Plant(s) of the Week: Oso Easy® Roses

Hello and happy Monday!

I am busily catching up after my week-long trip to the California Spring Trials (CAST), so today I'm reprinting an edited version of an article I wrote that was recently featured on the GardenSmart website.

I was so inspired by the gorgeous Oso Easy® Double Pink rose we had at CAST, it made me think about this article and just how spectacular this variety is, and how it gets to be that way.



Maybe it’s time to break up with your roses.
Every year it’s the same… the snow melts and the rose bush in your garden that has been lying dormant all winter springs to life with the hope and promise of a summer. However, by mid-summer you see it…the spot. And soon the rose bush that you were certain would be a blushing beauty, looks more look more like a sad, spindly bundle of sticks with a few dried out buds and some black-spotted leaves hanging on for dear life. Where did you go wrong?

Don’t blame yourself…
For anyone who has devoted their time and attention to cultivating roses, you know that if you see a rose plant with full, lush foliage and heaps of blooms all summer, it has probably had a fair share of coddling to get that way...and even then they are susceptible to a number of maladies.

The main thing to remember is you shouldn’t blame yourself. Sure, it would be great to be one of those people who can grow magnificent roses. Fact is, you probably are one of those people. It’s easy – when you start with the right plant.

It’s Oso Easy
Oso Easy® Lemon Zest rose
You know the expression from the cleaning product Scrubbing Bubbles - “we work hard so you don’t have to?” The same concept applies to plants that carry the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® name, all which go through rigorous trials before they reach the garden center - including each and every one of the 12 varieties of Oso Easy® roses.

Every year multiple new rose varieties are tested and trialed, and after 3-4 years of trialing, a vast majority of them are discarded in favor of only the very best plants. In fact, after 20 years, and hundreds upon hundreds of rose selections on the trash heap, Proven Winners® ColorChoice® has introduced only fifteen shrub rose varieties, which so far have garnered 32 prestigious awards.
Oso Easy® Double Pink rose

Rigorously trialing plants is hard work and time consuming, but it is also rewarding to be able to introduce beautiful, easy-care varieties like Oso Easy® roses. With the broadest color range of any landscape rose, all 12 varieties are dressed for success with an impressive display of non-stop color in any garden or landscape. 

Oso Easy® roses also boast surprising hardiness (some varieties thrive down to USDA zone 3) and are strong rebloomers with dark green, glossy foliage. They boast exceptional resistance to diseases like black spot and powdery mildew - plus their tidy habits make them ideally suited to a wide variety of gardening and landscaping needs. 

Low maintenance is the hallmark of Oso Easy® roses - they are self-cleaning, meaning their petals fall off when the flowers fade, instead of turning brown and withering on the plant. Just give these roses at least 6 hours of sun a day and regular watering, and they’ll provide year-after-year of natural, easy-care beauty all season long. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Plant of the Week: Glow Girl® Spiraea

Hello and happy Monday!

I'm writing to you today from the California Spring Trials in sunny California! I'm not sure how I got so lucky as to miss the midwest storms, but Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy, CA, is all decked out with beautiful Proven Winners® annuals, perennials, and of course, ColorChoice® shrubs. We're expecting a cooler, rainy day today, but I'm not going to complain!

Next week I'll come back with pictures of some of the incredible plants that have been on display, but in the meantime here's a sneak peek "panorama pic" of the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® tent.

It's been a couple of weeks since I've had the opportunity to bring you Jane's Plant of the Week, but today I'm sharing her post about a beautiful little spirea...take a look:

Tough Love.

It's tough. And you will love it. It's Glow Girl® Spiraea betulifolia.

I've always thought of Spiraea betulifolia 'Tor' as kind of an introvert, especially when compared with the more common S. japonica cultivars on the market. But if you think that being an introvert is a bad thing, think again.

Glow Girl® birchleaf spirea is the introverted plant that can hold its own with the flashy hybrids.

This gold form of 'Tor' is just as cold-hardy and adaptable as the original, but with cheery yellow foliage. If you've never grown Spiraea betulifolia and are in a colder climate, please give it a try. It has very appealing texture and nice fall color as well as white flowers in spring. 

This is a very durable plant that is both attractive and easy to grow, and you don't need to a lot of space or to prune it to produce an attractive and uniform plant.

Remember that introverts aren't necessarily shy or wanting to be alone all the time. Glow Girl® is an excellent choice for mass planting or low hedge, and it will do what introverts do: get its work done without needing a lot of attention.

Tough and beautiful, Glow Girl® holds its color well through the season before transforming to burgundy in the fall. It is hardy to USDA Zone 3 and will grow in full sun or partial shade.

There is a lot to love about this tough little spirea, proving it's worth your while to invest a little attention into these spectacular landscape introverts.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: CAST Preview

Good morning and happy Monday! I'm preparing to head out to sunny California and the end of the week for the California Spring Trials.

For those who are unfamiliar, the California Spring Trials (CAST) is an annual week-long touring event held at various locations throughout the mid-to-northern region of the state. The event is designed exclusively for those who are in the horticulture industry so they can learn more about the newest plant varieties, signage and packaging products, and merchandising programs and concepts.

This year, Proven Winners® will once again be setting up their display of annuals, perennials, and shrubs at Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy, CA...the garlic capital of the world!

I know not everyone can attend CAST, but I'm so excited about the plants we'll be showing, I wanted to give you a quick online tour of some of the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs that we will have on display. Enjoy! - Natalie

Proven Winners® ColorChoice® will bring almost 30 varieties of gorgeous, new shrubs to CAST this year, so to avoid writing a blog that is far too long, I'm going to highlight four of my favorite new varieties that will be on display next week in Gilroy:

At Last® Rosa x

New to garden centers this year, At Last®  rose has a tidy, compact habit that reaches heights of about 3', with glossy green leaves and fragrant double-flowers that are deep apricot-orange fading to a light pink as the season progresses. 

Like all roses, At Last® likes to be planted in a site that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day and will do best with regular watering, but otherwise, like most shrub roses, it is very low maintenance. 

Why it's specialBecause it's a landscape rose, At Last® is a garden workhorse; the foliage is resistant to black spot and powdery mildew, and the petals fall off when the flower is done instead of drying on the plant, so no deadheading is required. But what makes it unlike a typical landscape rose is the spectacular fully-double, sweetly-perfumed flowers that rebloom all season. It's just gorgeous and really has to be seen, and smelled, to fully appreciate it.

Available in garden centers in 2019, Scentara Double Blue lilac's cool, purple blooms take on a blue tone in the spring sunshine. This very heavy bloomer will grow 6-8' tall/8-10' wide, and has a handsome, appealing shape that will look right at home in your landscape. Like all Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs, Scentara Double Blue lilac boasts excellent disease resistance and like all syringa, is super-hardy, this variety withstanding temps down to USDA zone 2.

Why it's special: There are about 15 different species of lilacs found in nature, and Syringa hyacinthiflora is the queen of them all when it comes to fragrance - and this variety is the most fragrant we have ever developed. Not only do they smell heavenly, Scentara's purplish-blue blooms are made up of intricate doubled florets, presenting a delicate seashell-like effect that is unlike any other lilac. Plant it in full sun and it won't fail to knock your socks off every spring!
If you live in zone 7 or warmer, this is a handsome new evergreen for warm climate gardens! Though you might not have heard of it yet, Juke Box™ is a super-versatile, easy to grow landscaping plant. It has dense, very glossy foliage with a distinctive texture and grows well in sun or part shade.

Why it's special:  For those who live in areas affected by boxwood blight, this is the perfect alternative. You can plant it just like you would a boxwood: as a hedge, edging, specimen, or try trimming or training it as your heart desires. This thornless plant produces no flowers to speak of and is very resistant to pests and diseases. Available in garden centers in spring, 2019.
Of course, I had to include a hydrangea! We will be bringing eight varieties to CAST this year, so it was tough to choose just one, but this is a beauty, and it's brand-new.

A truly outstanding mountain hydrangea, the newest member of the Tuff Stuff series has massive dinner plate-sized blooms. Sterile florets are doubled and waterlily-like, taking on outstanding pink or blue coloration depending on soil conditions. Like all Hydrangea serrata, it has outstanding bud hardiness. 
Why it's special: At first glance, it would appear that we decided to introduce this beautiful mountain hydrangea solely for its waterlily-like double florets. But that's only part of the story - this is also one of the most prolific reblooming hydrangeas we've ever seen. All summer long, it devotes its energies to creating flower buds on its new growth so that you have a constant supply of fabulous blooms from early summer through frost. Tuff Stuff Ah-Ha™ hydrangea will bloom pink or blue, depending on soil chemistry and grows to about 2-3' tall. Available to garden centers in spring, 2019.

And that's it! I'll be blogging from CAST next week, so I hope to have some fun, new plant information and stories to share with you. Until then, happy gardening!

Plant of the Week: Zinfin Doll® Hydrangea paniculata

Hello and happy April!

With the conclusion of March, comes the conclusion of Shrub Madness 2018, and the voters have crowned a new National champion - Zinfin Doll® panicle hydrangea!

It's was a thrilling month - with over 274,000 votes cast and some nail-biting matchups, the public has chosen an absolutely breathtaking plant to represent the best-of-the-best in the shrub world. Thanks so much to everyone who participated in this fun, annual event. For more information about the Shrub Madness plant playoffs, check out the Shrub Madness website.

Let's learn more about our prize-winning plant:

It's no wonder Zinfin Doll® Hydrangea paniculata is the 2018 Shrub Madness champion - it is definitely a very special plant. With colors much like its lacecap cousin Pinky Winky™ hydrangea, Zinfin Doll hydrangea produces loads of beautiful, dense, mophead blooms that emerge pure white, then turn bright pink from the bottom up. Then in late fall, the bright pink flowers bleed into a rich, vibrant red.
Zinfin Doll® Hydrangea paniculata blooms

But Zinfin Doll hydrangea isn't just a pretty face, she's a great garden helper as well! Planted in the sun or partial shade, its large, beautiful blooms attract butterflies and other pollinators; and with a height and diameter between 6-8 feet and an upright and somewhat outwardly spreading habit, this shrub is perfect for providing shade to other plants in your garden that may be a bit more sun-averse.

You can use Zinfin Doll hydrangea in borders, cutting gardens, or simply as a gorgeous specimen plant. A hallmark of Proven Winners® ColorChoice® mophead hydrangeas, Zinfin Doll has been bred to have strong, sturdy stems to keep those big, beautiful flower heads aloft.

Like all panicle hydrangeas; this plant isn't too fussy and will do well in almost any well-drained garden soil; the pH will not affect its bloom color.

Zinfin Doll® Hydrangea paniculata habit
Zinfin Doll hydrangea, late-season
Zinfin Doll hydrangea flowers on new growth, so it can be selectively pruned in late winter or early spring, and when needed, can be rejuvenation pruned to 6-12" from the ground.

Hardy in USDA zones 3-8, plant lovers from as far north as Minnesota and as far south as Northern Texas and enjoy this 2018 Shrub Madness National champion in their landscapes and gardens.

Click here for more information about this, and other Proven Winners ColorChoice shrubs.

Plant(s) of the Week: Meet the Floral Four

It's hard to believe how fast March is flying by, and this is made all the more evident by the fact that we already are down to the final four, known as the "Floral Four", in Shrub Madness!

If you haven't had a chance to acquaint yourself with Shrub Madness, it's a bracket competition, much like the March Madness basketball tournament, but instead of teams, plants compete in a head-to-head matchup for glory and greatness.

As a result of the popular votes that have come in so far, these are the plants that are battling it out in the Floral Four:

Czechmark Trilogy™ Weigela  vs Let's Dance® Blue Jangles® Hydrangea 
Czechmark Trilogy™ Weigela florida
Let's Dance® Blue Jangles® Hydrangea macrophylla
Czechmark Trilogy™ is an improved version of the ever-popular 'Carnaval' weigela. Flowers start out white, transition to pink, then finally red. This results in an eye-popping combination of three colors on the same plant.

Reaching a size 3 - 3.5' tall and 3.5 - 5.5' wide, Czechmark Trilogy looks great in borders, foundation plantings, flower gardens and hedges. Not fussy, Czechmark Trilogy weigela is adaptable to most well-drained soils and doesn't need pruning. Hardy to zone 4, plant in full sun for exceptional spring blooms.

Let's Dance® Blue Jangles® is a big-leaf hydrangea that blooms all summer long on both old and new wood - with a tight, compact habit that is unusual among reblooming hydrangeas. Large, full flower heads will readily go heavenly blue in acid soils; in alkaline soils, they'll be vivid pink. This proven performer will bloom reliably - even in zone 5.

Fun Fact:
The Let's Dance® series of reblooming hydrangeas were developed in Michigan. They went through a gauntlet of brutal treatment to ensure that they would still create new wood flower buds during the growing season, when it counts.

Pugster® Amethyst Butterfly Bush  vs Zinfin Doll® Hydrangea

Pugster® Amethyst Buddleia
Zinfin Doll® Hydrangea paniculata
Pugster® Amethyst butterfly bush is the newest member of the Pugster series that offers full sized flowers on a dwarf plant. This compact butterfly bush reaches just 2' tall and wide, but has the large, full flowers normally seen on a much larger plant. It blooms non-stop from early summer through frost with amethyst-toned flowers, each with a tiny yellow-orange eye in the center. Thanks to thick, sturdy stems, the Pugster® series offers vastly improved hardiness and winter survival over other types of dwarf butterfly bush.

Zinfin Doll® panacle hydrangea is a beautiful hardy hydrangea with loads of bodacious blooms that emerge pure white and then turn bright pink from the bottom up. Flowers eventually age to a dark pink-red, and stay colorful for months. It looks a bit like classic Pinky Winky hydrangea, but with full, mophead flowers, and it blooms much earlier, too. Strong stems hold the flowers upright in the garden, and make it an excellent cut flower, too. 

Panicle hydrangeas are super easy and reliable. In cold climates, they should get a minimum of six hours of sun each day; in hot areas, morning sun and afternoon shade are best. These are shallow-rooted plants that really benefit from a 2-3" layer of mulch.

As for pruning, plan to cut these plants back by about one-third in early spring. This builds up a strong base while encouraging vigorous new growth to produce lots of blooms.

Which is your favorite? 
Today is the LAST DAY to vote for the Floral Four - and maybe you'll even win some plants! 

Want to know more about the plants featured in Shrub Madness?
Visit us on You Tube for Shrubs Center, short videos featuring experts talking about the plants and their picks for each round of Shrub Madness. 

Plant of the Week: Lime Rickey® Hydrangea

Happy Monday!

In keeping with the season, last week Jane wrote about a couple varieties of green hydrangea available from Proven Winners® ColorChoice®. At the risk of sounding like an Irish Spring commercial, all I'd like to add is "...and I like, too!"

Want to read more about the sturdy varieties mentioned in this article? Southern Living just put together a very nice write-up on panicle hydrangeas, featuring 'Limelight', Little Lime®, and some of their colorful cousins, called The Easiest Hydrangea of All.



Planting O' the Green

Limelight® Bloom
'Limelight' hydrangea has been one of our most popular plants for years; it's hard to believe that at one time the idea of offering a green flower was kind of crazy. It still is a strange concept to some people, at least until they see the flowers. Then they get it, and they want it.

Limelight® in landscape
Emboldened by the success of 'Limelight', we've gone on to introduce a few other green flowered hydrangeas, including Little Lime®,  a dwarf version of the  'Limelight' hydrangea.

Both are super-durable - hardy down to USDA zone 3, with Little Lime® being a great choice for container gardening.

Lime Rickey® in landscape
Lime Rickey® and the smaller Invincibelle Limetta® are H. arborescens, not H. paniculata, but are also durable choices for harsh climates.
Lime Rickey® with pink pollen display

Lime Rickey® hydrangea is a calm, cool plant for the summer garden with full mophead flowers held upright on very sturdy stems. If you get a little closer to the flowers you will see that the pollen is a showy pink color. That's kind of fun to see and reminds me of the Preppy Handbook that made the rounds of 1980's junior high schools. Wait around and you'll see a beautiful marbleized effect on the blooms as they age. 

Hardy to USDA Zone 3 and growing to about 4-5' tall and wide, in northern climates, you will want to give Lime Rickey® full sun, but as you go further south some partial shade is fine.

Smooth hydrangea like Lime Rickey® are a great choice for cold climates or really any situation where you don't want untimely pruning to compromise the flower display. It flowers on new wood and will bloom quite nicely after a late winter pruning.

I think green flowers can do a lot for a garden. Sure, they're not as obvious as hot pink, but they have an understated charm that is perfect for a soothing backyard landscape. In a world where everything and everyone seems to be competing for attention, they're pretty chill. I like that.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

Plant of the Week: Snow Day® Exochorda

Hello and happy Monday!

This week I want to share a post from another writer's blog - Jennifer Connell's 'Three Dogs in a Garden.' Jennifer is an artist, freelance writer, and photographer from Huttonville, Ontario and runs the blog with two additional contributors, Jean Godawa and Signe Langford.

Earlier this month, Jennifer did an amazing job of compiling some of our favorite new dwarf varieties into her "New Shrubs for 2018" post. Thanks so much!

Now on to Jane's Plant of the Week, which is an apropos choice since around here, it has still been lightly snowing pretty much every day.

Enjoy - Natalie  

Snow Day
Is a March snow day as good as a January one? I'm sure that the grade schoolers among us would say yes, but for those of us who have been driving on snow and ice for the past few months, one more blast of winter can seem just plain cruel. Enough already.

We've had a little snow this past week. Not enough to play in, but enough to brighten the gray landscape. Our friends on the east coast haven't been so fortunate. They've had quite a bit of severe weather in recent days, including some wicked snow and wind. A spring snow day can also be bad for plants...unless the plant itself is the treat.

We named the Snow Day® Exochorda as such because of their ability to delight us with the white stuff. Beautiful plants for the spring landscape, the horticultural Snow Day is far less inconvenient than the weather event.

Snow Day® 'Blizzard' (top picture) is the larger of the two plants (5-6') and can be trained into a small tree. Snow Day® Surprise (bottom image) is a smaller plant (3-4'); both will grow in full sun to partial shade and are hardy to USDA Zone 4.

Snow Day® 'Blizzard' and Snow Day® Surprise pearl bush are disease resistant and once established, are drought-tolerant. Exochorda flowers on old growth, so prune as needed after its had a chance to show its stuff in the spring.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles