Plant of the Week: Sonic Bloom® Weigela

Sonic Bloom®

Sonic Bloom® Weigela was selected for their outstanding flowering - both in spring and in summer. These plants have the heaviest rebloom we've seen on a weigela. They flower in spring along with the rest of the class, then reward gardeners with waves of repeat blooms until frost. 

The Sonic Bloom® Weigela come in three colors: Red, Pink and Pearl, which is a white flower that turns soft pink. All get 4-5' tall and wide and will grow in full sun. This is important: they are hardy to USDA Zone 4.

Like other reblooming forms of traditionally spring-blooming plants, the Sonic Bloom® Weigela flower on both old and new wood. Trim them immediately after flowering as you would an old-fashioned variety, and don't prune them in fall.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles




Plant of the Week: Wedding Cake® Spiraea

Love is in the air...

Weddings are great. It's wonderful to see two people commit to a future together. Hopefully there are lots of smiles and laughter and that one relative we all have manages to behave themself. If things go off the rails, there's always cake.

Wedding Cake® Spiraea nipponica is an improved form of this popular landscape plant. More compact than 'Snowmound', it puts on a stellar show of pure white flowers in spring. It has better container presentation at retail, as seen by this
charming one-gallon presented by our New Plant Development dude, Sean.
Sean is a rugged guy, up for skiing, hiking and any kind of weather Michigan throws at him. So is Wedding Cake®: hardy to USDA Zone 4, it will take sun or partial shade. Sean is kind of tall, but Wedding Cake® grows just 3-3.5' tall and wide.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: Bloomerang® Lilac

Back at ya!

That's what a boomerang does, right? You throw it and it comes back. Same thing as Bloomerang® lilac. It flowers, and then the flowers come back. OK, so maybe not as fast as a boomerang returns from walkabout, but certainly later that same season.

Bloomerang® lilacs bloom in spring like regular Syringa and then go through a rest period before blooming again in late summer. They will flower through fall, often flowering right up until frost.

Just as there is some skill to throwing a boomerang, you do need to pay attention to how you grow Bloomerang® lilacs. Trim them immediately after the spring bloom so the plant has time to produce the new growth with new flowers on it. They are cold hardy to USDA Zone 3, and do best in full sun.

Lilac love.
Lilacs are beloved by many, both gardeners and non-gardeners. Many of us have happy memories of cut lilacs perfuming the house in spring. When I was young we had a cat who would hop up onto the counter (bad kitty!) to sit next to the vase and breathe in the sweet perfume of our lilac bouquets. She liked it so much that she didn't chew on the leaves like she did on houseplants.

Maybe cats like lilacs. Laura's cat visits her as she plants a Bloomerang® lilac in this latest Garden Answer video. If you haven't watched the Garden Answer videos, please do. They're a great way to get people excited about gardening and inspired to do some garden center shopping.

For a really fragrant lilac, check out the Scent and Sensibility™ Pink variety. It reblooms, although not as strongly as the Bloomerang® varieties. Its fragrance, though, is out of this world. Walking through our greenhouse you can smell them before you see them and it's delightful.
Perhaps cats like lilacs because they have similar cultural requirements. Both like sun and hate wet feet.

Plant of the Week:

It's OK to show off.

When you're this awesome, it's OK to show off. Think of Michael Jordan catching air, or Lady Gaga singing the national anthem. Being that fabulous and not showing the world would be weird, like if a stock market savant chose to live in a modest house in Omaha. Oh, wait - that's what Warren Buffet does. And I'll bet that he's got a forsythia in his yard, because after a dreary midwestern winter he deserves some yellow flowers.

If you're going to have a plant that adds something to the landscape for only a couple of weeks, make it the best couple of weeks you can. Show Off® Forsythia have better flower displays than other varieties, and nice compact habits that don't take up room in the landscape the rest of the year.
Pick the size that's right for you: the original Show Off® grows 5-6' tall. Show Off® Starlet is 2-3' tall, and Show Off® Sugar Baby is just 1.5-2.5' tall and wide. All are hardy to USDA Zone 5 and will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Let's show a little respect for Forsythia.

Let's be honest. It's hard to get excited about Forsythia. It's not the kind of plant that gets you points in the plant snob world. After all, it's something that almost everyone recognizes and everyone knows its Latin name. How on earth are you supposed to show off your horticultural superiority with Forsythia?
Well, start by getting over yourself. People know and love forsythia because it makes them happy after a long, cold winter. It looks its best just as folks are ready to finally do something about their crummy landscape, so of course it's what they buy on that first spring trip to the garden center.

It's also a very functional plant. Deer-resistant and durable, it will tolerate clay soil, black walnut and generally lousy conditions including urban sites. It's a great gateway plant for the beginning gardener.

The only tricky thing can be flowering. Don't prune it in fall. Gardeners in colder climates may see flowers only below the snow line because uninsulated buds get damaged by cold temperatures. Compact varieties like Show Off® will have a better bloom display because the flowers are protected by snow overwinter. Show Off's flowers run from base to tip so you get a really nice full display.
And that's how you show off your horticultural knowledge with Forsythia: you recommend the best variety for the site and keep people from pruning it into a disappointing meatball.

California Spring Trials (CAST)

You know what they say...time flies when you're having fun.  I find that to be true because this is already my third time attending CAST and it's always a blast!   Over 1,000 people visited the Proven Winners site including media and garden writers (so glad to see all of you).   After talking to everyone about the new shrubs we had on display, I thought I'd share a few crowd favorites. 

Double Take Peach™ Quince Chaenomeles
What a stunner!  This one was loaded with buds at the beginning of the week so it was looking really sharp throughout the week with it's soft peach colored blooms.  This variety is very tolerant of heat and dry conditions...oh and it's thornless too!

Winecraft Black™ Smokebush Cotinus
My personal favorite of our new introductions, this one looks really sharp.  It doesn't get as big as your traditional smokebush and reaches just 5-6ft tall and wide.  New growth comes in a reddish color and aging to a rich near black tone that doesn't fade. 

Invincibelle® Series -The Invincibelle series of hydrangea is expanding again this year, now with three dwarf varieties.  Choose from Invincibelle Limetta™ hydrangea with its rich lime blooms or Invincibelle Mini Mauvette™ hydrangea with pink blooms. Both of these grow to 3ft tall and wide. Looking for something even smaller?  Try Invincibelle Wee White™ hydrangea that grows 1.5-2 feet tall. 


Tuff Stuff™ Series - Another great series that I personally have several of in my the lacecaps!  These guys live up to their name...they are tough as nails and are very hardy.   There are three in the series Tuff Stuff™ hydrangea, Tiny Tuff Stuff™ hydrangea and the newest, Tuff Stuff™ Red hydrangea



At Last® Rose - People love this rose!  The rich orange bloom draws everyone in, but then the fragrance wows everyone. To top it off, it's disease resistant.  It was also the 2016 Shrub Madness champion! 

Spilled Wine® Weigela - A great landscape plant!  These rock beautiful pink flowers with deep purple foliage like Wine & Roses® weigela, but has smaller, more cascading habit. 

Plant of the Week: Double Take™ Chaenomeles

Spring Color!

Is winter done? Last week seemed like a final, vindictive farewell tour. Let's hope that spring is here for good, because spring flowers are here!

Quince is a traditional favorite at this time of the year, and with good reason. The flowers are bright and cheerful, just what we need after months of gray gloom. And the plant itself is tough, tolerating sun, heat, drought and even clay soil. 

Double Take™ Chaenomeles have exceptionally large flowers for an even better spring bloom display than traditional varieties. As an added bonus, they don't have thorns, and typically don't produce fruit. Better flowers, no thorns, and no mess? Sign me up!

We're excited to introduce a new color into the Double Take™ series this spring: Double Take Peach™. Its soft color is a nice choice for folks who don't want the intensity of Orange, Scarlet or Pink.

All of the Double Take™ varieties are 4-5' tall and wide and grow best in full sun. They are hardy to USDA Zone 5.

Plant of the Week: Incrediball® X 2

We introduced Incrediball® hydrangea a few years ago, and it has proven to be one of our most popular plants. A souped-up 'Annabelle'-type hydrangea, it has huge flowers and very sturdy stems. A mass planting of these is a real showstopper! Even a single specimen will wow the neighbors.

So we were very excited to add Incrediball® Blush to our hydrangea collection. It has the same large flowers and sturdy stems as the original, but the blooms are a soft, refined pink.

Like all Hydrangea arborescens, these plants are quite hardy (USDA Zone 3), and bloom on new wood. Although they will grow in both full sun and partial shade we find that the flowering on H. arborescens is better in full sun. This is especially true the further north you are. Both of these hydrangeas grow 4-5' tall and wide. 

Here's the thing about H. arborescens: they aren't H. macrophylla.


That's obvious, but what does it mean? There's the good: H. arborescens are hardier and bloom on new wood so there's no tricky pruning or overwintering to worry about. They are also more durable. Established plants will tolerate some water stress. Although flowering may be compromised, the plant will be OK.

Then there's the not-so-good. H. arborescens aren't going to present as well in a container as H. macrophylla. Bigleaf hydrangeas make cute little two- or even one-gallon sized containers. Smooth hydrangeas don't really look their best until they are at least a three-gallon sized container.  The plants will need a few seasons in the ground to really come into their own, too. You will see more and bigger flowers on mature, established plants.
If you need smaller options try our new dwarf varieties, like Invincibelle Wee White™ or Mini Mauvette™. These little plants have great container presentation and are also a good fit for smaller yards. Here's a handy chart showing the color and size options for smooth hydrangeas.