Proven Winner, a brand name of trademarked plants, has introduced a few new flowering shrubs for next season.
Hydrangea arborescens Incrediball. The huge flowers on this perennial Hydrangea is described as having "beefy stems and massive blooms." Incrediball is related to Annabelle, the wonderful old-fashioned Hydrangea that is often found growing as a foundation plant around older homes.
Hydrangea arborescens is hardy to zone 4 and blooms on new wood, which means we don't have to worry about the flower stalks dying as we do the big-leafed or macrophylla Hydrangeas, such as Nikko Blue.
"Incrediball" is said to have nearly four times as many flowers as Annabelle.
Oso Easy roses are said to never need spraying. Cultivators of these roses claim that even after four years, these plants have never been sprayed and have never developed black spot or mildew.
Sold under the Proven Winner brand, Oso Easy roses were bred by Chris Warner of Warner Roses in England. Warner's plan was to breed a rose that grew like any other shrub, one that didn't need a lot of attention and fuss.
Previous Oso Easy roses include Paprika, a low-mounded rose with reddish-orange single blooms; Peachy Cream, a low-mounded rose that open peach but change to cream; and Strawberry Crush, another low mounded rose that opens strawberry pink and then changing to cream.
Oso Easy also produces Fragrant Spreader, a low-growing rose said to be best for covering large areas, banks or slopes.
New this year are Cherry Pie, a rose that produces candy apple red single blooms with bright yellow stamens, and Honey Bun, semi-double blooms that ranges from blush pink to butter yellow to creamy white.
If you are a fan of the ever popular Knock Out rose, new for 2009 is the double pink Knock Out and the one everyone has been waiting for, Sunny Knock Out, a single yellow-blooming flower that eventually turns creamy white.
Last week we discussed Butterfly Bush, or Buddleia, and a new cultivar for next season is Miss Ruby, described as having, "vivid, rich pink blooms." Developed by Dr. Dennis Werner of JC Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina, the plant also is sold under the Proven Winner brand.
What are Proven Winners?
You have likely seen the white containers with the green logos in local garden centers. Proven Winner is a brand name given to several cultivated plants. The brand was founded in 1992 and the trademarked name is owned by three leading U.S. plant propagators. The brand also holds licenses in Canada.
Because the plants are patented, it is illegal to asexually propagate or sell any parts of these plants unless you are a licensed grower.
But don't worry. Patented plants refer only to the variety, not the cultivar. This means just because you can't take cuttings from a Knock Out rose, that doesn't prohibit you from propagating other varieties of rose as long as they don't carry the patented designation.
There is a difference between a registered patented plant and a trademarked plant as well. Plants that have been patented are labeled with an "R" within a circle on its tag, indicating that plant has been officially registered and trademarked.
A plant with a "TM" beside its name means the trademarked name has been claimed, but the plant has not yet been officially registered.
Other labels include "patent pending," or PPAV - plant patent applied for.
The controversy over whether to patent or not patent plants has been ongoing. Some growers believe that allowing patents on plants will cause the extinction of heirloom varieties. Others believe that patented plants promotes innovation in the plant industry, giving growers like you and me the opportunity to have these original plants in our collections.
While I haven't grown any of the new plants mentioned above, I have grown several other plants sold under the Proven Winner trademark. Some have succeeded in my garden and some have not. And this is the key whether a plant is patented or not.
Having a trademarked name or a patent on a flower color or growing habit still doesn't guarantee that backyard gardeners will like the plant well enough to grow it in our gardens. Only we can make that distinction.
Evanoff is a Master Gardener with The Ohio State University Extension of Trumbull County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.