FloraStar Elite Performer

August 11, 2005 - 08:13

Ivy geranium and osteospermum trial.

FloraStars’s Elite Performer trials are designed to evaluate varieties in a production setting and determine those that are the easiest in a greenhouse setting. All breeder/marketer companies are invited to enter varieties they feel fit the criteria of the trials. The 2005 trials included ivy geraniums and osteospermum and were conducted at Colorado State University and the University of Florida. Having the trials at two locations this year gave us comparisons between different climates and production styles.

The varieties selected as Elite Performer winners are those that, based on these trials, would be the easiest for growers to produce. Those recognized with Merit Awards, while not as good as Elite Performers, would also be generally easy to grow and certainly worth considering. The authors and FloraStar express appreciation to the breeder/marketer companies who have participated in the Elite Performer trials over the past three years and subjected their varieties to independent evaluations.

Ivy geranium

The objectives of this trial were to evaluate ivy geranium varieties that could be produced in 41?2-inch pots with the use of growth regulators. Judging criteria were growth habit, earliness to flower, number of flowers, branching, heat tolerance and odema resistance. At Colorado State plants were grown using two Cycocel sprays at 1,000 ppm. At Florida both Florel (500 ppm) and a B-Nine/Cycocel (2,500 ppm/1,250 ppm) tank mix were used for height control.

The use of growth regulators improved all of the varieties in both locations, and the effect can be seen in accompanying photos of Á ‘Royal Light Pink’ (left) and ‘Global Red’ (see page 54). As would be expected, untreated plants in Florida were less upright than were the untreated plants in Colorado, showing that the use of a PGR was more important in Florida. While Florel is often used for ivy geranium basket production, the B-Nine/Cycocel tank mix produced a better, more upright growth habit needed for production in smaller containers.

Elite Performer winners. ‘Royal Light Pink’ is a very attractive, upright plant with several open flowers on the plant at any one time. It is very easy to grow in a 41?2-inch pot and was a top performer at both locations. It flowered early and branched well.

‘Global Red’ is a nice, compact, upright plant with dark green foliage. It performed a little better in Colorado than Florida but was easy to grow in a 41?2-inch format at both locations. In Colorado ‘Global Red’ was just as good as ‘Royal Light Pink’; however, in Florida the growth habit of ‘Royal Light Pink’ was a little better than ‘Global Red’. ‘Global Red’ was better than the other red entry in both locations. It had a large number of attractive flowers and very good branching.
Merit Awards. ‘Colorcade Red Improved’ is a stocky, upright plant. It flowered later than the above varieties, and the leaves were not as dark as the other cultivars. With PGRs it was easy to grow in a 41?2-inch format. Flower color is a bright red.
‘Royal Dark Burgundy’ has an attractive deep-burgundy flower color; however, the flowers are not as neat and clean as other varieties. It has very dark green leaves. PGRs are required to reduce internode elongation, and then it is easy to grow. ‘Royal Dark Burgundy’ does not produce as many laterals compared to the Elite Performer varieties.

‘Global Salmon Rose’ has a nice color. It is a good plant for the 41?2-inch format if PGRs are used. It flowered later than some of the above varieties and had fewer flowers.

Other varieties. ‘Dandy Apricot’ had a mix of flower types and included plants with red and white bicolored flowers. The true apricot flowers have a nice color. However, ‘Dandy Á Apricot’ is a little too stretchy and even with PGRs did not make a nice 41?2-inch pot.

‘Happy Face Mex’ was the most vigorous variety in the trial and is not well suited for small containers. It also had significantly more odema than the other cultivars.

Osteospermum

This trial was based on using only a 60º F night temperature during production and only one cutting in a 41?2-inch pot. The selection criteria were earliness to flower, growth habit, continuous blooming, and number and size of flowers.
It should be noted that using only a 60º F night temperature puts a lot of pressure on a variety, and many osteospermum will not do well under these conditions. The cuttings were all produced under the same conditions and were in good shape at the beginning of the trial. No PGRs were used in Colorado; however, the varieties were unacceptable without B-Nine/Cycocel in Florida, which delayed flowering about seven days. There were only three varieties entered in this trial, and two comparison varieties (‘Brightside’ and ‘Seaside’) were grown with the entries. All three of the varieties in the trial performed better than the comparison varieties and deserve recognition because of how good they are.

Elite Performer winner. ‘Flower Power Pink’ was the top performer at both locations. It Á flowered early and continued flowering. It was compact, had good branching, was covered in flowers and required the least amount of PGR.
Merit Awards. ‘Flower Power Cream White’ produced a large number of flowers. It responded well to PGRs to produce a good, compact plant. Flowering was later than the other two entries.

‘Flower Power Grande Pineapple’ was the earliest to flower and continued flowering all season. Growth habit is not as upright or strong as the other two entries, but ‘Flower Power Grande Pineapple’ did well with PGRs.
Comparisons. ‘Brightside’ and ‘Seaside’ produced fewer flowers or did not flower under the conditions of this trial. Growth habit was improved with PGRs to reduce height.

About The Author

Jim Barrett, University of Florida, can be reached by E-mail at jbarrett@mail.ifas.ufl.edu. David Hartley, Colorado State University, can be reached at dhartley@lamar.colostte.edu.

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