Seeds were received in the MSU Greenhouses during the winter and early spring months. Seeds were germinated in seed flats or plug trays at 75 °F. Seeding dates varied will be available in the final report. After appropriate growth, seedlings were transplanted to 4” containers or 1204 flats. All of the transplanting took place in March and April.
Cloned plants were propagated by cuttings or tissue culture in commercial greenhouses. Rooted cuttings were shipped as plugs. Upon receipt, the rooted cuttings were transplanted immediately into 1801 flats. Most were received and transplanted in March and April.
After transplanting, all seed and vegetative material were grown in glass greenhouses set at ~75 °F daytime and ~68 °F nighttime temperature until moved to the garden beds.
Plants were grown in Sungrow Professional media (http://sungro.com/products_displayProduct.php?product_id=20&brand_id=8) generously donated by Sungrow and fertigated at every watering with 19-4-23 (125 ppm N) water soluble fertilizer.
Besides whitefly and aphid control on the general population there was nothing specific.
No PGRs were used on annuals evaluated in these trials.
Companies are given the choice of whether they would prefer their plants to be grown in containers or ground beds. When requested, plants were planted into 22” containers and held in greenhouse for about 2 weeks before placing them outdoors between May 26 and June 3. Some plants were tested in ground beds and containers.
Outdoor Ground Bed Management
Spring 2012 - Preplanting activities
Compost was added in the fall of 2010. Beds were rototilled in the spring to control weeds before planting. Roundup herbicide was applied to re-establish bed lines. Irrigation heads for surrounding turf areas were adjusted and replaced if damaged.
Spring 2012 - Planting schedule
Typical plant spacing
Plants are typically planted at 8” -12” on center depending on the species. We typically plant at least 24 plants per trial entry in landscaped beds. Due to space restraints, fewer plants were used of each native plant and vegetable entry.
Summer Maintenance of Trials
We began planting trials on May 20th and finished June 24. It has been a very hot and very dry summer so far. Water happens every other day for ground beds and everyday for containers.
All beds are hand watered as needed. Soils tend to be dry in our trial garden, especially this summer through the months of July and August due to minimal rain fall. Studuents had to water up to three times per week to cover all seven acres of the trial garden.
Ground beds of most annuals were fertigated with a 19-4-23 (250 ppm N) water soluble fertilizer every two or three weeks. We did not give more than this since it is of interest to learn which plants do better with less fertilizer. No fertilizer was given in the native plant trial.
It would be great to see new annuals that are bred to require less fertilizer. Some of the petunia relatives grown in ground beds suffered from high pH symptoms. Our pH can run well into the 7s. It was interesting to note that some petunia cultivars were not nearly as sensitive as others. This gives some idea that petunias and other bedding plants could be selected for decreased sensitivity to high pH and other nutrient stress.
All beds are hand weeded and cultivated as needed until plants fill in. The garden staff will acknowledge that the weeds have been particularly happy this year, chickweed and purslane in particular! Long hours of hand weeding were required to keep the beds looking as good as they did! Volunteers helped a great deal on this tedious task.
No treatments have been given this year for insect or disease control in the annuals. Japanese Beetle numbers have been low so far this year, but they were certainly still around.
Geraniums were deadheaded regularly throughout the season. As needed, dahlias, salvias, snapdragons, marigolds, verbena, and zinnias were deadheaded. Some cultivars required far less dead-heading than others – certainly a desirable trait!
Almost all the hanging baskets seen in the MSU Horticulture Demonstration Gardens were generously donated by Four Star Greenhouses (Carleton, Michigan). They were received in June as finished baskets. They have been watered and fertilized daily with a 19-4-23 water soluble fertilizer at 250 ppm N.