Four native plants suitable for use in rain gardens and bioswales have received The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant award for 2016. Plants are evaluated for their performance, hardiness and aesthetics in Zones 5-7.
Betula nigra Fox Valley Little King ™. This dwarf grows 8-10’ tall and 9-12’ wide, making it well proportioned for use in residential rain gardens. Like the straight species, plants are adaptable to clay soils and flooding.
Ilex verticillata Red Sprite. Plants grow 3-5’ tall and wide and in early winter are covered with red berries before birds get them. Plant Red Sprite in full sun and slightly acidic, moist soils. For berry production, plant near a male holly such as I. verticillata Jim Dandy. Deer are not attracted to I. verticillata.
Heuchera villosa Autumn Bride can be used about anywhere in the garden, even dry shade. Plants grow 2’tall by 3’ wide forming dense mounds that expand by underground rhizomes. Once established Autumn Bride is drought tolerant, but does best in rich, moist soils. Plants are deer-resistant.
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium October Skies grows 2’ tall and wide with late season dark blue flowers that attract butterflies and pollinators. Plants require full sun in well-drained soil and are drought-tolerant once established. October Skies doesn’t need to be cut back in the spring like many other native asters, making it suitable as a tall ground cover.