611 From Weed to Wonder: Taming Bitterweed for the Landscape

in HortScience

Pilot trials were conducted to explore the potential for use of Helenium amarum (Raf.) H. Rock as a bedding plant in Texas. Bitterweed is an annual wildflower native to the eastern U.S. It occurs on disturbed waste sites, along railroad tracks, roadsides, and in heavily grazed pastures. Bitterweed varies in form from a 15-cm-tall spreading mound to an upright oval crown 60 cm tall. Early growth is in a rosette form. Later foliage is bright green, highly dissected, and attractive. Profusely borne yellow single daisy-like flowers occur from spring to frost, peaking in late summer and fall. The species can survive intense drought and heat. Production responses were tested in 0.06-, 0.13-, 0.16-, and 0.51-L containers in the greenhouse during Summer 1998; then seedlings were transplanted to landscape beds and monitored through fall 1998. Other seedlings from 0.13-L containers were planted to the landscape to determine spacing requirements. Plants were also grown in an outdoor nursery in larger 2.3-L containers to test responses to pine bark- and peat-based media. Seedlings from 0.16- and 0.51-L containers were more effective throughout the growing season in the landscape than seedlings from 0.06- and 0.13-L containers. Seedlings grown in 2.3-L containers in a 4 pine bark: 1 sand media were larger, flowered more rapidly, and reach a marketable size in a shorter time than seedlings grown in a peatmoss-based media.

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