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Proven Winners Colorchoice Hydrangea
5 Easy Ways to Support Winter Wildlife Habitat: Our Gift Back to Nature in the Garden

As winter approaches, wildlife starts adapting to the changing conditions. Those birds and butterflies we have been enjoying all spring and summer may need extra food and shelter to survive the seasons if they are not migrating. If they are heading south, they will need support through the tough journey. Here’s the good news: we can all help, even in small ways. Here are our top tips for giving back to nature + supporting wildlife from your balcony, workplace, local woods or beyond:

  • Make space for the wild. Leave a patch of your yard unmown and wait until early spring to cut back your perennials. This will provide food and shelter for insects and other small creatures, which are essential to the food chain. Did you know that beneficial insects hibernate in the stems of some of your favorite perennials?
  • Feed the birds. Birds struggle to find food in winter, so putting out a bird feeder is a great way to help.
  • Provide water. Fresh water is vital for wildlife, especially in winter when ponds and streams may freeze over. Don’t forget to check it regularly to make sure it’s not frozen.
  • Collect nesting materials. Make stacks of small stems, tilers of ornamental grasses, and light branches for nesting material in your garden. Let your yard remain a destination for foraging shelter material. It might not be too late to plant in new ornamental grasses for this season for even more shelter opportunities.
  • Be present and aware. As fall closes in and winter preparation has started, note the wildlife you see and set a plan for spring planting that includes them. If you are in the north and eastern parts of the country, you may see cardinals, for example. That sweet songbird loves fruits and berries.

Shrubs to Attract Birds ›

Exploring Bird-Friendly Native Plants ›

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Finding the Perfect Plants
Get a First Look at New Plants Selected for Resilience + Beauty. As you can see from our plant recommendations and planting tips, Proven Winners is keenly aware that every plant in North America is subject to climate events, predatory insects, and the potential for disease. Proven Winners helps gardeners become successful at avoiding those problems by starting with a better plant. To select the best plants, Proven Winner’s trials are conducted across the globe to evaluate how well new plant varieties perform in different climates and environments. This information is then used to recommend the best plants for each region. We participate in two major trial divisions in North America.

University field trials: These trials are conducted by university researchers and typically consist of beds where each plant is grown in a small plot.

Public garden trials: These trials are conducted at public gardens, where plants are often put in display beds or pots.

These are open trials that you can attend. The many benefits of visiting a Proven Winners trial are not only meeting other like-minded gardeners but also seeing first-hand how plants perform in your region.

You may discover new plant varieties, but even more, you can get expert advice from trials staff. Trials staff are typically knowledgeable about plants and can provide you with advice on how to grow and care for the plants you choose.

Consumer advocation: Your voice matters. When consumers advocate for specific plants, we listen. For example, gardeners reported back to us that the Supertunia Vista® Bubblegum® performed exceptionally well in gardens across the nation. We studied and perfected a fuller collection and introduced several new colors. Customers suggested a need for a smaller version that would perform equally well and we set to task. Now, thanks to the voices of customers, we have studied, perfected, and introduced a collection of 10 new Supertunia Mini Vista®. We grow plants that gardeners want and your voice matters. 


Plant Trials
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Integrated Pest Management for Healthy Plants 

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a way to keep plants healthy without relying on pesticides. IPM uses a variety of methods to prevent, identify and control pests and diseases.

Prevention is the most important part of IPM. This includes keeping greenhouses clean and sanitized, and choosing plants that are resistant to pests and diseases. Scouting is the process of regularly inspecting plants for pests and diseases. This helps to identify problems early, when they are easier to control. Treatment involves the use of biological controls such as beneficial insects and handpicking pests. Pesticides are only used as a last resort.

The image above is a grower from Walters Gardens inspecting the small sachets of predatory instects that are highly benifical to their crops’ health. 

How We Use IPM in Our Greenhouses
Our greenhouses use a strict IPM system to keep our plants healthy. We have strict protocols for prevention, sanitation, scouting and treatment. We also use beneficial organisms extensively to prevent and treat pest issues.
We do not use neonicotinoids in our plant production process. 

You can use IPM in your home garden too. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Choose plants that are resistant to pests and diseases.
  • Inspect your plants regularly for pests and diseases.
  • Use biological controls, such as beneficial insects, to prevent and control pests.
  • Use physical methods, such as handpicking pests, to control pests.
  • Use pesticides only as a last resort.

By following these tips, you can help to keep your plants healthy and reduce your reliance on pesticides.

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Gardening reports, tasks + success from the four-points and Canada
Fall garden tasks for the north:

  • Garden cleanup, but not too clean. Leave messy areas for habitat shelter.
  • Check your shrubs and woody plants before the winter storms come to remove loose branches and stems.
  • Move tender things into the house or garage.
  • Water your plants deeply before the first frost.


Fall garden tasks for the south:

  • Clear out dead and diseased plants. Be sure to dispose of diseased plants in the trash and not in your compost.
  • Tidy up your annual flower beds. You can also use this opportunity to add some compost or other organic matter to your soil.
  • Prune to remove any loose or broken limbs on trees or shrubs that need it to keep your property safe.
  • Mulch your garden beds to suppress weeds, retain moisture and protect your plants from the cold weather.


Fall garden tasks for the east:

  • Make your last grass cut matter by mulching in your leaves or leaving the leaves for winter.
  • Prune to remove any loose or broken branching from trees or shrubs to protect your property in high winter winds. Collect twigs, stems, and small leaf piles to support the songbirds nesting.
  • Water your plants deeply before the first frost.


Fall garden tasks for the west:

  • Clear out dead and diseased plants. This will help to prevent the spread of disease to other plants in your garden.
  • Fertilize your plants for the fall. Low-dosing is best this season as the West has an extended season.
  • Prune to remove any loose or broken branching from trees or shrubs to protect your property in high winter winds. Collect twigs, stems, and small leaf piles to support the songbirds nesting.


Fall garden tasks for Canada:

  • Last garden clean up, but not too clean. Leave messy areas for habitat shelter. Collecting woody stems and branches will help your b9irds find nesting material.
  • Clean and oil your garden tools when you are finished for the season. This will help to prevent the spread of disease and pests. Store your garden tools and pots in a dry place to protect them from the elements.
  • Water your plants deeply before the first frost.


Southern Gardens with Norman Winter
Truffula Pink
Perfect Scores for Truffula™ Pink

A Perfect Score award in a university plant trial is quite an honor and makes a real statement about performance. Then consider when that same plant wins Perfect Score in a dozen states, spread across the country. Oklahoma State, University of Minnesota…Continue reading.

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Unique Introductions from This Year’s Trial Gardens
Supertunia Vista Jazzberry
Supertunia Vista ® Jazzberry ® Petunia
Decadence Deluxe 'Pink Lemonade' False Indigo
Decadence ® Deluxe ‘Pink Lemonade’ Baptisia
Fairytale Bride Cascade Hydrangea
Fairytrail Bride ® Cascade Hydrangea
Cling-On® Ficus maclellandii 'Amstel King' Ficus
Cling-On ® Ficus maclellandii ‘Amstel King’