scored a 5.0 click here .

 

Petunia Potunia 'Piccola Blue Ice'

Petunia Potunia 'Piccola Blue Ice'

5.0!

This plant is a relatively new introduction from Dummen.  It is perfectly bred for containers (hence the name). It has a great trailing habit, but is not too vigorous. It does not get ‘leggy’ and has not required any pinching or cutting back. It requires full sun and no deadheading. Its petals hold up well against rain and other environmental elements. Now that we are well into September, a large majority of the petunias look like they are suffering. The typical look is nice flowers, but the leaves and stems look dead. You can’t even prune out the dead stems without cutting back the whole plant. “Piccola Blue Ice’ looks as good as it did in the early part of summer. I have to cut a few stems off, but otherwise I have not had to fuss over this petunia.

 

 
Pennisetum Graceful Grasses 'Vertigo' - Proven Winner

Pennisetum Graceful Grasses 'Vertigo' - Proven Winner

5.0!

This Proven Winner entry that has performed well in our trials two years in a row now. It creates a very dramatic back drop to other more colorful annuals. It looks great planted in mass or used as a specimen in a container. It is very vigorous and grows very quickly reaching 4’ tall in one season. It is not grown for its bloom, but for it dark, black foliage that has an upright habit. Most visitors comment on how they wished this plant was a perennial here in Michigan. This year I chose to plant them in mass surrounding one of the garden sculptures. The sculpture is the main feature, but having ‘Vertigo’ planted behind really sets it off.

 
Calibrachoa Million Bells 'Trailing Blue 09' - Suntory

Calibrachoa Million Bells 'Trailing Blue 09' - Suntory

5.0!

After a difficult year of nutritionally deficient Calibrachoas in the 2010 trials, this year proved that a better fertilizer regime and a little extra TLC is needed to keep these plants happy. Calibrachoa Million Bells ‘Trailing Blue 09’ was one of the top performers in this genus. It is a great trailing plant that is best suited for containers and hanging baskets. This plant is very vigorous without being messy or ‘leggy’. Requires full sun, and flowers all summer.  The color of the bloom is a dark blue-ish, but I would call it dark purple. The key for home owners is to make sure they throw in a little Osmocote before they plant these into a container, and fertilize with a liquid feed once a month and they should look great all summer. They are not the plant to abandon, or left to fend for itself on the front porch.

 
Zea mays 'Field of Dreams'

Zea mays 'Field of Dreams'

5.0!

This new introduction submitted by Floranova grew 4 – 5 ft tall and produced ears that can be popped. It is a very unusual ornamental and can be used in the landscape or container. It has beautiful pink, yellow, and green variegated leaves. This plant is heat tolerant and does not require dead heading. In high winds and rain, some of the stalks lodged over and needed to be cut down. By September, we removed them from the garden because they had reached the end of their life span, but could be cut down and used in a fall display.

 
Artemisia 'Parfum d' Ethiopia'

Artemisia 'Parfum d' Ethiopia'

5.0!

Artemisia ‘Parfum d’ Ethiopia’, submitted by Dummen, is worth mentioning because of its beautiful, silvery foliage and its use as a filler in the garden.  This plant also has a sweet scent keeping true to its variety name. It will add beautiful accents to landscapes and containers. It grows about 12” tall and has an upright habit.

 

Lantana “Lemon Glow’ submitted by Ball FloraPlant respectively is a “must have” annual to use in the landscape.  is a more compact variety, but was able to hold its own against the more vigorous types with its bold white and yellow flowers and dark green foliage. This plant looks great in mass, but could also be used as a filler in a mixed border or container. I would recommend Lantanas to any Michigan gardener because they can stand 40 degree F temperatures in the early spring and late fall.

 
Cyperus 'King Tut' - Proven Winner

Cyperus 'King Tut' - Proven Winner

5.0!

This Proven Winner entry has been a great performer in the garden for many years. It adds great height reaching a maximum of 72 inches tall and the heads can measure up to a foot. The texture is so unusual that it can be paired with any other plant and still be the point of interest. Its most valuable trait is its versatility; it’s a water plant, but can tolerate drought conditions. It makes a great display in the ground or container. It can also be used as a cool and more unusual cut flower in arrangements.

 
Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita' - Proven Winners

Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita' - Proven Winners

5.0!

This Proven Winner entry was a favorite among the garden visitors. It received the most votes during the 2011 Michigan Plant Tour. This plant can be displayed in various ways: containers, ground beds, mass planting and as a specimen plant. It is best known for being the only sterile cleome on the market. The flowers are also notably smaller that other varieties as well as the sterile seed pods. They have a very distinct bushy habit reaching 4’ tall. If they are over watered, the leaves will turn yellow so plant this cleome in a spot that has good drainage. You will also find this plant in the “Best of the best” category scoring a 5.0 average at the end of the season.

 
Verbena Temari 'Patio Blue' - Suntory

Verbena Temari 'Patio Blue' - Suntory

5.0!

Verbena Temari ‘Patio Blue’ is a great heat tolerant plant that would suit well in beds or containers. This Suntory entry has more of an upright habit with larger leaves and compact clusters of flowers. It grows well in dryer areas of the landscape; it does not like to be over watered. It is also mildew resistant. The verbena planted directly to its right was covered in powdery mildew, but ‘Patio Blue’ has not shown any signs even through the end of September.

 
Ipomoea Sweet Caroline 'Sweetheart Red' - Proven Winner

Ipomoea Sweet Caroline 'Sweetheart Red' - Proven Winner

5.0!

Ipomoea Sweet Caroline ‘Sweetheart Red’ is another plant we have had in the trial garden several years in a row, and it never disappoints. This Proven Winner favorite brings great texture and interest to the landscape with its arrow shaped leaves. The leaves are also very interesting because you can see how they change colors from green at the immature stage to bronze once they mature. Be mindful of the space you have to work with because this plant is vigorous! It is very easy to cut back at any point of the summer to maintain control.  It performs well in the ground, in containers, and hanging baskets. I have seen some great displays of using different colors of Ipomoea in mass and letting the mixture of light and dark foliage create a very interesting design.

 
Salvia Evolution 'Blue and White'

Salvia Evolution 'Blue and White'

5.0!

Benary submitted two varieties that I would recommend to any home gardener: Salvia Evolution ‘White’ and ‘Blue’.White’ is a new introduction that truly performed right alongside previous “Best of the Best” entries. It flowered all summer long, it requires no deadheading and is still looking great as we quickly approach October. There have been no signs of Powdery Mildew or dieback of lower leaves. Both Evolution ‘White’ and ‘Blue’ are two plants you can recommend to a home owner as a “hands off” or requires very little care.  I also like to use this plant in floral arrangements. Its flower spike can reach 7” tall.

 
Petunia Famous 'Violet Picotee' - Selecta

Petunia Famous 'Violet Picotee' - Selecta

5.0!

 Petunia Famous ‘Violet Picotee’ was grown in the ground, and is a great plant for landscapes, although I believe it would perform well in a container as well. It requires full sun and some pinching to help promote new growth. It flowers a very pretty violet flower with a white border all summer long.  This petunia stood out not only for its aesthetic appeal but also because, while other Petunias planted in the same bed suffered because of over watering from turf irrigation, ‘Violet Picotee’ showed no signs of being over watered.  

 
Torenia Summer Wave 'Large Blue'

Torenia Summer Wave 'Large Blue'

5.0!

Suntory submitted three varieties of Torenia: 'Large Blue' (as shown in the picture), 'Large Amethyst' and 'Large Violet'. All three received a 5.0 average. They performed well in a part shade. They bloomed all summer long and seem to be unfazed by the low dips in temperature we have had during the month of September. 'Large Blue' was most impressive because of its true blue color.
 

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