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Aralia ‘Sun King’ Makes 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year

Each year the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) designates one perennial as the “Perennial Plant of the Year”. Selection is based on multiple seasons of interest, suitability for a wide range of climates, low maintenance, pest & disease resistance and ease of propagation. We are thrilled to announce the 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year. Aralia ‘Sun King’ is an exceptional perennial.

‘Sun King’ is an outstanding large-scale specimen foliage plant for the shade garden. Brilliant yellow compound leaves emerge in mid to late spring and grow quickly to impressive dimensions. Give this plant space! Mature plants can reach 3’-4’ tall with a spread of up to 5’. Aralia thrives in moderate to deep shade and its golden colored leaves light up the woodland garden. The foliage color will remain bright yellow in areas of morning sun or dappled light but will transition to lime green or chartreuse in deeper shade. It increases especially quickly in moist soil but is tolerant of drier conditions.

While grown primarily for its foliage, ‘Sun King’ does produce clusters of tiny white flowers in late summer to early fall. These are decoratively insignificant but are beloved, and heavily visited, by beneficial pollinators. If the growing season is long enough the flowers will be followed in late fall by bunches of deep purple-black fruit.

We highly recommend this plant for those looking for an easy-care specimen for the shade garden. It combines wonderfully with ferns, hosta and astilbe and is resistant to deer browsing.

A well-deserved choice for 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year. Really a beauty!

  • Height: 3’-4’
  • Spread: to 5’
  • Hardiness Zones: 3-9
  • Flowers: White (insignificant). Late Summer/Fall. Popular with pollinators
  • Foliage Color: Brilliant Yellow to Chartreuse, depending on light conditions
  • Sunlight: Partial Shade
  • Water Requirements: Average. Thrives in moist soil but tolerant of dry
  • Growth Rate: Moderate to Fast, depending on growing conditions
  • Critter Resistant: Resistant to Deer Browsing

If you want to create an attractive, long blooming garden of reliable perennials the PPA’s list of Past Winners is an excellent starting point. With very few exceptions these are outstanding garden plants.

by Zannah Crowe

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