My Top 3 Picks From Proven Winners' Spring Lineup

I don't generally get too excited about bedding plants, but the excitement during Rick Schoelhorn's presentation was palpable. You couldn't help but get sucked into the energy, with each flash of colorful blooms on the screen conjuring up "ooh"s and "ahhh"s from the dazzled audience as if the Calibrachoa and petunias were fireworks a la Powerpoint.

One of my complaints about bedding plants is that many are intolerant of Florida's hot and muggy conditions. "Spring" annuals offered at the nursery are often best planted in fall, as they tend to poop out as it warms up in April here in Florida  Luckily, Rick Schoelhorn happens to hail from the University of Florida and understands these challenges. He recommended planting their popular Superbell and Supertunia lines in fall so they'll have a longer growing season, taking cold snaps with ease.

Also addressed were some of the qualities that Proven Winners looks for while breeding and selecting plants, including a strong scaffolding (branching) pattern, compact habit, heat and drought tolerance, bright colors, and sterility.

Sterility usually has negative connotations for guys like me, and I'm not talking about the sterility that prevents you from being a baby factory. I happen to like starting plants from seed, and I get a genuine feeling of accomplishment to grow exotic plants out of nothing. When it comes to annuals, however, I would much rather purchase a healthy and vigorous plant that doesn't need to be babied, only to die within a season. It's just really not worth the trouble for me. A sterile annual is actually ideal since you don't have to waste your time deadheading to get a compact and bushy form.

There were plenty of the pretty and floriferous annuals you would expect, but the plants that really stood out to me in the presentation had a genuine tropical punch to them and could easily sit alongside palms and bromeliads in a tropical garden.

Supertunia "Pretty Much Picasso" sports neon magenta funnels rimmed with lime green. Does that color scheme look familiar? Next winter I'm foregoing the random assortment of cool season bedding plants and stocking up on this electrifying annual instead. They take the coastal South's cold admirably, but the vivid colors look absolutely tropical compared to anything else available for cool season bedding.

I've had a lot of success with using coleus to fill in the garden's gaping holes, but haven't had much room lately. Now that I've seen "Alligator's Tears" coleus, I might just have to make some room! I really like the compact and rounded form, and the small variegated leaves would add a finer texture to plantings of bold tropicals like colocasia and cannas.

My one complaint about Rick's otherwise flawless presentation was that he didn't have enough time left to really focus on Proven Winner's excellent foliage plants like this Juncus "Blue Mohawk". I know that everybody was there to see the pretty flowers, but I wish there was enough time left to talk about their grasses and succulents. By the way, if I ever find this grass at a nursery, consider it sold!

If you're looking for more info on Proven Winner's new offerings for Spring of 2011, head over to their helpful website! To read more about the Outdoor Living Extravaganza, check out Part One of the post.


  1. I think Coleus makes superb bedding for a tropical scheme. And that Juncus looks great in a pot!

  2. I'm with you on the grasses or other spiky plants! Same with the foliage plants you note like coleus. Flowers need bolder or sharper plants to really shine, not just the other way around.

  3. Oh, if I see that Supertunia "Pretty Much Picasso", I am sure I will bring it home! The color is perfect, and with limegree edge made it even more exotic. I had some coleus planted in the bed to fill the hole and add the color last year, and now there are lots of self-sow seedlings coming up. Yay for the free plants. I actually love the annuals such as zinnias, vincas since those can tolerate florida's hot summer, and often self sow to come back easily next year.

  4. All 3 of those plants look great. I love that coleus, and am glad to see something new. Thanks for the info.

  5. The juncus 'blue mohawk' is my favorite of the three. The juncus I have in my boggy area does well and this would add some color interest to what is already there. Thanks for the heads-up on these new offerings from PW.


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