Proven Winners Funds Gardening “It Couple,” Names Plant Of The Year For 2017, And Promotes Retail Concepts

Since 1992, Proven Winners has been changing the gardening game, and it’s not stopping now. With new plants, improved series, and interesting retail customers, the brand aims to make planning easier for growers, and make gardening easier and more fun for consumers.

At its new 2016 California Spring Trials location at Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy, Proven Winners had the space and a beautiful setting to lay all of its offerings out, from new and improved varieties in annuals, perennials, and shrubs, to marketing and retail programs. Check out the slideshow for highlights.

Proven Winners Is Flexing Its Marketing Muscle

One of the ways Proven Winners is working toward better use of its products and gardening in general, is by supporting the gardening authorities that gardeners of all ages trust on social media. Director of Marketing Marshall Dirks says while searching for influential gardeners, he came across a young couple in Ontario -– she working a garden center part time and he working at a cable television company — who were spending their free time making how-to garden videos. The couple, completely independent of the industry, had a half million followers on their Garden Answer Facebook page and more than 32 million views on their videos in the two years they had been making these videos, Dirks says, so he went to visit them and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse: being paid to make these same videos, full time.

Spring Fairy Garden Video Screenshot
Garden Answer Host Laura LeBoutillier

The couple, named Laura and Aaron LeBoutillier, are overjoyed to do what they love – and they control the content. Yes, they’ll use Proven Winners material once in a while, Dirks says, but ultimately, Proven Winners is just paying to allow them to promote gardening, with the excitement and enthusiasm they’ve had all along.

This year, Proven Winners is releasing its signature combination garden recipes for 2017 earlier than ever, to allow brokers and growers time to plan their production, says Retail Account Manager Jessica DeGraaf.

For the first time ever, Proven Winners is naming a Plant of the Year, and in 2017, the honors go to Petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum.’ While the variety is not new, it’s one that people enjoy for its mounding, vigorous growth in the landscape, says Tom Smith of Four Star Greenhouse, one of the Proven Winners cooperative members. Meanwhile, the improved ‘Supertunia Vista Fuchsia’ mounds like Bubblegum, with a fierce color that shows up in the landscape. Announcing this at California Spring Trials should allow the supply chain to be ready to answer pull-through demand, De Graaf says.

De Graaf presented a number of retail concepts the brand was testing at trials, and Dirks provided a number of other new marketing ideas from Proven Winners in a presentation during lunch. Look for more information in an upcoming article soon.

Cool Pots Take The Work Out Of Container Gardening

Four Star Greenhouse has been consulting with Crescent Garden to develop a self-watering container, called the TruDrop system Dot planters.The containers come in three sizes and four colors, which cost $40 to $100 at retail. They feature a water reservoir in the bottom of the pot, in a cone shape that holds soil. A tap on the side of the pot can be hooked up to a hose, a water gauge measures the water level, and a drain in the bottom makes it easy for gardeners to drain and move the containers for winter.

Typically a smaller container can go one to two weeks without watering, while the larger containers can last up to four weeks, Smith says, and there are some containers at Four Star that were only watered once all last summer. If you use good soil, he says, the nutrients won’t leach in this container, like other water-wise types of containers. The water in the reservoir somehow stays clean and clear, with no algae. Find out more at Crescent Garden’s Facebook page, as its website is currently under construction.

 

Heucherella Fun and Games variety combination in a 2 year old pot
Heucherella Fun and Games variety combination in a 2 year old pot

Proven Winners’ New And Improved Varieties And Series

Proven Winners’ core annuals selection had a major emphasis toward improvements, showing both the old and the new versions of eight new varieties in the Supertunia, Superbells, Snowstorm sutera, and Infinity New Guinea impatiens lines.

Notable new intros in Supertunia petunias include Really Red, Picasso In Purple, and Vista Fuchsia Improved. In Superbells calibrachoa are four new varieties: Coralina, Hollywood Star, Morning Star, and Tropical Sunrise; and three improved are Grape Punch Improved, Red Improved, and Yellow Improved. Verbena Superbena intros include the new, wine-red Royale Romance and the incredible improved version of Royale Peachy Keen, which was the talk of the annuals trial at CAST.

Other annuals highlights include the vigorous grower, Artemisia ‘Quick Silver,’ which is great for both combos and the landscape, filling in quickly. It would make a good companion for a plant like Vista petunia, Smith says.

Proven Winners now has cannas in the Toucan series, which rounds out its annuals offering, says Proven Winners’ John Antonilli. The series includes four colors in Red, Rose, Scarlet, and Yellow, and provides a thriller for container gardens, maxing out at 48 inches tall.

‘Prince Tut’ cyperus grass joins ‘King Tut’ and ‘Baby Tut’ in what Proven Winners’ John Gaydos calls the Goldilocks series, because in some modern landscapes and containers, ‘King Tut’ is too big and ‘Baby Tut’ is too small, but ‘Prince Tut’ is just right.

A new line of ipomoea includes ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched After Midnight,’ ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched Green With Envy,’ and ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Jet Black,’ all with unique leaf shapes, colors, and textures, which add interest and fullness to combination baskets.

In perennials, Evan Ellebaas of Walters Gardens showed Proven Winners standouts, including:

  • Heucherella Fun And Games series, including Red Rover, Hopscotch, and Leapfrog, is an exciting new line with interesting leaf shapes and deep colors.
  • Amsonia ‘Storm Cloud,’ showing off olive-green foliage and soft, light-blue flowers. These plants bloom in full sun to light shade and are hardy to Zones 4 to 9.
  • Hemerocallis ‘Rainbow Rhythm Tiger Swirl,’ which wasn’t in flower, but the interesting, swirled petals will likely be a hit with gardeners, especially lovers of daylilies.

On the woody side, Mark Ogersby, gave highlights of new varieties including:

  • Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball Blush,’ which reaches up to 4 to 5 feet tall with huge pink blooms that age to an attractive green, hardy to Zones 3a to 9b.
  • Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle Ruby,’ a smaller variety growing up to 3 feet tall and reblooming with dark burgundy-pink flowers. Hardy to Zones 3a to 9b.
  • Hydrangea serrata ‘Tuff Stuff Red,’ a mountain hydrangea with large, lacecap flowers that rebloom in a deep pinkish-red, and a very compact, tidy habit growing to 3 feet tall. Hardy to Zones 5a to 9b.
  • Spiraea ‘DoublePlay Candy Corn,’ ideal for the landscape, brings interesting new colors to gardens with bright foliage that emerges candy-apple red and matures to yellow with bright orange accents, and dark purple flowers in late spring to early summer. Hardy to Zones 4a to 9a.
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