Oklahoma Confirmed Backyard Picks for 2021 | information
STILL WATER – While some people seem born with green fingers, others need a little support to bring their gardening skills to bloom. The popular Oklahoma Proven Plant Promotion Program at Oklahoma State University again provides this guide for 2021.
As it has done for more than two decades, Oklahoma Proven has put the spotlight on the annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that have grown well in Oklahoma’s diverse climates, said David Hillock, consumer horticulturist at OSU Extension.
“Our goal with Oklahoma Proven facilities is to make a selection that will withstand the varied and challenging environmental conditions across the state,” said Hillock. “Gardeners who use well-adapted plants should help make them more successful in the landscape.”
The choices for this year are:
Tree – Southern Magnolia Teddybear ®.
Shrub – Virginia Sweetspire.
Perennial – Prince Heinrich Japanese anemone.
Annually – different types and varieties of Cuphea.
Hillock said the southern magnolia is the southern beauty of evergreen flora, with species that can reach 80 feet tall and 50 feet wide. This tree is popular because it produces large, fragrant, creamy white flowers. Traditionally found on large plots and plantations in the south, this tree is now too big for many urban landscapes.
“Fortunately, we have a solution to this problem called Teddybear, a dwarf, compact version of the species. With a 16 to 20 foot fall and a 10 to 12 foot width, this is a good choice for the landscape,” he said. “The shiny, deep green leaves have a red-brown fur on the underside, hence the name teddy bear.”
The tree grows well in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, well-drained soils. The tree is a great option for USDA hardiness zones 7 through 9.
Virginia Sweetspire is native to eastern Oklahoma, but is in good hands in many other areas of the state. Hillock said the hilly, slender-branched deciduous shrub generally grows 3 feet to 6 feet tall and wide. The small, white-scented flowers bloom in spring to early summer.
“The long tassels of white spring flowers and red to orange and gold fall leaves make this an attractive ornament,” he said. “It is best to plant in bulk as individual plants can be a bit stray.”
This shrub enjoys partial shade to full sun. It also prefers moist, acidic soils, although it will tolerate a wide variety of soils, including poorly drained garden beds. It’s a good choice for zones 5 through 9.
This year’s perennial selection enjoys moist, well-drained soil and is suitable for zones 5 through 8. The Japanese anemone Prinz Heinrich is an excellent choice for late summer to early fall colors.
While growing in full sun in Oklahoma, it should be planted in an area that receives shade in the late afternoon and is sheltered from the wind.
“The foliage is dark green with semi-double, pink-red flowers. It adds a lot of texture to the landscape, ”said Hillock. “It’s good for flower bed borders and wooded areas, but best summarized in bulk. This perennial is also a great plant for pollinators and attracts butterflies to the garden. “
Cuphea is a genus of approximately 260 plants that are native to the warm temperatures and tropical regions of America. Depending on the type and variety, they have various common names such as cracker plant, cigar blossom, Mexican heather, bat blossom, rabbit ears, sweet corn plant and false heather. According to Hillock, Cuphea requires little maintenance and is becoming increasingly popular due to its tolerance to heat and drought.
The different species of Cuphea offer gardeners a variety of colors and can grow up to 3 feet tall. This plant lends itself well to full sun exposure and, once established, tolerates drier soils.
“While gardening isn’t foolproof, choosing Oklahoma Proven is a good starting point for any landscape, and especially good for inexperienced gardeners,” said Hillock.
Color photographs of all Oklahoma Proven selections made since 1999 are available online.