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Oklahoma Proven selections give gardeners an advantage

STILLWATER, Okla. – There aren’t too many things in life that are a sure bet, but Oklahoma gardeners do have a resource that will help take some of the guesswork out of gardening.

Currently in its 18th year, Oklahoma Proven is a plant promotion program helping guide gardeners toward appropriate garden selections that have been proven to grow well in Oklahoma’s diverse climate and soil types.

“One of the great things about using Oklahoma Proven selections in your garden is when installed together, the selections provide a variety of colors, textures and diversity in your landscape,” said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist. “Obviously, because of Oklahoma’s diverse climate and growing zones, everything won’t grow in all parts of the state, but some of the selections will do well across the state. Be sure to check your USDA growing zones first."

Sometimes gardening enthusiasts have a hard time picturing exactly what certain types of plants look like. Lucky for them, many of the Oklahoma Proven selections, not only from 2016 but from previous years, too, can be found at The Botanic Garden at OSU.

The selections for 2016 include Collector’s Choice – magnolia, deciduous cultivars; tree – escarpment live oak; shrub – color guard yucca; perennial – sedges; and annual – annual vinca.

Laura Payne, OSU Cooperative Extension associate/volunteer coordinator at The Botanic Garden at OSU, said some of the current selections are planted in the beds around the office building at the garden.

“We typically plant some of the current year’s selections near the front of the garden by the main office, but you’ll see selections from previous years all throughout the garden,” Payne said. “Seeing the plants already in a garden setting as opposed to on the shelves at the garden store gives gardeners a better idea of how the Oklahoma Proven selections will fit into their own landscapes. We encourage everyone to come out to the garden and see the various selections we have on display.”

Deciduous forms of magnolia are a spectacular addition to any landscape. While the most common color available is pink, other hybrids provide a wide variety of flower colors, including red, white, yellow or purple. Flowers of the deciduous magnolia appear just before or while the leaves are emerging in the spring. This tree needs a full sun to part shade exposure and grows well in USDA Zones 4-9.

“We started including a Collector’s Choice in the Oklahoma Proven selections several years ago,” Hillock said. “These selections are for the adventuresome gardeners, and while they do well in Oklahoma, they may require special placement or a little extra care.”

Escarpment live oak is a smaller version of the coastal live oak, growing slowly to between 20 feet and 40 feet high and about as wide. It features gnarled branches for added texture to the landscape, along with evergreen leaves. Because of its slower growth, it is a perfect choice for a long-lived shade tree in smaller, urban landscapes. Exposure is full sun or light shade.

Color guard yucca is a striking addition to a landscape featuring upright, sword-shapes leaves. Flowering stalks arise in late spring from the center of the plant, bearing long, terminal panicles of bell-shaped, fragrant white flowers. Color guard yucca is free of pests and tolerant of dry conditions, which makes it a great choice for an Oklahoma landscape. It makes an excellent border, does well in xeriscape plantings and containers and looks good as an accent plant.

This year’s perennial is sedges, which belong to the genus Carex. Sedges add a lot of texture to your garden and are grown in groups or masses, as a lawn substitute, in naturalized areas, perennial borders and habitat restoration. They have triangular, grass-like stems and panicles of short flower spikes. The foliage can be evergreen or deciduous and colors range from green, brown/rust, golden, blue and variegated. This plant does well in both full sun and full shade, but the variegated varieties really shine in shady areas. Some require wet conditions, while others can be somewhat drought tolerant.

Annual vinca also goes by Madagascar periwinkle and tolerates the heat and humidity of southeastern Oklahoma. Full sun and warm soil temperature is required for this species to thrive. Flower colors are available in white, pink, red and purple. Depending on the cultivar, the plants will grow 6-12 inches tall and 8-24 inches wide. The improved cultivars provide an abundance of flowers on stocky plants and are disease resistant.

Full color photos of the 2016 Oklahoma Proven selection are available here. In addition, photos of selections from 1999-2015 also are available here.

Oklahoma Proven is sponsored by the OSU Cooperative Extension Service; Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station; OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture; Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; US Department of Agriculture Forest Service; The Botanic Garden at OSU; Oklahoma Nursery and Landscape Association; and Horticulture Technologies at OSU/OKC.



Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078