Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

As director of New Products at Proven Winners, Kevin Hurd knows a thing or two about annuals. Below, he answers a few questions about trends, growing tips, and more.

Greenhouse Management: What are some of the current trends in annuals that growers should be aware of?

Kevin Hurd: We see easy to low-maintenance plants as a crucial part of the gardening future. Proven Winners actively trials for low maintenance attributes. In addition to carefully selecting only the best plants, we also offer solutions to consumers such as our Proven Winners soils and fertilizers and our WaterWise watering system to guarantee the consumer is successful.

Another trend we see is the need for unique heat and drought-tolerant plants for the Southern market, which include Blue My Mind® Evolvulus, ColorBlaze® Coleus, and Intensia® Phlox. This trend will continue as we see Southern performance as an expanding criterion.

GM: What are some tips for annuals care growers can implement?

KH: Some simple steps that we recommend are:

  • Provide the best growing environment possible.
  • Control fertility levels, based on crop stage, projected sales window, and local growing conditions.
  • Constantly monitor for plant pests, whether insect or plant pathogens. Treat accordingly.
  • Use outdoor growing areas to condition and hold plants in stasis until sales occur.
  • Record cultural information (transplant date, PGR applications, fertility levels, etc.) per crop to build crop grow order spec for next year.

GM: What can Proven Winners offer growers that other companies can’t?

KH: Proven Winners continues to expand its consumer marketing efforts to drive demand for the gardening industry. No one else makes this investment at the level that we do, and our marketing brings consumers into garden centers every year to buy not just plants, but many other gardening products as well.

Our brand recognition continues to grow every year, motivating more people to look for Proven Winners on the retail bench. One of the most submitted questions to our website is, “Where can I buy this?” which means there is still a lack of product available in garden centers.

We also offer easy programs that are backed with marketing efforts that span the U.S. and Canada. Two of my favorites are our National Recipes and National Plant of the Year campaigns.

GM: How can Proven Winners help customers find annuals that best fit their regions?

KH: We do our best to select plants for the entire U.S. and Canada, but with such a huge geographical area, there are inevitably climates that certain plants thrive in better than others. We recommend that growers and consumers visit www.beauty.provenwinners.com/plants-by-climate and/or www.provenwinners.com/plants/search/advanced to help select the best plants for their region.

There are also public and university trials in each region that provide excellent regional plant performance information. We participate in many of these trials each year. (www.provenwinners.com/learn/plant-trials) Recently, we started circulating Trial Winners, a newsletter for growers, retailers and landscapers that shares the most recent trial results by region. –

Interviewed by Chris Manning