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Oklahoma Proven is a plant promotion program coordinated by faculty in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Oklahoma State University. The goal of the program is to recommend plants well-adapted for use across Oklahoma.

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Collector's Choice for 2015

Black Gum

Nyssa sylvatica

Black gum is an eastern native growing slowly to 50’ to 60’ or more. They are picturesque shade trees with beautiful summer foliage and gorgeous fall color. New selections of black gum are more resistant to leaf spot, which can occasionally be a problem, and have excellent form. Wildfire (N. sylvatica ‘Wildfire’) grows slowly to 60’ high by 25’ wide. New growth of Wildfire emerges red; leaves mature to a shiny dark green; and fall color is bright red. Fire Master™ (Nyssa sylvatica 'PRP1') grows about 50’ to 60’ tall and 25’ wide with a strong central leader; leaves turn a crimson red fall color. Red Rage™ (N. sylvatica ‘Hayman Red’) exhibits more leaf spot resistance than other cultivars and appears to be slightly smaller, growing 30’ to 50’ tall. Flowers of black gum are insignificant, but an important nectar source for bees and pollinators. The small, black fruits that follow are loved by birds. Black gums are an excellent tree for urban and street plantings and their neat habit requires little to no pruning to maintain their excellent shape.

• Exposure: Full sun to part shade
• Soil: Prefers moist, well-drained, acid soil, but is adaptable
• Hardiness: USDA Zone 4-9

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Tree for 2015

Hedge Maple

Acer campestre

Hedge maple is a small to medium sized tree slowly growing to 25’ to 35’ high and wide. Because of its small size it is perfect for smaller, urban landscapes and even under utility lines. Hedge maple has beautiful green summer foliage that is free of ailments; fall color is yellow to yellow-green in color. Branches often develop very low to the ground providing excellent cover for wildlife, though it can easily be limbed up if desired. Hedge maple is really not too picky of soils; though it prefers rich, well-drained soil it grows well in compacted and alkaline soils. It also tolerates severe pruning and has often been used as a hedge, even walls, especially in Europe. Hedge maple is one of the tougher maples, which is underutilized in the U.S., has few problems, and is very urban tolerant. Golden leaf and variegated leaf forms are available.

• Exposure: Full sun or light shade
• Soil: Tolerates wide variety of soils
• Hardiness: USDA Zone 5-8

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Shrub for 2015

Barberry (Columnar forms)

Berberis thunbergii

Barberries are, in general, pretty tough and offer a wide variety of leaf color. The newest of forms are the columnar types of shrubs offering a vertical element in the landscape. These forms of barberry include the Rocket and Pillar series. Each offers upright, narrow plants in different foliage colors of golden, to red, and orange growing 3’ to 5’ high and not more than 2' wide. Barberries prefer moist, well-drained soils, but are adaptable to a wide range of soils and once established can be quite drought tolerant. Barberry have no serious pest problems, and require very little maintenance making them excellent for the urban landscape. Grow columnar forms of barberry as a specimen, in groupings, in shrub borders, and as a foundation planting.

• Exposure: Sun to part shade
• Soil: Moist to well-drained
• Hardiness: USDA Zone 3-8

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Perennial for 2015

Garden Phlox, Volcano Series

Phlox paniculata Volcano® series

Phlox Volcano® is more compact, fragrant, and powdery mildew tolerant than other garden phlox types. Plants develop sturdy stems, 24-28” tall, with deep green leaves and an abundance of large flowers that appear from June to September if plants are cut back after initial bloom. Flower colors range from red, pink, ruby, white, lavender, and purple; flowers may also have eyes of pink, red, or white or are bicolored such as with Lilac Splash. It doesn’t mind most soils, but needs well drained soil; irrigate with soaker or drip irrigation to keep foliage dry. Full sun is the best exposure for Volcano phlox, but it will grow in part shade; too much shade and poor air circulation increases chances of mildew developing, though it still does not seem to inhibit flowering. Once established, phlox is very adaptable. It is grown as an accent, in groups, or masses. It also works well in native plant gardens, wild gardens, meadows, naturalized areas, perennial borders, and cottage style gardens. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the colorful, fragrant flowers.

• Exposure: Sun, part shade
• Soil: Tolerates about any soil
• Hardiness: USDA Zone 4-10

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Annual for 2015

Spider Flower

Cleome hybrids

Spider flower is a unique plant with palmately compound leaves, interesting, fragrant flowers, and an old fashion look. Flowers have abnormally long stamens that gives the flower a frilly look and is likely where the common name of Spider flower comes from, resembling spider legs. Flower colors come in shades white, pink, blue, and purple. Plants can grow 3 to 6 feet tall depending on cultivar. Improved cultivars provide an abundance of flowers on stocky plants. Improved types include plants in the Sparkler series, the Spirit series, and Senorita Rosalita® (vivid pink blooms) and Senorita Blanca® (white blooms with pale lavender blush). Spider flower attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and goes well with a cottage style, wildflower design, or mixed border.

• Exposure: Full sun to part shade
• Soil: Moist, well-drained
• Hardiness: Use as an annual