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Proven Combinations for Real-Life Gardens

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Proven Combinations for Real-Life Gardens

Each year, our display gardens serve as a blank canvas for new varieties and combinations, so we can see how well they perform throughout the season. Here's how we do it.

By Pat Seibel, Display Garden Supervisor

Fantastic performance in the garden is the goal of Proven Winners® growers, retailers, and customers. At Four Star Greenhouse, we plant hundreds of varieties each year in our display gardens, in hanging baskets, landscape beds, and upright containers — kind of a "living catalog" of our plants. This allows us to gauge performance and provide advice on what will be most successful for your customers.

Butterfly Argyranthemums
The display gardens at Four Star Greenhouse.

The gardens started about eight years ago with a few landscape beds and have now grown to include trellises to showcase hanging baskets and upright containers, a covered bridge, window boxes, patio, water feature, and many different planting beds.  

Each year the new varieties inspire us to create new combinations and look at ways to improve existing combinations. By trying different combinations in our southern Michigan climate, we get a clear sense of the successes and challenges consumers may have, and are able to see which combinations will perform well for them.

Planting Season at Four Star

In autumn, we begin planning for next year's combinations. A group of Four Star combination gurus brainstorm every possible pairing imaginable for our upcoming new varieties, and also reevaluate existing combinations for ways we can improve them.   

Four Star Greenhouse Display Gardens
We test hanging basket combinations, landscape plants and upright containers throughout the season.

Then, they narrow the list to combinations they think will be successful. Those combinations are planted up in February, to be finished in time for our May Open House. The broker sales reps, growers, and media visitors there are asked to vote on their favorite combinations, giving us a guide to what will be popular for the next spring. Once Open House is over, we move the combinations to the display gardens for summer and fall performance evaluations. 

Frosted Gumdrops
Frosted Gumdrops
Hannah's Hope
Hannah's Hope

Once we get everything growing outdoors, we make sure to provide ample watering and regular fertilization:

  • We use Proven Winners® WaterWise™ Home Irrigation lines connected to 9-volt timers for the containers, while landscape beds get their own drip irrigation lines.
  • For fertilizer, we use Proven Winners® Water Soluble Fertilizer with 100% iron EDDHA (the best chelated form of iron for plant uptake).

This year was a pretty tough growing year with high heat and near-drought conditions, so the water and fertilizer treatments were essential to keeping the plants healthy and looking good.

Great Combinations for Spring 2013 

With the summer season drawing to a close, here are a few combinations that were nonstop outstanding performers in our display gardens this year:

  • Grandiose (the industry-voted #1 hanging basket at our Open House):
    • Supertunia® Sangria Charm
    • Supertunia® Indigo Charm
    • Whirlwind® White Improved Scaevola
  • Frosted Gumdrops (the consumer-voted #1 hanging basket at Open House):
    • Snow Princess®
    • Supertunia® Pretty Much Picasso
    • Lemon-A-Peel Thunbergia
  • Hannah's Hope:
    • Superbells® Pink
    • Supertunia® Mini Appleblossom
    • Lanai White Verbena  

Pat Seibel is a horticultural industry professional who joined Four Star as Display Garden Supervisor in 2011. For more information on how we grow plants for the display garden, contact or
call 734-718-4748.


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