Every year, the Perennial Plant Association promotes a perennial of the year. In the past it has been butterfly milkweed, allium ‘Millenium’, switchgrass ‘Northwind’ and others, since starting the list in 1990. This year, the PPA has selected stachys ‘Hummelo’ as the perennial plant of the year.
That is good news for us here in the Central Great Plains, we have been growing this perennial in our trial gardens here and selling it in the nursery for 3 years now. As a landscaper, gardener, and horticulturalist at Grimm’s, I really like this plant. It has performed well in the nursery, in the garden, and is a benefit to pollinators. I toughed it into dry shade in my front garden and it bloomed well, though not as exceptional as in full sun in the garden here.
‘Hummelo’ betony or stachys is a member of the mint family. It grows in clumps of soft green leaves, 1-2 feet wide and 1-3 feet tall. It does well in full sun to part shade, well-drained to heavy clay soils, and is very drought tolerant. Just to be sure of its drought tolerance, I chopped the tops off and planted 3 clumps of it in July 2018, in the middle of record heat and drought. Only watered by rainfall (rare), it survived and sent up some new blooms in September.
Look for visitors of all kinds on your ‘Hummelo’ when you add it to the garden: bees, butterflies, moths, and other pollinators are attracted to the bright pink flowers. It blooms from May to July and possibly longer in our area. Use is in pollinator gardens, in mass plantings for best effects, along borders and in the middle of beds.