2023's Perennial Plant Trends: Spotlight on the Top 30
By Ryan Dorn, SouthernSeeds.com
Just as the fashion world eagerly awaits the unveiling of the latest trends each season, so too does the realm of horticulture. Flower and plant trends evolve with the times, capturing the spirit and mood of a particular moment, much like the latest couture gracing the world's runways. Here at Southern Seeds, we find ourselves in an enviable position - right at the forefront of these botanical shifts. With our unique vantage point, we not only witness but actively engage with the ebb and flow of gardening inclinations. Through not just seed purchases, but also in-depth interactions with our passionate community of gardeners, we garner a wealth of insights into what plants are gaining traction.
In this post, we’re excited to spotlight the perennial champions of 2023. As summer fades and the cool whispers of fall beckon, it’s the perfect moment to delve into these trends, ensuring you're ready for a vibrant spring germination. From the undoubted royalty that is Creeping Thyme, ruling this year as the unrivaled king, to the classics and newfound favorites, join us in exploring the top 30 perennial flowers that have captured hearts and gardens this year.
Creeping Thyme, or Thymus serpyllum, has undoubtedly earned its regal title as the King of 2023. This low-growing perennial groundcover has seen an explosion in popularity, thanks to its fragrant, tiny green leaves and purple bloom clusters. Gardeners and landscapers alike have been gravitating towards it, not just for its aesthetic appeal, but also for its hardy nature, making it an effortless choice for pathways or as a lawn alternative. The royal buzz around Creeping Thyme shows no sign of abating, ensuring its continued reign in gardens throughout the year.
Lemon Bee Balm (Monarda citriodora), also known as Lemon Mint Bee Balm and Lemon Bergamot is a cherished US Native Wildflower that's seen a surge in popularity in 2023. As a proud member of the mint family, its distinctive herbal aroma—laced with citrus undertones—makes it a beloved addition to flower and herb gardens globally. This aromatic plant doesn't just entice garden enthusiasts; its vibrant purple blossoms are like magnets for hummingbirds and butterflies. The leaves of the plant, rich in citronellol, are particularly noteworthy. When extracted into essential oil, they serve as a natural insect repellent. With a blend of beauty, fragrance, and practicality, it's clear why Lemon Bee Balm has secured its place in gardens around the world.
2023 has seen a revival in the appreciation of time-honored medicinal plants, and Self Heal, also known as All Heal and Heal All, stands as a testament to this trend. Prunella vulgaris is not just known for its beautiful spikes of purple flowers, but it's also prized for its historical use in herbal medicine. Traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, from minor wounds to sore throats, its name itself testifies to its wide-ranging healing properties. Often found gracing meadows and woodlands, Self Heal is not only a symbol of nature's beauty but also its resilience and capacity to restore. With its blend of history, medicinal value, and aesthetic appeal, it's no wonder this perennial has found its way into the hearts of modern gardeners.
A surprising contender in the list of 2023's top perennials, Stinging Nettle is more than just its notorious prickly touch. Beyond its initial sting, Urtica dioica boasts a myriad of health benefits and has been a staple in herbal remedies for centuries. Rich in nutrients like iron, magnesium, and calcium, the nettle leaves are often used in teas, soups, and even smoothies by those in the know. Moreover, gardeners appreciate the plant's ability to improve soil health, acting as a natural compost. With increased interest in plants that offer both health benefits and ecological perks, Stinging Nettle has stepped into the limelight, becoming a sought-after perennial in gardens across the nation.
Claiming the fifth spot in our top perennial picks for 2023 is Feverfew, a dainty and decorative plant with a rich history of medicinal use. Characterized by its lovely daisy-like blooms and aromatic leaves, Tanacetum parthenium has been traditionally used to mitigate migraines and reduce inflammation. Apart from its health advantages, Feverfew is also a darling among garden enthusiasts for its undemanding nature and its ability to repel pesky insects. Its resilience against pests and its graceful aesthetic have secured its position as one of the must-have perennials in gardens this year.
Taking a grand stride into our 2023 list, Yarrow has been nothing short of a sensation. This perennial has witnessed a dramatic surge in popularity, with garden enthusiasts flocking towards not just the classic white varieties, but also the vibrant golds and diverse summer mixtures. Achillea millefolium isn't just a treat for the eyes; it's also renowned for its medicinal properties, drought resistance, and allure for pollinators. This year, if there's one perennial that's seen a meteoric rise on wishlists and in gardens, it's undeniably Yarrow.
Lavender has always held a special place in the hearts of gardening aficionados and it's no surprise to see English Lavender making its mark in 2023. Revered for its mesmerizing fragrance, deep purple blooms, and calming qualities, Lavandula angustifolia is more than just a garden favorite; it's a versatile herb used in aromatherapy, culinary dishes, and DIY crafts. Its presence in gardens offers a touch of Mediterranean charm and a bee-friendly environment. As we've observed this year, the timeless appeal of English Lavender continues to bloom, making it an evergreen choice among perennial lovers. And those of you that are lavender lovers, don't forget to check out our comprehensive lavender guide!
A true marvel of 2023, the Toothache Plant, also known as "Buzz Buttons," has garnered notable attention. Spilanthes oleracea isn't just sought after for its dazzling, button-like flowers, but it's infamous for the numbing, tingling sensation it delivers when chewed, thus its intriguing name. Beyond being a traditional dental remedy, its vibrant yellow and red blossoms can make any garden pop with color. Those keen on introducing something exotic and buzzworthy to their gardens found the Toothache Plant a trending choice this year.
As we delve deeper into the natural world's wonders, Symphytum Officinale, or more commonly known as True Comfrey, has rooted itself as one of 2023's standout perennials. Boasting lush, green foliage complemented by delicate bell-shaped flowers, Comfrey has long been valued in herbal medicine for its alleged wound-healing abilities. Gardeners are increasingly drawn to it not just for its therapeutic properties but also for its role as a powerful permaculture tool. This dynamic plant aids in soil improvement, making it a genuine asset for any garden seeking both beauty and utility. Comfrey would likely be even higher on the list if the market could keep up with the demand.
Echinacea, better known as the Purple Coneflower, has become a staple in gardens across the country, and its popularity shows no signs of waning in 2023. Adored for its vibrant, daisy-like blossoms with raised centers reminiscent of a cone, this flower is more than just a visual delight. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Echinacea has a rich history in herbal medicine, with many believing in its potential to boost the immune system. As an added bonus, its resilient nature makes it a great choice for novice gardeners, and its ability to attract pollinators means it plays a pivotal role in maintaining a thriving ecosystem.
The Wild Bergamot, or Monarda fistulosa, is a perennial powerhouse that's been capturing the hearts of garden enthusiasts in 2023. Often referred to as Bee Balm due to its magnet-like allure for bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, its lavender blooms stand tall and proud, making it a centerpiece in many gardens. A member of the mint family, this US native wildflower has aromatic leaves that have been used traditionally in teas and as a natural remedy for various ailments. Its striking appearance coupled with its fragrant foliage makes it an essential choice for those looking to add depth and multi-sensory appeal to their gardens.
Salvia apiana, commonly known as White Sage or "Smudging Sage", has solidified its place in 2023's top perennial trends, not only for its striking silvery-white foliage but also for its deep cultural and spiritual significance. This drought-tolerant plant, native to the southwestern United States, has been traditionally used by indigenous tribes for smudging ceremonies, a ritualistic clearing of negative energies. Beyond its ceremonial uses, White Sage's aromatic leaves are prized for their potential antimicrobial properties and their allure to pollinators. Its increasing popularity is a testament to its multifaceted roles in both the garden and holistic practices.
Making its noteworthy mark in 2023's perennial scene is the understated Rupturewort, affectionately named "Green Carpet" for its lush, ground-hugging characteristics. This resilient little plant has been historically sought after for its potential medicinal properties, with ancient herbalists recommending it for various ailments. Beyond its health affiliations, Rupturewort has become an increasingly popular groundcover choice for gardeners. Its ability to withstand foot traffic while offering a verdant, moss-like carpet aesthetic makes it a top pick for those seeking alternative lawns or just a touch of enchanting green beneath their feet.
A radiant star among the perennial lineup, the Cardinal Flower, scientifically known as Lobelia cardinalis, has been turning heads this year. This US native wildflower is not only adored for its striking, tall spikes of vivid red flowers, but also for its magnetism towards hummingbirds and butterflies. As its name suggests, its color is reminiscent of a cardinal's robes, offering a brilliant splash of color to wetlands, stream edges, and garden beds alike. Cultivators who value both aesthetics and wildlife attraction find the Cardinal Flower a must-have in their gardens, ensuring its soaring popularity in 2023.
Blue Hyssop, with its scientific moniker Hyssopus officinalis, has become a cherished addition to gardens in 2023. This aromatic herb, boasting striking spikes of deep blue flowers, serves a dual purpose of ornamentation and culinary delight. Renowned for its minty essence, Blue Hyssop has found favor among chefs and tea enthusiasts alike. Furthermore, the plant attracts beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, making it an eco-friendly choice for gardeners who aim to promote biodiversity and create a buzz in their green spaces.
Black Eyed Susans, or Rudbeckia hirta, are the sunny, radiant wildflowers that have effortlessly held their spot in popular perennial rankings year after year, and 2023 is no exception. With their unmistakable golden-yellow petals radiating around a deep brown center, they serve as a quintessential emblem of late summer gardens. Beyond their visual appeal, these durable flowers are highly attractive to pollinators, bringing in bees and butterflies by the score. An added bonus for gardeners: Black Eyed Susans are notably resilient, easily weathering various conditions and presenting blooms that last for weeks. While this blog is focused on perennials, it's worth noting that the annual Black Eyed Susan Vine has quickly become one of the most sought after plants overall in 2023!
For those seeking a cascade of vibrant hues in their gardens, the Rockcress varieties are undeniably the way to go, with the Purple and Royal Mix standing out prominently in 2023. The Aubrieta deltoidea, or Rockcress Purple, dazzles with its deep purple blooms, creating a carpet of color when allowed to spill over walls or between stepping stones. On the other hand, the Aubrieta hybrida, or Rockcress Royal Mix, is a garden showstopper, presenting a blend of purple, pink, and red blossoms. Both these varieties are early spring bloomers, giving gardens a vivid splash of color just when they need it most. They're not only a visual treat, but also a favorite amongst butterflies, making them a dual delight for the gardener and nature enthusiasts.
No garden trend discussion for 2023 would be complete without mentioning the venerable Valerian. This tall perennial herb, boasting small, sweetly-scented white or pink flowers, has been a garden mainstay for centuries. Yet, beyond its beauty, Valerian's roots have played a significant role in herbal medicine, often used as a natural remedy for sleep disorders, anxiety, and other ailments. With a preference for moist conditions and full to partial sunlight, Valerian has found its way into both the gardens of seasoned herbalists and newcomers to the world of perennials, signifying its multifaceted appeal and usefulness.
If there's a plant that's been captivating both gardeners and their feline companions alike in 2023, it's undoubtedly Catnip. Often seen as the ultimate cat treat, this perennial herb is part of the mint family and emits a scent that's simply irresistible to many kitties. But beyond its fame in the cat world, Catnip also has noteworthy calming properties for humans and has been used in herbal teas to soothe various ailments. Whether you're planting it for your cat's amusement or your own herbal benefits, there's no denying that Catnip is a must-have in contemporary gardens.
As 2023's gardening season unfolds, Mugwort is emerging as a standout. This perennial herb, often associated with its mystical and medicinal properties, has a rich history that spans continents. Traditionally, it's been utilized in various cultures for its potential in dreams and divination, not to mention its medicinal properties, especially in traditional Chinese medicine. Beyond the esoteric, Mugwort's silvery-green foliage adds a unique texture to any garden, making it both functionally and visually appealing. If you're looking to add a touch of mystique and history to your garden, Mugwort might just be your next favorite plant.
Lamb's Ear is not just another pretty face in the perennial world. Its soft, velvety silver-green leaves have been a tactile delight in gardens, easily making it one of the top plants for 2023. A favorite among kids and adults alike, touching its leaves is almost irresistible, often compared to the softness of a lamb's actual ear. This low-maintenance perennial serves as a wonderful ground cover and adds a soft contrast to other plants in the garden. Furthermore, it's not just for looks; historically, Lamb's Ear was used as a natural bandage during ancient times. With its easy care and rich history, it's no wonder Lamb's Ear has remained a garden favorite.
Often unjustly labeled as a mere weed, the True Dandelion has seen a resurgence in popularity, making it a prominent feature in 2023's perennial trends. Far from being just a childhood plaything to make wishes on, Taraxacum officinale offers a multitude of health benefits and has been a staple in herbal remedies for centuries. Every part of this plant, from its vibrant yellow petals to its deep roots, is edible. The leaves are often added to salads or sautéed, while the roots can be used to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Gardeners and foragers alike are celebrating the Dandelion's culinary and medicinal prowess, ensuring its rightful place in the modern garden.
Rosemary, with its fragrant, needle-like leaves and delicate blue flowers, is an evergreen herb that’s more than just a kitchen staple. This Mediterranean native has carved out a significant niche in 2023’s perennial scene, not only for its culinary uses, but also for its ornamental and therapeutic qualities. Celebrated for its memory-enhancing properties, Rosemary is also a beloved aromatic that complements various dishes, from roasted meats to focaccias. In gardens, its versatility shines — being used in borders, containers, or even as hedges. With a scent reminiscent of the sea breeze and pine, Rosemary continues to charm gardeners and chefs alike.
Mullein, a striking presence with its tall, yellow flower spikes and velvety leaves, has held a special place in herbal medicine and folklore for centuries. In 2023, its popularity has surged as both a therapeutic plant and a stunning addition to gardens. Traditionally used for its soothing properties, especially in respiratory remedies, Mullein also plays the role of a biennial beacon in meadows and borders, attracting a myriad of pollinators. The plant's soft, woolly leaves have earned it affectionate nicknames like "bunny's ears" or "flannel leaf," making it a tactile and visual delight in any setting.
Marshmallow or Marsh Mallow, not to be confused with the sugary treat, has witnessed a resurgence in popularity throughout 2023, both for its therapeutic properties and its lovely ornamental features. Originating from Europe, this perennial plant boasts soft, velvety leaves and delicate pale pink flowers. Historically, Marshmallow's roots and leaves have been used in herbal medicine to soothe and protect mucous membranes and skin, especially in sore throat remedies. In gardens, it stands as a tall, graceful perennial, offering both visual appeal and a wealth of traditional uses to those who cultivate it.
Red Clover, a delightful member of the legume family, has been stealing the hearts of gardeners and landscapers in 2023. Native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northwest Africa, this perennial herb sports vibrant, small, pinkish-purple flowers that not only beautify any garden but are also a favorite among bees and pollinators. Traditionally, Red Clover has been appreciated for its health benefits, with the flowers and leaves being utilized in teas and supplements to support a variety of wellness purposes, including skin health and respiratory support. Moreover, the young leaves and flowers can be eaten as a grain substitute in various dishes. Plus, as a nitrogen-fixer, this plant helps improve soil health, making it both beautiful and beneficial.
In 2023, gardeners are embracing the mesmerizing charm of the Bluecrown Passionflower, a perennial vine that's not only stunning, but also holds the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society. Native to South America, Passiflora caerulea beautifully thrives in warmer climates, unfurling intricate blue and white blooms with an eye-catching central crown. This award-winning beauty doesn't just impress with its looks; it's an ecological treasure trove, attracting a myriad of pollinators, particularly butterflies. And if its visual and ecological attributes weren't enough, its mild, guava-like fruit offers a delightful treat for the senses. This perennial plant is undoubtedly the belle of the ball in gardens across the nation.
Peppermint, with its refreshingly cool aroma and zesty flavor, remains a sought-after perennial as we progress through 2023. Originating in Europe, Mentha piperita has now found its home in gardens across the globe, renowned for both its culinary and medicinal uses. Beyond its fame in teas and candies, peppermint's green spear-shaped leaves are a delight in gardens, often used as ground cover and to keep pests at bay. As a bonus, this perennial herb is also an excellent companion for vegetables and fruits, repelling undesirable insects and encouraging a more fruitful yield. Whether you're sipping a comforting cup of tea or strolling through your garden, peppermint is an indispensable perennial treasure.
Lemon Balm, or Melissa officinalis, is one of those quietly charismatic perennials that has captured gardeners' hearts in 2023. Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, its delicate lemon-scented leaves not only add a splash of zest to dishes but also bring a soothing aroma to any garden. Historically celebrated for its calming properties, many turn to lemon balm for a touch of relaxation in teas and essential oils. In addition, its clustered, tiny white flowers act as a magnet for bees, making it an ideal plant for those looking to boost pollination in their gardens. Its versatility and delightful fragrance make Lemon Balm a top choice for those diving into the perennial trend this year.
Roman Chamomile, Anthemis nobilis, offers a delicate touch to any garden with its dainty white petals and sun-yellow centers. As a contrast to its cousin, the German Chamomile, which is an annual, the Roman variety stands proudly as a perennial. This means you can expect its gentle blooms to grace your garden year after year. Beyond its visual appeal, Roman Chamomile is renowned for its soothing properties and is often used in teas to relax the senses and promote sleep. With its ability to spread and create a soft carpet of flowers, it's no surprise that gardeners are falling in love with this perennial champion in 2023.
And There You Have It!
2023 has undoubtedly been a year of perennial powerhouses, bringing a wealth of color, texture, and benefits to gardens worldwide. From the aromatic allure of Lavender to the charming visuals of the Roman Chamomile, there’s something in this list for every garden enthusiast. At Southern Seeds, we’ve been fortunate to be at the heart of these trends, witnessing the rise and love for these perennial heroes firsthand. As we wrap up this botanical journey through 2023's most sought-after perennial flowers, we want to leave you with one parting thought: Your garden is a canvas, and these plants are but a few of the myriad brushes you can use to create your masterpiece. And remember, gardening, like any other art, often comes with questions. So, if you're ever in doubt or just need some tips, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help make your green dreams come true. Happy planting!