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Preview: Plant Evaluation Notes

Plant Evaluation Notes

The Chicago Botanic Garden Plant Evaluation Notes (PE Notes) are reviews of recommended plants for gardens in the Upper Midwest, as determined through scientific evaluation over a period of time -- four years for perennials, six years for shrubs and vines

Last Build Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2014 14:13:55 -0500

Copyright: 2010 Chicago Botanic Garden

A Comparative Study of Joe-Pye Weeds and Their Relatives

Wed, 19 Mar 2014 14:05:24 -0500

Over a 12-year period, the Chicago Botanic Garden evaluated 26 taxa of Eutrochium species and related genera with the goal of identifying outstanding Joe-Pye weeds for Upper Midwestern gardens.

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A Comparative Study of Cultivated Asters

Thu, 21 Feb 2013 09:55:37 -0600

Over our 6-year trial, seven asters received five-star excellent ratings for their overall performance. Top-rated asters displayed consistently strong habits, superior flower production, excellent disease resistance, and full winter hardiness throughout a six-year evaluation term. Additionally, 19 asters received four-star good ratings for their strong performances.

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A Comparative Study of Phlox paniculata Cultivars

Thu, 13 Oct 2011 10:32:38 -0500

From 2001 through 2009, the Chicago Botanic Garden (USDA Hardiness Zone 5b, AHS Plant Heat Zone 5) evaluated 78 Phlox taxa in full-sun trials. Download the results in this PDF.

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A Comparative Study of Tradescantia Cultivars

Thu, 09 Dec 2010 10:41:24 -0600

Spiderworts may be pegged as common garden plants, but their unique flowers and strong habits mark them as uncommonly good garden plants. A kaleidoscopic palette of colors marks the ephemeral blossoms of Tradescantia cultivars. Just over half of the spiderworts in the study received four-star good ratings for their performance and ornamental qualities. As plants begin to turn shabby from decline or leaf spotting, shearing stems to the base will encourage a flush of new growth later in the season.

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Comparative Studies of Veronica and Veronicastrum

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:59:46 -0500

Throughout spring and summer the spiky flowers of Veronica rise like sentinels in the sunny garden. Speedwells can be long-lived provided that garden soils drain freely, which is especially important during winter months. A midsummer shearing after the first bloom encourages late summer flowering. Deadheading throughout the bloom cycle produces many new, spikes later in the season.

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A Comparative Study of Platycodon grandiflorus Cultivars

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:59:43 -0500

Balloonflower is a bushy, clump-forming perennial, up to 3 feet tall, with winsome buds and exuberant blossoms in midsummer. In the border or cottage garden, balloonflowers are good companions to other summer-blooming perennials and are long-lived under normal conditions.

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A Performance Appraisal of Hardy Bellflowers

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:59:40 -0500

The distinctive blossoms of bellflower (Campanula) come in hues of blue and violet, from the deepest purple to softest gray blue. Grown in full sun or light shade, bellflowers are generally easy to grow and trouble free in well-drained, alkaline soils.

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A Report on Leucanthemum xsuperbum and Related Daisies

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:59:29 -0500

Many new cultivars have renewed excitement in the Shasta daisy, including cultivars with frilly double flowers or thin curly petals. Plant in rich, well-drained soil: Shasta daisy is often considered a shortlived perennial, especially when grown in heavy or wet soils.

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A Comparative Study of Cultivated Catmints

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:59:26 -0500

Equally wonderful as accents or massed in large groups, catmints are well-suited to perennial borders, herb gardens and rockeries, and can be used as ground covers, edging plants or for spilling over rock walls. True catnip, Nepeta cataria, is particularly intoxicating to feline friends, but several other common catmints also attract cats.

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An Evaluation Report of Meadow Rues

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:59:23 -0500

The wealth of meadow rues available to gardeners ensures a profusion of pretty blooms from spring into fall. These easy-to-grow plants generally prefer moist, organic soils in partial shade to full sun. Plants that become ragged after flowering can be pruned to the ground to rejuvenate plant health and encourage new growth.

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A Comparative Study of Cultivated Stachys

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:59:21 -0500

Stachys' silvery leaves are perfect foils for plants with hot- or cool-colored blossoms. Conversely, betonies bring a casual formality to the border, herb garden, cottage garden or meadow. While lamb’s ears tends to decline during flowering, deadheading regenerates leaves and improves plant vigor.

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A Garden Study of Sundrops and Evening Primroses

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:59:18 -0500

Heavy-flowering Oenothera are healthy plants with winter hardiness, giving many of these taxa five-star excellent ratings. Sundrops and evening primroses thrive in full sun but tolerate light shade. Oenothera speciosa may spread rapidly to become weedy in rich or highly fertile soils.

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Fall-blooming Anemones

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:57:15 -0500

One of the most attractive aspects of fall-blooming anemones is their extended bloom period. It is not uncommon for these plants to bloom continuously for more than two months. A great fill plant for larger landscapes, anemones can out-compete smaller herbaceous plants in close quarters.

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An Evaluation Study of Alchemilla

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:57:11 -0500

With few exceptions, Alchemilla prove to be good garden plants. The similarity of the cultivated species -- minor differences in leaves, flowers and habits -- allows gardeners to interchange them depending on availability.

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A Comparative Study of Ground Cover Lamium

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:57:09 -0500

Uneven moisture regimes can make the placement of plants in the shady garden an all-or-nothing experiment. In these circumstances, a variety of dead nettles come to the rescue. From green, silver, yellow and variegated leaves to ground covers and upright habits, dead nettles offer ornamental versatility as well as a tolerance to a wide range of conditions.

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Hardy Geraniums for Northern Gardens

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:57:07 -0500

Hardy geranium is a general term that is used to distinguish Geranium from its tender cousin Pelargonium, the colorful floral or bedding geranium. Many species, especially those with trailing habits, can be used on slopes, retaining walls and in containers. Several varieties can be grown together for continuous bloom from spring to autumn.

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An Evaluation Study of Coral Bells

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:57:06 -0500

Few perennials have exploded onto the scene quite like coral bells, or Heuchera. Breeding has brought a variety of foliage shape and color and improved flower production to market. Look for coral bells with lime-green or amber-gold leaves, and abundant red or pink blossoms -- now available.

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An Evaluation Report on Barrenworts for the Shade Garden

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:52:48 -0500

Barrenworts are tough, long-lived perennials that are an invaluable garden plant for the challenging environment of the Midwest -- their toughness and ability to compete with tree roots make them a must-have in any shade garden, and Epimedium provides a variety of unique, colorful flowers and leaves in the spring and a backdrop of green waves throughout the remainder of the year.

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Garden-Worthy Artemisias

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:52:46 -0500

While many artemesias in the study proved unsuitable for northern climes, planting artemisias in lighter soils with sharp drainage may reduce the potential for winter injury or loss of these plants, and allow you to add some texture and beauty to your perennial borders and rock gardens.

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An Evaluation Study of Hardy Amsonia

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:52:43 -0500

Bluestars prove to be hardy, low-maintenance perennials, giving three seasons of interest in the garden. Clusters of pale blue flowers top the upright stems in May and June before new stem growth covers the remaining flowers. For exceptional floral displays, try Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia and Amsonia illustris.

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An Appraisal of Pulmonaria for the Garden

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:52:38 -0500

WIth neither serious nor consistent pest problems and a host of shade applications, Lungwort can brighten an area of your yard with a variety of foliage variations and flower colors.

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An Evaluation Study of Tricyrtis

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:52:35 -0500

Some of the new cultivars of Tricyrtis have become available only in the last few years from specialty nurseries in Japan and the United States. For a toad lily that really shines, try Tricyrtis formosana and T. hirta ‘Miyazaki’ because of their superior floral displays, robust habits, winter hardiness and disease resistance.

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An Evaluation Report of Goldenrods for the Garden

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:52:30 -0500

This 5-year study compared ornamental traits, disease and pest resistance, and cultural adaptability of 25 species and garden hybrids of solidago, to determine the best goldenrods for Midwest gardens.

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A Performance Appraisal of Hardy Sages

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:52:27 -0500

Fifteen easy to grow and pest-resistant perennial Salvia taxa were grown and evaluated at the Chicago Botanic Garden from the 1993 to 1998, to compare ornamental characteristics and to determine the best hardy sages for the Midwest. Find out which of these valuable plants is best for you.

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An Evaluation Report of Selected Phlox Species and Hybrids

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:52:24 -0500

This 3-year comparative study of Phlox find that there are garden phlox that are beautiful in flower and form AND resistant to powdery mildew. By choosing the right phlox, you will be rewarded with a handsome plant and a long season of bloom.

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Monarda and Powdery Mildew Resistance

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:11:33 -0500

Beebalms and bergamots are great perennials for meadows and wild gardens, along streams and ponds, in woodlands and also in the garden border. The long season of color attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds in July and August, and will capture your attention as well.

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An Evaluation Report of Shrub Roses

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:11:26 -0500

Modern shrub roses hold the promise of being better plants for today’s landscapes. But which shrub roses are best suited for the gardens of the northern Midwest? This six year evaluation found three English shrub roses and seven Canadian shrub roses to be outstanding for growing in midwestern climes.

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Clematis for Northern Landscapes

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:11:24 -0500

Of the 64 original clematis observed in this study, 33 are recommended for Northern landscapes, with nine taxa rated as superior for heavy flower production, high quality blossoms, exceptional ornamental characteristics, vigorous habits, winter hardiness, and disease and pest resistance.

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A Performance Report of Cultivated Blazing Stars

Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:11:21 -0500

While many blazing stars can be successfully grown locally, not all species are suitable for growing in the Chicago area. This report details which of the 16 taxa grown will work best in your yard.

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Rudbeckia for Cultivated Landscapes

Fri, 04 Jun 2010 14:45:14 -0500

With a diverse range of species that are easy to grow and well-adapted to a variety of cultural situations, coneflowers endure and provide flowering enjoyment during the two hottest months of summer.

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Report on Summer Flowering Annuals

Fri, 04 Jun 2010 14:35:20 -0500

Fifty-five herbaceous summer flowering annuals tested this year (1994) included 16 All American Selections (AAS). All selections are rated on a scale of 1-4 for the sum of the following qualities: flowers, plant size, peak bloom (and length of bloom), and disease and pest resistance.

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Boxwoods for Northern Midwest Landscapes

Fri, 04 Jun 2010 13:19:56 -0500

Of 30 species of Buxus cultivated in the Midwest, few boxwood varieties are hardy in colder, northern sites. Ten boxwoods were evaluated in this study, with seven showing successful and appealing cultivation characteristics.

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A Performance Report of Cultivated Yarrows (Achillea)

Fri, 04 Jun 2010 13:11:25 -0500

While some Achillea in this study did not prove winter-hardy, a wide variety of hybrids had outstanding performance, including 10 cultivars in colors from gold to peach to pink and lilac.

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Hibiscus moscheutos Cultivars and Horticultural Hybrids

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 12:07:19 -0500

Given minimal cultural care, rose mallow cultivars thrived in this evaluation. The range of flower colors, flower sizes, foliage types and habits make this a plant worthy of a variety of landscape uses.

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A Bamboo Performance Report

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 10:49:59 -0500

Bamboo can be grown successfully in the Chicago region and the Midwest, although size and coloration of bamboo canes isn't reliable in colder climates. Five species are recommended in this report.

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The Evaluation and Introduction of a Unique Dwarf River Birch

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 10:30:45 -0500

Fox Valley(TM) River Birch, Betula nigra 'Little King', proves a promising as a specimen plant, hedge, or in a shrub border. It's exfoliating bark and dense branching habit are outstanding features in the winter landscape.

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Performance Appraisal of Selected Small-leaved Rhododendrons

Thu, 03 Jun 2010 09:48:13 -0500

Rhododendrons can be grown with success in the Midwest. The top five performers of this five year study of small-leaved evergreen rhododendrons include 'Milestone', 'Weston's Pink Diamond', Molly Fordham', 'Laurie', and 'Pink Clusters'.

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