9 Food Producing Proven Winners Plants
Did you know that Proven Winners® now has a program called Proven Harvest®? We are primarily a flower company, but while searching the world for ornamentals, we have found some incredible plants that produce food as well. Some of these plants are both ornamental and edible, like our Berried Treasure® Strawberries, and some are just great fruits, veggies, or herbs. Most of them are part of Proven Harvest, but some of them aren’t. Here’s a bit more about this growing collection of plants.
Hot peppers are one of those crops that attract a wide diversity of people. Some people are true aficionados, describing peppers almost the way wine gets described. Then there are the people that love the challenge of eating the hottest possible peppers – never fear our pepper is not a challenger for the hottest pepper on earth award. If you know what Scoville heat units are, you may belong to this group. The rest of us like some heat, but aren’t looking to break any records. Hot and Heavy is a little hotter than a Jalapeno, but it has a smooth finish instead of a bite. It is hot. Don’t let the kids hold the pepper and then touch their face. These plants have very prolific production with tons of peppers on each plant. The fruit will vary some in both size and shape, but the heat level is stable. It is small enough to be easily grown in a patio planter, but large enough to grow in the ground as well. It takes 65 to 72 days for ripe fruit after transplanting. The foliage is nicely glossy which minimizes water loss, which means less watering. I wouldn’t consider it to be ornamental, but the ripening peppers do add color.
This is truly a game-changing plant—it is the first Italian sweet basil that is resistant to downy mildew, a disease that often plagues basil. Resistant doesn’t mean immune, but it is rare for it to have issues with mildew. And since it’s sterile, this large, vigorous plant produces a higher yield of usable, deliciously aromatic leaves. The more you harvest, the better it grows. This is a big plant and for most of us, a single plant will provide plenty of leaves for pesto and pizza and cocktails galore. Since harvesting keeps the plants producing prolifically, you’ll most likely have plenty of basil to share with friends and neighbors. Amazel is also very late to flower, which keeps the production in high gear long after other basils have gone to seed.
20-36” Tall. Full Sun.
This indeterminate, slicer type tomato is hailed as a breakthrough. It was developed to have true heirloom taste, with modern disease resistance and high yield of large fruit. It performs well in heat and humidity. It has a smooth, balanced flavor and is delicious in salads and sauces. This tomato will produce fruit for an extended period. Fruit ripens in about 70-75 days from transplant. If you grow them from seed, the first mature fruit will take 91 to 103 days. This is a garden tomato that will prolifically produce mid-sized tomatoes with truly fantastic taste. They grow quite large in the landscape, but when grown in a container they are more contained in size. They do need to be staked or caged to grow them successfully. This tomato will produce fruit for an extended period. If you are growing this plant in a container, a 14" diameter (5-gallon volume) is the minimum necessary size. The ideal size would be a 16" to 20" (7-10 gallon) container. Be sure to provide support by using a tomato cage or other structure in the container.
3-4’ Tall. Full Sun.
This semi-determinate, snack-size tomato has been hailed as a breakthrough. It was developed to have true heirloom taste, with modern disease resistance and high fruit yield. It has firm, juicy fruit with a smooth, balanced flavor. These plants will produce tomatoes for an extended period and thrive in heat and humidity. Fruit ripens in about 60-65 days from transplant. If you grow them from seed, the first mature fruit will take 81 to 93 days. This is a garden tomato that will prolifically produce snack-sized tomatoes with truly fantastic taste. They grow large in the landscape, but when grown in a container they are more contained in size. They do need to be staked or caged to grow them successfully. This tomato will produce fruit for an extended period. If you are growing this plant in a container, a 14" diameter (5-gallon volume) is the minimum necessary size. The ideal size would be a 16" to 20" (7-10 gallon) container. Be sure to provide support by using a tomato cage or other structure in the container.
30-42” Tall. Full Sun.
This compact, cherry-sized tomato is perfectly sized for growing in a container on your patio. For its size, it produces tons of ripe tomatoes. Tomatoes present prominently. Juicy fruits have a tender skin and perfect sweet to acid balance, with a Brix value of about 9. The somewhat heart-shaped tomatoes are fun and interesting and look especially cool when sliced in half, which shows off the heart-shape to the best effect. The tomato shape helps this veggie be ornamental as well as yummy. These plants will produce tomatoes for an extended time and thrive in heat and humidity. Fruit ripens in about 65 to 72 days. The plant is semi-determinate. Support should not be needed.
8-12” Tall. Full Sun.
Berried Treasure strawberries are wonderful plants. They truly combine ornamental qualities with a good supply of fruit. These plants are best grown in pots or hanging baskets where the developing fruit isn’t lying on the ground. The flowers are beautiful and are set off to great effect by the deep green foliage of the plant. Extra ornamental value comes as the berries ripen to a rich red. The berries are sweetest when they are deep red. If you’ve never tasted home gardener strawberries before, be prepared for a different type of sweet versus the berries you buy in grocery stores. In addition to growing them in planters by themselves, you can combine Berried Treasure with other ornamentals to create combination recipes. Runners can develop over time, which may add a long trailing element to your planters. These runners can be trimmed back if you prefer to do so or can be left as is. This is an ever-bearing strawberry.
12-16” Tall. Full Sun.
Yezberry Japanese haskaps are a truly tasty berry that just about anyone can grow. Yellow flowers appear in very early spring (it will almost certainly be the first thing to bloom in your landscape each year) and develop into luscious blue berries in early summer. Delicious, juicy berries taste like a cross between a raspberry and a blueberry. No spraying or fussy pruning is required to get a harvest of fruit so tasty, you'll want to eat it as fast as you can pluck them from the stems. This exceptionally hardy shrub grows well in sun or part shade and doesn't need any special soil to thrive. Plant two different varieties for best results - both plants will bear fruit. Plants should be within 50'/15.2 m of another. There are several varieties to choose from. There are four different varieties to choose form.
Sicilian Sunshine® sweet bay is the same plant where we get the bay leaves in our spice racks, but it offers cheerful gold foliage and red stems. This USDA zone 8 plant is best for Mediterranean climates, so it's not an option for those of us in colder climates. We can enjoy it as a potted plant, keeping it in a very bright but cool spot indoors over winter. Our Sicilian Sunshine™ sweet bay is an ornamental selection, but you can certainly use the colorful foliage in cooking, too. Here's a great opportunity for anyone looking for something fun and new to show off at Thanksgiving - a cute little sweet bay plant. Odds are you'll be using bay leaves in your feast.
4-10’ Tall. Part to Full Sun. Hardy in zones 8-10.
Check out this article with 5 Tips for Growing Edible Plants in Small Spaces
Learn more about Proven Harvest, including great recipes.
Watch this video on Creating a Raised Planter Cocktail Garden with Laura at Garden Answer.
Explore this Proven Harvest Pinterest Board.