2016 Cut Flowers of the Year
Members of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Inc. have selected the Fresh, Woody Stem, and Bulb Cut Flowers of the Year for 2016. The evaluation is based on the cultivars’ performance in the ASCFG National Cut Flower Trials, and recommendations from cut flower growers across the country. The winners for 2016 are:
Snapdragon 'Madame Butterfly'
Tuberose Mexican Single
Snapdragon Madame Butterfly
Bred by the original Goldsmith Seed Company, flowers in the Madame Butterfly series have a unique double petal form. This “azalea type” prevents pollination by insects, allowing flowers to last longer than single-petaled varieties. The mix contains bronze/white, cherry/bronze, ivory, pink, red, rose, yellow, and bronze blooms, making it useful for a wide range of floral designs. Flower stems grow 26 to 36 inches. Madame Butterfly cultivars are suitable for outdoor or high tunnel production from spring through fall. Plants can be grown single stem when spaced closely together, or multi-stem if spaced further apart, as the plants branch well.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’
Michael Dirr calls ‘Annabelle’ “…unabashedly the queen of the Hydrangea arborescens bash.” Its reliable ability to flower each year on new growth makes it a dependable workhorse for cut flower growers, who find it especially useful for wedding and event work. A native North American, ‘Annabelle’ is hardy to Zone 3. Harvest when sepals are fully colored and flower heads are no longer soft to the touch. Stems can also be cut when sepals are green and not yet open, and again after they have matured to green, when sepals will be papery. At the end of the season, cut remaining stems to the ground, as this species is best treated as a large perennial.
Tuberose ‘Mexican Single’
Well known for its sweet fragrance, tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) has been cultivated for years around the world. It is used not only for a cut flower, but the individual florets are also used to make wonderfully fragrant leis. Tuberose are relatively easy to grow, needing full sun and well-drained soil. Plants are hardy to about USDA Zone 6, but in colder climates bulbs can be dug in the fall and replanted in the spring. ‘Mexican Single’ is the preferred cultivar, as the postharvest life of the double forms is often unacceptable. Flower stems may grow as long as three feet. A cut flower grower in Maine says that tuberose is one of the few flowers that his farmers’ market customers ask when they will be ready.