I recently attended two seminars one at Texas A&M University/College Station and the second at Oklahoma State University/Stillwater showcasing plants that have merit or new plant selections that need additional promotion.
Both A&M and OSU have programs promoting new and improved plants, as well as plants that have been underutilized but are superior selections for the Texas and Oklahoma climates. The Texas program is called "Texas Superstar Plants" and the Oklahoma program is called "Oklahoma Proven."
With all the different plants released in the marketplace, sometimes it can be difficult to select plants that will thrive in a certain location. Local horticulturists, nurserymen and plantsmen nominate plant selections to the states' promotion programs, and the plants are thoroughly tested before they are released as a recommendation.
Most of the plants in the two programs are selected for USDA cold hardiness zones 7 and 8 (found on the Web at www.usna.usda.gov/hardzone). The Ardmore area is in zone 7 ( zone 7b in the present map). In this zone, it's not winter that plants have difficulties enduring, but the summer's heat and drought. This is not to say that tropical-zoned plants will not freeze in our winters. The point is, when shopping for plants, look to see if the plant is labeled for your zone. With good site selection and additional care, some more sensitive plants can survive the harsh weather in Texas and Oklahoma. Some of the plants that might be on your list to use in our local landscape are:
- Pistacia chinensis Chinese pistache
- Taxodium distichum Bald cypress
- Quercus shumardii Shumard oak
- Quercus macrocarpus Bur oak
- Hydrangea quercifolia Oak-leaf hydrangea
- Spiraea "Magic Carpet" Magic Carpet spirea
- Ilex decidua Deciduous holly
- Kerria japonica Japanese kerria
- Artemisia "Powis Castle" Powis Castle mugwort
- Verbena canadensis "Homestead Purple" verbena
- Echinacea "Magnus" Purple coneflower
Oklahoma Proven Web site: http://oklahomaproven.okstate.edu/
(Oklahoma redbud and gaillardia are nominated for Oklahoma's upcoming centennial year in 2007.)
Texas Superstar Plants Web site: http://www.agr.state.tx.us/picktexas/hort/plants/sstar_plant_over.htm