The Perennial Plant Association (PPA) selects a different plant each year based on meeting certain criteria, including low maintenance needs, adaptability to a wide range of climates, pest and disease resistance, multiple seasons of interest and east of propagation.  The 2020 pick is Aralia Cordata ‘Sun King’.  The past winners can be seen here.

'Sun King' has a tropical look, but it's a fast-growing perennial that's hardy to USDA Zone 3 and grows to about 3 feet high and wide or larger in some cases. The large compound leaves measure up to 3 feet long, as well.

Features of Aralia Cordata ‘Sun King’ – Perennial Plant for 2020

Description - This is a unique, bold plant for a shady or partly shady bed!  Sun King Aralia is fast growing perennial that grows to about 3 - 6 feet tall and wide    It emerges in spring with large, bright gold leaves.  Spikes of tiny white flowers appear in summer and are followed by dark purple berries.   The birds love the berries, but are inedible to humans.  Bees will visit the flowers in summer and it is reported that it’s deer resistant.

If it gets a few hours of sun daily, the foliage will remain bright gold throughout the summer.  In full shade, foliage will be chartreuse to lime green in color.   It is said to one of the most amazing new perennial introductions in the last decade and is native to shady forested areas in Japan. 

Needs - It does well in part shade but can take full shade.  Prefers most, fertile, well drained soil. 

Uses - This shrub provides a tropical look but is hardy in Zones 3-9.  Looks great in a partial shady area, or at the back of borders or as a focal point.  They’re best in a spot where it’s natural-looking already, such as at the woodland edge, or even well into a woodland garden.  Because of their mature size, this plant won’t leave a lot of room for precious little things.  Give them plenty of elbow room, and then sit back and enjoy!

Maintenance - No pruning needed but in colder climates, plant may die back to the ground and start again.  Dead stems can be removed once it buds out and starts again.

Unique Qualities – Aralia Cordata, commonly known as Japanese spikenard, mountain asparatus or udo, may also be used for cooking.  Young shoots of this plant are considered a culinary delicacy in Japan where they are cultivated in underground tunnels.  The taste is similar to asparagus.  White fleshy roots are eaten or prepared like a parsnip.  Udo leaves may be eaten as a vegetable when young.

Aralia Cordata ‘Sun King’ will impress you.  It’s golden foliage and contrasting reddish stems create an impressive, bright display. 

If you would like to know more about low-maintenance perennials like Aralia Cordata ‘Sun King’ or discuss what shrubs and flowers would work best within your landscape, then contact Whitehouse LandscapingOur design experience and horticultural knowledge in landscaping and hardscaping can create an outdoor space that is beautiful, distinctive, livable and truly sustainable.   

Contact us on our website or call 484-300-4290.