Threatened Plant of the Year at RHS Hampton Court

Plant Heritage invites everyone to search their gardens for rare or hidden specimens

Paeonia 'Gleam of Light' Credit: Caroline Stone
Plant Heritage, the plant conservation charity, creates a special display at RHS Hampton Court every year where it shows the finalists and reveals the winner in their annual search for the Threatened Plant of the Year.

In 2023 the winning plant was Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Contorta’.  One of only two surviving Chaenomeles cultivars in the UK to have tortuous branches. Early flowering, with pink tinged, white blooms from early Feb into late March. Currently one of only four plants still known to exist in the UK.

“What you have in your garden may be perfect for our competition.”

How to apply

Do you have a rare cultivar which is not currently available? Then you can enter the Threatened Plant of the Year 2024 competition. It must be a named cultivar that has been grown or sold in the UK or Ireland prior to 2014
Applications close Sunday 19 May 2024

To find out more, visit the Plant Heritage website.

Past winners

The competition has enabled many cultivars to be recognised and saved. The first-ever winning plant was the beautiful Clematis montana var. rubens ‘Veitch’ and 2022’s winner was Paeonia ‘Gleam of Light’, which the judges chose for its perfume, appearance and free-flowering nature. Since winning, cuttings have been shared with other peony growers, and the publicity has led to others coming forward to say they think they have one too.

Camellia × williamsii ‘Yesterday’ Credit: Dr K WestbrookA forgotten heritage

Camellia × williamsii  ‘Yesterday’ won the title in 2021. The large-flowered pink camellia had been growing in an Edinburgh garden for 35 years, but its owner had forgotten its name, until he found the original plant label from 1985 in a chocolate tin in his shed. He’d bought it in Dobbies Garden Centre in 1985 for £9.50.

Clematis ‘Veitch’ Credit: Plant Heritage
Vicki Cooke, Conservation Manager at Plant Heritage said: “Not every plant needs a remarkable story to win, but this story serves as a reminder that what you have in your garden may be perfect for our competition”. 

Last year’s public vote was won jointly by Aeonium arboreum  ‘Albovariegatum’ and Rosa ‘Sir Winston Churchill’. The latter was missing for many years in the UK until it was found in Australia and plant material sent back to be grafted and propagated to ensure its survival.

The Threatened Plant of the Year competition can be found in the Floral Marquee – by the Potting Shed.

Find out more

Plant Heritage Plant collections displayOver 45 years of National Plant Collections

Plants can be lost to pests and diseases, climate change, changes in plant trade or simply by falling out of fashion. Plant Heritage works to protect rare and endangered plants through National Collections, Plant Guardians and Plant Exchange as well as the Threatened Plant Programme.

The charity is a regular feature of the show where, as well as TPOTY, they also announce the Brickell Award – given to a National Collection holder who has ‘demonstrated excellence in cultivated plant conservation’.

Anyone can become a National Collection holder and Plant Heritage is always looking for enthusiastic plant lovers to take on a collection of one of their missing genera.

Check this list of threatened plants
Plant Heritage is in the Floral Marquee every day during the show to welcome anyone wanting to know more about their vital work.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.