Last spring, Proven Winners sent me plants from its Spring 2017 Preview Collection. After growing them this season, I’ve settled on a few favorites.
- Purple Pillar Hibiscus syriacus. This spunky little rose of Sharon is still a baby and is nowhere near its mature size of 10 to 16 feet tall and two to three feet wide. But I’ve developed a fondness for its attractive, toothy, medium-green leaves and spectacular lavender blooms with deep red centers. I also like the shrub’s columnar growth habit, which is ideal for hedges or for backdrops along fences. Purple Pillar began blooming in August and is still pumping out flowers in late September. It looks somewhat comical right now, though, because it’s currently just 16 inches tall and 10 inches wide, yet it produces these 2 ½-inch blooms. I guess the little thing will have to grow into its blooms the way a baby grows into its nose.
- Zinfin Doll Hydrangea paniculata. This is one hardy hydrangea, as far as I can tell. At least, it has survived Colorado’s hot, dry summer. I planted it in my experimental garden area, where it gets blasted by southern and western sun. Yes, there’s a little sunburn on the leaves, but this perennial produces a beautiful mound of leaves that currently resembles a groundcover. Right now, it’s only seven inches high and nine inches wide, and it hasn’t bloomed yet, but I have high hopes for this shrub for next season. Zinfin Doll is supposed to grow six to eight feet tall and wide, and produce flower clusters that emerge pure white and gradually turn bright pink from the bottom up.
- Superbells Tropical Sunrise Calibrachoa. This is my favorite of all the annuals from Proven Winners this year. Tropical Sunrise bloomed its head off all summer long, even though it was shaded during part of the afternoon. The plant displays a uniform, luxuriant growth habit and striped flowers with orange, pink and coral hues.
- Superbells Hollywood Star Calibrachoa. Striking colors—those are what characterize this glamorous annual. Fuchsia pink petals on the outside give way to a neon yellow throat. It’s a stunning combination.
- Supertunia Vista Fuchsia Improved Petunia. If you like electric colors, you’ll appreciate this showy annual. Fertilize it every couple of weeks, and it will reward you with lush foliage and blooms. It’s a good idea to cut it back or dead-head it occasionally.
As for other 2017 Proven Winners, the Graceful Grasses Prince Tut Cyperus looked like it had potential as an impressive container plant. It’s supposed to grow 2 ½ to 4 feet tall with finely textured plumes. Unfortunately, the little guy apparently experienced a tough time during the shipping process and died shortly after transplanting.
Let’s Dance Blue Jangles Hydrangea macrophylla is a big-leaf, compact, reblooming hydrangea that reportedly produces blue flowers in acid soils and pink flowers in alkaline soils. Unfortunately, Hydrangea macrophylla isn’t suited to Colorado’s growing conditions the way Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea arborescens are. So this baby plant succumbed to permanent wilt fairly quickly. However, Blue Jangles would likely be a showpiece under more moderate growing conditions.
Rabbits showed no interest at all in any of the Proven Winners plants. That’s a huge advantage in my yard.
All of the annuals will pass on once we get a freeze, but I’ll let you know how Purple Pillar and Zinfin Doll perform after another of our harsh winters.