By Natalie Carmolli, Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor map published by the National Drought Mitigation Center, most states, from the Midwest to the West, will continue to experience severe to extreme drought conditions with no end in sight. This could be bad news for many gardens and landscapes.
In the UC Landscape Plant Irrigation Trials, UC Davis horticulturists evaluate landscape plants with the potential to be good performers in low-water use landscapes. Cultivars are provided by growers and breeders who want to assess their varieties for low-water use in hot California gardens.
Throughout the trials, plants are evaluated for overall appearance, flowering time and duration, and pest or disease problems on their lowest irrigation treatment. Those that perform best earn a Blue Ribbon™ designation.
To earn the Blue Ribbon™, the plant has to stand out in the garden, look good most of the year, and require minimal pruning. In the trials, three of the seven plants that maintained these high standards of aesthetic quality were Proven Winners® ColorChoice® varieties.
Pugster Blue® Buddleia has the same impact as a full-size butterfly bush but with a much smaller footprint. You’ll love how its massive dark blue blooms (up to six inches long) decorate the stocky habit. Each bloom pops up, almost like a firework. Its petite habit is just 2-3’ tall and wide and hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9.
UC Davis adjudicators said: “Pugster Blue performed beautifully in the Davis heat and received high marks for overall appearance throughout the season on all treatments.”
Sunny Boulevard® Hypericum is a unique native shrub that naturally grows with an appealing rounded shape that looks neat and tidy without pruning. Come summer, this tidy 2-3’ St. John’s wort is covered in hundreds of cheerful yellow flowers, each sporting a regal crown of fluffy yellow stamens. The blooms last for weeks and attract pollinators of all types. Hardy in zones 4-7.
Comments from the trials included: “Sunny Boulevard forms a tidy little mounded deciduous shrub with small, bright green strap-shaped leaves that emerged in early May. In Davis, this burst into bloom with bright yellow flowers that continued through July and were very attractive to pollinators.”
If you’re looking for something a little different but still handsome and versatile, you may have found it in Juke Box® Pyracomeles. It has all the classic good looks of boxwood and other small, dense, rounded evergreens but without the worries of pests and disease. Juke Box Pyracomeles is the result of a hybrid between Pyracantha, also known as firethorn, and Osteomeles, a warm-climate evergreen. It’s thornless, fruitless, and very heat tolerant.
At the trials, judges remarked that the overall appearance and foliage health were “consistently very good.” Juke Box Pyracomeles grows to a 1-3’ soft, rounded shape and is hardy in zones 7-9.
Whether you choose one of these three award-winning cultivars or other water-wise shrubs and perennials for your garden, it’s important to remember that new plantings will do best with a season of regular watering to establish a robust root system that can withstand drought as the plant matures.
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