2023 PW Plants Of The Year - January 2023

Proven Winners has come out with their 2023 plants of the year recently and the list includes a few things of note (for me) that are worth getting to know a bit.

Before I run through the ones that standout to me, I thought it was important to remind (myself) what Proven Winners uses as their criteria.  Now...Proven Winners is in the business of selling A LOT of plants, so what they say are their 'winners' are grounded in that:  commerce.  But...here's what they say are their criteria:  

Easy to grow
Readily available
Outstanding landscape performance

Easy to grow...for who?  Them...in their greenhouses?  Or, me the intermediate gardener with a shade-filled yard that lacks irrigation in Zone 5b?  

Readily available speaks to their ease of growing, so they're really saying 'easy to grow' twice.

That last one:  outstanding performance.  This one is the key.  Again...performance of what?  

There are other groups who name X of the year - like the Perennial Plant Association.  

So...now that I've gotten all of that out, know that I'm taking this new list with a small grain of salt.  

They have one variety per category:  Annual, Perennial, Landscape Shrub, Hosta, Rose, Hydrangea, Flowering Shrub, Caladium and Houseplant.

Here's how their Plant of the Year page is laid out (Screenshot below):

Screenshot from GardenDesign "Plant of the Year" listing pageSource

All of them have something interesting about them, but there are a few that jump off the page to me.  Let's go through those.

The DEEP purple Heucheras - Dolce Wildberry are really striking.  I planted a late-season "Dolce" Coral Bell last year and talked about how I've had mixed results from the DOLCHE series.  

There is a columnar Rose of Sharon on the list.  That's interesting.  My love of narrow, upright, columnar landscape plants and trees is well known.  But, this is a flowering columnar shrub that gets 10 feet tall.  We had some Rose of Sharon in Elmhurst, but have stayed away from it so far in Downers.  Maybe this will change things?

The Rose they're featuring is...different.  Called a Ringo All-Star, it isn't what I would typically think of being rose-shaped.  But that color?!  Look at this thing:

Next up is the Limelight Prime hydrangea - which is an improved version of a very nice flowering shrub.  Earlier blooms is really nice.  

And lastly....they're featuring the Empress Wu as the Hosta of the Year.  I've tried an Empress Wu, but it failed on me.  Pretty sure it was a result of the Norway Maple choking it out.  

As I mentioned...this is a Proven Winners-centric list, but others put out plants of the year, including the Hosta Growers Association who named the Neptune Hosta as their 2023 Hosta of the year.  

The Orange Big Box store will carry a bunch of these in their nursery this year, but so too will local nurseries like the Growing Place.  

I REALLY need to get going on my 2023 priority list so I can narrow down my shopping list.  Otherwise...things will quickly get out of control - like the always do.


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