Initial Landscape Plant Evaluation Protocol

Allen D. Owings  |  6/3/2009 6:46:34 AM

I E G 63
Landscape Plant Evaluation Program

Protocol voted on and approved at Raleigh meeting June/1994

The nursery industry in the United States and in the southeast is of considerable economic importance. In 1988 the greenhouse industry made up about ten percent of total crop receipts in the U.S. with receipts of approximately $6.9 billion. The southeastern region accounted for one-third of U.S. receipts or approximately $2.3 billion. This represented 12.4 percent of total crop receipts received in the southeast.

The need and demand for superior landscape plants by the private, public and business sectors for functional and aesthetic use is increasing. The availability of plant material with improved performance will result in increased landscape value, reduced maintenance costs, better landscape appearance and greater satisfaction and enjoyment by the public with their outdoor environment. Nurserymen producing superior and unique plant material could benefit by better production efficiency and broader product line, thereby improving market competitiveness.

Plant evaluation programs are currently being conducted by many commercial firms and public and private institutions. Among these are the USDA National Arboretum, Soil Conservation Service, public and private universities, public and private gardens, and nurseries.

Many valuable plants have been found through plant evaluation programs. Plants that are new, different and an improvement of currently available plant material, create more interest in plants and therefore more sales.

Nurserymen may not have plant material with proven potential in production because the plant is unknown to them. Its merit, potential, and uniqueness or superior characteristics have not been sufficiently evaluated. It can be too costly and time consuming for nurserymen to individually find and cultivate new material. Also considerable risks and costs are involved to produce and market plant material with unknown value.

Much of the information generated by landscape plant evaluation programs in the northeast, Pacific Northwest and southwest is not applicable in the southeast without further testings.

The development of a comprehensive regional evaluation program to evaluate plant material generated by current individual plant evaluation programs would be beneficial in introducing plants to the nursery industry in the southeast.

Climate patterns in the southeast are very diversified. for example, USDA Hardiness zones for the southeast range from zone 11, above 40 degrees F, Florida Keys; zone 10, 30 - 40 degrees F, Southern Florida; zone 9, 20 - 30 degrees F, Southern Texas, Louisiana, and Central Florida; zone 8, 10 - 20 degrees F, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, North Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina; zone 7, 0 - 10 degrees F, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia; and zone 6, -10 - 0 degrees F, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia.

The objective of this program is to collect, evaluate, introduce and disperse new and superior landscape plants for nursery production in the Southern U.S. Adaptability, desirable and limiting characteristics of plant materials, will be established for a state or region within the southeast. the introduction and dispersal of new, interesting and functional plant material will create greater appreciation and use of plants by the consumer which will result in increased plant production.

Procedure: Each cooperating state will collect plant material with potential for production and use for initial evaluation. Only plant material evaluated as promising by cooperators in each state will be selected for regional evaluation. Plants selected for regional evaluation will be dispersed to participating states as 2 2 inch to 3 inch pot liners in April of each year. Four plants per cultivar will be shipped to each state. Cultural procedures used for evaluation will be determined by the cooperator in each state. However, some standardization of growing procedures is encouraged. It is suggested that all four plants of a cultivar will initially be grown in one-gallon containers for 1 or 2 years in light shade or full sun. The second or third year the plants will be planted in soil field evaluation. Plant material received for evaluation may, at any time, be destroyed or dispersed to nurserymen at the discretion of the cooperator in each state.

Plants will be evaluated using uniform evaluation forms (see attached evaluation form). Items 1 through 7 are to be filled out by the dispensing cooperator for each plant. Receiving cooperators are responsible for completing items 8 through 20 and forwarding annual evaluation forms for each cultivar to the dispensing cooperators. The cooperator that dispersed the cultivar is responsible for publishing results obtained after a minimum of four years of evaluation.

Statistical analysis will be a conventional ANOVA using SAS. Plants dispersed annually for evaluation will be grown in a completely randomized design at each state. Statistical analysis will be conducted separately with each plant replicated 4 times at each state with states being treatments.

Plant evaluation programs can balloon into a excessively expensive program and become detrimental to a researcher's overall effort. The program must be designed in a manner that is effective but will not discourage participation and can be maintained within budget limitations of cooperators. to accomplish this only material with real potential should be distributed to each state.

Literature Cited.
Foshee, K.H., T.D. Phillips, A.J. Laiche, Jr., and S.E. Newman. 1990. Cost of production estimates for container grown landscape plants, climate zones 7 and 8, 1990. Ag. Ec. Res. Rept. 189, MAFES p. 72.

Explanation of I E G 63 Plant Evaluation Form

  • a. Plant identification number (State, Year, Plant Number)
  • b. Location plant distributed from
  • c. Cooperator
  • d. Location receiving plant
  • e. Date received
  • f. Cooperator
  • g. Scientific Name
  • h. Common Name
  • j. Hardiness zone of original test plant
  • k. Growth habit
  • l. Foliage color
  • m. Time of flowering
  • n. Flower color
  • o. Time of fruiting
  • p. Fruit color
  • q. Method of propagation

EVALUATE

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1994

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1997

Number survived

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Low temp. range

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High temp. range

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Growth rating

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Flower rating

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Fruit rating

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Plant size ht/wd

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Production potential

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Landscape potential

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Insect damage rating

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Disease damage rating

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Cold damage rating

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Visual ratings of: Growth, Flowering, Fruiting, Nursery production potential, and Landscape use potential – 10 = excellent, 1 = very poor.

Visual ratings of: Insect, Disease, and Cold damage - 10 = none, 1 = very severe

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