WNA Announces The 2005 Plants Of The Year

The Wisconsin Nursery Association (WNA) recently announced its 2005 Plants of the Year. Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ (Red Sprite Winterberry) and Hosta ‘Patriot’ were chosen as the Plants of the Year at the Wisconsin Nursery Association’s annual Winter Workshop.

The 2005 shrub of the year, Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’, is a deciduous Holly with very showy, large bright red fruit occurring all over the branches. The fruit ripen in early fall and remain until late winter. Red Sprite Winterberry is an excellent food source for the birds and has few if any pest problems. The ‘Red Sprite’ Winterberry may get chlorotic in very high pH soils, but is tolerant of wet, poorly drained soils. The shrub is dwarf, compact and grows to around three to four feet tall. The Red Sprite Winterberry is hardy to zone 3b.

The Hosta ‘Patriot’ has shiny dark foliage with a very wide white margin. Light violet flowers bloom on the Patriot throughout the summer. The intense white margin lightens any shady spot in the landscape. The Patriot can be used in mass, border or specimen. Hostas are very hardy and provide interest for the entire growing season.

The Plant of the Year Program was initiated by WNA to promote quality – and underused – plants to the public. Two categories were created to consider all plants: the woody category, which includes evergreens, deciduous shrubs and shade trees, and the Herbaceous perennial category.

Specific guidelines have been developed for judging the winning selections. The nominees must display all of the following properties: the plant must be hardy to Zone Four, have multi-seasonal interest and be easy to propagate and easy for consumers to grow. They must also exhibit high pest and disease resistance.

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