2023 Plants of Merit

Every year since 1998, the Missouri Botanical Garden has partnered with other regional horticultural institutions to select Plants of Merit. Plants of Merit are chosen for outstanding quality and dependable performance in Missouri, southern and central Illinois, and the Kansas City metro area. To qualify as a Plant of Merit, the plants must be easy to grow, noninvasive, ornamentally attractive, less susceptible to common problems like insects or diseases, and reasonably available to purchase.

Here are our 2023 winners:


Alternanthera PLUM DANDY. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Alternanthera PLUM DANDY
A popular choice by the horticulture staff at the Garden when a purple-leaved filler plant is required in an annual design.

Antirrhinum majus SNAPTASTIC ORANGE FLAME. Photo by Jen Smock.

This compact snapdragon has 16″ tall flowering spikes with deep orange blooms.

Cuphea hyssopifolia ‘Allyson Heather’. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Cuphea hyssopifolia ‘Allyson Heather’
Small, bright lavender-pink blooms dot the upright to spreading stems of this compact selection of Mexican heather.


Curcuma alismatifolia ‘Chiang Mai Pink’. Photo by Jen Smock.

Curcuma alismatifolia ‘Chiang Mai Pink’
The classic Siam tulip cultivar, this rhizomatous plant will add a tropical feel to mixed borders or large container plantings.

Fritillaria imperialis ‘Rubra’. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Fritillaria imperialis ‘Rubra’
An heirloom crown imperial selection that features burnt orange to vermillion red blooms.

Narcissus ‘Professor Einstein’. Photo by Tom Incrocci.

Narcissus ‘Professor Einstein’
This large-cupped daffodil blooms in the mid-season and features white petals with a contrasting orange-red cup.

Lilium henryi var. citrinum. Photo by Jen Smock.

Lilium henryi var. citrinum
Also called Henry’s lily, this lily is native to the mountain slopes of south-central China. This variety features bright yellow tepals, while the species typically has light orange tepals.

Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’. Photo by Jen Smock.

Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’
A late-flowering, nearly black tulip. Pair it with light pink or light yellow tulips to add interest and depth to an otherwise ordinary spring tulip planting.


Capsicum annuum ‘Bananarama’. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Capsicum annuum ‘Bananarama’
This banana pepper cultivar features 7-8″ long, mild but flavorful fruits that mature from yellow to orange-red.

Capsicum annuum ‘Emerald Fire’. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Capsicum annuum ‘Emerald Fire’
A prolific jalapeno cultivar that produces large, glossy, fruits that will reach 3-4″ long and mature from dark green to red. Excellent choice for stuffing or grilling.

Lycopersicum esculentum ‘Midnight Snack’. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Lycopersicum esculentum ‘Midnight Snack’
A dark purple to black blush sets this hybrid cherry tomato apart from this rest.


Dracena fragrans (Deremensis Group) ‘Limelight’.

Dracena fragrans (Deremensis Group) ‘Limelight’
The bright chartreuse to lime green leaves of this corn plant selection will brighten any room.

Epipremnum aureum ‘Neon’. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Epipremnum aureum ‘Neon’
Let the long stems of this chartreuse-leaved pothos trail over the sides of its pot, or provide a trellis and train the stems to climb upwards.

Zamioculcas zamifolia ‘Raven’. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Zamioculcas zamifolia ‘Raven’
The leaves of this fascinating ZZ plant cultivar emerge bright green before maturing to nearly black.


Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’
There is so much to adore about this little bluestem cultivar; from its relatively wide, blue-green leaves to its upright growth habit that resists flopping, even when grown in rich soils. Don’t forget its amazing dark red fall color!


Hydrangea paniculata ‘Ilvobo’ BOBO. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Ilvobo’ BOBO
This popular, dwarf panicle hydrangea certainly deserves Plant of Merit status. The full-sized panicles of white blooms emerge in July, turning shades of pink from late summer into fall.


Halesia carolina. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Halesia carolina 
Carolina silverbell is an underutilized small tree or large shrub that produces delicate, pendant, white blooms in spring. Prefers moist, acidic, organically rich soils in part shade. Pairs well with rhododendrons or other acid-loving, part shade plants.


Ipomoea lobata. Photo by Daria McKelvey.

Ipomoea lobata
A hummingbird magnet! This annual vine can be started from seed indoors and then set out once the threat of frost has passed.

Justina Kandra, Horticulturist, Kemper Center for Home Gardening

Leave a Reply