To date, few summer and fall flowering azaleas exist. Recently, Rhododendron oldhamii, a summer-flowering species, was hybridized with several commercial hybrids. These crosses produced various sizes and colors of flowers that bloom throughout the summer until frost, and again in the spring. However, the cold hardiness level of these azaleas is unknown. Therefore, we evaluated their cold hardiness during several months of the fall and winter. Laboratory cold hardiness tests revealed that there was a range of cold hardiness levels among the new hybrids. `Fashion' and hybrids 02003 and 4003 tended to acclimate earlier than the others, maintain a good level of midwinter cold hardiness, and retain their hardiness into the early spring. Hybrid 15001 acclimated early and had good midwinter cold hardiness, but lost its cold hardiness in the late winter, while 04003 and 09004 acclimated late in the fall and did not attain a high level of cold hardiness in the winter. `Lee's Select' and hybrid 08002 seemed to fall between the groups previously mentioned showing intermediate cold hardiness throughout the winter season. The laboratory cold hardiness results were similar with field observations.
Seasonal, stem and leaf cold hardiness levels of male and female plants of Ilex purpurea Hassk. and Ilex rotunda var. microcarpa (Lindl. ex Paxton) were determined over two winter seasons. The samples for the cold hardiness studies were taken from established plants growing at the Univ. of Georgia Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens in Savannah. Each month, 40 stem cuttings (4 to 5 inches long) were sent by overnight mail for evaluation. The plants were prepared for laboratory freezing exposure tests within 2 h of receiving. The samples were visually evaluated after freezing exposure to estimate their cold hardiness. In general, Ilex purpurea was more cold-hardy than I. rotunda var. microcarpa over both seasons tested, except in midwinter (Jan. 1998 and Feb. 1999) where I. rotunda var. microcarpa was more cold-hardy than I. purpurea. Ilex purpurea attained cold hardiness earlier in the fall and lost its hardiness later in the spring. In general, few consistent differences were observed between the cold hardiness of male and female plants within species.
A survey was conducted to investigate consumer preferences in a Christmas tree purchase. The survey asked about consumers' socioeconomic status, customer loyalty and on farm buying habits, specific tree preferences, and preferences of live versus artificial trees. Fifty-three percent of the 148 respondents were male and 61% were between the ages of 25-44. Thirty-three percent had 3 children, 50% were college graduates and 59X had a family income greater than $35,000. Sixty-eight percent purchased their tree at the same farm as they did the previous year, 62% traveled from 1-10 miles to the farm, 50% of trees were purchased by December 8, and 70% of the purchases were during the afternoon. The most common tree selected was a 6-7 ft. Virginia Pine and selection time ranged from 5-30 minutes. Compared to an artificial tree, respondents cited messiness, difficulty to carry and trouble to remove as major drawbacks of choose-and-cut Christmas trees. This was particularly evident in female and elderly respondents.