Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 50: Top 50 Plants

If we had to pick our favorite plants of all time, they would be these

Wow! We’ve done 50 episodes so far of Let’s Argue About Plants, and to celebrate that achievement we decided to do two things. First, we’ll drink lots of champagne (well, at least Danielle will). Second, we’re going to give you guys a breakdown of our favorite 50 plants of all time. These are tried-and-true varieties that never seem to let us down. They’re attractive, have multiple seasons of interest, and are low-care (after all, we’re talking about Steve here—self-proclaimed as the laziest gardener on earth). This is the list that we wished we’d had when first started out in gardening. Do you have some of these star plants in your landscape? Listen now to find out.

Expert testimony: Jared Barnes, assistant professor of horticulture in the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.




Leatherleaf viburnum

Leatherleaf viburnum



1. ‘Ogon’ spirea (Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’, Zones 4–8)

2. ‘Quadricolor’ agave (Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’, Zones 8–10)

3. ‘Sun King’ aralia (Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, Zones 4–8)

4. Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, Zones 5–8)

5. Leatherleaf viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum, Zones 5–8)

6. Coral bark maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’, Zones 5–9)

7. Baptisia (Baptisia australis, Zones 3–9)

8. ‘Sword Dance’ peony (Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sword Dance’, Zones 3–8)

9. Dazzleberry sedum (Sedum ‘Razzleberry’, Zones 4–9)

10. ‘Waterlily’ star magnolia (Magnolia stellata ‘Waterlily’, Zones 4–8)

11. Gatsby Star® hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Doughill’, Zones 5–9)

12. Tiny Wine® ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘SMPOTW’, Zones 3–7)

13. Variegated Japanese water iris (Iris ensata ‘Variegata’, Zones 4–8)

14. ‘Don Egolf’ Chinese redbud (Cercis chinensis ‘Don Egolf’, Zones 6–9)

15. Coral Creme Drop™ garden phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘Ditomdre’, Zones 3–9)

16. Cleome (Cleome hassleriana, annual)

17. European wild ginger (Asarum europaeum, Zones 5–9)

18. Paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha, Zones 7–10)

19. ‘Feelin’ Blue’ deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara ‘Feelin’ Blue’, Zones 6–9)

20. ‘Island Breeze’ hosta (Hosta ‘Island Breeze’, Zones 3–9)

21. Dutchman’s pipe vine (Aristolochia macrophylla, Zones 4–8)

22. ‘Worcester Gold’ bluebeard (Caryopteris × clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’, Zones 5–9)

23. Meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebruneanum, Zones 4–7)

24. ‘Limelight’ panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, Zones 3–8)

25. ‘Blue Ice’ bluestar (Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’, Zones 4–9)



1. Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides cvs., annual)

2. Sedge (Carex spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)

3. Low Scape® Mound aronia (Aronia melanocarpa ‘UCONNAM165’, Zones 3–9)

4. ‘Royal Flush’ epimedium (Epimedium youngianum ‘Royal Flush’, Zones 4–8)

5. Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp. and cvs., Zones 2–8)

6. White wood aster (Eurybia divaricata, Zones 3–8)

7. ‘Yokoi’s Gold’ or ‘Chiba Gold’ Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica ‘Yokoi’s Gold’ or ‘Chiba Gold’, Zones 5–8)

8. Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis, Zones 7–10)

9. Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis, Zones 5–9)

10. ‘Skyracer’ purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Skyracer’, Zones 5–8)

11. Hellebores (Helleborus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9)

12. ‘Himalayan Border Jewel’ fleeceflower (Persicaria affinis ‘Himalayan Border Jewel’, Zones 4–9)

13. Reticulated iris (Iris reticulata cvs., Zones 5–8)

14. Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9)

15. Bradbury’s bee balm (Monarda bradburiana, Zones 4–9)

16. Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens, Zones 4–9)

17. Fothergilla (Fothergilla spp. and cvs., Zones 4–8)

18. Witch hazel (Hamamelis spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8)

19. ‘Big Blue’ sea holly (Eryngium zabellii ‘Big Blue’, Zones 4–9)

20. Dwarf lady’s mantle (Alchemilla erythropoda, Zones 4–7)

21. ‘Hummelo’ betony (Stachys ‘Hummelo’, Zones 4–8)

22. ‘Millenium’ ornamental allium (Allium ‘Millenium’, Zones 5–8)

23. ‘Angelina’ or ‘Prima Angelina’ sedum (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ or ‘Prima Angelina’, Zones 5–9)

24. ‘Karmina’ hardy geranium (Geranium × cantabrigiense ‘Karmina’, Zones 5–8)

25. Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii, Zones 5–8)


'Worcester Gold' bluebeard

‘Worcester Gold’ bluebeard

‘Island Breeze’ hosta
Photo: courtesy of Walter’s Gardens, Inc.

‘Island Breeze’ hosta

'Waterlily' star magnolia

‘Waterlily’ star magnolia

‘Blue Ice’ blue star

‘Blue Ice’ blue star



Bradburn’s bee balm

Bradburn’s bee balm

‘Big Blue’ sea holly

‘Big Blue’ sea holly

Dwarf lady’s mantle

Dwarf lady’s mantle

‘Hummelo’ betony

‘Hummelo’ betony

White wood aster

White wood aster

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