Mt. Cuba Center’s Trial Garden evaluates native plants and their related cultivars for their horticultural and ecological value. The goal of this research is to provide gardeners and the horticulture industry with information about superior plants for the mid-Atlantic region as well as highlight the important ecosystem services native plants provide.
Asters for the Mid-Atlantic Region
Research Report (2006) In 2002, Mt. Cuba Center, located near Wilmington, DE, (USDA Hardiness Zone 7A/6B) initiated a project to evaluate 56 commercially available species and cultivars of asters, predominantly native to the eastern U.S. A special effort was made to include lesser known species that have not been fully evaluated for their potential ornamental use. Data was collected from 2003-2005. The goal was to recommend superior taxa based on the following observations: floral display (flower color, inflorescence size, flower coverage, bloom period); habit (height, width, foliage quality, habit quality-need for staking or pinching); winter hardiness; cultural adaptability; and disease and pest resistance. Ratings were based on a 1–5 scale with 1=very poor, 5=excellent.
Started in 2012, the trial is looking at 53 cultivars and selections representing 14 different species native to the East Coast.
This group of plants is one of the most popular, best-selling perennials available today. Clearly, some of the native Coreopsis species deserve broader use in mainstream gardening. At the same time, there is a great deal of confusion among gardeners because some perennial cultivars do not perform as well as advertised.
Annual Coreopsis for the Mid-Atlantic Region
(2014) In 2012, Mt. Cuba Center initiated a trial of 27 cultivars of annual coreopsis. Our goal was to evaluate the horticultural and ecological potential that this new group of plants has to offer. Top performing plants were selected based on their habit, floral display and disease resistance.
Coneflowers for the Mid-Atlantic Region
Research Report (2009) Mt. Cuba Center, located near Wilmington, DE, (USDA Hardiness Zone 7A/6B) conducted a three- year evaluation project (2007-2009) involving five species and 43 cultivars of coneflowers to determine their desirability for garden use in the mid-Atlantic region based on their ornamental attributes, adaptation to environmental conditions, and resistance to insects and disease. The objective was to observe seed grown Echinacea purpurea cultivars, the new clonally (tissue culture) produced plants commercially available at the time of the evaluation, and the various species for comparison. The goal was to recommend superior taxa based on the following observations: floral display (flower color, inflorescence size, flower coverage, bloom period); habit (height, width, foliage quality, habit quality—need for staking or pinching); winter hardiness, cultural adaptability; and disease and pest resistance. Ratings were based on a 1-5 scale; 1 = very poor, 2 = poor, 3 = fair, 4 = good, and 5 = excellent.
Heuchera, also known as coral bells or alumroot, are a favorite of gardeners everywhere. Their popularity is proven by the huge array of cultivars available today. The incredible amount of excitement surrounding Heuchera has led to an excessive amount of choices as well as the occasional release of inferior or redundant plants before adequate trialing. For these reasons, Mt. Cuba Center set out to evaluate 83 different cultivars derived from two species native to the eastern United States. Those species, H. americana and H. villosa, have lent hardiness, vigor, and important color components to modern hybrids.
Final Report: http://www.mtcubacenter.org/images/PDFs-and-SWFs/Heuchera_Report.pdf
Begun in 2014 by the Mt. Cuba Center, the trial is comparing 44 species and cultivars of Monarda to determine which plants perform best in the Mid-Atlantic.http://www.mtcubacenter.org/plant-trials/category/monarda-evaluation-2014-2016/