by Author and Professor of Horticulture Jeff Gillman (His quarterly updates are archived right here.)
If you’ve ever wondered where new plants that come out of university or USDA breeding programs are first mentioned, then you should read the journal HortScience. There is a special section in that journal which concentrates on new cultivar and germplasm releases. Here researchers publish the first official reports on new plants that are being released, including information about the plant and where the plant can be obtained. Most of these plants will never really “make it” with consumers and so will die a slow death, but some will. For your enjoyment, here are the new cultivars listed in the February issue of HortScience.
- ‘Replantpac’ which is a plum-almond hybrid that serves as a rootstock for grafted plums.
- ‘Blue Suede’ which is a southern blueberry already licensed for production at McCorkle nursery — a big, well known Georgian business. This cultivar is supposed to be good for the backyard gardener and, if I were to bet on which of the plants here has the best chance to succeed, I’d say this plant.
- ‘Syrgiannidis’ a pear which matures early and which was bred in Greece (it may or may not ever reach the US).
- ‘Charleston Scarlet’ sweetpotato which has remarkably red skin which will, supposedly, make it attractive to consumers. It is also highly resistant to many pests. Right now it is considered good for the backyard gardener or the small organic grower.
- ‘Champagne’ fig, a fig for southern states which has good fruiting characteristics.
- ‘Wyldewood’ elderberry, a heavy yielding elderberry named after Wyldewood Cellars Winery, a big Midwest producer of elderberry wine.
And now the research reports:
1. Are Habanero leaves hot?
On the off-chance that you have been wondering about the amount of capsaicin (the stuff that makes hot peppers hot) in the leaves of habanero peppers, you don’t need to concern yourself any longer. Researchers in Mexico used sensitive chromatographic equipment to determine that there isn’t any.
2. Weigelas for Serious Winters.
Weigela is a plant common in the northern part of this country, but not all Weigelas are made equal when it comes to being able to survive the winter. Newly introduced cultivars were tested for their cold hardiness and the cultivars ‘Pink Popper’, ‘Dark Horse’ and ‘Ruby Queen’ were the hardiest, followed by ‘Alexandra’, ‘Evita’ and ‘Sunny Princess’. All of these are likely to do fine in zone 4a (think Minneapolis). The cultivars “Brigela’, ‘Carnaval’, ‘Elvera’, ‘Goldrush’, and ‘Rubidor’ are not likely to handle zone 4a.
3. Yes, but would you choose this color if it weren’t Mother’s Day?
We have preferences for different color flowers depending on the holiday (or lack thereof), our age, and many other factors. For example, red and bronze colors are preferred for anniversaries and Christmas, but not blue and purple. White and yellow are preferred for Easter, and peach and pink flowers are preferred for mother’s day. Additionally, higher income female consumers over 55 prefer peach and pink flowers more that their lower earning peers, while higher earning females 40-54 years old prefer blue and purple flowers more than their lower earning peers. Most men, regardless of age or income, buy red and bronze flowers….
4. Trees for the best shade?
Believe it or not, there are significant differences between the air temperature and soil temperature in the shade provided by different trees. In a test conducted in Taiwan (subtropical – think northern Florida) it was determined that how lightly the leaves were colored, the density of the canopy, the leaf thickness, and the leaf texture all had an effect on the air and soil temperature in the shade around trees. So, which tree provided the coolest shade? Chinese elm and Rose wood.
Photo: Weigela ‘White Knight’.