Proven Winners® ColorChoice® Shrubs

Meet Our Blue Ribbon Winners

Tough Shrubs for Low Water Landscapes
UC irrigation plant trials

About the UC Landscape Plant Irrigation Trials

Finding beautiful flowering shrubs and evergreens for your landscape is easy, but finding shrubs that look beautiful while also tolerating the extreme low water conditions of much of the American West and Southwest is another issue entirely.  That’s where the University of Calfornia Climate-Ready Plant Trials (UCLPIT) come in.

This trial takes place at several different sites through the West and Southwest, subjecting new varieties to intense irrigation deficit trials to test their performance under the same challenges that so many of us face: drought, water restrictions, pests, and diseases. Only those that can withstand the difficult conditions of the trial and still bloom, grow, and beautify your landscape will earn their blue ribbon award. 

We are proud to share that three Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs have earned the blue ribbon designation for superior performance even under adverse conditions: Sunny Boulevard St. John’s wort, Pugster Blue butterfly bush, and Juke Box pyracomeles.

Meet the Winners

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  • 3D Model
    JUKE BOX® Pyracomeles

    If you’re looking for something a little different but still handsome and versatile, you just 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 any 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. We love it planted for a classic container, and it’s very useful as Low hedges, edging, or mixed with other plants in foundation plantings or mixed borders. Juke Box pyracomeles is a Blue Ribbon Winner for performance in the University of California low irrigation landscape trials.

    Why grow Juke Box pyracomeles:

    • Handsome, versatile little evergreen
    • No thorns or messy fruit
    • Very drought tolerant: performs well even in low to no irrigation
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  • 3D Model
    PUGSTER BLUE® Butterfly Bush

    A smaller habit, but not smaller blooms. Pugster Blue® buddleia has the same impact as a full size plant, but with a much smaller footprint. You’ll love how its massive dark blue blooms (measuring up to six inches long) decorate the stocky habit. Each bloom pops up, almost like a firework. Its quirky habit cheers up the border, makes a fun low hedge, or integrates easily into a pollinator garden. After it’s established, it is extraordinarily drought tolerant and doesn’t need any deadheading to bloom from summer straight through to frost. You’ll only need to give it a quick trim in spring to encourage that vigorous new growth each season. Pugster Blue butterfly bush is a Blue Ribbon Winner for performance in the University of California low irrigation landscape trials.

    Why grow Pugster Blue buddleia?

    – Impressive bloom size
    – Impactful dark blue coloring
    – Very low maintenance

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  • SUNNY BOULEVARD® St. John’s Wort

    Keep on the sunny side of the street with Sunny Boulevard St. John’s wort. This unique native shrub naturally grows with an appealing rounded shape that looks neat and tidy without any pruning. Come summer, it’s covered in hundreds of cheerful yellow flowers, each one sporting a regal crown of fluffy yellow stamens. The blooms last for weeks and attract pollinators of all types. It’s the perfect choice for a low hedge, edging, specimen, or border plant in any sunny spot.

    Sunny Boulevard St. John’s wort is a Blue Ribbon Winner for performance in the University of California low irrigation landscape trials.

    Why grow Sunny Boulevard St. John’s wort:

    • Naturally grows with a nice, tidy habit – no pruning required.
    • Covered in bright and cheerful yellow flowers for weeks every summer.
    • Shows outstanding performance, even in very low water conditions.
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About the OSU Extension Trials

Plants undergo a full season of regular irrigation to minimize plant stress and allow rooting into the native soil to get fully established. Using the AgriMet weather station at the OSU North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) the researchers can adjust irrigation schedules according to the system’s measurements. The plants are arranged in three “hydrozones” where plants of similar water needs. Each plant has a dripline going to it that can be adjusted at three levels of water – wet, medium and dry.

In the two year study, nursery professionals anonymously evaluate 360 plants of 15 species and share their opinions and preferences. The plants are evaluated on growth, visual appeal, timing of flowering, density of flowers, physiology and heat tolerance. Each plant is assigned a Mean Overall Appearance Score on a scale from 1-5, with 5 indicating excellent performance. If a plant scored 3 or less, it wasn’t recommended for use under their specific irrigation conditions.

Blue Ribbon Winners excelled in stringent watering conditions, receiving only 20% of their potential water needs. In the NWREC trial several plants were designated Blue Ribbon Winners, including Purple Pillar® Hibiscus and Oso Easy Urban Legend® rose. Read full report.

Meet the Winners

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    It’s not a myth: Oso Easy Urban Legend actually is a true-red landscape rose! Enjoy its vivid flowers, each accented with a cheery yellow center, from early summer all the way until the snowflakes fly. No need to trim or deadhead to keep the flowers coming, and no need to spray to keep its glossy, deep green foliage looking clean and handsome. Oso Easy Urban Legend rose grows with a naturally low habit, making it perfect for Ground covers, edging, or any sunny spot that could use some easy-care summer color.

    Why grow Oso Easy Urban Legend rose?

    • A true-red landscape rose
    • Disease resistant: no need to spray for a healthy plant
    • Blooms all summer without trimming or deadheading
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  • PURPLE PILLAR® Rose of Sharon

    A very fastigiate selection, Purple Pillar hibiscus brings the durable, easy growth of rose of Sharon to narrow spaces. Use this columnar plant for hedges or screens; it provides showy summer color for tight sites. The flowers are large and semi-doubled. Like other H. syriacus, this adaptable plant will tolerate black walnut and clay soils.

    Why grow Purple pillar rose of Sharon?
    – Useful durable performance.
    – Interesting upright habit.
    – Large, ruffled flowers for summer interest.

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Trialed. Tested. Proven.

All of the 320+ Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs undergo a trialing process for 7-10 years to ensure they outperform the varieties already on the market. In addition to our own testing and evaluation, we enter our plants in third party trials around the US and Canada, like the UCLPIT trial, to prove our observations and data.

Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs have earned more than 200 awards world-wide for their beauty, performance, and easy of care.

Photo: Karrie Reid, used by permission.

Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs, including the Blue Ribbon winning plants above, are available from retailers and wholesalers nationwide. They’re easy to find at the garden center, too – just look for the distinctive white container.

Locate Blue Ribbon Plants

Juke Box pyracomeles in a white Proven Winners ColorChoice pot
Home Gardeners:

Scholarship Application

*Completing this form does not guarantee a scholarship. A staff member will confirm scholarship availability directly. Receipts must be submitted within 10 weeks from the conclusion of the event.
Gardening Simplified magazine
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