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10 Hardy, Deer Resistant Proven Winners Perennials

Two questions often asked are: 1) Is it hardy for me? –and-- 2) Will the deer eat it? Here are ten noteworthy varieties that might be solid solutions for both concerns--perennials that are bone cold hardy and that our four-legged friends won’t touch.


Dianthus FRUIT PUNCH® ‘Coconut Punch’

Try all four Fruit Punch double-flowered Dianthus from Proven Winners next spring. Each boasts notably fragrant blossoms as well as improved heat and humidity tolerance. There are shorter and taller varieties within the series and a number of intricate color patterns to choose from. Vernalization is required to bloom, so start small plugs the fall prior or plant larger, vernalized plugs in spring. Zone 4.

Gypsophila p. Festival Star

One of the longest blooming Gypsophilas available, Festival Star will be in color for months in your greenhouse. Dense sprays of pure white flowers appear just at the top of the neatly compact, mounded grey-green foliage from late spring through early fall. Long days are required to initiate flowering. Unlike older cultivars, it does not go summer dormant, continuing to look fresh throughout the entire season. Zone 3.


Heuchera DOLCE® Brazen Raisin

This new Heuchera is the total package: great foliage AND great flowers! It forms a medium sized mound of nearly matte black leaves with royal purple undersides. Without vernalization, it blooms in summer and continues to rebloom into fall on nicely proportional, deep red scapes. Hot pink buds open to pale pink to white flowers with a hot pink base. This is a plant growers can easily start in late winter to early spring for spring and summer sales, as Heuchera likes to be grown cool. It is uniform and very easy in production. Zone 4.

Heucherella Fun and Games ‘Leapfrog’

The most radiant, eye-catching perennial on the benches in spring will be ‘Leapfrog’. Its glowing yellow leaves are each accented by a red center and the plant forms a dense, low growing mound of durable, fuzzy foliage that the deer won’t touch. Since this is a H. villosa hybrid, it is naturally more heat and humidity tolerant, and its habit is robust. Start ‘Leapfrog’ plugs in late winter to early spring in a cool greenhouse, and move them out in about 8 weeks. You’ll love how easy this one is to grow! Zone 4.


Ligularia ‘Bottle Rocket’

A sport of ‘Little Rocket’, this newer selection boasts thicker, serrated green leaves and yellow flower spikes that are held just at the top of the foliage with no bare stems showing. Its foliage tends to hold up better in the summer heat. Ligularia benefits tremendously from being planted the summer prior to sale. The finished plants will be at least twice as big with larger leaves and more flowers per pot than if you were to start it in the spring. Get this one in early! Zone 4.

Monarda d. ‘Pardon My Pink’ and ‘Pardon My Purple’

A favorite of native enthusiasts, these fragrant perennials attract bees and butterflies with their vibrant pink and purple blossoms in midsummer. Since they are dwarf, non-spreading varieties, this series is best started the summer or fall prior to sales for bulking purposes. Doing so will nearly double the size of the finished plant. Growers will love that this series of Monarda is exceptionally resistant to powdery mildew compared to most others. Zone 4.


Nepeta f. ‘Cat’s Meow’

For the best grown Nepeta, start with small plugs in late summer or fall or bare root in spring and grow them cool to avoid stretching. Though vernalization is not required to bloom, long days are required. It’s best not to force this plant to bloom early, as even very high levels of supplemental lighting will still result in stretching. ‘Cat’s Meow’ has a more restrained growth habit and tends to stay neater in containers than the typical ‘Walker’s Low’ types. Zone 3.

Salvia Color Spires® Collection featuring ‘Crystal Blue’, ‘Pink Dawn’ and ‘Violet Riot’

The new Color Spires of zone 3 hardy Salvias are super easy to grow and are available in three distinct colors for Spring 2015. All three bloom without vernalization, but benefit from it for bulking purposes. Grow Salvias cool to prevent them from flowering too fast. We have noticed significant rebloom on ‘Crystal Blue’ when deadheaded, and some rebloom on ‘Pink Dawn’ and ‘Violet Riot’. Zone 3.


Tiarella ‘Jade Peacock’

Tiarella will be one of the first perennials to flower in your greenhouse, blooming profusely without vernalization, so they will be one of the first out your door. Plant small plugs in early fall the year prior or large plugs in late winter for early spring sales. ‘Jade Peacock’ has beautifully dissected, glossy jade green foliage with a dark purple center, and is topped with slightly fragrant, creamy white, bottlebrush flowers. It is a workhorse in the shade garden. Zone 4.


Veronica Magic Show® Collection featuring ‘Hocus Pocus’ and ‘Enchanted Indigo’

Two perfectly purple flowering Veronicas are available this year from Proven Winners, each with a different habit and growing requirements. ‘Hocus Pocus’ is a low growing, wide spreading selection with very short, healthy bright green foliage topped with a profusion of long, violet purple flower wands in early through midsummer. Vernalization is required for flowering. ‘Enchanted Indigo’—new for 2015—is an upright type with glossy green foliage and deep royal purple flowers. It does not require vernalization to bloom, and can be programmed to bloom any time of year. Zone 4.




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