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Louis B. Anella, Michael A. Schnelle and Dale M. Maronek

Oklahoma Proven is a plant evaluation and marketing program developed by the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Oklahoma State University. An advisory committee comprised of representatives from state agencies, industry, and Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboretum Affiliate Gardens makes plant recommendations to an executive committee which in turn selects one tree, shrub, perennial, and annual for promotion each year. Trees and shrubs are selected 3 to 5 years ahead of promotion while perennials and annuals are selected 1 to 2 years in advance to give nurseries time to increase production. Marketing includes posters, billboards, pot stakes, and hang tags with the Oklahoma Proven logo and related extension service programming and news coverage. Consumers appreciate having help selecting plants and one retail nursery reported an 81% increase in sales of Oklahoma Proven plants. Funding for the program is provided by industry, Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, and a grant from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.

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Louis B. Anella, Michael A. Schnelle and Dale M. Maronek

Oklahoma Proven (OKP) is a plant promotion and evaluation program designed to help consumers choose plants appropriate for Oklahoma gardens. Aiding consumers with plant selection will lead to greater gardening success, enthusiasm, and increased sales for Oklahoma green industries. There are two major facets to the program: marketing, coordinated by Dr. Lou Anella, and evaluation, coordinated by Dr. Michael Schnelle. Plants to be promoted by OKP will be selected by an OKP executive committee based on recommendations from an OKP advisory committee comprised of industry professionals, cooperative extension specialists and educators, Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboretum affiliate members, and Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture faculty. Plants chosen for OKP must meet the following selection criteria: appropriate for gardens throughout the state of Oklahoma; readily available in the trade; limited input required, i.e. few pest or disease problems, tolerant of Oklahoma's diverse soil types and weather conditions; noninvasive; can be profitably produced. The OKP Advisory Board selected the following OKP Selections for 2000: Taxodium distichum; Spiraea japonica `Magic Carpet'; Verbena canadensis `Homestead Purple'; and Scaevola aemula. Promotional materials, such as posters and signs, will be available just after the first of the year, and the promotional push will begin in early March. Posters and signs will be distributed to retailers throughout the state free-of-charge and pot stakes and hang tags will be sold to wholesalers as a means of generating income for the Oklahoma Proven program. OKP plants will also be promoted through the television show “Oklahoma Gardening,” extension newsletters, and the press.