The photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) dramatically increases during the spring, but effects of DLI on seedling growth and development have not been characterized for many species. We quantified the effects of DLI on growth and development of Celosia, Impatiens, Salvia, Tagetes, and Viola during the seedling stage and determined whether there were any residual effects of DLI on subsequent growth and development after transplant. Seedlings were grown in growth chambers for 18–26 days at 21 °C with a DLI ranging from 4.1–14.2 mol·mol·m-2·d-1. Average seedling shoot dry weight per internode (a measure of quality) increased linearly 64%, 47%, 64%, and 68% within this DLI range in Celosia, Impatiens, Tagetes, and Viola, respectively. Seedlings were then transplanted to 10-cm containers and grown in a common environment (average daily temperature of 22 °C and DLI of 8.5 mol·m-2·d-1) to determine subsequent effects on plant growth and development. Flowering of Celosia, Impatiens, Salvia, Tagetes, and Viola occurred 10, 12, 11, 4, and 12 days earlier, respectively, when seedlings were previously grown under the highest DLI compared with the lowest. Except for Viola, earlier flowering corresponded with the development of fewer nodes below the first flower. Flower bud number and plant shoot dry weight at first flowering decreased as the seedling DLI increased in all species except for flower number of Tagetes. Therefore, seedlings grown under a greater DLI flowered earlier, but plant quality at first flowering was generally reduced compared with that of seedlings grown under a lower DLI.
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