Proven Winners ColorChoice Flower Shrubs
The SMART SHRUB SERIES
Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs are selected from the best the world has to offer – from far-away places like Korea and Poland to our stateside development and trial facility in Grand Haven, Michigan. Now, get the inside scoop, along with a bit of wit and humor, from a professional horticulturist who knows these shrubs because she’s grown them. Jane will share interesting tidbits about new introductions and old favorites alike, along with landscape ideas, trends, and advice on making our line of award-winning flowering shrubs work for your business.
Let’s try something new with flowering shrubs
You’ve probably got some flowering shrubs planted in your yard, which is to be expected. (If you don’t have anything planted in your yard, we need to talk).
What’s not so expected is flowering shrubs on your deck or patio. Annuals are nice, but maybe your planters could use something a little bigger, too. Or something evergreen, even. After all, many of us are outside on our decks year-round. By all of us, I mean my husband, who grills twelve months of the year. I think having some evergreens on the deck to keep him company while he grills my Valentine’s Day dinner is very thoughtful of me.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when adding woody ornamentals to your patio containers:
Many garden centers will help you design a container and even plant it up for you with seasonal refreshes. This is a perfect way to add a few more garden favorites to your yard, even if you’ve run out of space in the landscape.
Flowering shrub boot camp for new hires
So you’ve got some new employees. That’s great! Let’s get them up to speed so they’re ready to sell some plants this spring. Here’s a quick boot camp drill for the new hires:
Go big? Go home
Sure, sometimes it’s great to go big. Nachos, for instance. Small is just a couple of sad tortilla chips on a plate.
But sometimes going big isn’t the right call. This is especially true for plants. We’ve all seen the yard with a huge tree blocking the front window. That cute little Colorado blue spruce grew up to be a forest-sized specimen, and a suburban yard is not big enough for its magnificence.
Luckily, plant breeders have done some great work developing smaller versions of the plants we love but can’t quite fit into the typical landscape. Here are some cool new options for gardens:
Smaller plants are a boon to today’s small building lots. They allow homeowners to enjoy the plants they love without having to prune them hard every year. Right plant, right place, remember? They also allow landscapers to create a properly scaled design for smaller sites. This means a garden can have a group of three or five plants rather than one dominating specimen. That’s better for everyone concerned.
Compact and dwarf plants are also an opportunity for independent retailers to demonstrate their advantages to consumers. You know what you’re talking about; the kid at the big box may not. Explain why you recommend one of these newer varieties over the bigger ones – and make that recommendation! This is a perfect example of how independent garden centers are in business for long-term customer satisfaction and not just a few months of color sales. That giant evergreen blocking the front window? It was probably bought by someone who didn’t get good (or any) advice when they bought it.
Made in the Shade
Is there anything nicer on a warm summer day than a spot under a shade tree? Maybe a spot under a shade tree with a good book and a cold beverage. But welcome as it is in the heat of the summer, shade can be a challenge for gardeners.
The secret is to embrace the shady areas in your landscapes. Stop trying to wish sun loving plants into growing in shade; there are plenty of shade tolerant plants that will thrive in these areas. And I’m not just talking about hostas. Don’t get me wrong, hostas are great. But they aren’t your only option.
Shade plants are often more subtle than their brash sunny cousins, so plant with an eye for texture and form rather than relying on color alone. Layering a variety of textures in a space invites visitors to sit and rest for a while in the shade. And on a warm summer day, what could be better?
Ah, deer. Gentle, majestic woodland royalty. Or hosta-eating road hazards, depending on your point of view.
Most gardeners have a tortured relationship with deer. We don’t have anything against them except for the fact that they eat everything in sight. Repellants can work, but you need to apply them regularly. A deer fence will keep them out, but is often impractical. What’s a gardener to do?
You can start by choosing plants that deer don’t like, though there’s no such thing as a deer-proof plant. Hungry deer will eat anything. But you can make your yard less appealing than the daylily buffet next door. Not very neighborly, I know, but you can make it up to them with a nice bouquet from your cutting garden.
Deer avoid plants with fuzzy leaves and those that are strongly aromatic. Some gardeners have success planting catnip, lavender and thyme; their strong scent can deter deer from eating more desirable plants growing nearby. Daffodils are also unappealing to deer, and can act as an early season deterrent. The world always needs more daffodils, anyway.
Although deer do not like prickly leaves, they aren’t bothered by rose thorns. So don’t plan on a rose hedge as a good barrier. Barberries, on the other hand, are seldom eaten. They’ll keep the jealous neighbors out of your cutting garden, too.Unfortunately, deer like new plant growth. So that new bed filled with lush, tender plants is very tempting to whitetails. Even plants that are not especially tasty to deer can be appealing when they are leafing out. You may want to invest in some deer repellant for these plantings, at least until their new growth has hardened off.
Plants that are unappealing to deer include Forsythia, Viburnum, Potentilla, Spiraea, and Syringa (lilac). Working with these plants will give you a good start on a garden with season-long color. Add some Juniperus and you’ve got year-round appeal. Rutgers University has an excellent reference that rates the deer resistance of landscape plants.
If you’re in an area with heavy deer pressure, there are some plants that you probably want to avoid planting. Thuja (arborvitae) is a year-round treat. When you go into the north woods you will see arborvitae eaten as far up the trunk as a deer can reach. Sometimes even higher: that’s a sign that the elk herd has moved in! Other deer favorites are roses, Euonymus (including burning bush), Magnolia, and Rhododendron. Hydrangea is a common target, too.
Remember that hungry deer will eat just about anything. Winter and early spring are the lean times when deer are most likely to eat your plants. In fall they are bulking up for winter, and are especially voracious. In summer time, when the living is easy, they are much more selective. Whatever you do, DON'T FEED THEM. They won’t eat your offerings and leave the landscape alone; they’ll learn to come to your place for dinner. And the day you don’t have a nice spread waiting for them is the day they will turn to your new hydrangea planting instead. Besides, feeding deer isn’t healthy for them. It’s often not the nutrition they need, and can contribute to the spread of disease.
If deer are a serious problem in your landscape, it may be time to call in the professionals. Your local nursery or landscaper likely offers some sort of treatment. These repellants won’t hurt the deer, and will allow you to enjoy your yard without the frustration of seeing flowers eaten just before they bloom.
Hydrangeas for Mother's Day
Mother’s Day is coming, and you know what that means: shoppers looking for something nice for Mom. Trust me, mom doesn’t want a scented candle or a box of chocolates that she’ll be expected to share. She wants flowers. And why should she settle for a mere bouquet when she could enjoy a garden plant that will flower for years to come?
Hydrangeas are a popular choice for Mother’s Day gifts, but they are the source of a lot of gardening angst. They generate more questions on the Proven Winners® feedback site than any other genus. Do you know what that means for you, the retailer? The opportunity to be a hero. It’s a chance to sell a plant that will a) make mom happy and b) allow her loving children to display their plant smarts. That’s because, you, clever retailer, are going to tell them what they need to know about hydrangeas. Here are some quick facts about this popular group of plants:
Enjoy on the patio.
Mother’s Day hydrangeas are a great opportunity for you to connect with your customers. They’re also a good starting point for a complete Mother’s Day package: plant, soil conditioner, vase for cut flowers, etc. Maybe a small box of chocolates, one that she won’t have to share. Because you know what they say: if Mom isn’t happy, no one is happy. Make Mom happy!
5 Must-Have Flowering Shrubs for Spring
After a deceptively mild December, winter showed up with a vengeance in January. Freezing cold, plenty of snow, and some ice mixed in for good measure. February is likely to bring more of the same (sorry, but you know it’s true). When you’re not thinking about how much you don’t want to shovel yet again you’re likely thinking about the promise of spring. And if you’re not, your customers are.
There’s sure to be a big demand for spring color this year. After all, shopping for the spring garden is a lot more fun than shopping for spring clothes. Unlike swimsuit shopping, you don’t go out to the patio container to find that it doesn’t fit anymore. Take a break from making snow angels to finalize your plans for spring flowering shrubs:
Forsythia. It’s not really spring until the forsythia bloom. If you’re going to have a one-hit wonder in your yard (and after this January you deserve some forsythia cheer) do it right. Show Off® has the best bloom display of any forsythia on the market. Available in regular, portion-control and bite sized versions.
Chaenomeles. Quince are another traditional herald of spring. The candy-colored flowers are just what we need after a grey winter. Double Take™ quinces have huge, doubled flowers for extra impact and are thornless. That makes them especially good for those of us who can’t wait for warm weather and want to cut some for forcing indoors. Why not sell a pretty vase along with the plant?
Exochorda. Yet another old-timey plant that has been reinvented for modern gardens. Snow Day® pearl-bush varieties were selected for their improved flower display. They leave ‘The Bride’ waiting at the altar…
Deutzia. You want spring flowers that look great when shoppers are in the store. They want a plant that will stay small without pruning. And even if you don’t want to think about it now, you would like some colorful foliage this fall. Yuki Cherry Blossom™ and Yuki Snowflake™ deutzias have all that and more: they’re deer-resistant, too. You’re welcome.
Viburnum. There are viburnums with summer flowers, and viburnums with fall color. But right now I’m talking about a viburnum with fragrant spring flowers: Spice Girl®. Her spicy sweet flowers are hard to resist. I deserve this plant, and so do you. It’s our reward for the pre-swimsuit season diets we will be starting tomorrow.
Get that want list together and call your nursery supplier today. Because if you wait until spring, well, you know what nurseries are like in spring. Call them now, while they’re snowed in!