The Perennial Plant Association has chosen Aralia ‘Sun King’ as the 2020 Perennial of the Year. This honor is given yearly to a perennial that meets certain criteria: ease of culture, multiple-season interest, suitability to a wide range of climates, low maintenance requirements, and pest and disease resistance.
Aralia ‘Sun King’ is grown for its bright chartreuse yellow foliage and impressive size. This substantial perennial adds character to many types of gardens including woodland, Asian, eclectic and modern-style gardens.
This tropical-looking plant grows best in partial to light shade, and prefers moist well-drained soil. If situated in deeper shade the leaves will lose their golden color, becoming chartreuse to lime green. It can be grown in full sun but will wilt and possibly burn if the soil dries out; make sure to provide plenty of water. In late summer, ‘Sun King’ bears clusters of small white starry flowers on red stems, developing into purplish black berries adored by birds. The flowers are also attractive to honeybees. Although it is a large plant growing 4’x4’, it is well-behaved in the garden. It does not spread aggressively nor does it self-sow. Use Aralia ‘Sun King’ as a border perennial, specimen plant or focal point in the landscape.
In addition to its 2020 Perennial of the Year status, Aralia ‘Sun King’ also received the International Hardy Plant Union Outstanding Plant Award in 2012. It is native to Japan, Korea and SE China and grows well in the U.S. from zone 3 to 9.