Trial gardens in full swing

The Annual Trial Gardens are fully planted, despite less staff due to COVID-19

One bed in the MSU Trial Gardens is newly planted in 2020

Our Michigan State University (MSU) Trial Gardens have successfully planted all our annual and perennial trials this summer, despite limited staffing due to COVID-19 restrictions on campus.  While all other Garden events had to be cancelled this spring and summer, we successfully received an exemption from college administration to allow the Trials to continue to support the industry.  This year we are evaluating over 200 varieties including annuals, perennials, and vegetables. The annual Plant Trial Field Day event will still be held, but in a virtual format, and will be free to attend this year (registration is still required).

Our Trial Gardens are also in their second year of expanded trial data collection.  We now provide three reports (early-, mid-, and late- season results) with pictures, each including multiple indices scoring on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), including:

  • Plant vigor – Does it fill in its space and establish quickly?
  • Plant Uniformity – Do all plants in the cultivar entry look similar?
  • ‘WOW’ factor – A measure of flower power for flowering plants and/or the color, uniqueness, etc for foliage plants.
  • Pest and Environmental Stress [scored as needed] – Is the cultivar resistance to problems?
  • Overall Score – An average of the above measurements.

Anyone is able to visit the Trials. The Gardens are gateless and free (MSU parking fees may apply) and are always open to the public. However, due to COVID-19, the adjacent academic buildings may be closed, and there may be limited staff on-site. For location and parking details, go to the Gardens’ visitor webpage.

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