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Zhanao Deng and Brent K. Harbaugh

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Zhanao Deng and Brent K. Harbaugh

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Zhanao Deng and Brent K. Harbaugh

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Zhanao Deng and Brent K. Harbaugh

Caladium (Caladium ×hortulanum) leaves can be injured at air temperatures below 15.5 °C. This chilling sensitivity restricts the geographical use of caladiums in the landscape, and leads to higher fuel costs in greenhouse production of pot plants because warmer conditions have to be maintained. This study was conducted to develop procedures to evaluate differences among caladium cultivars for chilling sensitivity and to identify cultivars that might be resistant to chilling injury. The effects of two chilling temperatures (12.1 and 7.2 °C) and three durations (1, 3, and 5 days) on the severity of chilling injury were compared for three cultivars known to differ in their sensitivity to low temperatures. Exposure of detached mature leaves to 7.2 °C for 3 days allowed differentiation of cultivars' chilling sensitivity. Chilling injury appeared as dark necrotic patches at or near leaf tips and along margins, as early as 1 day after chilling. Chilling injury became more widespread over a 13-day period, and the best window for evaluating cultivar differences was 9 to 13 days after chilling. Significant differences in chilling sensitivity existed among 16 cultivars. Three cultivars, `Florida Red Ruffles', `Marie Moir', and `Miss Muffet', were resistant to chilling injury. These cultivars could serve as parents for caladium cold-tolerance breeding, and this breeding effort could result in reduced chilling injury in greenhouse production of potted plants, or in new cultivars for regions where chilling occurs during the growing season.