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4 Ways Proven Winners® Supports Growers

Proven Winners® continues its efforts to serve growers. Learn how its focus on improving existing best-selling varieties, building brand demand and sharing useful data on the plants consumers want helps you.    

When the Proven Winners brand debuted in 1992, its goal was to serve professional growers by developing and propagating innovative, superior plants. The next steps included the two other vital links — programs and products for garden retailers, and extensive consumer marketing to create demand for the brand.

The last 26 years have seen many new plant introductions, expanded programs for both growers and retailers and substantial investment to create an iconic brand familiar to millions of home gardeners throughout the U.S. and Canada.  But the heart of these efforts is the constant goal of serving growers.  This starts with bringing the best plants available to market.

Icing on the Cake
SNOWSTORM® SNOW GLOBE® Sutera (Bacopa) is just one of the several popular genera that have been introduced by Proven Winners®.

1. Best genetics

The work and innovation in genetics has never stopped at Proven Winners. “We are constantly innovating through our global breeder network to pick the best of the best,” says Curt Varsogea, Sales Manager at Four Star Greenhouse. “We can pick from multiple breeders to find the best colors and best producers.”

Several successful and popular genera have been introduced through Proven Winners’ process of working with breeders.  Bacopa, Nemesia, Lobularia, Euphorbia and Verbena are just some of them.  

The “proven” in Proven Winners is a comprehensive selection process that includes several years of trialing in multiple locations, testing for production, market analyses and perfecting the shipping and delivery. Once a new prospect is found, it becomes a plant under consideration for trialing in a variety of conditions, locations and containers.  

Icing on the Cake
Proven Winners sets standards of characteristics for improving varieties.  Supertunia® Royal Magenta® Improved Petunia is an example with stronger garden performance.

The trialing team evaluates each new plant for disease resistance, color, vigor, branching, flowering, tolerance to heat and drought and its ability to be grown in commercial growing environments.

Each yearly group of prospective plants is narrowed down from more than 2,500 to around 50 or less, before final production trials are done. 

The selection process also covers Proven Selections® varieties — those that are not exclusive to the Proven Winners network, but boast strong regional performance, and complement the Proven Winners annuals, perennials and shrub lines.

2. Making great plants even better

“Some of the most exciting work we’ve done lately are the improvements of existing varieties,” notes Varsogea. “We take some of our best plants and look for ways to make them even better.”

The Proven Winners trialing team develops standards of characteristics they would like to see in certain varieties, with the goal of improving already good plants so that both growers and gardeners can be even more successful.

Garden performance drives this effort.  “We’ll only introduce or improve plants that perform well for growers and that will help consumers succeed at gardening,” he says.  “When home gardeners can get great plants with proven garden performance, the opportunity for them to be successful increases, and successful gardeners become repeat Proven Winners customers.”

The goal, he notes, is for everyone to be successful. “What good does selling an inferior plant do for your business, our industry or the customer if it doesn’t perform well?  How will this help you get repeat business year to year? Wouldn’t it be better to sell plants that help your customers be successful?”

Icing on the Cake
Proven Winners’ new state marketing campaign sheets, like this Minnesota example, highlight consumer marketing efforts, the plants consumers are looking for in each state, trialing results and more.

3. Sharing data with growers

Choosing what plants to grow for a given season can be tricky, so the team is creating regional and state guides for growers showing what Proven Winners is doing in their area and highlighting plants local gardeners are buying. 

Proven Winners has created the guide “Top 10 Plants for Your Region” showing best-selling plants within U.S. and Canada zones – find it here

The new state marketing sheets offer even more detailed information and will be available to growers and brokers. They will help growers learn about specific advertisements on radio, billboards, magazines and more in their areas, and will also feature:

  • web traffic in the state
  • award winning plants from the area
  • the number of Gardener's Idea Books mailed locally
  • Proven Winners Certified retailers participating
  • highlighted plants featured for the area
  • top-selling plants in that state

Proven Winners website received nearly 12 million page views last year and is a popular way for consumers to find and buy the plants online.  “We know the demand for Proven Winners plants is there because home gardeners look for them and buy plants online when they cannot find them in their local garden centers. We also know they are willing to pay as much as — or more than double — the typical retail price for a Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum® in a Grande™ branded container,” says Varsogea. 

“Proven Winners can map where consumers who requested the Gardener’s Idea Book online are located,” he adds. “I can show growers a map where these potential customers are.  Consumers want to find Proven Winners in the store.”

Icing on the Cake
“I look at the white branded container as the best form of POP there is,” says Curt Varsogea, Sales Manager.  “Consumers look for these in the store.”

4. White Branded Containers: Built-in POP

“This is a brand like no other,” Varsogea explains. “Just with the consumer recognition alone, it stands out.  Add to that its extensive work to introduce superior plants, and it stands out more.”

Thanks to all the marketing efforts of the last 26 years, Proven Winners has become the leading plant brand.  Since 1992, Proven Winners has reached out to home gardeners through numerous means:  Co-op radio advertising, magazines, television, billboards, event sponsorships, internet, social media and more. The partnership with Garden Answer’s Laura LeBoutillier is resulting in wide exposure of Proven Winners plants and ideas to young gardeners via YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.  The videos alone have more than 400 million views. 

Proven Winners high brand recognition continues to bring customers into many garden retail stores, and the white Proven Winners branded containers guide those customers right to the product on the bench. 

Varsogea notes, “I look at the white branded container as the best form of POP there is.  Consumers look for these in the store.  Given all the success Proven Winners has had in building brand recognition for consumers, I think it’s a smart grower who leverages that investment by planting in those eye-catching branded containers,” he adds.

For more information on Proven Winners programs and services for growers, visit, call us at 734-654-6420 or email

Partnering with Growers at Four Star

Four Star has looked for ways to support and partner with our growers even before it became a founder of Proven Winners. The goal is to help growers be successful by offering new opportunities to be more profitable, produce plants more efficiently and grow their businesses long-term. 

Growing experience counts
Four Star’s experience growing plants through all levels of the process is knowledge that can be shared with customers. “We’re vertically integrated, which helps all our grower customers,” says Curt Varsogea, Four Star Sales Manager.  “We grow through the whole process, from cuttings and seeds through to finishing for retail and landscape.  Because of this, we understand every step of the process.  This helps us be a better partner with growers.”

Icing on the Cake
Ask our grower team for their recommendations based on your region and growing conditions. We’re happy to help!

The Grower Team offers several resources based on our experience to help growers grow Proven Winners plants successfully. See “Grower Support from Four Star.”

Helping growers save money
It’s this experienced perspective that led Four Star to develop the innovative new 104 Liner tray.  “We’ve been testing this for a few years and initially introduced a limited number of best selling varieties for 2018,” he said. “Growers have had great success with the tray.  Last year, we grew all of our hanging baskets and 35% of our Grande containers as 104s. Now, we expect to move our 84 liner production to 104 liners for the 2018-2019 season.”

He points out that the 104 tray accommodates more liners in the same size tray, allowing growers to use the same production schedule and cultural treatments as the 84 liners. “This also gives growers a savings in freight costs, since they receive 20% more liners for their shipping dollar.”

Know what to grow
Growers can reduce their risk by taking advantage of Four Star’s exclusive bar code sales data, which tracks actual retail sales of the best selling Grande and Royale™ annuals, 10-in. monoculture and combination hanging baskets, ColorChoice® shrubs and Proven Winners® perennials. 

Use this data to make sure you’re growing the plants consumers buy.  To learn more, contact your Four Star representative for this data, or call 734-654-6420 or email

Located for easy shipping
“Our central location in Michigan makes it easy to ship nationwide,” says Varsogea. “We ship millions of plants annually and have developed a proven shipping method that delivers high quality plants in a timely manner.  We track it all and have developed some innovative ways to protect plants, while delivering them to their destinations quickly.”

He explains that delivering healthy plants is critical to the mission at Four Star. “We work hard to trial the best ways to ship. Last year, we delivered 99.98% of all shipments successfully!”