Riverbanks Botanical Garden has been growing and evaluating plants for nearly 20 years. Over the course of that time, we’ve had tremendous successes…and failures. So we decided to share our preferred picks with an official Top 10 list. These cream-of-the-crop choices are plants that can work well in any garden and will add beauty and interest to any landscape. With plans already in store to release a fresh pick list annually, Riverbanks hopes to grow the list by regularly showcasing exceptional plants with proven track records.

Brugmansia ‘Dr. Seuss’

Produces a tremendous show of pendulous, melon-colored flowers all season long. The trumpet shaped blooms are 12 to 14 inches each, creating a powerful focal point in the garden. This vigorous grower will reach six feet in height each summer, with woody stems that need to be cut back to the ground each winter.
  • Common Name : Angel’s Trumpet
  • Type : Woody perennial
  • Color : Orange/melon
  • Bloom time : Summer
  • Size : 5 to 7 feet tall, 5 to 7 feet wide
  • Exposure : Sun to part sun
  • Soil : Moist, organic

Colocasia esculenta ‘Maui Gold’

A clumping elephant ear with ivory colored stems that arch to 4 feet, each ending in a large chartreuse leaf. This Colocasia adds a great tropical flair to a bed, and mixes well with dark purple foliage plants.
  • Common Name : Elephant Ear
  • Type : Perennial
  • Color : Chartreuse foliage
  • Bloom time : N/A
  • Size : 3 to 4 feet tall
  • Exposure : Sun/part sun
  • Soil : Moist, organic

Ensete ‘Maurelii’

The perfect plant to add a tropical flair to your garden. This banana makes a statement in a container and works equally well planted in the ground. This has proven cold hardy for us in many winters, but is a tad on the tender side, so storing it over winter is an option to ensure survival. Regardless, the results are worth the effort!
  • Common Name : Abyssinian Banana
  • Type : Tender Perennial
  • Color : Grown for dark green/burgundy foliage
  • Bloom time : N/A
  • Size : 8 to 10 feet
  • Exposure : Sun to part sun
  • Soil : Organic

Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’

A climbing lily, you say? That’s right; this one will ramble up through a trellis or can be planted at the base of a shrub and climb through it. The fiery red and yellow flowers make a tremendous statement in any garden.
  • Common Name : Gloriosa Lily
  • Type : Perennial tuber
  • Color : Red and yellow bicolored flowers
  • Bloom time : Summer
  • Size : 6 to 8 feet
  • Exposure : Sun
  • Soil : Average

Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’

This relatively new introduction has quickly become a favorite annual for Riverbanks’ horticulturists. All summer long, they explode with hundreds of one-inch flowers that are hot pink with bright yellow tips. This is a powerhouse for the summer garden.
  • Common Name : Globe Amaranth
  • Type : Annual
  • Color : Pink with yellow tips
  • Bloom time : Spring–Fall
  • Size : 3 to 4 feet tall, 2 feet wide
  • Exposure : Sun
  • Soil : Tolerant of poor soils, excels in fertile soil

Hedychium flavescens

While the shiny bold green leaves of this Ginger Lily are not particularly exciting, the long lasting, extremely fragrant blooms are a must-have. The Hedychium inflorescences are quite exotic looking, resembling clusters of pale yellow orchid blooms that fill the air with a sweet honeysuckle scent. They make great cut flowers to enjoy the scent indoors as well!
  • Common Name : Ginger Lily
  • Type : Perennial
  • Color : Pale yellow
  • Bloom time : Late summer
  • Size : 4 feet tall
  • Exposure : Full sun
  • Soil : Moist, organic

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Amethyst’

Boasts conical inflorescences that are initially white, but quickly age to wine-red. The foliage has great texture and turns deep burgundy red in fall. This is a low maintenance shrub that makes a great specimen plant.
  • Common Name : Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • Type : Deciduous shrub
  • Color : White to red
  • Bloom time : Summer
  • Size : 5 to 6 feet tall, 5 feet wide
  • Exposure : Part sun
  • Soil : Average

Rosa ‘Blush Noisette’

Tired of all the fuss that coincides with growing roses? Try this antique variety that blooms big in spring and continues on intermittently until frost. Antique roses are prized for their delicious fragrance and hardy resistance to disease.
  • Common Name : Blush Noisette Rose
  • Type : Shrub
  • Color : Blush pink flowers
  • Bloom time : Spring–Fall
  • Size : 6 to 8 feet tall
  • Exposure : Sun
  • Soil : Average, well drained

Rudbeckia ‘Henry Eilers’

We fell in love with this one as soon as we saw it blooming at the University of Georgia’s Trial Gardens. The quilled, yellow flowers provide a unique look all summer long. It’s an amazing perennial that will work great in the middle of a sunny border.
  • Common Name : Sweet Coneflower
  • Type : Perennial
  • Color : Yellow with brown center
  • Bloom time : Summer–Fall
  • Size : 4 to 5 feet tall
  • Exposure : Sun
  • Soil : Average

Yucca rostrata

The tree-like form of this tall succulent will stand out in any garden. It forms a dense rosette on the top of the stems with 2 foot long, stiff, bluish-green leaves that arch upward and outward. The old leaves fall off leaving a fibrous soft gray covering on the trunk. Large clusters of white flowers bloom on long stalks that rise above the foliage on mature plants in late spring.
  • Common Name : Beaked Yucca, Big Bend Yucca
  • Type : Evergreen succulent
  • Color : Blue green leaves, white flowers
  • Bloom time : Spring
  • Size : 4 to 8 feet tall
  • Exposure : Full sun
  • Soil : Average, drought tolerant