MOORE — I’m always surprised when someone calls or comes into the office and doesn’t know about Oklahoma Proven plants.
So what are they and what makes them so special? They are plant selections chosen by experts in the horticulture field that have shown to perform very well in Oklahoma’s climate, which as you know can be very erratic and unforgiving. After the drought and heat conditions we suffered through last summer, it’s important to choose tough, well adapted plants for the landscape. We recommend Oklahoma Proven plants to residents new to our harsh growing conditions, as well as businesses, and even experienced gardeners.
Each year, a tree, shrub, perennial and annual are chosen for Oklahoma Proven status. For the past several years, a Collectors Choice has also been selected. The tree for 2012 is the Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii). This oak is native to Oklahoma and farther east, and grows to a mature height between 40 to 50 feet high and wide. The tree is a lovely shade tree with a medium texture in summer and a medium-coarse texture in winter.
The shrubs selected for 2012 include several Junipers: “Taylor” (Juniperus virginiana), “Saybrook Gold” (Juniperus chinensis), and “Monber” Icee Blue (Juniperus horizontalis).
“Taylor” is my favorite juniper: a narrow, upright cultivar which grows about 4 to 5 feet wide and 15 to 20 feet tall. This juniper is an excellent choice where a tree is desired and space may be limited.
“Saybrook Gold” is a compact, spreading juniper with a brilliant gold color year round. This form will get about 30 inches tall and 6 feet wide, so make sure you have room for it to grow.
Icee Blue is a low, rug type juniper that has beautiful silver-blue foliage. As a general rule, junipers are well adapted to hot, dry conditions and a wide range of soil types. These junipers will thrive in full sun to part shade and are hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.
Arkansas Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) is the perennial selection for 2012. Arkansas Bluestar is native to eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas, but will do well throughout Oklahoma. Amsonia is tolerant of moist soils, but also drought tolerant once established. Arkansas Bluestar grows to 3 feet high and almost as wide, and can be used just about anywhere. Amsonia likes sun to part shade and is hardy in zones 4-9. The 2012 annual plant selection is Magilla Perilla (Perilla frutescens).
Magilla Perilla is in the same family as coleus, and has similar characteristics and growing needs. Perilla frutescens can tend to be weedy, but Magilla is well behaved due to its sterile seeds. This annual grows to a 24 inches tall. Magilla Perilla looks great in flower beds, borders and especially in container gardens. This plant likes a full sun to part shade exposure and is an annual in Oklahoma.
The collector’s choices for 2012 are Sumac (Rhus typhina) “Bailtiger” Tiger Eyes and “Laciniata.” Tiger Eyes is a stunning lime green to yellow all summer long, turning bronzy red come fall. Tiger Eyes will grow 6 to 7 feet tall, making it a great small tree or shrub. “Laciniata,” or laceleaf sumac, has deeply divided leaflets, creating a very fine-textured plant. Laceleaf Sumac will turn shades of red, orange and yellow in fall, growing 10-15 feet tall, a bit larger than Tiger Eyes.
I hope you will consider incorporating one or two of these selections into your own landscape, especially if you lost plants from the heat last year.
For information on other Oklahoma Proven Selections, visit oklahomaproven.org.