Shade Influences Plant Growth, Leaf Color, and Chlorophyll Content of Kalmia latifolia L. Cultivars

in HortScience
Author: Mark H. Brand1
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  • 1 Department of Plant Science, U-67, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-4067

The effect of shading during nursery production on the growth, foliage color, and foliar chlorophyll content of container-grown Kalmia latifolia cultivars was investigated. Five cultivars were grown under 40% shade, 60% shade, or full sunlight for a 2-year production cycle. During the first year of production, there were no significant differences in measured growth characteristics for most cultivars in response to light treatment. Shade improved foliar color by decreasing lightness (L*), decreasing chroma, and changing hue angle from a yellow-green to a darker green. Foliar chlorophyll concentration increased under shade. In the second year of the production cycle, the response of foliar color and chlorophyll concentration to shade was similar to that observed in year 1. Plant size, number of branches, leaf area, leaf dry mass, and stem dry mass decreased linearly with increasing shade in year 2. Although shading improves foliar color, it probably should not be employed for container production of Kalmia latifolia in cool, northern production areas due to reduced plant growth during year 2. Shade may be useful in the first year of production to enhance foliar color without reducing shoot growth.

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