2017 Michigan State University Field Trials Results

The purpose of the Michigan State University (MSU) trial gardens in East Lansing, MI, is to grow and evaluate new species and cultivars of a wide range of plants in the mid-Michigan climate. Spring and early summer conditions this year were fairly normal, with temperatures and precipitation close to the historical average. However, the trials did have a handful of unusually warm days (mid-80s) during mid-May, as well as higher than normal temperatures (mid-80s to low-90s) during the first half of June. After last year’s June drought, trial managers were happy to have a more typical early summer in East Lansing.

In the MSU trials, trial managers rank varieties by performance every two weeks based on vigor, uniformity, and ornamental value of the flowers and/or foliage, depending on the plant. They also take note of susceptibility to diseases and insects, and tolerance to changes in climatic conditions when appropriate. Plant performance depends on a number of factors including genetics, soil, and weather conditions.

In 2017, Michigan State University trialed 452 varieties, including 44 container entries, 55 shade entries, and 82 varieties of succulents (also trialed in containers). Trial Garden Manager Daedre McGrath says visitors to the trial garden were the most excited about the succulent trial.

“Succulents are a hot trend in horticulture and fascinate young and old alike,” she says. “Our goal was to identify succulent varieties that tolerate outdoor growing conditions and grow quickly enough to hold their own as annuals in our Michigan climate.”

A summary of all Michigan State University’s evaluation information is posted on the web each fall for professionals and the general gardening public at: http://www.hrt.msu.edu/our_gardens/trial_garden

Best in Show

*All six of these varieties looked absolutely perfect all summer long, from the moment trial managers planted them outside, through fall.

Argyranthemum ‘Golden Butterfly’ (Proven Winners)

Argyranthemum ‘Pure White Butterfly’ (Proven Winners)

Coleus ‘FlameThrower Habanero’ (Ball FloraPlant)

Coleus ‘Salsa Verde’ (Ball FloraPlant)

Coleus ‘Spiced Curry’ (Ball FloraPlant)

Dianthus ‘Jolt Pink Magic’ (PanAmerican Seed)

Top Sun Performers

Begonia ‘Whopper Red Bronze Leaf Improved’ and ‘Bronze Leaf Improved’ (Ball Ingenuity)

Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Blue Moon Punch’ and ‘White Improved’ (Proven Winners)

Eggplant ‘Jewel Amethyst’ (Comense)

Gaura ‘Karalee Petite Pink’ (Proven Winners)

Gerbera ‘Sweet Memories’ (Florist Holland)

Lantana ‘Luscious Bananarama’ (Proven Winners)

Marigold ‘Bonanza Yellow’ (PanAmerican Seed)

Ornamental Millet ‘Copper Prince’ (PanAmerican Seed)

Pepper ‘Paragon’ (Comense)

Pepper ‘Pikito’ (Comense)

Petunia ‘ColorRush Pink’ (Ball FloraPlant)

Petunia ‘Supertunia Bordeaux’, ‘Hot Pink Charm,’ ‘Lovie Dovie’ (Proven Winners)

Petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Fuchsia’ and ‘Silverberry’ (Proven Winners)

Phlox ‘Gisele Hot Pink’ (Selecta)

Phlox ‘Intensia Blueberry’ (Proven Winners)

Salvia ‘Mystic Spires Improved’ (Ball FloraPlant)

Salvia ‘Rockin’ Deep Purple’ and ‘Playin’ the Blues Improved’ (Proven Winners)

Thunbergia ‘A-Peel Lemon’ (Proven Winners)

Tomato ‘Little Bing’ (PanAmerican Seed)

Verbena ‘EnduraScape Pink Bicolor’, ‘Hot Pink,’ and ‘Red’ (Ball FloraPlant)

Top Shade Performers

Begonia ‘Megawatt Pink Bronze Leaf’, ‘Red Bronze Leaf,’ and ‘Rose Bronze Leaf’ (PanAmerican Seed)

Hypoestes ‘Hippo Red’ and ‘Rose’ (Proven Winners)

New Guinea Impatiens ‘Big Bounce Pink’, ‘Red,’ and ‘White’ (Selecta)

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