2002 Cultivar Trials

2002 ASCFG National Cut Flower Trials

John Dole
North Carolina State University

Overview:

With 76 cultivar submissions, 7 participating breeders and suppliers, and 38 trialers returning evaluations from 21 states and Canada, this was a banner year for the National Cut Flower Seed Trials. The trial program has increased greatly since it was started 11 years ago by Judy Laushman and Allan Armitage. Thanks to everyone for making this interesting and useful service of ASCFG possible. Just in case there are any cut flower growers who have not yet heard about Dianthus ‘Amazon Neon Duo’ (Pan American Seed), let us be the first to tell you. It is one of the few seed-propagated sweet william-type dianthus to produce a highly marketable flower the first year from seed. Add a strong, thick stem and vivid pink and cherry colors and we have a real winner. ‘Amazon Neon Duo’ also handled the heat of southern summers quite well, producing all season long here in Raleigh, North Carolina. ‘Amazon Neon Duo’ received the highest scores in the seed trial this year and will be available in two colors, cherry and pink, next year.

In the 1999 trial report I wrote about all of the wonderful sunflowers being produced by plant breeders and declared it the year of the sunflower with nine new cultivars submitted by four companies. This year, however, we had 18 sunflower cultivars in the trial from three companies. Is it too soon to declare another ‘Year of the Sunflower’? Certainly the many cultivars bred by Tom Heaton and introduced by SeedSense have generated much discussion. The new colors and forms include the first green sunflower called ‘Jade’ (actually pale greenish white), an interesting pale peach/orange sunflower called ‘Apricot Twist,’ and a dark centered sunflower with long twisted petals called ‘Stella Gold.’ While the novel colors of ‘Jade’ and ‘Apricot Twist’were welcome, both were too short and too branchy for some trialers. With these cultivars try pinching a few seedlings when they have 2-5 pairs of leaves to see if you can get fewer but longer side shoots. ‘Stella Gold’ was a non-branching type with excellent stem length but the twisted petals were too much for many customers. Certainly all three cultivars will find a niche in the market due to their novelty.

Several more mainstream SeedSense cultivars were among the top performers in the trial including ‘Chianti’, a beautiful single dark bronze, ‘Starburst Lemon Aura’, a yellow double, and‘Terracotta’, a rich light bronze. All three were nonbranching types; ‘Chianti’ was particularly noteable because several trialers thought it was better than the other bronze-reds already on the market. Two traditional types – dark centered single oranges and yellows on unbranched plans – that performed well were ‘Summertime’ and ‘Sunny’. Benary and American Takii also included two sunflowers in the trial, ‘Florenza’ (Benary), a striking bicolor, and ‘Premier Light Yellow’ (Takii), a pale yellow, respectively. The latter was exceptionally early, flowering 3 to 4 weeks after we put out transplants. While the pale yellow color and relatively short height will limit sales, this cultivar may be useful to start the season as early as possible.

Are green flowers passe’? Apparently not. In addition to the new green sunflower, a new green Zinnia ‘Benary Giant Lime’ (Benary) was introduced this year. The cultivar is part of Benary’s popular Giant series but has a smaller flower and weaker plant than other cultivars in the series. However, most participants reported that ‘Giant Lime’ was a significant improvement over the cultivar ‘Envy’ which generally produced unattractive single flowers and was not productive. ‘Giant Lime’ was more productive and produced more doubles. Another green flower in the trials, Amaranthus cruentus ‘Tower Green’, produced mixed results. For some, including us, only short plants were produced but for others impressive 3 to 4 ft. stems were obtained. The difference may be due to daylength and starting time as many amaranthus species are short day plants. Those trialers that had the best results put out transplants in June when the days were long. We started our transplants in March which may have induced flowering too early, resulting in stunted plants. Regardless, amaranthus is easy to grow and the striking flower spikes always garner comments.

On a personal note, I was initially unimpressed by the green flowers of ‘Jade’ and ‘Giant Lime’ - the individual flowers were attractive but a bunch of each was not particularly striking. My attitude changed when Frankie Fanelli made a spectacular arrangement including Zinnia ‘Giant Lime’, Dianthus ‘Amazon Neon Duo’, and Scabiosa ‘Qis Deep Red’ (Kieft). The green zinnias did a great job of setting off the other strongly-colored flowers. Subsequently I have used ‘Jade’ and ‘Giant Lime’ in other ‘arrangements’ (I don’t claim to be talented in this area) with great results. The green flowers are the perfect companion flower, mixing with any other flower.

Scabiosas have always been known for their beautiful colors and Scabiosa ‘Qis Deep Red’ was no different and scored well in the trial. The rich dark red or burgundy flowers were carried atop long strong stems. As with other annual scabiosas it can take awhile to harvest of bunch of these flowers. It has been several years since we have had cultivars of the popular zinnia submitted in the trial, so it was great to evaluate Zinnia ‘Sun Cherry’ and ‘Sun Yellow’ (Takii). Trialers noted that both had a high proportion of large, heavily double flowers on productive plants. As with other large flowered zinnia cultivars, powdery mildew was still a problem.

A number of the 18 lisianthus cultivars in the trial struck a cord with the participants, including several unnamed experimental cultivars. The richly colored ‘Twinkle Deep Blue’ (Goldsmith), the beautiful peach colored ‘Experimental 240098′ (Pan American), the dark purple ‘Experimental 223140′ (Pan American) and the charming spray type ‘Alice White’ (Takii) all performed well in the trials. Several respondents wrote notes hoping that the two experimentals from Pan American would be named and released.

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 two trialers responded. Thus, from the 2002 trials Dianthus ‘Amazon Neon Duo’, Helianthus ‘Chianti’, Helianthus ‘Starburst Lemon Aura’, Scabiosa ‘Qis Deep Red’, Zinnia ‘Sun Cherry’ and Zinnia ‘Sun Gold’ 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.

Disclaimer:

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 lengths and yield data. If a plant does well for most of the respondents, it is likely to do well for you. On the other hand, if a cultivar didn’t appear to do well in the trial, it may still be a great cultivar for you. Thus, we have included summaries of the respondents’ comments to help interpret the data. 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:

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, Ingram McCall for data analysis and for taking care of the North Carolina State University portion of the trials and Frankie Fanelli, Diane Mays, Lane Greer, and Sarah Lane 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.

2002 ASCFG National Perennial Trials

John Dole
North Carolina State University

Overview:

Helenium ‘Helena Gold’ and ‘Helena Red Shades’ performed exceptionally well in the first year, producing large numbers of stems, averaging 27 inches long. The durable plants survived the summer well and were scored very high by the participants. ‘Helena Gold’ produced sprays of bright gold and ‘Helena Red Shades’ had bronze/yellow bicolored flowers. Trialers noted that the number of flowers per stem varied, complicating harvest and bunching.

In the second year Eupatorium candidum continued to perform well, producing stems up to 3 feet long topped with beautiful silvery pink flower clusters. Unlike other eupatoriums, E. candidum stayed a manageable size in year two, yielding more than 6 stems per plant. We noted a problem with Aster yellows disease in our plantings. The postharvest life was phenominal, however, with cut stems lasting 19 or more days. Physostegia ‘Summer Spires’ was also impressive in the second year. It produced large numbers of multibranched spikes of bright pink flowers on long 28 inch stems. Both plants were quite hardy as 100% survived the winter for our trial 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 two trialers responded. Thus, from the 2001 trials Achillea millifolium ‘Weiss Wonder’, Helenium ‘Helena Gold’, Helena ‘Red Shades’ and Phlox paniculata ‘Miss Violet’, and Physostegia ‘Summer Spires’ are nominated as Cut Flowers of the Year and will join other nominations from ASCFG members.

Disclaimer:

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. If a plant does well for most of the respondents, it is likely to do well for you. On the other hand, if a cultivar didn’t appear to do well in the trial, it may still be a great cultivar for you. Thus, we have included summaries of the respondents comments to help interpret the data. 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 three perennial producers and shipped the perennial plugs or dormant roots directly to the trialers. I would especially like to compliment Chaz Gill, Betsy Hitt, Vicki Stamback, and Bob Wollam who participated in both the seed and perennials trials and returned evaluations on all of their trial plants. I would also like to thank Betty Coleman for typing in everyone’s comments, Ingram McCall and Sarah Lane for watching over the North Carolina State University portion of the trials, and Sarah Lane, Diane Mays, Lane Greer, and Megan Weddington 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

  • Achillea millifolium
    • Weiss Wonder
  • Aconitum
    • Arendsii
  • Agrostemma
    • Contessa Pale Pink
  • Amaranthus cruentus
    • Tower Green
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
    • Attraction Deep Rose
    • Exquisite Golden Yellow
    • Flamenco Deep Bronze
    • Opus Lavender
    • Opus Plum Blossom
    • Opus White
    • Orlando White
    • Potomac Ivory White
    • Potomac Orange Early
  • Calamagrostis
    • Karl Foester
  • Callistephus chinensis
    • Astoria Mix
    • Standy Mix
  • Celosia
    • Enterprise White
    • Toreador Red
  • Consolida (Larkspur)
    • Giant Double Dark Blue
    • Giant Orchid Blue
    • Pink Perfection
  • Crocosmia
    • Emily McKenzie
  • Delphinium
    • Aurora Deep Purple
  • Dianthus
    • Amazon Neon Duo
  • Eupatorium candidum
    • candidum
  • Eustoma (Lisianthus)
    • Alice Pink
    • Alice Purple
    • Alice White
    • Catalina White
    • Cinderella Pink
    • Expt. 210976
    • Expt. 223140
    • Expt. 223142
    • Expt. 223144
    • Expt. 223146
    • Expt. 239797
    • Expt. 240098
    • Expt. 81534
    • Expt. 81536
    • Malibu Blue Rim
    • Malibu Deep Rose
    • Malibu Purple
    • Twinkle Deep Blue
    • Ventura Purple
    • Ventura Purple GB
  • Gentiana makinoi
    • Royal Blue
  • Helenium
    • Helena Gold
    • Helena Red Shades
  • Helianthus (Sunflower)
    • Apricot Twist
    • Brilliance
    • Chianti
    • Dorado Select
    • Florenza
    • Jade
    • Lemon Éclair
    • Premier Light Yellow
    • Starburst Aura
    • Starburst Lemon Aura
    • Starburst Panache
    • Stella Gold
    • Summertime
    • Sundown
    • Sunny
    • Terracotta
    • The Joker
  • Inula grandiflora
    • Grandiflora
  • Iris siberica
    • Caesars Brother
  • Leucanthemum
    • Polaris
  • Limonium (Statice)
    • Compindi White
  • Lysimachia
    • Alexander
  • Matthiola (Stock)
    • Noble Cream Yellow
    • Noble White
  • Nepeta subsessilis
    • subsessilis
  • Pennisetum
    • Karley Rose
  • Penstemon digitalis
    • Glacier
  • Phlox paniculata
    • Miss Violet
  • Physostegia
    • Summer Spires
  • Scabiosa atropurpurea
    • QIS Deep Red
  • Stipa
    • Brautschleier
  • Tanacetum parthenium
    • Snow Star
  • Trachelium
    • Expt. Spring Purple
    • Expt. Spring Wine Red
    • Expt. Summer Blue
    • Expt. Summer Purple
    • Expt. Summer White
    • Jemmy Deep Violet
    • Jemmy Lilac Rose
    • Jemmy Pure White
    • Pandora Summer
  • Zinnia elegans
    • Benary’s Giant Lime
    • Sun Cherry
    • Sun Gold

Participating Seed Companies – Annual Trials, 2002

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

Kieft Seeds
P.O. Box 618
Conway, WA 98238
www.kieftseeds.com

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

Sakata Seed America
18095 Serene Drive
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
www.sakata.com

SeedSense Ltd.
The Tithe Barn, Mundesley Rd.
Trunch, Norfolk HR28 0QB, England
www.creative-corner.co.uk/seedsense/home.html

Participating Seed Companies – Perennials, 2002

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

Green Leaf Enterprises/Benary (GL)
17 West Main St.
Leola, PA 17540
800-233-0285
FAX 717-656-0465
www.green-leaf-ent.com

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

Participating Growers – Annual Trials, 2002

Leah Aufill
Bloomin Botanical’s
Perkins OK

Douglas and Gloria Austin
Austin Gardens
Flushing MI

Janet Bachmann
Fayetteville AR

Keith Baldwin
North Carolina A & T State University
Greensboro, NC

John Barnett
Barnett Farms
Valley Center CA

Phil and Dorothy Bartlett
Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm
Nantucket MA

Christof Bernau
Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
University of California
Santa Cruz, CA

Ann Boutries
WAB Farm
Fairhope, AL

Sybil and Gary Calder
Sunrise to Sunset Gardens
Clayton NC

Leon Carrier
Plant Masters
Gaithersburg MD

Linda Chapman-Dale
Harvest Moon Farm
Spencer IN

James Comes and Katharine Holsopple Hort Center
Alfred State College
Alfred, NY

Dianne Cousins
Texas Sown and Grown
Richmond TX

Connie Dam-Byl
William Dam Seed, Ltd.
Dundas, Ontario, Canada

Mimo Davis
Wild Thang Farm
Ashland MO

John Dole/Ingram McCall/Sarah Lane
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC

Janet Foss
J. Foss Garden Flowers
Everett, WA

Sarah Leavitt and Michael Turner
Sarah and Michael’s Farm
Durham NC

Matt Gerald
Sweet Pea’s Farm Store
Bar Harbor, ME

Chas and Linda Gill
Kennebec Flower Farm and Nursery
Bowdoinham, ME

Jeff Hartenfeld
Hart Farm
Solsberry IN

Charles P. (Chazz) Hesselein
Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Mobile, AL

Betsy Hitt
Peregrine Farms
Graham NC

Laurie Hodges
377 Plant Sciences – UNL
Lincoln, NE

Cathy Horn
Celebrate! Gardens
Lindenwood, IL

Cathy Jones
Perry-Winkle Farm
Chapel Hill NC

Phillip Katz/Sharon Hampton
Pan American Seed
Santa Paula CA

Judy Low
Molino Creek Farm
Davenport CA

Susan O’Connell
Fertile Crescent Farm
Hardwick VT

Carolyn Ramsbotham
Riverview Farm
Madbury NH

Vicki Stamback
Bear Creek Farms
Stillwater OK

Rodger Tschanz
Dept of Plant Agriculture
University of Guelph
Guelph ON Canada

Jeanne Vana
Market Garden of Hawaii
Waialua HI

Cheryl Wagner
Wagner’s Homestead Farms
Belleville MI
Heather Warren
Barrington, NH

Kim Wickwire
Olds College
Olds Alberta Canada

Thomas Wikstrom
Happy Trowels Farm
Ogden, UT

Bob Wollam
Wollam Gardens
Jeffersonton VA

Participating Growers – Perennial Trials, 2002

Region 1 (2002)
Chaz Gill
Kennebec Flower Farm
Bowdoinham, ME

Region 2 (2001 and 2002)
Bob Wollam
Wollam Gardens
Jeffersonton, VA

Region 3 (2001 and 2002)
Betsy Hitt
Peregrine Farms
Graham NC

Region 5 (2001 and 2002)
Christina Wager
Christie’s Plantmart and Greenhouse
Coronation Alberta

Region 6 (2001 and 2002)
Vicki Stamback
Bear Creek Farm
Stillwater, OK

Region 8  (2001 and 2002)
Sam Barkley
Barkley’s Woodstock Floral
Portland, OR

Region 8 (2001 and 2002)
Paul Sansone
Here and Now Garden
Gales Creek, OR

John Dole/Ingram McCall/Sarah Lane  (2001 and 2002)
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC

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