Saturday, March 4, 2017 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Oklahoma Proven Plant Selections for 2017

These plants are proven winners in Oklahoma gardens

Brian Jervis, Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Q: I need some information about plants that would be useful for our new home. E.P., Tulsa
A: There is no better place to start your search than to review the selections on the Oklahoma Proven website. This program, as the name suggests, has unique plants that have demonstrated the ability to grow well in our area.
The organization was formed by OSU horticulture faculty and involves nurserymen around the state. Every year, the experts select a tree, shrub, perennial, annual and a “collector’s choice” plant.
The selections for 2017 are:

Jujube or Chinese Date (Jujuba ziziphus), Collector’s Choice: This tree grows to 15-30 feet in full sun to part shade. It is tolerant of a wide range of well-drained soils and is cold hardy to USDA zone 4-9, which covers all of Oklahoma. It has nice summer and fall foliage. It has olive-sized tasty edible fruit that are reddish brown when ripe. Two of the commonly grown cultivars are “Li” and “Lang.”

Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), tree: This is another small to medium tree growing to 12-20 feet. It needs full sun to light shade and tolerates most soils. This tree is dioecious, which means each tree is either male or female. Both bloom, male flowers showier than female, but only females have blue-black berries. This tree is a showstopper when in full bloom. The blossoms are clusters of small ribbon-like flowers that may turn the tree totally white in spring.

Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor), shrub: This is one of the few palm varieties native to the United States, including Oklahoma. This plant thrives in wet boggy, partially shaded areas but does have some drought tolerance once established. It has fan-shaped evergreen leaves and grows to 4-6 feet. Once mature, it will produce ivory colored flowers and small edible black berries. This is the most cold tolerant of native palms and is rated for USDA zones 7-10.

Milkweed (Asclepias species), perennial: Milkweed has been elevated in stature due to the recent decline of monarch butterflies, which are dependent on milkweed. Oklahoma has about 20 species, some only found in one or two counties. Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a native and is popular. Several others that do well in flower gardens or naturalized areas. They perform best in full sun.

Firecracker Flower (Crossandra infundibuliformis), annual: This annual flower is native to India and Sri Lanka, where it is an evergreen and grows up to 3 feet. As an annual in beds or containers, it grows 18-24 inches. “Orange Marmalade” is a recommended cultivar having frilly orange flowers all summer. Important for our area is that it is tolerant of high heat and humidity. It performs best in full sun to partial shade. The name comes from the seed pods that may open suddenly, “exploding,” when exposed to high humidity or rain.
It is worth your time to check out the Oklahoma Proven website,, and review the selection of plants for the past 17 years.

Garden tips
§  If you had previous damage to the tips of pine tree limbs, especially non-native pines, it may be diplodia tip blight (a fungus) or Nantucket pine tip moth damage. Both are controlled with pesticides starting this month. Call the Master Gardener office at 918-746-3701 for recommendations.
§  Pre-emergent herbicide to control crabgrass and other summer weeds should be applied by the middle of March.
§  Divide, share with friends and replant overcrowded summer- and fall-blooming perennials.


Post a Comment