Customers often want guarantees on plant performance here at the nursery. Questions like “Is this going to bloom well through the summer?” or “Will this make it through a drought?” or “Will it bloom if I don’t fertilize it?” are common. Hmmmm. Those questions are a bit like a new parent asking a neonatal nurse if their newborn baby will graduate from Harvard. Yes, that same look you are picturing on the nurse’s face is what you sometimes see in ours at the nursery. There are a lot of things that can happen between the newborn nursery and college graduation. Just like there are a lot of things that can happen between buying a plant and it becoming established at your home. I know we would all like some guarantees, but the truth is that there really aren’t too many in the gardening world (or in parenting). However, there are definitely some plants that have a better than average shot at doing well in our climate and with minimal care. Did you know that some of our plant varieties have been through trials at universities, arboretums, nature centers and other facilities around the world before they are sold to you? Look for these labels:
Proven Winners– Proven Winners are plant varieties that have been bred, trialed and selected over a period of years from hybridization to the first sale to a customer. Proven Winners trial managers work closely with plant breeders to select plant varieties to go through the Proven Winners trialing process. Proven Winners trial managers look at market varieties (Is the variety better than what they already sell?) and they compare varieties between breeders to select which ones will even go through the trial process. Proven Winners varieties are evaluated for a minimum of 2 years at all Proven Winner trial locations. Proven Winners trial sites are located throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. Plant varieties must be successful at all Proven Winners trial locations to be considered for marketing to the general public. Less then 3% of plants trialed make the final cut to be released to the market. These plants receive minimal fertilizing, pruning and watering during the trial process. Proven Winners plants are evaluated for foliage color, habit, branching, flower presentation, flower size, earliness to flower, vigorousness and more. They are also tested for propagation, uniformity, and shipping pressures and action plans are created for professional growers so that they will be successful in propagating and supplying the plants to nurseries.
Proven Winners trial sites in Texas are at the Dallas Arboretum, the Mast Arboretum at Stephen F. Austin University and at Texas A&M University (East Texas Bedding plant trial site in Overton, TX). Look for the logo (on pots, tags or both) to be sure you are getting a Proven Winners plant.
Texas Superstar – Plants labeled as Texas Superstars are recommended by Texas A & M Agrilife. Texas A & M University horticulturists, nursery professionals, growers, seed company representatives, county horticulturists, arboretum and botanical garden representatives, horticultural writers, and landscape designers are all part of an advisory board that helps the Texas Superstar Executive Board select plants for marketing as Texas Superstars. Plant varieties are evaluated at replicated plots and demonstration trials across the state. Ornamental plant performance is subjective, so the Board gathers as much input as possible from their advisory board on landscape performance and marketability of plant varieties as well as plant propagation. Look for the Texas Superstar tag to be sure you are getting a Texas Superstar plant.
Does this mean you can’t have a successful garden using plant varieties that don’t have any of these special labels? Well, of course not. Most of the Maas Nursery staff actively garden and we do our own plant trials around the nursery and in our home gardens. Just ask us if you are unsure about a plant variety. Also, Maas Nursery only sells plant varieties that will grow well in our local climate. So, you are already ahead of the game when you shop with us instead of one of the big chain nurseries.
So, there you go. Maybe your baby won’t graduate from Harvard, but at least you can have some plants in your yard that made it through the hardest of trials at Texas A & M University.