Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program


Choose a category

Pineapple LilyEucomis ssp.

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2016
  • Hardiness
  • Conditions Full Sun to Part Shade

Need a conversation maker? Pineapple lily got its name because the flower spikes on this South African native actually do look like a pineapple. Bold, strap leaves are a great contrast in a planting, especially if the leaves are a burgundy variety, like “Sparkling Burgundy”.
This plant is deer resistant and can be clustered into a groundcover or planted into a container plant. Most species are perennial to Zone 8, and will have to be overwintered or treated as an annual in cooler North Georgia.


  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2015
  • Hardiness
  • Conditions

This deer-resistant plant is great for rock gardens, borders, containers, or wherever you want a tropical look in a dry setting. It will suffer during a wet spring or if overwatered, but laughs at a drought. These plants are attention-getters when the unique flowers appear, turning into what Atlanta garden designer Dottie Myers calls “Dr. Seuss plants.”

‘Shorty’ will form a 12-24″ compact, sculptural, rounded mass of silver-grey in the landscape. Yellow blooms appear in early spring and the foliage is flushed with burgundy in fall.

‘Ascot Rainbow’ has variegated leaves of green and yellow on a 20″ tall plant, with burgundy on the newest foliage each fall and yellow blooms in early spring.

Red Hot PokerKniphofia hybrids

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2014
  • Hardiness Zone 5 to 9
  • Conditions Full Sun

Tall flower spikes open from the bottom up, rising on strong stems above sword-like leaves. As the blooms open, the lower flowers change color, often creating a two-toned effect that is beautiful, towering above annuals and other perennials. The blooms make great cut flowers and are hummingbird magnets. The Popsicle™ Series bloom all summer on dwarf plants.

Variegated Japanese Solomon’s SealPolyganatum odoratum

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2013
  • Hardiness Zone 3 to 8
  • Conditions Part Shade to Full Shade

Variegated Solomon’s seal is one of the best perennials for the shade garden. The boldly striped foliage brightens any shady spot, contrasting well with the rich green that often fills these wooded areas. Individual arching stems rise about 2’ high. The green leaves have bold, splashed stripes of cream. In late spring, lightly fragrant bell flowers dangle from the stems. This long-lived perennial grows by underground rhizomes, creating colonies. For a quick start, place several plants about 12” apart. In a few years you will be able to divide the rhizomes and increase the distribution of Solomon’s seal in your garden. The foliage turns wheat gold in fall then disappears for the winter.

Coral BellsHeuchera

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2012
  • Hardiness Zone 4 to 9
  • Conditions

Sacred Lily or Nippon LilyRohdea japonica

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2011
  • Hardiness
  • Conditions

This perennial is a great solution for gardeners who cannot grow hosta because of browsing deer. Rohdea leaves rise from the ground, slowly creating a 2 foot wide clump. Thick green leaves about 12 inches long and two inches across are similar to amaryllis leaves. All leaves rise from the base like a hosta, only more upright, thick and shiny. The wonderful bonus is that rohdea is evergreen, adding year-round color to the shade garden.

Spring blooms on a short spike are barely noticeable, but then each bloom turns into a fat, bright red berry in late fall, creating a colorful berry cluster that contrasts with rich green leaves and the brown mulch of winter. Liven up the winter woodland with rohdea’s bold evergreen foliage.

Butterfly WeedAsclepias tuberosa

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2010
  • Hardiness Zone 3 to 9
  • Conditions Full Sun to Part Shade

Butterfly Weed is one weed you will want in your landscape – because it is a butterfly magnet! Its leaves are the preferred food source for the larvae of several species of butterflies, including Monarchs; and the flowers provide nectar for both butterflies and hummingbirds. The brilliant orange flowers brighten a perennial border and provide a striking contrast to purple coneflower, blue salvia, Persian shield and other summer favorites.|Butterfly Weed is a member of the milkweed family. From June to September, flat-top clusters of bright orange to yellow-orange flowers are borne on terminal stems. They hold up well in cut flower arrangements.

Arkansas Blue StarAmsonia hubrectii

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2009
  • Hardiness Zone 4 to 10
  • Conditions Full Sun to Part Shade

Arkansas Blue Star is a clumping herbaceous perennial, reaching 3 feet tall and wide. Numerous upright shoots bearing thread-like leaves emerge from the base and have a delicate, feather-like appearance. In spring, light-blue star-shaped flowers with yellow center are borne along the upper portions of the stem and persist three to four weeks. The early flowers are the most visible, while the foliage often masks those formed later.

The real show begins in fall when the foliage turns golden yellow and literally glows when the sun strikes it. It’s a showstopper when planted in groups of three or more plants and backed up by taller evergreens, ornamental grasses or plants with burgundy foliage. After the fall display, the foliage turns brown but continues to add winter interest in the landscape.

Rozanne Cranesbill Hardy GeraniumGeranium

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2008
  • Hardiness Zone 5 to 8
  • Conditions Full Sun to Part Shade

Rozanne Cranesbill Hardy Geranium grows in a well-rounded mound to a height of 18 to 20 inches and from late May until frost, the plant produces an abundance of blue-violet flowers with pale centers, approximately 2½ inches across. Attractive, deeply-lobed foliage turns brownish-red in fall and is quite showy.|This plant is a vigorous grower and is likely to decline in bloom during mid-summer when the sprawling foliage competes for the plant’s energy. At that time, a light shearing will encourage new growth and more flowers to brighten the fall landscape. After the first frost, cut back the plant and mulch it with leaves to provide a warm winter rest. Use Rozanne Cranesbill Hardy Geranium in perennial borders, rock gardens or decorative containers.

Swamp HibiscusHibiscus coccineus

  • Category Perennial
  • Winner for 2007
  • Hardiness Zone 6 to 9
  • Conditions Full Sun to Part Shade

Swamp Hibiscus is a perfect choice for water gardens, pond edges, rain gardens or other moist, sunny sites. But you don’t have to live in a swamp to enjoy Swamp Hibiscus. It will grow and thrive in normal garden soil as well if you can provide it adequate moisture. From late spring until frost, they produce blood-red flowers 3 to 5 inches across on side shoots and terminals.

To encourage re-blooming, deadhead spent flowers before they form seedpods or prune plants back by one-third after a flush of bloom. In the northern half of Georgia, Swamp Hibiscus freezes back to the ground in winter and re-sprouts in spring. Cut old stems back to the ground in late winter to rejuvenate the plant and make way for new growth.

What is Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program (GGMP)?

The Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program promotes the use of superior ornamental plants in Georgia.

It represents the combined effort of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia; the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension; University faculty members; and nurserymen, flower growers, garden retailers and landscape professionals across the state.

Winners are chosen from five categories: Natives, Annuals, Perennials, Trees, Shrubs and Vines and Groundcovers.

Get Involved!

Tell us what plants you would like to nominate for the Georgia Gold Medal Plant Program.