2018 Midwest Floriculture Field Trials: Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University

Reiman Gardens is the 17-acre botanic gardens of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Weather was as always one of the biggest challenges. Winter ran long and Ames saw snow through the middle of April. After roughly two weeks of spring temperatures, the gardens consistently saw high-80s and mid-90s with lots of rain.

Here’s what Trial Manager Jessie Liebenguth said about the Iowa State University field trials:

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It was a challenge to get plants in the ground and keep them watered well in the heat or from drowning on a day when we received over 5 inches of rain in one morning. The majority of our approximately 200 trial entries were from either All-America Selections, for which Reiman Gardens hosts trials in Ornamental Seed, Edibles, and Perennials, as well as American Garden Rose Selections.

It was a very difficult year for roses and tomatoes, especially with irregular watering and varying temperatures all growing season. Conditions were perfect for a prolonged Japanese beetle infestation, but very few hornworms were spotted — a relief for Reiman’s 30-plus tomato entries and comparison plantings. One in-house trial that was a pleasure to carry out was a sampling of various uncommon salvias; the majority will be left in-ground over the winter to see what may be beneficial to introduce into our plant palette.

Top Performers

Because Reiman Gardens participates in many blind trials, we don’t always know what cultivars were successful in time for this report. Top performers include:

Canna ‘South Pacific Orange’

Capsicum ‘Roulette’ habanero

Trial tronchuda-style kale

Trial yellow sweet pepper

Trial mini cucumber

Coreopsis ‘Golden Globe Compact’ tickseed

Salvia nutans (nodding sage)

Best of Show

Salvia nutans (This variety was a huge butterfly magnet with great style.)

Zinnia ‘Queeny Lime Orange’

Capsicum ‘Onyx Red’

Consumer Favorites

Capsicum ‘Roulette’ habanero – These peppers have the flavor of a habanero, but typically none of the heat (although there can be a hot one here and there).

Trial mini cucumber – This was the longest producing cuke in trials. It had a light flavor.

Capsicum ‘Onyx Red’ – great size, very uniform, beautiful fruit

2017 Field Trial Results for Reiman Gardens/Iowa State University

See results from trials held during 2018 in other regions.