Herbaceous Ornamental Field Trials
The Clark County Master Gardener Volunteers started herbaceous ornamental plant evaluations in 1995. The purpose of these trials is to provide growers, landscapers, and homeowners with a guide for selecting annuals that grow best in the central Ohio area. The selection of plants evaluated in the garden varies from year to year and is based on new varieties that growers have developed and want to evaluate in our area. Depending on the variety, they are grown in sun, shade or containers.
Beginning in February seeds or plugs are grown in a greenhouse where a team of volunteers plants, waters, trims, and does pest control. They are moved to an outdoor hardening off area for 10 days and then with the help of over 30 volunteers the plants are transferred to the field trial plot in mid-May. Adopt a Bed volunteers keep the area weed free with no deadheading or trimming done during the time the plants are in the ground.
Evaluation Method and Criteria
Every four weeks from mid-June to mid-September, six volunteers conduct visual inspections of each grouping of six plants. Visual inspections are rated from 1 to 5; 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. At least three plants must remain to be included in the trial. An overall seasonal score is determined by averaging the monthly totals. Those with highest ratings are considered top performers for Ohio gardens. Results are published at: https://clark.osu.edu/program-areas/agriculture-and-natural-resources/horticulture/field-trials
If you come to see these trial plots, bring pencil and paper as you will want to make note of those plants that you like and must have!