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Yulia A. Kuzovkina

The long history of Salix L. cultivation has resulted in selections of cultivars with superior technical and ornamental characteristics. Numerous cultivars have been developed and named over the centuries, but until now, no comprehensive compilation of these records has ever been made. With the expanding domestication of the genus Salix and the active selection of new cultivars, it is increasingly important that we have clear and standardized records documenting the cultivars. In 2013, the International Poplar Commission of the Food and Agriculture Organization (IPC FAO) was appointed as the International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA) for willows. The Checklist for Cultivars of Salix was compiled as the first step toward the promotion of a standardized registration process and the establishment of a Cultivar Register for Salix. Eight hundred and fifty four cultivar epithets with accompanying information have been included in the Checklist. The largest group of cultivars—more than 200—is represented by basket selections. This is followed by selections for ornamental plantings and biofuel production. The Checklist aims to promote the uniformity and accuracy of cultivar names of Salix, and provides a baseline for new registrations to ensure that each newly developed cultivar receives a unique, authoritative botanical name.

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Margaret M. Saska and Yulia A. Kuzovkina

Growth response of five ornamental willows (Salix), with sales potential for the cut-stem industry, was assessed in a 1-year container trial studying various concentrations of fertilizer. Plants were grown in 3-gal nursery containers fertilized with five concentrations of 18N–2.6P–6.6K controlled-release fertilizer (100-day release period) with micronutrients, applied as top dressings at 0, 10, 20, 40, and 60 g/container. Yield data were collected on the commercially important parameters including total stem length, stem quantity, and fresh weight of stems. Additional effects of fertilization on the timing of tip abscission and floral bud burst were also evaluated. Total stem length and fresh weight increased for all willows in the fertilized treatments compared with control; however, treatments above 40 g/container did not result in an increase of these parameters. Kori-yanagi willow (S. koriyanagi) had the highest yields across all treatments of fertilization. Fertilizer applications extended the period of stem elongation by delaying tip abscission for all willows, and for ‘The Hague’ willow (S. gracilistyla × S. caprea) tip abscission was delayed by 44.0 days at 40 g/container treatment compared with control. Floral bud burst dates, which differed greatly among willows, were unaffected by applications of controlled-release fertilizer.

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Erica Pagliughi, Yulia A. Kuzovkina and Robert M. Ricard

An online survey was developed to investigate Master Gardener perceptions of and preferences for a novel horticultural product, “Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Living Structures Kits,” which include live willow (Salix sp.) stems, instructions on how to build various forms, ties, and cultural guidelines. The survey consisted of 37 items to assess the interest level in this product, to examine the likelihood of consumers’ interest in purchasing this product, and to evaluate preferred designs and potential price points. A total of 249 Connecticut Master Gardeners completed the survey. The respondents provided valuable insights on product popularity and potential. The majority of them were between the ages of 56 and 65 years, female, Caucasian, married, without children in the household, and own a house with a yard in suburban areas. Most of the respondents represented plant purchasers and experienced gardeners. The two most popular structures were the decorative fence and the arbor, and Master Gardeners indicated specific preferred price ranges for the products. Aesthetic appeal was perceived as the main attractive aspect of the product. Among the major factors affecting their decision to purchase DIY Living Structures Kits, most respondents indicated design/type and price as “very important.” Forty-four percent of people were interested in buying one of these kits as a gift for someone. Results revealed that there is potential for a niche market as this group of consumers was enthusiastic about the new product: 74.1% of Master Gardeners responded positively that DIY Living Structures Kits have potential to become new horticultural products. More in-depth product evaluation studies using trial kits and marketing research targeting additional segments of consumers should be conducted in future.

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Margaret M. Saska, Yulia A. Kuzovkina and Robert M. Ricard

To assess the current state of willow (Salix) cultivation for specialty cut flower production, a mail survey following the tailored design method polled willow growers in North America (n = 52). The instrument posed questions on business identity and cultural practices, including plant spacing, fertilization, irrigation, and pruning methods. A 69% response rate was achieved. The general grower profile was of a specialty cut flower producer with multiple years of experience growing willows. For the majority of respondents, willow was a supplemental source of income, complementing a larger product selection of woody and herbaceous species for cut flower production with annual sales for the crop of less than $25,000. The majority of producers had a generally positive outlook on this crop as growers expressed strong support for the importance of willow in their product selection, for customer satisfaction, as well as for future intentions to increase production acreage, and even to extend seasonal markets. However, the non-scientific nature of willow production was revealed by wide variations in basic cultural practices and by very limited use of scientific plant names by the growers and frequent inability to accurately identify their selections, as well as the identification of growers' own personal experience as a main source of knowledge. The results of this survey helped researchers to identify a set of questions to improve the understanding of the fundamentals of willow production through the development of precise commercial production practices, standardization of variety names, and stimulation of further development of this crop through market expansion.

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Yulia A. Kuzovkina, Michael Dodge and Irina V. Belyaeva

Salix gracilistyla Miq., japanese pussy willow or rosegold willow, is an ornamental shrub commonly cultivated for its prominent display of catkins in early spring. Verification of stocks of willows in the North American landscape nursery trade revealed that another name—Salix chaenomeloides Kimura—is associated frequently with plants similar to S. gracilistyla. Morphological analyses conducted during this study have shown that the S. chaenomeloides binomial is misapplied often to S. gracilistyla, its cultivars and hybrids. A comparison of the diagnostic characters of S. gracilistyla and S. chaenomeloides is presented to explain the differences between these taxa and to promote the adoption of the correct names. Five cultivars of S. gracilistyla valued for their early spring catkin displays, variegated foliage, and pendulous habits, and two cultivars of a hybrid origin are summarized. Also, two new ornamental cultivars called Salix ‘Winter Glory’ and Salix ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ are described.