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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 March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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