RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2018

Celebrating the exciting and diverse new plants launched at this year's show



Perhaps aptly to coincide with the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the winner of the ninth RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year was Hydrangea Runaway Bride Snow White ('Ushyd0405').

Bred by Ushio Sakazaki, who created the now famous trailing Surfinia petunias, this hydrangea with its masses of delicate lacecap white flowers, is tipped to become a firm garden favourite. It has a graceful weeping habit opening up opportunities for growing in more unusual situations such as hanging baskets, pyramids, and raised border edges as well as the more usual garden beds. White flowers, some with a faint pink tinge, appear from terminal and lateral buds from late spring into autumn.

As an interspecific hybrid (coming from an Asian species crossed with H.macrophylla) it is thought to be a new class or category of hydrangea. Runaway Bride Snow White was part of The Sun's exhibit in the Great Pavilion, with plants being available from Thompson & Morgan for despatch by the end of June 2018.


Eryngium 'Blue Waves'

A perennial sea holly found as a seedling on Dove Cottage Nursery, Halifax, took second place. Eryngium 'Blue Waves' has the largest bracts of its type, with long-lasting flowers and a repeat blooming habit.

Its upright habit is strong and its many branched stems hold deeply divided foliage and flower heads from May-June, which along with its bracts and stems are a strong vivid blue. Loved by pollinators it also works as a fresh cut flower, dried flower and winter interest in the garden. Available from Hillier Garden Centres and RHS Plant Centres.

Helianthus annuus SUNBELIEVABLE BROWN EYED GIRL (‘Sunbeliv01’)

Third Place

Helianthus annuus Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl ('Sunbeliv01')

Third place went to a cutting-raised sunflower with plants reportedly producing around 1,000 flowers. Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl is said to flower non-stop from May until the first frosts, be easy to grow and tolerant to heat and drought. It's also pollen-free, making it ideal for use as a cut flower.

Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl was bred in the UK by Charles Valin of Thompson & Morgan.


The full shortlist for the 2018 competition:

  1.  Acer palmatum Metamorphosa ('Arjos1')

  2.  Calendula Powerdaisy Tango ('Kercaltan') (PowerDaisy Series)

  3.  Clematis Sarah Elizabeth ('Evip098')

  4.  Clematis Tranquilité ('Evipo103')

  5.  Dahlia Lubega Power Tricolor (‘Voldah5162’) (Lubega Power Series)

  6.  Eryngium 'Blue Waves'

  7.  Gerbera Garvinea Sweet Sunset ('Garsunset') (Garvinea Sweet Series)

  8.  Helianthus annuus Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl ('Sunbeliv01')

  9.  Hydrangea aspera subsp. sargentiana Gold Rush (‘Giel')

  10.  Hydrangea Runaway Bride Snow White ('USHYD0405')

  11.  Isotoma axillaris Fizz n' Pop Glowing Purple ('Tmlu1301')

  12.  Malus toringo 'Aros'

  13.  Pepper 'Lemon Dream' 

  14.  Phormium cookianum subsp. hookeri 'Blondie'

  15.  Polemonium yezoense 'Kaleidoscope' 

  16.  Rosa Emily Brontë ('Ausearnshaw')   

  17.  Salvia ‘Kisses & Wishes’

  18.  Tomato 'Shimmer'

  19.   Viola 'Bridie'

  20.  Zantedeschia 'Flirt'


See also - Graham Rice's new plants blog

RHS Membership

Join the RHS

Members enjoy early booking and discounted tickets to RHS Shows.

Join the RHS

Get involved

We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.