Oklahoma Proven Plants

Sunday, March 18, 2018 11:14 AM

Q: I want to invest in and plant plants that I know will do well in the Tulsa area, given our weather extremes. Is there a good way to know what grows well in our area? Sally M., Tulsa

A: This is a good question that many people think about. And it’s a reasonable request given the amount of labor involved in planting, as well as the cost of landscaping products these days. So, wouldn’t it be nice if someone had already done the research on which plants do best in our neck of the woods given our sometimes rather erratic weather conditions? And also tell us where to plant them so they have the highest chance of success? They have!

It’s called the Oklahoma Proven Program. Oklahoma Proven is an annual plant evaluation and marketing program coordinated by the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Oklahoma State University. Designed to help consumers select the best plants for Oklahoma gardens, these plants are tolerant of the varied and difficult environmental conditions found throughout Oklahoma.

Every year, an annual, a perennial, a shrub and a tree are selected. So, the selections for 2018 are:

Annual — Supertunia Vista Bubblegum: a vigorous, self-deadheading petunia that requires little care once established. Their spectacular color can spill over the edge of a container or retaining wall or spread out in a flower bed. Exposure: Full sun to part shade. Soil: Moist, well-drained soil.

Perennial — Versatile Indian Pink: Also called Woodland Pinkroot, it is a native species to the southeastern United States. It grows in shady gardens or sunny locations. It prefers moist soils and is drought-tolerant once established. Use Indian Pink in a woodland garden, perennial border, rain garden or native garden. Exposure: Sun to part shade. Soil: Moist or dry soils. Hardiness: USDA Zone 5-9.

Shrub — Bush Clover: a hardy, semi-woody, deciduous shrub that can reach 4 to 6 feet high and at least as wide with arching stems. Rosy-purple flowers develop on new wood in late summer to early fall. Exposure: Sun to part shade. Soil: tolerates poor, infertile soil, but excellent drainage is essential. Hardiness: USDA Zone 6-10.

Tree — Zelkova Serrata: a deciduous tree with a vase-shaped habit that typically grows 50-80 feet tall and most often occurs in rich, moist woods and hillsides. It is noted for its graceful shape, clean foliage, attractive bark and resistance to Dutch Elm disease. Exposure: Full sun or light shade. Soil: Tolerates wide variety of soils. Hardiness: USDA Zone 5-8.

Note: The Greater Tulsa metropolitan area is in USDA Hardiness Zone 7A, which equates to an average low temperature of 0 to 5 degrees.

The Oklahoma Proven program has been in existence since 1999 and the best part is that you can find every year’s selection back to 1999 online at oklahomaproven.org.

Remember that all plants need special attention during the establishment phase or during periods of environmental extremes, which we have been experiencing more of in recent years.

Nothing is guaranteed, but you can improve your odds significantly by choosing Oklahoma Proven varieties.