Short-term Reductions in Irradiance and Temperature Minimally Affect Growth and Development of Five Floriculture Species

in HortScience

Energy inputs are a major production cost for greenhouse-grown plants, especially heating and supplemental lighting. A possible energy-efficient alternative is to optimize greenhouse conditions on days that have a low heating demand and reduce temperature and irradiance on days that have a high heating demand. The objectives of this study were to determine how many days per week annual bedding plants could be grown in a reduced-energy environment before delays in crop growth and flowering occurred and to calculate the potential energy savings. Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia Benth. ‘Angelface Blue’), dianthus (Dianthus chinensis L. ‘Telstar Pink’), lantana (Lantana camara L. ‘Luscious Citrus Blend’), pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. ‘Matrix Blue Blotch’), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm. ‘Supertunia Mini Strawberry Pink Veined’), and petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ were grown in a “winter-normal” (WN) greenhouse (22/18 °C day/night, supplemental lighting from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, 14-hour photoperiod) and transferred to a “winter low-energy” (WLE) greenhouse (13/10 °C day/night, energy curtain continuously closed, day-extension lighting with HPS lamps, 14-hour photoperiod) for 0, 1, 2, 4, or 7 days per week. In general, days to first flower (DTFF), flower number, plant height, plant width, relative chlorophyll content, and shoot dry weight decreased as exposure duration to WLE increased. Flowering on angelonia was delayed when grown 1 day per week in WLE; delayed on dianthus, petunia ‘Supertunia Mini Strawberry Pink Veined’, and lantana when grown 4 days per week in WLE; and delayed on petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ when grown continuously in WLE. Energy costs were estimated using Virtual Grower 3.0.9, and average savings of 2% to 8% occurred with 1 day per week in WLE, and increased to 35% to 51% when plants were grown continuously in WLE.

Contributor Notes

Mention of a trademark, proprietary product, or company is included for the reader’s convenience and does not imply any endorsement or preferential treatment by USDA-ARS.

Corresponding author. E-mail: jennifer.boldt@ars.usda.gov.

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