Location: Plant Introduction ResearchTitle: Evaluation of Native U.S. Shrubs at Purdue Author
Submitted to: Landscape Plant News
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2012
Publication Date: 9/1/2012
Citation: Mickelbart, M., Carstens, J.D., Gosney, M. 2012. Evaluation of Native U.S. Shrubs at Purdue. Indiana Nursery and Landscape News. 75(5):22-24. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: There is a growing demand for native plants in the landscape. Native plants account for an increasing proportion of all plant sales and use of native plants by landscape designers has increased in recent years. Unfortunately, there are many factors that influence plant performance both biologically and environmentally, regardless of whether a plant is native or non-native. Biologically, plants may vary in susceptibility to insects and/or disease due to genetics and/or environmental conditions. Environmentally, plants may or may not establish in extreme cold or hot temperatures or succumb to prolonged dry or wet soil conditions. As an example, an accession growing in area with warm winters and abundant annual rainfall (e.g. Storrs, CT) may flourish as opposed to a site that typically experiences very cold winters and minimal amounts of annual rainfall (e.g. Bismarck, ND). In 1954, a small group of dedicated horticulturists under the leadership of Professor S.A. McCrory of South Dakota State College (now University) recognized the inconsistency of plant performance across the Midwest resulting in the formation of the NC-7 Regional Ornamental Plant Trials. Objectives are to better assess plant performance across a broad range of environments and climatic extremes and expand the range of useful landscape plants, while placing emphasis on detailed, long-term evaluations. The trials are one of the longest running evaluation networks for landscape plants in the U.S. Each year a small number of promising, new trees and shrubs are offered for testing to approximately 30 trial sites across 18 states. Plants selected for trial are acquired through plant explorations, seed or other propagule exchange, or direct donations from other institutions. Factors influencing plant selection include assessments of hardiness and aesthetics, ease of propagation and culture, naturalization potential, and specific interests of trial site cooperators. Since 2007, the Mickelbart lab at Purdue has been a participant in the NC-7 Regional Ornamental Plant Trials. Plants are established in mulched rows, fertilized minimally each year, and irrigated as needed to avoid stress, especially during establishment. Once established, plants are observed and evaluated throughout the seasons at one, five, and ten years after planting. In addition to making a 10-year commitment to evaluate the plants, our goal is to keep them growing for the foreseeable future for evaluation and as a demonstration plot for anyone who wants to see how a particular selection is growing in central Indiana.