COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Next year’s favorite ornamental bedding and container plants in the U.S. may now be growing on Ohio State University’s Columbus campus -- and members of the green industry as well as homeowners are welcome to peruse the 727 varieties that are part of the 2011 annuals trials there.
Conducted every year by the Floriculture Program in the university’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, the cultivar (cultivated variety) trials evaluate new ornamental plants developed by seed companies across the country. This year’s trials include 457 bedding-plant cultivars, 210 container-plant cultivars, 56 shade-plant cultivars, and four mixed-container combinations from more than 30 companies.
Overall, some 5,000 specimens were planted this year, occupying about 10,000 square feet of bed space and 800 containers. The field trial is located on the southeast corner of Woody Hayes Dr. and Fyffe Rd. The container-plant trial is on the north and west sides of Howlett Greenhouse, near the corner of Vernon Tharp St. and John Herrick Dr. Both locations are on the west part of campus.
The field and container trials are available to be viewed at any time, any day of the week. Meanwhile, the shade-plant and mixed-container trials can be viewed Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
“The objective of these trials is to observe the performance of plants under environmental conditions typical of central Ohio,” said Claudio Pasian, a floriculture specialist and associate professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. “These trials help the bedding-plant industry learn more about the ease to grow and garden performance of the many new cultivars breeders release every year, as well as customers’ opinions about those cultivars. The information gained in these trials is also important for professional landscapers, since failure of a particular cultivar in large beds (hundreds of square feet) can be very costly.”
All plants included in the trials are subjected to two separate evaluations: grower evaluation (flower quality, flower quantity, vegetative vigor, uniformity and overall ratings) and consumer evaluation (personal preference).
Participants in this year’s OFA (formerly Ohio Florist Association) Short Course -- to be held July 9-12 in Columbus -- are invited to visit the cultivar trials and participate in activities sponsored by the university.
On Saturday, July 9, busses will run between the trials and the Columbus Convention Center (courtesy of OFA) starting at 5:15 p.m., with final departure from the campus at 6:45 p.m. On Monday, July 11, Ohio State’s Chadwick Arboretum will host a reception with refreshments and entertainment at 6 p.m., thanks to the sponsorship of Blooms of Bressingham; buses will be available for this event as well, with final departure from campus at 8 p.m.
The trials will be open for viewing any time during the Short Course, including the shade-plant and mixed-container trials (8 a.m.-4 p.m. during the weekend).