Chelsea Flower Show: Plant of the Year 2024

Chelsea Pensioners in their scarlet uniforms at the Chelsea Flower Show


My Weekly’s gardener, Susie White, takes a look at the best new plants at Chelsea and reveals the overall RHS Plant of the Year for 2024!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the highlight of my gardening year, a glorious celebration of plants and gardens. I’m dazzled by the sublime show gardens and beautiful nursery exhibits. It’s a chance to spot new trends and to be inspired by plants that I haven’t seen before. So it’s to the Great Pavilion that I head to discover the winner of the Plant of the Year competition 2024.

This annual competition is held by the RHS and showcases plants that are new to the UK. For the first time ever, online voters could help to select the winner from 21 shortlisted plants. They are all very different and there was even a mushroom! The tarragon oyster mushroom is easy to cultivate and has a unique flavour, something that can be grown and harvested in a small space.

Here’s a selection of the 6 plants that caught my eye.

6 contenders for RHS Plant of The Year 2024

1. Agave ‘Praying Hands’

Agave 'Praying Hands'

Agave ‘Praying Hands’

This sculptural and dramatic agave is an unusual succulent that is hardy to -5 which makes it more adaptable to UK gardens. The leaves form a teardrop shape, all the spines curving inwards. It would make a stunning container plant or could be grown in a tropical themed garden.

2. Clematis ‘Guernsey Flute’

Clematis 'Guernsey Flute'

Clematis ‘Guernsey Flute’

This large flowered clematis is covered in long lasting pure white blooms and repeat flowers well into autumn. It is a compact plant reaching only 1.2 m which makes it suitable for small spaces. The name comes from the way that the buds look like champagne flutes!

3. Petunia ‘Nicola’

Petunia 'Nicola'

Petunia ‘Nicola’

A pretty double petunia, the flowers have a ruffled vivid magenta edging and a central flourish of petals. It’s an unusual eye-catching colour and is sturdy and weather tolerant, a modern twist on a favourite bedding plant. Petunias are long lasting and great for window boxes, hanging baskets and pots.

4. Scabiosa ‘Kudo Blue’

Scabiosa 'Kudo Blue'

Scabiosa ‘Kudo Blue’

I’m always on the look out for new plants for insects and scabious are particularly good for bees, butterflies and hover flies. Some varieties can be tall and floppy but this new plant is neat and compact which makes it suitable for containers as well as the front of a flower border. It would be great in a gravel garden and as a cut flower.

5. Rosa ‘Chelsea Pensioner’

Rosa 'Chelsea Pensioner'

Rosa ‘Chelsea Pensioner’

A new rose at Chelsea is always an event and I was at the launch of this very appropriately named cultivar. A gathering of Chelsea Pensioners in their scarlet uniforms were at the Harkness Roses stand, each holding a vivid red rose. The bush grows 90cm tall, has glossy green leaves and has many petalled flowers with a lovely scent. For every plant that is sold, £2.50 goes towards the care of the Chelsea Pensioners and their heritage home.

A new rose at Chelsea is named after the Chelsea Pensioners

6. Prunus ‘Starlight’

Named ‘Starlight’, this ornamental cherry flowers profusely from March into April and has white star shaped petals that have good resistance to frost damage. A perfect tree for a small garden, it is adaptable to all soil types and propagates well. Healthy growing and robust, this beautiful tree is delicate looking but tough, a free flowering cherry blossom to greet the spring.

Prunus 'Starlight'

Prunus ‘Starlight’

And the overall winner is…

One plant though has to be the overall winner and this year’s choice is the lovely ornamental cherry, Prunus ‘Starlight’! 

Steph Dunn James, Director at Frank P Matthews Ltd who cultivated this new variety was delighted to take the top award.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Prunus ‘Starlight’® has been honoured with the RHS Plant of the Year award,” Steph said. “This achievement underscores over 123 years of commitment to growing exceptional trees on our nursery.”

More details on this ornamental cherry tree.

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Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.