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8 Great Plants to Try in 2013

I tried out 8 new plants in my garden last year and they performed so well I'm adding them to my 2013 Platinum Collection from Proven Winners®. This year's selections cover the spectrum with annuals, perennials and some pretty cool shrubs.

As the saying goes "make new friends, but keep the old" and that's how I feel about plants too. Proven Winners® and I have worked together on the Platinum Collection for 5 years now and there are some varieties that merit including from one year to the next. To see the complete list of Platinum Collection plants click here.

Proven Winners Superbena Royale Peachy Keen Verbena

Superbena® Royale Peachy Keen Verbena

This elegant salmon and coral colored Superbena® is vigorous as well as heat, drought and mildew tolerant. While always great in containers as a spiller, this verbena is also "peachy keen" in landscape beds too. Just an application of an organic fertilizer or amending with compost is enough to keep Superbena® Peachy Keen happy and blooming its head off.

Annual except in zones 8 - 11; full sun; mounding habit; 6 - 10 inches tall.

Proven Winners Luscious Berry Blend Lantana

Luscious® Berry Blend™ Lantana

The birds, butterflies and hummingbirds love this confection of a flower, plus it thrives on neglect. Vibrant berry pink and yellow flowers are heat and drought tolerant too. In fact if this plant ever attended high school, it would be voted "most likely to thrive". Luscious® Berry Blend will also tolerate less than ideal soils and doesn't need to be deadheaded.

Annual except in zones 10 - 11; full sun; mounding habit; 24 to 36 inches tall.

Proven Winners Superbells Lemon Slice Calibrachoa

Superbells® Lemon Slice Calibrachoa

This totally unique color pattern has never seen before in calibrachoa. These little yellow slices of heaven are low-maintenance with no deadheading needed -- a perfect color annual in my book. All Superbells® Lemon Slice needs is just an application of organic fertilizer or compost on garden beds and regular fertilization of plants in pots.

Annual; full sun to partial shade; cascading habit; 7 to 10 inches tall.

Proven Winners Summerific Cranberry Crush Hibiscus

Summerific™ 'Cranberry Crush' Hibiscus

A colossus in the Garden! Summerific™ 'Cranberry Crush' has extraordinary 7-8" flowers of scarlet red, is a compact grower, and a profuse bloomer even into the fall. Its flowers are irresistible to hummingbirds. I have a HUGE crush on them too! Summerific™ 'Cranberry Crush' is a great landscape plant that adds a dash of bright color, great in groupings and awesome in perennial or shrub borders. Summerific™ 'Cranberry Crush' will look great in your garden all summer.

Perennial zones 4a - 9b; full sun to partial shade; upright habit; 36 to 48 inches tall and 48 to 60 inches wide.

Proven Winners Empress Wu Hosta

'Empress Wu' Hosta

'Empress Wu' is a jaw dropper. When my guests see the size of her 18-inch wide leaves and flowers floating on 5 foot tall stems, they are wowed. 'Empress Wu' will be a tremendous focal point in your shade or woodland garden.

Perennial; zones 3a - 9b; shade to partial shade; mounding habit; 36 to 48 inches tall; 60 to 72 inches wide.

Proven Winners Sugar Tip Hibiscus

Sugar Tip® Hibiscus syriacus

A fetching new Rose of Sharon, Sugar Tip® also sports exciting variegated creamy-white and bluish-green foliage. Sugar Tip® produces loads of clear pink, double flowers that attract butterflies, plus the shrub is deer resistant. Use it as a hedge or screen, a focal point in flower borders, or as a sweet specimen in containers on the patio.And unlike most of her family Sugar Tip will never be a garden thug. This variety is sterile so it won’t put up seedlings.

Deciduous shrub; zones 5a - 8b; full sun; upright habit; 96 to 144 inches tall; 48 to 72 inches wide.

Proven Winners Let's Dance Big Easy Hydrangea

Let's Dance® Big Easy Hydrangea macrophylla

The reblooming Let's Dance® Big Easy hydrangeas have gigantic, vividly colored flowers. These mop-head blooms add bold blocks of color to my garden. Let's Dance® Big Easy blooms on both old and new wood, so even if the flower buds are damaged during winter they will bloom on later season growth. The huge blooms go through a pretty progression of color changes, from pink/green to pink, and often back to green. I love that I can use it in mixed containers or bring in big armfuls of blossoms for table arrangements at my Moss Mountain Farm.

Deciduous shrub; zones 5a - 9b; full sun to partial shade; mounding habit; 24 to 36 inches tall; 48 inches wide.

Proven Winners Little Lime Hydrangea

Little Lime™ Hydrangea paniculata

Small is the new big trend in flowering shrubs. Gardeners across the nation will fall in love with Little Lime™ hydrangea, and it's no wonder. It blooms reliably every year with spectacular color, while requiring very little care. The new Little Lime™ hydrangea reaches only 3 to 5 feet when fully grown. At one-third the size of other hardy hydrangeas, It can fit into any landscape.

Little Lime™ produces bright lime green, cone-shaped flowers that later turn pink, from mid-summer to frost. Little Lime™ will thrive even in city landscapes since it's also very drought and urban pollution tolerant.

Deciduous shrub; zones 3a - 9b; full sun to partial shade; mounding habit; 36 to 60 inches tall; 36 to 60 inches wide.

Good to Know

I'd like to invite you to this year's Proven Winners® Outdoor Living Extravaganza where you can learn about the latest garden trends and how-to. There are 2 seminars in Chicago (March 23) and Vancouver (April 20). I'll be at the Chicago event. I've participated in these workshops for several years and they are a lot of fun and very informative. Visit www.ProvenWinners.com for ticket information.

If you are too busy in the garden this spring to travel, meet me on Mackinac Island, Michigan in August. I'll be there with Proven Winners® for the Grand Garden Show at the Grand Hotel. Learn more about the event and make a reservation here.