Website Updates

Thank you for visiting our new research and outreach site for all things related to greenhouse production in the Midwestern United States and beyond!  We recently migrated articles and content from the old site ( to here and may have a few remaining kinks to work out.  Our team will have post new content weekly – so please sign up with your email address to subscribe to updates and encourage your industry peers to do so as well!  Please visit our Twitter and Facebook sites for additional information!

Digital Evaluator – An App for Trial Gardens

By Dr. Tim Rhodus, Professor and Elaine Eberlin, Systems Specialist
Department of Horticulture & Crop Science, The Ohio State University and
Online at:

The following article was first published in the June 2015 issue of the Buckeye Bulletin, ONLA.

This article describes the Ohio State University Cultivar Trials and how an app was created to assist in organizing and managing the evaluation and communication program for the garden. Initially conceived by Dr. Claudio Pasian in 2002, the Ohio State University Cultivar Trials are conducted each year in order to evaluate ornamental bedding and container plants. The objective of these trials is to observe the performance of new and recently introduced cultivated plant varieties under environmental conditions typical of central Ohio.

The OSU Cultivar Trials contain four categories of plants: field (ground beds), containers in the sun, containers in the shade, and hanging baskets. During the growing season, all plants are evaluated four times by Master Gardener and Chadwick Arboretum volunteers. These consumer evaluators are asked to rate each plant from 1 – 5 on how well they “like” the plant. Additionally…….

To read the article go to:

Results and photos of the 2014 trials can be found at:



New Research Greenhouses on the OSU Wooster (OARDC) Campus

It has now been almost two months since we have had the keys to our new greenhouses. The verdict so far- “They are really great!” Are there a few things we may have done differently? Maybe. But I think the overall opinion from the occupants is that these greenhouses are wonderful. The new Williams Hall Greenhouse complex on the OARDC campus in Wooster, Ohio contains 14,400 sq ft of space for conducting greenhouse research and growing exceptional plants for laboratory based research projects (~20,000 sq ft including the hallways). They are Nexus houses with glass glazing. The complex includes 14 bays that are 24’ x 40’ and two smaller bays that are 24’ x 20’. The greenhouses are controlled by an Argus Titan 2 environmental control system. Each room is equipped with supplemental lighting and shade curtains, all controlled by Argus. Individual rooms have fertigation systems and many of the projects use automatic irrigation/ fertigation. Some new features include soil moisture probes that can be used to control the irrigation frequency based on the media moisture content (also controlled by Argus). This facility replaces the one that was destroyed in September 2010 by a tornado that ripped through the OARDC campus. It has been a long time coming, but our new facility will enhance the research and educational capabilities of our programs, and it is a huge improvement from the greenhouses that previously occupied this site. We want to thank everyone who was involved with this project, especially the L.L. Klink design build team. If you plan to be in Wooster, give me a call and I will give you a tour.

Michelle Jones

D.C. Kiplinger Floriculture Chair




New Williams Hall Greenhouses on the OSU OARDC campus Wooster, Ohio.

New Williams Hall Greenhouses on the OSU OARDC campus Wooster, Ohio.


Greenhouses and research projects were destroyed when a tornado hit the OARDC campus on September 16, 2010.

Greenhouses and research projects were destroyed when a tornado hit the OARDC campus on September 16, 2010.












Utilizing Plant Trial Evaluations

The number of plants available in the industry today can be overwhelming!  How do you as a grower or a garden center retailer sift through the exhaustive listings of new and not-so-new plants to determine which to grow and offer for sale?  Seeing and understanding how plants grow and perform in a garden setting alongside their peers allows you as the producer/retailer to select plants that should perform well for consumers in your target market – whether that target market is within your zipcode or hundreds of miles away.  Many universities, public gardens and young plant producers participate in plant evaluation trials – but where are they located and how do you use the information they generate?

A fairly new resource, the Plant Trials Database ( was designed to provide standardized information that can be used by the horticulture industry.  A standardized trialing protocol was developed for all trial gardens to follow as well as minimum scoring procedures.  The participating trial gardens and breeders are listed.  Access to the database is currently limited to professionals in the horticulture industry, such as growers, retailers, educators, and others.  Please visit the database website to request access on trial results.

To directly visit the OSU trial websites, you may access them via the database or using the link below.

OSU – Columbus, OH:



FIRM Welcomes USDA-ARS Scientist Dr. Jennifer Boldt

FIRM would like to welcome a new member to the team – Dr. Jennifer Boldt who officially joined the Greenhouse Production Research Group within the  USDA-ARS Application Technology Research Unit in Toledo, Ohio last October.  Jennifer holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in Applied Plant Sciences from the University of Minnesota. She  has over 20 years of commercial greenhouse production, garden trial management, and research experience – most recently in plant photosynthetic responses to light, temperature, and CO2, and the function and physiology of foliar anthocyanins. We are excited to have Jennifer and other members of the USDA-ARS team participate in FIRM meetings and events – and look forward to assisting the USDA-ARS in sharing their research efforts and results with the industry.  For additional information on research projects past and present, please visit the link to their website above.

Photo courtesy of USDA-ARS.  Back row, left to right: James Altland, Wendy Zellner, Charles Krause; Second  row: Madison Roze (student worker), James Locke, Adam Hall; Front row: Mona-Lisa Banks, Jennifer Boldt, Doug Sturtz, Sujin Kim