The Alberta Perennial Trials is a research and demonstration project that evaluates new herbaceous perennials for the Alberta region. New perennial species and cultivars are monitored at test sites for a period of three years. Results are published in the form of a technical industry report and public documents.


The first research and demonstration of herbaceous perennials was held at the Calgary Zoo and Botanical Gardens in 1999 – 2001. The Alberta Perennial Trials were established in 2002 and includes test sites at Olds College Botanic Gardens, the Muttart Conservatory and the Calgary Zoo and Botanical Gardens. This expansion to three test locations allows for evaluation of plant material under a broad range of Alberta’s diverse growing conditions. 


Project Protocols:

The Alberta Perennial Trials introduces approximately 50 new perennial varieties and cultivars annually to the project. Plants are evaluated over three seasons with a total of approximately 150 varieties/cultivars under evaluation in any given growing season. In most cases plants are supplied in sufficient numbers for each site to evaluate a minimum of five to six plants of each type. Reports are published annually.

A mandate of the project is that growing conditions should reflect those encountered by home gardeners. Planting beds are amended with organic matter prior to planting; no additional fertilizers are applied. Soil tests are collected to ascertain baseline growing conditions. A low-maintenance regime is followed including irrigation and weeding as required and cultural methods to control pest and disease problems. Staking and deadheading for the first two growing seasons is limited to half a plant grouping, the other half are left alone to evaluate performance without these activities.

Data collected throughout the growing seasons includes: condition on planting; evaluation of winter survival; monthly measurements of height and spread; weekly assessment of bloom; and ongoing monitoring for pests and disease. Plants are evaluated for overall landscape appeal at the end of each growing season. Mitigating factors that may interfere with plant performance are also recorded. Plants that do not over-winter are not routinely replaced.




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