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Let the (shrub) madness begin!

Pick a bracket full of winners in this contest for plant fans

Pugster Periwinkle
Can pretty Pugster Periwinkle butterfly bush break into the top
brackets? Only time (and votes) will tell in the Shrub Madness
competition. (Photo courtesy Proven Winners)

This spring tournament can grow on you. There’s a bracket, 64 competitors and plenty of possible upsets. But only one shrub will reign supreme.

Think of it as March Madness for fans of certain kinds of plants.

It’s “Shrub Madness” and this year’s contest offers several prizes for gardeners who take part in the online activities.

Presented by Proven Winners, Shrub Madness pits many of the plant company’s best-selling or most eye-catching plants against each other in a bracket format, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament. Fans are asked to vote online for their picks in each match-up. The winning shrubs advance to the next round. Stretched over four weeks, the contest culminates in a “Floral Four” with one overall champion.

The 2020 Shrub Madness champion: Oso Easy Italian Ice rose, a tough-as-nails landscape rose that blooms all summer but never needs deadheading.

That rose broke a string of hydrangea dominance. Since the contest began in 2014, hydrangeas have captured the championship five times. The only other winners were roses: Last year’s Oso Easy Italian Ice and 2016’s At Last, a fragrant apricot-hued landscape rose. (That hydrangea/rose dominance is something to remember when filling out your bracket.)

Just like March Madness, fans have a chance to compete against each other by predicting the outcomes of those shrub-to-shrub match-ups. But you better hurry; complete your bracket by Sunday, Feb. 28, to be eligible. (Note: It's a "weighted" bracket with later rounds counting much more than early picks.)

“At the end of the competition, whoever has most closely predicted the outcome will win the grand prize – a $250 gift card to Corona Tools and four gallon-sized shrubs,” says Proven Winners. Those shrubs will be the Floral Four finalists.

Here’s a look at this year’s competitors:

Shrub Madness is a fun way to learn about new varieties and plant introductions from Proven Winners, the nation's leading "plant brand."

Starting Monday, March 1, the real fun begins: Plant fans can vote daily to advance favorite plants to the next round. At the end of each round, participants’ names will be drawn at random to receive shrubs that were winners in that round.

“The more you vote, the better your chances to win dozens of prize packs,” says Proven Winners.

But to keep people from stuffing the virtual ballot box, patrons are limited to one vote per day.

Start playing here:

Find out more at: .


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 27

Before the rain comes later in the week, take advantage of sunny, calm days:

* This may be your last chance this season for the first application of copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees. Leaf curl, which shows up in the spring, is caused by a fungus that winters as spores on the limbs and around the tree in fallen leaves. Sprays are most effective now, but they need a few days of dry weather after application to really “stick.” If you haven’t yet, spray now.

* Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.

* Make sure storm drains are clear of any debris.

* Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches above the ground after they’re done blooming. Keep potted mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

* Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Other suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas.

* Seed wildflowers including California poppies.

* Also from seed, plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons and other spring flowers.

* Plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from winter rains.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cool-season greens can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* If you decide to use a living Christmas tree this year, keep it outside in a sunny location until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree.

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