Start your planning: Best of the Best from the 2011 Michigan State University Flowering Annual Trial

Twenty-six flowering, annual bedding plants rated a perfect 5.0 for the entire growing season at the MSU Horticulture Demonstration Gardens 2011 trials.

View of the MSU trial annual gardens
Michigan State University Annual Trials Garden. Photo credit: Katie McCarver, MSU Horticulture 

Michigan State University’s Horticulture Department staff has been conducting flowering annuals trials for 33 years. Each year trial plants are submitted by private breeding companies, All American Selections, and Fleuroselect.MSU staff evaluate the performance of each plant in the trials on a bi-weekly basis looking at the vigor, uniformity and ornamental value of the flowers and foliage. They also take note of susceptibility to diseases and insects, and tolerance to changes in climatic condition during the growing season. Plant performance depends on a number of factors including genetics, soil and weather conditions.

Participating companies send seeds or young plants to MSU in the early spring. Plants are grown at the MSU greenhouses and transplanted into ground beds or containers after the last frost; typically late May or early June.

Companies are given the choice of whether they would prefer their plants to be grown in ground beds or in 22” containers - in some cases both are tested. In the ground beds, plants are typically planted at 8” to 12” spacing depending on the species with at least 24 plants per trial entry.

Upon completion of the growing season in 2011, Trials Manager Katie McCarver and MSU Horticulture Garden Director Art Cameron completed and summarized their evaluations and publish the “2011MSU Best of the Best.”  This summary along with the entire review of the 2011 trials can be found at the MSU Trial Gardens  website.

Retail greenhouses, garden centers, landscapers and consumers who purchase annuals may want to review this list and include some of these top performing annuals in their 2012 gardener’s offerings.

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