Growth, Gas Exchange, and Chlorophyll Fluorescence of Four Ornamental Herbaceous Perennials during Water Deficit Conditions

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2133

A study was conducted to characterize the morphological and physiological responses of four herbaceous perennial species subjected to two subsequent drought cycles. Lantana camara L. `New Gold' (lantana), Lobelia cardinalis L. (cardinal flower), Salvia farinacea Benth. `Henry Duelberg' (mealy sage), and Scaevola aemula R. Br. `New Wonder' (fan flower) were subjected to two consecutive 10-day drought cycles. Growth response, leaf gas exchange, and chlorophyll fluorescence were measured during the experiment. The morphology of L. cardinalis and L. camara was not affected by drought, while S. farinacea had reductions in plant height and leaf area and S. aemula had reductions in dry weight. Overall, plant growth and development continued even when substrate water content was reduced to 0.13 mm3·mm-3, which indicated a level of substrate water below container capacity was sufficient for greenhouse production of these species. The drought treatments had little effect on the photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) of Photosystem II. An increase in minimal fluorescence (Fo) was observed in S. aemula on the last day of the second cycle. Drought treatment caused increased leaf-level water use efficiency (WUE) at the end of the first cycle in L. cardinalis and S. aemula, but not in L. camara and S. farinacea. Plants of L. camara, S. farinacea, and S. aemula that had received drought during both cycles became more water use efficient by the end of the second cycle, but L. cardinalis did not.

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