2020 Winter - 2019 Hardy Eucalyptus Trial Report
With its silvery leaves and distinctive fragrance, eucalyptus has long been a favorite of floral designers and bouquet makers. While most cut eucalyptus comes from tropical or semi-tropical environments, its popularity has led many temperate zone growers to produce fast-growing cultivars outdoors or in high tunnels. The desire to provide locally-grown eucalyptus prompted the ASCFG to conduct a cold-hardy eucalyptus trial in 2019, with the cooperation of Southern Eucs, a company that specializes in cold-hardy eucalyptus. While the program got off to a bit of a rocky start with shipping problems in the spring, we already have some results. All Trialers are growing them in the field, so we should have a good indication of cold hardiness next year.
At this point in the multi-year trial, ‘Funky Monkey’, with its small green leaves on reddish stems, appears to be the favorite. The foliage is variable, with some leaves more pointed than others, and some plants had a “very lovely purplish coloring”. In this first year, Trialers were already getting an average of 5.3 stems, averaging 13 inches long, per plant, with responses ranging from 9 to 20 inches. Vase life is excellent, with one Trialer reporting 2+ weeks and another 10-14 days.
Next is ‘Cab Sav’, which produced four stems per plant, ranging in length from 10 to 15 inches. This well-branched cultivar bears dusky green leaves.
‘Big O’ is a well-named cultivar with large silvery leaves. It was also by far the fastest-growing cultivar in the Trial. Not surprisingly, it had the longest stem length, 14.5 inches, with an average of 4.5 stems per plant. One Trialer reported a 14-day vase life.
The most refined foliage was found on ‘Angus’, which had a multitude of long, narrow leaves. One Trialer reported trouble getting it to hydrate, but another noted that it had a 2+ week vase life. Trialers harvested an average of 3.9 stems per plant, which ranged in length from 10 to 18 inches.Finishing the list is ‘Sheila’ with medium-sized, slightly elongated leaves. Trialers reported harvesting about 2 stems per plant that were 10 to 13 inches long.
Of the five cultivars, based on the combined ratings score (market appreciation + repeat again + ease of cultivation), the top-ranked cultivars were ‘Big O’, ‘Cab Sav’, and ‘Funky Monkey’. These cultivars will be nominated for the ASCFG Cut Flower of the Year.
Interpreting the Trial results: The numbers reported are averages of all the respondents. Many factors will affect the success of any cultivar. Our participants grow and harvest trial plants using several methods. After looking at the average, check the range of responses listed below each number to see how the cultivar performed at its best and its worst. If the range of responses in the ratings is narrow and high, e.g. 3-5 or 4-5, the plant was a winner for most of the respondents and is likely to do well for you. The “Repeat Again Rating” is particularly important because it indicates if the Trialer would take the time, money, and space to actually grow the cultivar again. Review the trial results carefully. If a variety sounds interesting, but did not appear to do well, try it anyway—it may work well for you.
Acknowledgments: Thank you to each of the four evaluators who returned their Trial reports! We very much appreciate the time it takes to completely and competently participate in the ASCFG Trial Program. We want to especially thank Jamie Rohda for being the first Trialer to return her evaluations! Thank you to Southern Eucs for providing the plant materials. We also thank Sydney Ruppert and Ingram McCall for assisting with the NCSU trials. In preparing the report we did a bit of editing of the comments for space and clarity; our apologies if we’ve altered the tone or content of anyone’s comments.
Summary of Comments. Note: many respondents did not make specific comments on each cultivar and in a few cases, comments have been shortened because of limited space. The number in a parenthesis refers to the number of respondents who made the comment. If no number is present, only one person made the comment. Comments by each individual are separated with a semicolor (;).
Good Qualities: Loved the fine texture and slightly reddish stems; Unique structure; I love this cultivar! It is my favorite! I have florists begging for more of it already, love how it is so light, customers would argue that it is too delicate to be a eucalyptus.
Eucalyptus rubida ‘Cab Sav’
Nathan Jahnke/John Dole