The Proven Winners 2017 Annual of the Year is Supertunia Vista Bubblegum. Vista Bubblegum is easy to grow in containers or landscape and an excellent performer. No need to prune off spent flowers - just feed them a bit and place in a sunny spot and they'll bloom non-stop from spring to fall. This is one of my favorite annuals. These are photos of Vista Bubblegum in my yard. It will fill a large container quicker than lantana and most other annuals. If you love bright, vivid colors, this is a plant for you. Cut it back in July and it will fill in and look lush till fall. Looks great planted with burgundy and chartreuse color plants.
The Proven Winners Annual of the Year selection is based on the following criteria-
- Easy to grow for both gardeners and growers
- Iconic- easily recognizable as proven winners plant
- Readily available
- Applicable for baskets and container use
- Outstanding landscape performance
Even with the rain accumulation this winter, much of the state of Alabama is still under drought conditions. North Alabama is in Severe Drought conditions as measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor for the week of March 7, 2017. This is a good reminder that we still need to conserve water as the state recovers from one of the worst droughts on record in 2016.
National Drought Summary for March 7, 2017 - Alabama
Warmer than normal conditions dominated the region, with departures of 3-6 degrees above normal common throughout the region. Over northern Alabama, severe drought conditions were improved to moderate drought as 2-3 inches of rain centered over Morgan County at the end of the week allowed for improvements. Over the last 30-60 days, the drought indicators are showing a rapid decline, and without additional rain, drought conditions are likely to expand and intensify in the region, especially as water demand increases as the transition to spring takes place.
Check out this video by Prairie Nursery about the importance of pollinators. Prairie Nursery is a mail order retailer of native perennials and shrubs. They are a good source and resource for native plants. You can visit their website at www.prairienursery.com.
Asclepias tuberosa, commonly called Butterfly Weed was named the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. Butterfly Weed is a long lived, native perennial to the continental United States. As it name suggests, it is a butterfly magnet. In addition, many bees, wasps, ants, and beetles visit butterfly weed as well as hummingbirds. It is a member of the milkweed family and its leaves are a food source for the monarch butterfly caterpillar.
Butterfly Weed grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant due to a long tap root. Mature plants do not transplant well, so proper placement is important. Grows 2'-3' tall and wide and is hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 9. It is slow to emerge in the spring and deer tend to leave it alone. Deadheading Butterfly Weed is recommended to prevent reseeding.
Asclepias tuberosa makes excellent, long-lasting cut flowers. Cut stems when more than half the flowers are open; buds do not open well once the stem is cut. Searing the cut end is not necessary to prevent sap from seeping out of the stems. Instead, cut flowers have a good vase life if they are immediately placed in warm water after cutting and either placing stems in a refrigerator for 12 hours or transferring the stems to cold water. This process eliminates what little sap may be produced. (Perennial Plant Association)