COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A rudbeckia as bright as the desert sun, a gerbera the color of tropical fruit and a begonia with striking reddish undertones are this year's favorite ornamental plants following consumer evaluations undertaken as part of Ohio State University's extensive annuals trials in Columbus.
The judging -- led by a group of volunteers, many of whom are master gardeners with OSU Extension and the Columbus campus' Chadwick Arboretum -- took place in July and is the first of several evaluations to be conducted during the summer.
"The volunteers evaluate each entry on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being 'they don't like the plant at all,' and 5 being 'they like the plant a lot,'" said Lindsay Diewald, annuals trials manager and a graduate student in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. "This type of evaluation focuses on personal preference because that’s how most consumers make decisions when buying plants."
This year's trials -- run by the university's Floriculture Program -- include some 5,000 specimens representing 727 cultivated varieties, or cultivars, developed by more than 30 seed companies from across the U.S. Among them are 457 bedding-plant cultivars, 210 container-plant cultivars, 56 shade-plant cultivars and four mixed-container combinations.
Top performers were Benary's Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy' (field trial), Ball Seed's Gerbera 'Funtastic Mango' (container trial), and PanAmerican Seed's Begonia 'Gryphon' (shade trial). Additionally, many entries received a rating of 4 and above: 60 in the field trial, 30 in the container trial and 15 in the shade trial.
While the consumer evaluation concentrates on personal preference, the grower evaluation is more comprehensive and ranks plants according to flower quality, flower quantity, vegetative vigor, uniformity and overall ratings. The results of both evaluations will be available at http://ohiofloriculture.osu.edu (find the link to the results under the “Cultivar trials” tab) in early August.
"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," explained Claudio Pasian, an Ohio State floriculture expert.
Floriculture and landscape professionals will have a chance to see the trials in person next Wednesday, Aug. 10, during the 2011 OSU Annuals and Mixed-Containers Trials Open House, to be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For registration instructions and directions, go to http://go.osu.edu/D6G.
Best in show
The following entries received ratings of 4.2 and above in this year's consumer evaluation:
- Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy' (Benary)
- Cleome 'Senorita Rosalita' (Proven Winners)
- Marigold 'Narai Orange' (AmeriSeed)
- Hibiscus 'Mahogany Splendor' (PanAmerican Seed)
- Angelonia 'Serena Purple' (PanAmerican Seed)
- Petunia 'Sanguna Lipstick' (Syngenta)
- Marigold 'Babuda Yellow' (AmeriSeed)
- Marigold 'Narai Yellow' (AmeriSeed)
- Petunia 'Littletunia Shiraz' (Danziger)
- Verbena 'Superbena Coral Red' (Proven Winners)
- Petunia 'Purple Vein Ray' (Danziger)
- Angelonia 'Serena Blue' (PanAmerican Seed)
- Verbena 'Superbena Large Lilac Blue' (Proven Winners)
- Angelonia 'Archangel Pink' (Ball FloraPlant)
- Gerbera 'Funtastic Mango' (Ball Seed)
- Petunia 'Sunray' (Danziger)
- Petunia 'Purple Vein Ray' (Danziger)
- Begonia 'Whopper Rose Bronze Leaf' (Ball Seed)
- Begonia 'Whopper Red Bronze Leaf' (Ball Seed)
- Petunia 'Fortunia Burgundy' (Fides N.A.)
- Petunia 'Fortunia Purple Picotee' (Fides N.A.)
- Petunia 'Littletunia Blue Vein' (Danziger)
- Begonia 'Whopper Red Green Leaf' (Ball Seed)
- Begonia 'Whopper Rose Green Leaf' (Ball Seed)
- Petunia 'Fortunia Hot Pink' (Fides N.A.)
- Petunia 'White Ray' (Danziger)
- Succulent Mix #5 (ForemostCo)
- Caladium 'Rosemary' (Classic Caladiums)
- Begonia 'Gryphon' (PanAmerican Seed)
- Begonia 'Million Kisses Devotion' (Ball Seed)
- Caladium 'White Delight' (Classic Caladiums)
- Begonia (Rex) 'Fedor' (D.S. Cole)
- Begonia 'Million Kisses Amour' (Ball Seed)
- Begonia 'Bliss Pink Shades' (Ball Seed)