Meet Jack Frost, Perennial Plant of the Year

Jack Frost's silvery white leaves add interest to the landscape, particularly at night. Dubbed "fully hardy" by the Royal Horticultural Society, it grows best in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8.
Jack Frost's silvery white leaves add interest to the landscape, particularly at night. Dubbed "fully hardy" by the Royal Horticultural Society, it grows best in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8. | Source
Jack Frost's flowers appear from mid to late spring. They look a lot like forget-me-nots.
Jack Frost's flowers appear from mid to late spring. They look a lot like forget-me-nots. | Source

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost,' the Perennial Plant Association's 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year, is a gorgeous low-maintenance shade perennial.

All candidates for Perennial Plant of the Year are easy to grow and easy to propagate. They perform well in a wide range of climates, and they add interest to landscapes throughout several seasons of the year.

Jack Frost, a.k.a. Siberian Bugloss, is no exception. Here are four great reasons to grow it.

Why Grow Jack Frost?

It's absolutely gorgeous.

For most of the year, Jack Frost's foliage makes it a standout plant. Its leaves are big and silvery white with green veins and deep green edges.

In spring, Jack Frost's blossoms steal the show as clusters of pretty blue flowers develop on long stalks that rise several inches above its intricately patterned leaves.

It's very versatile.

Brunnera macrophylla can perform so many functions in a shady landscape!

Use it as a groundcover, border plant or bed filler. It grows quickly, reaching 12 to 18-inches tall with a spread of about 18 inches. It also self seeds readily, so it's easy to naturalize. Jack Frost even grows well in containers!

It's shade tolerant.

Like all Brunneras, Jack Frost is a shade-loving woodland perennial that grows best in rich, consistently moist soil. In warm climates, such as the southern U.S., it grows best in full shade. In colder climates, it prefers morning sun.

It requires little care.

Once Jack Frost is established, it requires little care. In early spring, cut back its old leaves. In climates where winters are harsh, mulch it in the fall to provide protection during cold spells.

Other Top Candidates for 2012 Perennial of the Year

Each year, members of the Perennial Plant Association vote on four perennials. In 2010, Jack Frost was among the top contenders for the award, but Baptisia australis (Blue Wild Indigo) took the prize.

The competition in 2012 was just as tough, with many votes going to the three excellent candidates pictured right: Coral Bells (Heuchera ) ‘Caramel,' Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ) ‘Northwind' and Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii ) ‘Hot Lips’.

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Heuchera (Coral Bells) Caramel was  a contender for the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year.Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) 'Northwind' was among the 4 plants considered for the prestigious award.Of 431 plants nominated, Chelone lyonii (Turtlehead) 'Hot Lips' was among the finalists.
Heuchera (Coral Bells) Caramel was  a contender for the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year.
Heuchera (Coral Bells) Caramel was a contender for the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year. | Source
Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) 'Northwind' was among the 4 plants considered for the prestigious award.
Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) 'Northwind' was among the 4 plants considered for the prestigious award. | Source
Of 431 plants nominated, Chelone lyonii (Turtlehead) 'Hot Lips' was among the finalists.
Of 431 plants nominated, Chelone lyonii (Turtlehead) 'Hot Lips' was among the finalists. | Source

Coral Bells (Heuchera ) ‘Caramel'

The Caramel Heuchera cultivar looks as good in a container as it does along a border. A robust, compact perennial with fuzzy, bright orange leaves, it grows about a foot tall and a little over a foot wide. Native to the southeastern U.S., Caramel is extremely tolerant of heat and humidity. It's hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ) ‘Northwind'

Northwind is a fast-growing ornamental grass that reaches heights of five to six feet with a spread of three to five feet. It blooms in late summer and is hardy in USDA Zones 4-9. Unlike most grasses, Northwind's seed heads are located in the middle of the clump.

Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii ) ‘Hot Lips’

Source

Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii ) ‘Hot Lips’

Like Jack Frost, Turtlehead is a woodland perennial. It grows up to 3 1/2-feet tall with a spread of approximately two feet, so it makes a lovely backdrop for shorter plants. The Hot Lips cultivar is a long bloomer, producing showy pink flowers from late summer to early fall.

The name "turtlehead" is derived from the shape of the plant's flowers, which look like a turtle's head with its mouth open. Hot Lips prefers moist shade. It has deep bronze-green foliage and upright, red stems.

More Planting Ideas

"Low Maintenance Groundcovers That Suppress Weeds" These 5 perennial groundcovers grow thickly to choke out weeds.

"Bunny Tails Ornamental Grass" Grow this ornamental grass from seed for fuzzy blossoms that delight kids & adults alike.

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Comments 6 comments

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

You're very kind, Q. Thanks!


quester.ltd profile image

quester.ltd 5 years ago

I was so excited agbout moving to your next article I forget to vote this one up - so I had to come back to do that -

good job and interesting as always

Q


The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago

Thanks, Miss Mellie. I like that Coral Bell variety, too, because of the color. There's another one, Citronelle, that's bright yellow. Appreciate the feedback!


Miss Mellie profile image

Miss Mellie 5 years ago

The eye-catching juxtaposition of tiny, delicate blue blossoms popping up next to large, broad leaves really does create some notable interest. And the Coral Bells are certainly an attention-getter, too. It's so fun to discover a wider variety of plants than the typical fare usually found at home improvement stores. Voted up and useful.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, tillsontitan!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 5 years ago from New York

Great article. Jack Frost looks interesting. I have very sandy soil and live in the northeast so its hard to grow things but all heuchera seem to do well here. Voted up.

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