Tag Archives: Proven Winners

PWs’ Lantana & Double Calibrachoa Rank Among Favorites for 2017/2018

The blooms of Luscious Royale Cosmo lantana emerge in pink, yellow and coral before turning into a gorgeous magenta set off against deep green leaves.

I’ve always considered lantana to be a gaudy, cartoonish flower that has no place in my yard or pots. This plant often exhibits unappealing color combinations, such as white/yellow, orange/yellow, or weird, faded shades of legitimate colors. If you do a lantana image search on Google, you’ll see what I mean. So in spite of the fact that lantana is supposed to be a stellar performer, I’ve never given it a try—until this year.

In May, Proven Winners sent me some new plants to try out, including Luscious Royale Cosmo lantana. This variety has been a game changer for me. I discovered that the blooms, which start out as yellow, coral and pink, mature into a rich magenta set against deep green leaves. And talk about performance—on my south-facing front walk, this plant blooms consistently with no sunburn. This outstanding variety will be available in garden centers in 2018.

I’m thinking that perhaps growers photograph lantana blooms in their early stages to show all of their colors, rather than showing them at a later stage, when one or two dominant colors may be richer and more appealing.  So unfortunately, the early photos may not do the plants justice.  And of course, when we visit garden centers, we usually see plants that haven’t yet matured.

Superbells Double Ruby calibrachoa hybrid’s luxurious double blooms brighten any outdoor flower arrangement. This darling will be available in 2018.

Other standouts in Proven Winners’ lineup of annuals include:

  • Superbells Double Ruby calibrachoa hybrid. This calibrachoa boasts double blooms that resemble tiny carnations. Mine has grown 4 inches high and 2 feet wide since early June. It’s delightful.
  • Superbells Blue Moon Punch calibrachoa. Another solid performer, this cheerful charmer pumps out purple and white blooms with a brilliant yellow throat. Mine cascades down the pot about 16 inches.
  • Prince Tut dwarf Egyptian papyrus. This fast-growing, no-maintenance stunner has reached two feet since I planted it in a pot in early June. It reportedly will reach 30 to 48 inches at maturity.

Proven Winners’ Pollypetite dwarf rose of Sharon produces ethereal pink blooms.  It reportedly grows 3-4 feet high and wide.

In Spring 2018, Proven Winners will introduce a new rose of Sharon, Pollypetite, in garden centers. An endearing shrub that grows 3 to 4 feet high and wide, Pollypetite features delicate pink, iridescent blooms.  Because of its smaller size, this plant will fit nicely in gardens that don’t have room for typical roses of Sharon, some of which can grow 10 feet high and wide.


Filed under Landscape Design, Plant Geekiness

Proven Winners’ Purple Pillar, Zinfin Doll Survive Tough Summer

Purple Pillar rose of Sharon displays toothy leaves that make the plant attractive even when it's not in bloom. But boy, when it blooms, the flowers are remarkable.

Purple pillar rose of Sharon displays toothy leaves that make the plant attractive even when it’s not in bloom. But boy, when it blooms, the flowers are remarkable.

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 performed admirably in Fort Collins' hot, dry conditions. Although it didn't bloom this year, this plant shows definite potential.

    Zinfin Doll hydrangea performed admirably in Fort Collins’ hot, dry conditions. Although it didn’t bloom this year, this plant shows definite potential.

  • 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.

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Hibiscus Summerific ‘Perfect Storm’: Definitely a Winner

My Summerific 'Perfect Storm' hibiscus produced spectacular blooms from late summer to frost, in spite of Colorado's hot, dry summer.

My Summerific ‘Perfect Storm’ hibiscus produced spectacular blooms from late summer to frost, in spite of Colorado’s hot, dry summer.

Last May, Proven Winners sent me a collection of their Spring 2016 plants to try out.

I had just moved into my new home in Fort Collins. The shrub and perennial beds were covered with river rock mulch, except for two tiny beds on either side of the garage. Because of the rock mulch and landscape fabric, it was a horrible job trying to install additional plants. And frankly, I didn’t have time to mess with them.

But I don’t like to let babies die. So I installed several of the plants wherever they would fit. Some made it. Some didn’t. But the Summerific ‘Perfect Storm’ hibiscus surprised me with its ability to tolerate drought and neglect. A hibiscus, mind you. They reportedly need “average to consistent water.”

Perfect Storm is a beautiful, compact plant with red-veined, deep green leaves and, of course, a hisbiscus’ magnificent, show-stopping blooms. Flowers showed up on this baby in late summer and grew about five inches wide. The plant itself reached about 18 inches high and wide. At maturity, it should grow three feet high and about five feet wide with seven-inch-wide blooms. That means I’ll need to move it because I simply plunked this perennial into one of the tiny, concrete-surrounded beds in full sun by the garage.

So if you thought, like I did, that hibiscus need to be babied, think again. Perfect Storm will delight you with its showiness and impress you with its toughness. As a bonus, the plant is also rabbit-resistant.

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