Six commercial cultivars (Anna, Aurore, Danhill, Danlight, Melanie, and Thelca), one drought tolerant cultivar (Orangeade), nine breeding selections, and one check genotype of Impatiens hawkeri Bull were evaluated for differences in drought tolerance based on water loss and time to wilt. The six commercially available cultivars had significantly higher mean water loss than the breeding selections and `Orangeade'. These cultivars wilted in 5.11 vs. 7.33 days for `Orangeade' and 9.10 days for the breeding selections. These results suggest that sufficient variability exists in New Guinea impatiens germplasm for the reduction of water loss to improve drought tolerance. Regression analysis revealed that total transpirational water loss 96 hours after withholding water was an excellent predictor of the time to wilting (a simple measure of drought tolerance) after water was withheld (R2 = 0.95). Thus, a simple, efficient and objective method for selection of drought tolerant genotypes has been developed for New Guinea impatiens. A comparison of offspring to parental genotypes showed that after only one cycle of selection, water loss was significantly reduced by >30%. These results suggest that there is sufficient genetic variability present for the development of more drought tolerant cultivars.
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