NC State Extension

2004 ASCFG Seed Cut Flower Trials

John Dole
North Carolina State University

Overview:

With 58 cultivars from seven companies, it was another great year for the seed trials. We added a new question about postharvest to the survey this year. Respondents listed the postharvest life they were able to obtain and any treatments they had been using. Please keep in mind that most folks have not had the time to do any testing so the treatments listed are those that they have been using for other cultivars or species. Please also note that we conducted postharvest testing on a number of the cultivars in the trials and our results are included in the article on page ??.

Highlights of this years trials included the release of several series which are likely to become important for cut flower growers: ‘Procut’ sunflowers, ‘Sweet’ dianthus, and ‘Camelot’ digitalis. The Sunflower ‘Procut’ series from SeedSense did very well in the trials. This well matched series includes orange, yellow and bicolor cultivars. All were uniform, reliable and fast. For example, ‘Procut Orange’ flowered up to two weeks earlier than ‘Sunrich Orange’. These single-stem cultivars produce medium -sized flower heads with a long postharvest life, averaging 7 to 9 days (see also Postharvest article for more information). One respondent wrote that it was their AFavorite new sunflower and another said it was the ABest sunflower I’ve grown in a few years! Sunflower ‘Double Quick’ from SeedSense also scored very high in the trials. This large double flowered sunflower had a short crop time but not as fast as the Procut series.

One of the trends in ornamental breeding has been to shorten crop time by eliminating cold requirements for flowering. Delphiniums and ‘Amazon’ dianthus are two examples. The next genus to get the star treatment is digitalis. With the release of ‘Camelot’ from Goldsmith, digitalis has become a vigorous, rapidly flowering plant that does not require a cold treatment for flowering. We had uniform flowering in May from a late January sowing. Other digitalis, such as ‘Foxy’ will flower the first year from seed, but ‘Camelot’ was fast and uniform. Plants were very productive, averaging 4 to 5 stems per plant, with some trialers harvesting up to 20 stems/plants. Stems were a bit short, averaging 19 to 22 inches, but long enough for most growers to use. Goldsmith notes that if the plants survive the summer heat, they will flower the next year with much longer stems, up to 3 feet tall. Digitalis can be grown as a summer or fall planted biennial for maximum stem quality and‘Camelot’ should be tried this way also. Postharvest is acceptable for local sales, averaging 6 to 9 days, but too short for some trialers. The main problem was that the lower florets dropped. Certainly this series would be good for further postharvest testing.

Pan American has been busy remaking Sweet William type dianthus. Their hybrid ‘Amazon’ dianthus was quite a milestone. These robust plants flowered first year from seed, exhibited great heat tolerance, and produced long stems The ‘Sweet’ series is a bit of a step towards traditional Sweet williams with shorter stems and less heat tolerance than Amazon. This is not surprising considering that the Sweet series is not a hybrid. However, ‘Sweet’ dianthus still has much to offer the grower. It is uniform, rapidly flowering B generally about two to three weeks before ‘Amazon’, and productive. Stem length averaged around 15 inches with some trialers getting up to 28 inches. Postharvest life averaged 8 to 10 days.

This trial was the year of the snapdragon with 22 cultivars submitted from three companies. Snapdragons have traditionally not done well in the trial program because they generally should be planted earlier than we can get the seed from the suppliers and out to the growers. However, that did not appear to be a problem this year as a number of the cultivars did very well. The Opus series from Goldsmith, in particular, received high marks from trialers. ‘Opus Plum Blossum’ and ‘Opus Yellow’ did well enough to be nominated for the 2005 cut flower of the year. Plants produced 6 to 8 stems per plant and stem lengths averaged 22 to 28 inches long. Certainly snapdragons are most impressive when grown in the greenhouse or tunnel, but many of these cultivars were producing wonderful cuts outdoors.

For a number of years Sakata has been working on campanulas. Most growers are familiar with their Campanula medium ‘Champion’series, which has become a staple greenhouse or tunnel cut flower. This year Sakata released Campanula rapunculus ‘Heavenly Blue’. This cultivar produced sprays of small pale purple, upright facing, bell-shaped flowers. Plants were productive, averaging 7 stems per plant and 23 inches long, with some folks getting up to 31 inch stems. Stems are thin but strong and easy to use in bouquets and arrangements. Vase life ranged from 7 to 14 days with the averaging being 11 days.

The old standby cut flower, larkspur, received some attention this year. American Takii took the larkspur in a different direction with their‘Chorus Violet’, the first spray type larkspur. It produced numerous stems topped with small purple flowers. Stems averaged 27 inches long with a vase life of more than 10 days. Our plants showed a variety of plant habits but this could be remedied by pinching plants when young. Kieft submitted Larkspur ‘Sydney Lilac’ as part of their series bred for greenhouse or tunnel production. Several trialers used them in tunnels with great results. Stem length averaged 25 inches, a bit short for larkspur B however, some folks had stems 39 inches tall, showing the potential for this cultivar. The ‘Super Single Imperial Orchid’ larkspur from Gloeckner also did well. Trialers loved the beautiful color and one person noted that it flowered well into summer. Stem length averaged 23 inches.

Benary has expanded the colors available in its very productive Zinnia ‘Oklahoma’ series. ‘Carmine’, ‘Yellow’ and ‘Ivory’ were tested in the trials and received high marks for productivity, over 12 stems per plant, good stem length, and high degree of doubleness. The color of the‘Oklahoma Carmine’ also received a lot of attention.

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 2004 trials Campanula ‘Heavenly Blue’, Digitalis ‘Camelot Cream’ and ‘Camelot Lavendar’, Snapdragon ‘Opus Plum Blossum’ and ‘Opus Yellow’, and Sunflower ‘Double Quick’ and ‘Procut Yellow’ are nominated as Cut Flowers of the Year and will join other nominations from ASCFG members. Seven cultivars were nominated this year because of a three-way tie. 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, Ingram McCall and Diane Mays for taking care of the North Carolina State University portion of the trials, Ingram McCall for data entry, and Leslie Tichner, Aliya Donnell, Brad Holland, and Tim Ketchie 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.

2004 ASCFG National Perennial Trials

John Dole

North Carolina State University

Overview:

This year’s trial highlighted a few unconventional plants. Persicaria ‘Brush Strokes’ and ‘Silver Dragon’, from Terra Nova, did well as cut foliage. ‘Brush Strokes’ has large light green leaves with darker bronze markings and ‘Silver Dragon’ has small burgundy leaves that age to silvery green with burgundy veins. ‘Brush Strokes’ does not produce flowers until very late in the season – only 25% of trialers had flowering.‘Silver Dragon’ is much more floriferous but to be honest, the flowers are small and the foliage is easier to use without the flowers. Stem length for both cultivars averaged 22 to 24 inches. Growers harvested 8 stems/plant for ‘Brush Strokes’ and 40/plant for ‘Silver Dragon’. Interestingly, while consumers appeared to like persicaria and it worked well in mixed bouquets, the florists or wholesalers were apparently less interested. One trialer noted that ‘Brush Strokes’ had a vase life of 12 days and the vase life for ‘Silver Dragon’ was 11 to 31 days.

Another interesting plant was the grass Andropogon ‘Silver Sunrise’, derived from our native grasses. This bluestem from University of Nebraska has a bluish green color during the summer that darkens to burgundy in the fall. While one trialer thought it looked like a weed, another referred to the 39 inch long stems as “a designer’s choice at the retail florist.” Trialers reported an average vase life of 10 days.

Lobelias have always been among my favorite flowers for their intense reds, blues and purples. Lobelia ‘Ruby Slippers’, from Terra Nova, is no different with long spikes, averaging 31 inches, of rich red flowers that everyone seemed to appreciate. Postharvest is always a concern with lobelias, but the vase life of ‘Ruby Slippers’ ranged from 8 to 10 days.

The purple coneflower is undergoing a revolution with many new and interesting forms and hybrids now on the market, some of which we may have in the trials next year. This year’s selection, Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’, from Gro’n Sell, is one of the standard coneflowers but it is a great one. It produced 22+ inch long stems topped with spectacular flowers. The large flowers have bright purple, horizontal petals with a rich orange red cone. Trialers averaged a little over 5 stems/plant.

Campanulas are always interesting and the trial included two species and Adenophora ‘Amethyst’, a relative of the campanula. ‘Amethyst’, from Walters Gardens, had long spikes of nodding purple flowers. Stems averaged 28 inches long and trialers harvested about 14 stems/plant. The plant was easy to grow and flowered over a long period. Campanula ‘Kent Belle’, from Walters Gardens, also had purple flowers but they were larger. Stems were about 23 inches long and growers harvested 8 stems/plant. Trialers reported an average vase life of 9 days for ‘Amethyst’ and 11 days for ‘Kent Belle’.

While many rudbeckias are best treated as an annual, Rudbeckia triloba can be handled as a short lived perennial. This very productive plant produces sprays of dark centered, yellow flowers on 36 inch stems. Trialers harvested a little over 10 stems per plant. The plant is easy to grow.

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 2004 trials Adenophora ‘Amethyst’, Andropogon ‘Silver Sunrise’, Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’, Lobelia ‘Ruby Slippers’, and Persicaria ‘Brush Strokes’ 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 like to compliment Chaz Gill, Betsy Hitt, Carolyn Ramsbotham, and Vicki Stamback 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 laboriously typing in everyone’s comments, Ingram McCall and Diane Mays for taking care of the North Carolina State University portion of the trials, Ingram McCall for data entry, and Leslie Tichner, Aliya Donnell, Brad Holland, and Tim Ketchie 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.

2004 ASCFG National Woody Trials

John Dole

North Carolina State University

Overview:

Welcome to the first year of the ASCFG Woody Cut Trials. Two suppliers, the US national Arboretum, and 10 trialers have kicked off this program. Plants were received during the fall in 2003 and spring 2004. Considering the interest in woody cuts, we are quite pleased to be able to fill this gap in our trial programs.

Only one problem – we don=t have much to report at this time. Yes, most woody plants take some time to reach harvestable age and of the 17 cultivars in the trial only a handful grew fast enough to have an idea of how they will do. We have included the comments and ratings for those species. We look forward to continuing to watch these plants and reporting on their progress.

It is apparent already, however, that Callicarpa >Early Amethyst= and Hydrangea >Limelight= are fast growing and productive plants. We harvested stems from our plants this summer as did a number of the trialers. Average stem length was 19 inches for >Early Amethyst= and 18 inches for >Limelight=. We expect longer stems next year as the plants begin to mature. Another comment about >Limelight= – the flower clusters are large and impressive. Although it is early, >Limelight= already seems like a winner to us, as shown by the high ratings. Physocarpus >Diablo= was also impressive this summer. The bronzy foliage makes a great cut with stems averaging 32 inches long.

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. 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 woody plant producers for providing the plant materials and the growers for producing the plants, collecting data and submitting trial reports. The growers paid $150 for shipping expenses and agreed to provide data for several yearsI 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 Leslie Tichner, Aliya Donnell, Brad Holland, and Tim Ketchie 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

  • Ammi visnaga
    • Casablanca
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon)
    • Experimental Potomac Early Lavender
    • Exquisite Snow White
    • Glorious Coral
    • Glorious Dark Orange
    • Glorious Dark Red
    • Glorious Pearl White
    • Glorious Violet
    • Opus Apple Blossom
    • Opus Early Bronze
    • Opus Early White
    • Opus Ivory
    • Opus Lavender
    • Opus Pink Improved
    • Opus Plum Blossom
    • Opus Rose
    • Opus White
    • Opus Yellow
    • Supreme Golden Yellow
    • Supreme Light Lavender
    • Supreme Violet
    • Supreme Wine Red
    • Premier Appleblossom
  • Brassica (Flowering Kale)
    • Rose Crane
  • Campanula rapunculus
    • Heavenly Blue
  • Carthamus
    • Superior Orange
  • Caryopteris
    • First Choice
  • Celosia
    • Bombay Fiora
  • Consolida (Larkspur)
    • Chorus Violet
    • Sydney Lilac
    • Super Single Imperial Orchid
  • Dianthus
    • Sweet Coral
    • Sweet Purple
    • Sweet Red
    • Sweet White
  • Digitalis
    • Camelot Cream
    • Camelot Lavender
    • Camelot Rose
    • Camelot White
  • Eryngium
    • Blaukappe
  • Eustoma (Lisianthus)
    • Cinderella Blue
    • Twinkle Blue
    • Twinkle Blue Blush
    • Twinkle Pink
  • Helianthus (Sunflower)
    • Double Quick
    • ProCut Bicolor
    • ProCut Lemon
    • ProCutOrange
  • Lobelia
    • Fan Blue
  • Matricaria
    • Magic Lime Green
    • Magic White
    • Magic Yellow
  • Matthiola (Stock)
    • Aida Bluberry
    • Aida Plum Light
    • Prousse Mix
  • Melinis nerviglumis
    • Savannah
  • Zinnia
    • Benary’s Giant Lime
    • Oklahoma Carmine
    • Oklahoma Ivory
    • Oklahoma Yellow

Participating Seed Companies – Annual Trials, 2004

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, 2004

Grow’n Sell/Benary

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/

Terra Nova

P.O. Box 23938

Tigard, OR 97281-3938

800-215-9450 x305

503-263-3150 x305

FAX 503-263-3152

sales@terranovanurseries.com

University of Nebraska (UN)

Horticulture Department

377 Plant Sciences

Lincoln, NE 68583-0724

402-472-1639

Walters Gardens (WG)

P.O. Box 137

Zeeland, MI 49464

888-925-8377

FAX 800-752-1879

sales@waltersgardens.com

www.waltersgardens.com

Participating Seed Companies – Woody Trials, 2004

Bailey Nursery (BA)

1325 Bailey Rd.

St. Paul, MN 55119

(651) 459-9744

(800) 829-8898

fax (651) 459-5100

www.baileynursery.com

United States National Arboretum

3501 New York Avenue, NE

Washington, D. C.

20002-1958

(202) 245-2726

fax (202) 245-4575

www.usna.usda.gov

Spring Meadow Nursery

12601 120th Ave.

Grand Haven, MI 49417-9621

(800) 633-8859

fax (800) 224-1628

www.springmeadownursery.com

Participating Growers – Annual Trials, 2004

Sarah Anderson
Honeydale Farm Flowers
Skandie MI

Janet Bachmann
Riverbend Gardens
Fayetteville AR

Keith Baldwin
NC A&T State University
Greensboro, NC

Christof Bernau
UCSC Farm & Garden
Santa Cruz, CA

Ann Boutreis, WAB Farm and Charles P. (Chazz) Hesselein
Extension Horticulturist
Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Mobile, AL

Mark Bridgen
Cornell University
Long Island Horticulture Research & Extension Center
Riverhead, NY

Leon Carrier
Plant Masters
Gaithersburg MD

Linda Chapman-Dale
Harvest Moon Farm
Spencer IN

Maureen Charde
High Meadow Flower Farm
Warwick, NY

Doug Croft
Chanticlear Gardens
Wayne PA

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

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

Peg Godwin
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Kinston NC

Sharon Hampton
Pan American Seed
Santa Paula, CA

Jeff Hartenfeld
Hart Farm
Solsberry IN

Betsy Hitt
Peregrine Farms
Graham NC

Laurie Hodges
Dept. Agronomy and Horticulture
Lincoln, NE

Cathy Jones
Perry-winkle Farm
Chapel Hill NC

Judy Low
Molino Creek Farm
Davenport CA

Ingram McCall/Diane Mays/John Dole
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC

Susan O’Connell
Fertile Crescent Farm
Hardwick VT

Carolyn Ramsbotham
Riverview Farm
Madbury NH

Brenda Smith
Smith & Smith Farms
Dayton NV

Vicki Stamback
Bear Creek Farms
Stillwater OK

Cheryl Wagner
Wagner’s Homestead Farms
Belleville MI

Chris Wien
Dept. of Horticulture
Cornell University
Ithaca NY

Sybil and Gary Calder
Sunrise to Sunset Gardens

Dianne Cousins
Texas Sown and Grown
Richmond, TX

Polly Creech
Polly’s Flower Farm
Albany, OH

Phyllis Dail
Dail Family Farms, Inc.
Snow Hill, NC

Peter Mitchell
Flora Pacifica
Brookings OR

Ruth Moore
Heritage Farm
Middlebourne, WV

Suzy Neessen
Cedar Falls IA

Reita Rea
The River Farm
Pollocksville, NC

Beryl Roberts
SC Specialty Cut Flowers
Lexington SC

Molino Creek Farm
Davenport CA

Rodger Tschanz
University of Guelph
Guelph ON

Christina Wager
Christie’s Plantmart & Greenhouse
Coronatien AB

Warren Brothers
The Brothers Farm, Inc.
LaGrange, NC

Participating Growers – Perennial Trials, 2004

Sam Barkley (2003 and 2004)
Barkley’s Woodstock Floral
Portland, OR

Chaz Gill (2003 and 2004)
Kennebec Flower Farm
Bowdoinham, ME

Carolyn Ramsbotham (2003 and 2004)
Riverview Farm
Madbury, NH

Betsy Hitt (2003 and 2004)
Peregrine Farms
Graham NC

Ingram McCall/Diane Mays/John Dole (2003 and 2004)
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC

Vicki Stamback (2004 and 2005)
Bear Creek Farm
Stillwater, OK

Participating Growers – Woody Trials, 2004

Sandy Della Villa
Patch of Paradise
Dansville, NY

Kent Miles
Botanicals by K&V
Seymour, IL

Lane Greer
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State, MS

Betsy Hitt
Peregrine Farms
Graham NC

Ingram McCall/Diane Mays/John Dole
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC

Ed Pincus
Third Branch Flowers
Roxbury, VT

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