Drum roll, please.
Stachys monieri “Hummelo” has been named the perennial of the year for 2019 by the Perennial Plant Association.
At first glance, “Hummelo” could be easily confused with a variety of salvia, but it’s actually a cousin to Lamb’s-ear and is sometimes called alpine betony. It belongs to the mint family.
Strong stems support flower spikes in rosy lavender purple (sometimes you’ll see the color described as magenta, but I think it’s closer to purple than pink). Foliage is bright green and forms a compact clump with puckered leaves that lack the soft and fuzzy qualities of Lamb’s-ear.
The Chicago Botanic Garden Evaluation Trials appreciated stachys for its strong flower production, vigor, habit, quality and winter hardiness. “Hummelo” is hardy to USDA Zone 4 and blooms from July to September. It received the highest rating among 22 stachys trialed from 1998-2004.
Plant it in a sunny location in well-drained, average soil with some afternoon shade on hot summer days. The plant is drought-tolerant once established. It is easy and reliable to grow.
In the perennial border, “Hummelo” beautifully combines with ornamental grasses, hardy geraniums (crane’s bill), Shasta daisies and other mid- to late-summer bloomers. It’s a pollinator, too, and can be planted with Asclepias tuberose or butterfly weed to multiply its appeal to bees, butterflies and other insects. Seed heads provide winter interest.
There are two more attributes to “Hummelo” that make it a worthwhile addition to the garden: It is considered deer-resistant and can withstand being planted near black walnut trees.
“Hummelo” spreads by creeping rhizomes to form dense clumps. It benefits from being divided every couple of years in the spring.
Use it at the front of the border, in a rock garden or massed as a ground cover. Deadhead spent flower spikes to encourage budding.
The Perennial Plant Association chose “Hummelo” because it is suitable for a wide range of climates; low maintenance; pest and disease resistant; readily available; and is easily propagated by division, cuttings or seed.