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2003 Cultivar Trials

ASCFG National Cut Flower Trials Report

John Dole
North Carolina State University

Overview:

Lisianthus has always been a favorite cut flower. One of my most memorable experiences from living in Oklahoma was finding a patch of native lisianthus flowering in a dry prairie – the elegant buds and violet-colored flowers were instantly recognizable in the bright summer sunshine. The cultivated lisianthus has progressed far from the original species. This year’s trial illustrates the change in the species. Two companies included a total of five series with colors ranging from pale greenish white to pink, rose, and lavender. Top honors were taken by ‘Balboa Lavender’ (Pan American) for its color and large double flowers. The stems were strong and plants easy to grow. Respondents reported stem lengths averaging 18 inches (up to 28 inches for some) and yields of 4.8 stems per plant. Lisianthus is amazingly rugged in its native, rather harsh, environment, but yet can be hard to grow in the relatively soft life of a cut flower bed. It is always nice to hear from those that have no problem growing quality lisianthus. ‘Balboa Rose’ and ‘Catalina Rose’also received high marks for their great colors, double flowers, and strong stems. Goldsmith has been adding new colors to its ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Twinkle’ series. ‘Cinderella Pink’performed the best with 20 inch stems (up to 30 inches for some participants) and 3.1 stems per plant. The flowers were large, full and dark pink. ‘Cinderella Ivory’ and ‘Yellow’also did well for most participants. ‘Twinkle White’ and ‘Yellow’ did well for many trialers but singles are typically less popular than doubles.

Another North American native wildflower is also one of the stars of the 2003 Cut Flower Trials – Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun’ from Benary. This beautiful plant has many of the characteristics of the popular ‘Indian Summer’ – large, long lasting flowers, strong stems, and first year flowering from seed. ‘Prairie Sun’ adds bright green centers and striking two-tone pale yellow/dark yellow petals. In our postharvest trials (see article in this issue), the cut stems lasted three weeks. ‘Prairie Sun’ is productive (averaging 12.3 stems/plant), easy to grow, and has a long flowering period. However, for season-long flowering plant every 3 to 4 weeks. Rudbeckia ‘Autumn Colors’ (Benary) also did well in the trial but many trialers found ‘Goldilocks Improved’ (Benary) too short and weak.

The delphinium is one of our most spectacular cut flowers. The ongoing transition from uneven biennial or perennial to fast flowering, uniform F1 annual is apparent in this year’s trial. ‘Aurora Light Blue’ (Takii) received excellent marks for its beautiful color and short crop time. Of the ‘Guardian’ series (Pan America), ‘Blue’ received the highest marks, but‘Early Blue’, ‘Lavender’ and ‘White’ also performed quite well. All were productive with strong stems and full heads and stem lengths of up to 36 inches. Anyone who was on the tours in Vancouver will remember the nice trial bed of ‘Guardian’ delphiniums. The bed was uniform and looked great.

New sunflower cultivars are always popular in the trials. This year we had three cultivars from two companies. The favorite was ‘Sunrich Gold’ (Takii) with its gold/green pollenless centers, bright petal color, and good flower size. Plants were uniform and easy to grow. The other two cultivars, ‘Full Sun Improved’ (Gloeckner) and ‘Golden Glory’ (Gloeckner) did well for many participants but tended to get excessively tall with too large of heads for some participants.

Based on trial results, the top five performers are automatically nominated for the ASCFG Cut Flower of the Year competition. The rankings are based on the combined ratings score: market appreciation (average of wholesale, florist, and consumer) + repeat again + ease of cultivation for those cultivars where more than three trialers responded. Thus, from the 2003 trials Delphinium F1 ‘Aurora Light Blue’, Eustoma ‘Balboa Rose’, Eustoma ‘Balboa Lavender’, Eustoma ‘Catalina Rose’, Helianthus ‘Sunrich Gold’, and Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun’ are nominated as Cut Flowers of the Year and will join other nominations from ASCFG members. Two cultivars were tied, hence six are nominated this year. Experimental varieties are eligible for nomination if they are named and released.

Interpreting the trial results:

The numbers reported are averages of all the respondents and many factors will affect the success of any plant species. Our participants are growing and harvesting the trial plants in a wide variety of ways. For example, with annual asters some people harvest the entire plant as one bunch while others harvest each individual flowering branch, giving very different stem lengths and yield data. After looking at the average, check the range of responses listed below each number to see how the cultivar performed at its best and its worst. If the range of responses in the ratings is narrow and high, i.e., 3-5 or 4-5, the plant was a winner for most of the respondents and is likely to do well for you. The ‘Repeat Again Rating’ is particularly important because it indicates if the trialer would take the time, money, and space to actually grow the cultivar again. Review the trial results carefully. If a cultivar sounds interesting but did not appear to do well, try it anyway. The cultivar may work well for you.

Acknowledgments:

A hearty thank you to all of the evaluators who returned their trial reports and to the seed companies for providing such great cultivars. I would also like to thank Betty Coleman for laboriously typing in everyone’s comments, Diane Mays and Ingram McCall for taking care of the North Carolina State University portion of the trials, Ingram McCall for data entry, and Frankie Fanelli, Lane Greer, and Lee Davis for assisting with the NCSU trials. In preparing the report I have edited the participants’ comments for space and clarity; my apologies if I’ve altered the tone or content of anyone’s comments. Also, in a few cases we could not determine what was written – I find this especially interesting as it shows a few people in the world have worse handwriting than myself.

2003 ASCFG National Perennial Trials Report

John Dole

North Carolina State University

Overview:

We had a rather eclectic mix of perennials in the trials this year. One of the more unusual plants had to be Spiranthes cerna ‘Chadds Ford’ – the first orchid that we have tested. Orchids are usually thought of as delicate, tropical greenhouse crops but many species are hardy garden perennials. While it is too soon to tell, the long spikes of small intricate flowers of ‘Chadds Ford’ may be beautiful but not large enough to be worth growing.

One of the stand out cultivars was Helianthus salicifolius ‘First Light’. This perennial relative of the common annual sunflower produced a great show late in the season when most other cuts were winding down. The strong, uniform, vigorous plants produced 8.8 stems per plant in the first season. We look forward to seeing what this species will produce in the second year. The stems were long and topped with clusters of bright yellow flowers with dark centers. In our postharvest trials (see accompanying article), the vase life was 12 days in water and up to 17 days in floral preservative.

Helenium ‘Helena Red Shades’ and ‘Helana Gold’ scored well in the trials. These tall, vigorous plants are cold hardy, drought tolerant, and productive, producing more than 13 stems/plant in the second year. The stems were more than 40 inches long with some trialers harvesting 48 to 50 inch stems. Helenium ‘Helena Gold’ has dark yellow daisy-shaped flowers and Helenium ‘Helena Red Shades’ has red flowers edged with varying amounts of yellow. The latter cultivar can be rather variable with some plants producing solid red flowers and others solid yellow. The only problem with these plants appears to be that their colors sell better in the fall than the summer when the normally flower. This species may be a good candidate for early season cutting back, when shoots are 6 to 10 inches tall, to delay flowering. One respondent also noted that plants may also reflower if cut back prior to the end of the first harvest, when about 10% of the flowers are still present.

The strikingly variegated foliage of Lysimachia ‘Alexander’ made a great cut foliage. The plants are prolific and vigorous. Cut this plant primarily for the foliage as the yellow flowers do not add much and tend to shatter in the vase. While stems were short for some folks, others cut up to 36 inch stems.

For sheer numbers of cut stems Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’ was a top producer with an average of more than 36 stems/plant and at least one respondent cutting 75 stems/plant. Stem length was also good, averaging 34 inches. The prolific plants can be a bit difficult to harvest and as with many grasses, some people love them while others, especially wholesalers, give them a pass.

Phlox are always a favorite cut flower and Phlox paniculata ‘Miss Violet’ did well in the trials. An average of 6.1 stems per plant were produced with a length of 26.3 inches. Respondents noted the color, fragrance and mildew resistance.

Based on trial results, the top five performers are automatically nominated for the ASCFG Cut Flower of the Year competition. The rankings are based on the combined ratings score: market appreciation (average of wholesale, florist, and consumer) + repeat again + ease of cultivation for those cultivars where more than three trialers responded. Thus, from the 2003 trials Helianthus salicifolius ‘First Light’, Helenium ‘Helena Red Shades’, Lysimachia ‘Alexander’, Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’, and Phlox paniculata ‘Miss Violet’ are nominated as Cut Flowers of the Year and will join other nominations from ASCFG members.

Interpreting the trial results:

The numbers reported are averages of all the respondents and many factors will affect the success of any plant species. Our participants are growing and harvesting the trial plants in a wide variety of ways. For example, with annual asters some people harvest the entire plant as one bunch while others harvest each individual flowering branch, giving very different stem lengths and yield data. After looking at the average, check the range of responses listed below each number to see how the cultivar performed at its best and its worst. If the range of responses in the ratings is narrow and high, i.e., 3-5 or 4-5, the plant was a winner for most of the respondents and is likely to do well for you. The ‘Repeat Again Rating’ is particularly important because it indicates if the trialer would take the time, money, and space to actually grow the cultivar again. Review the trial results carefully. If a species sounds interesting but did not appear to do well, try it anyway. The cultivar may work well for you.

Acknowledgments:

All cut flower growers should thank the perennial producers for providing the plant materials and the growers for producing the plants, collecting data and submitting trial reports. The growers paid $100 for shipping expenses and agreed to provide data for at least two years. Plant were donated by four perennial producers and University of Nebraska and shipped as the perennial plugs or dormant roots directly to the trialers. I would especially like to compliment Chaz Gill, Betsy Hitt, Carolyn Ramsbotham, Vicki Stamback, and Bob Wollam who participated in both the seed and perennials trials and returned evaluations on all of their trial plants. That’s dedication!! I would also like to thank Betty Coleman for typing in everyone’s comments, Diane Mays and Ingram McCall for taking care of the North Carolina State University portion of the trials, Ingram McCall for date entry, and Lee Davis, Lane Greer, Megan Weddington, and Frankie Fanelli for assisting with the NCSU trials. In preparing the report I have edited the participants’ comments for space and clarity; my apologies if I’ve altered the tone or content of anyone’s comments. Thanks to everyone for making this service of ASCFG possible.

Cultivars

  • Adenophora
    • Amethyst
  • Ammi majus
    • White Wonder
  • Andropogon
    • Silver Sunrise
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
    • Expt. G3 Lavender
    • Expt. G3,4 Rose
    • Expt. G3,4 White
  • Brassica (Flowering Kale)
    • Red Crane
  • Calamagrostis
    • Karl Foerster
  • Campanula
    • Kent Belle
  • Caryopteris
    • First Choice
  • Celosia
    • Supercrest Mix
  • Consolida (Larkspur)
    • Imperial Dark Blue
    • Imperial Orchid
    • Imperial White
    • Pink Fantasies
  • Crocosmia
    • Emily McKenzie
  • Delphinium
    • Aurora Light Blue
    • Guardian Blue
    • Guardian Early Blue
    • Guardian Lavender
    • Guardian White
  • Digitalis
    • Pams Choice
  • Eupatorium
    • Chocolate
  • Eustoma (Lisianthus)
    • Balboa Lavender
    • Balboa Rose
    • Balboa Yellow Improved
    • Catalina Rose
    • Cinderella Ivory
    • Cinderella Pink
    • Cinderella Yellow
    • Malibu Green
    • Twinkle White
    • Twinkle Yellow
  • Gentiana makinoi
    • Royal Blue
  • Helenium
    • Helena Gold
    • Helena Red Shades
  • Helianthus (Sunflower)
    • First Light
    • Full Sun Improved
    • Golden Glory
    • Sunrich Gold
  • Helichrysum bracteatum
    • Giant Ball Mix
  • Heliopsis helianthoides
    • Summer Sun
  • Helleborus
    • hybridus
  • Iberis odorata
    • White Pinnacle
  • Kniphofia thompsonii snowdenii
    • Snowdenii
  • Lupinus Morello
    • Cherry
  • Lysimachia
    • Alexander
  • Matthiola (Stock)
    • Quartet Mix
  • Nepeta subsessilis
    • subsessilis
  • Pennisetum
    • Karley Rose
  • Phlox
    • Jeana
    • Miss Violet
  • Rudbeckia hirta
    • Autumn Colors
    • Goldilocks Improved
    • Prairie Sun
    • triloba
  • Spiranthes cerna
    • Chadds Ford
  • Trachelium
    • Jemmy Royal Purple

Participating Seed Companies – Annual Cut FlowerTrials, 2003

American Takii
301 Natividad Rd.
Salinas, CA 93906
www.takii.com

Benary Seed
1444 Larson St.
Sycamore, IL 60178
www.benary.com

Fred C. Gloeckner
600 Mamaroneck Ave.
Harrison, NY 10528-1613
www.fredgloeckner.com

Goldsmith Seeds
P.O. Box 1349
Gilroy CA 95021
www.goldsmithseeds.com

PanAmerican Seed
P.O. Box 438
West Chicago, IL 60186
www.panamseed.com

Participating Perennial Seed Companies, 2003

Here & Now Gardens (HN)
P.O. Box 6
Gales Creek, OR 97117
503-357-5774
FAX 503-357-3858

Green Leaf Enterprises/Benary (GL)
2369 Old Philadelphia Pike
Lancaster, PA 17602
717-299-0300
FAX 717-299-7162
perennials@yoder.com

Grow’n Sell/Benary (GS)
320 Lower State Rd.
Chalfont, PA 18914
215-822-1276
FAX 215-997-1770
www.gro-n-sell.com

Sunshine Farm & Garden (SF)
HC 67 Box 539 B
Renick, WV 24966
304-497-2208
FAX 304-497-2698
www.sunfarm.com/tour/

University of Nebraska (UN)
Horticulture Department
377 Plant Sciences
Lincoln, NE 68583-0724
402-472-1639
FAX 402-472-8650

Walters Gardens (WG)
P.O. Box 137
Zeeland, MI 49464
888-925-8377
FAX 800-752-1879
sales@waltersgardens.com
www.waltersgardens.com

Cut Flower Growers

Participating Growers – Perennial Trials, 2003

Chaz Gill (2002 and 2003)
Kennebec Flower Farm
Bowdoinham, ME

Carolyn Ramsbotham (2003)
Riverview Farm
Madbury, NH

Bob Wollam (2002 and 2003)
Wollam Gardens
Jeffersonton, VA

Betsy Hitt (2002 and 2003)
Peregrine Farms
Graham NC

Vicki Stamback (2002 and 2003)
Bear Creek Farm
Stillwater, OK

Sam Barkley (2002 and 2003)
Barkley’s Woodstock Floral
Portland, OR

Paul Sansone (2002 and 2003)
Here and Now Garden
Gales Creek, OR

Diane Mays/Ingram McCall/John Dole (2002 and 2003)
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC

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