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R. Thomas Fernandez, Ronald L. Perry, and James A. Flore

`Imperial Gala' apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) trees, trained to two shoots, on M.9 EMLA, MM.111, and Mark rootstocks were subjected to two drought-stress and recovery periods in a rainshelter. Leaf growth rate, leaf area, leaf emergence, shoot length, and trunk cross-sectional area were measured during each stress and recovery period. Leaf growth rate was reduced during both stress periods but most consistently during the second drought stress. Length of the less-vigorous shoot was reduced most consistently due to drought stress but did not recover upon irrigation. Leaf emergence and trunk cross-sectional area increment were inconsistent in response to stress. Tree growth was reduced by drought stress to the greatest extent for trees on Mark, with MM.111 intermediate and M.9 EMLA least affected. At termination, the plants were separated into roots, current-season shoot growth, previous-season shoot growth, and rootstock, and dry weights were measured. Dry weights confirmed the growth measurements taken during the experiment with a 16%, 27%, and 34% reduction in total plant dry weight for drought-stressed trees on M.9 EMLA, MM.111, and Mark, respectively, compared to corresponding controls. It was concluded that Mark was the most sensitive of the three rootstocks followed by MM.111; M.9 EMLA was the most drought resistant.

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Jeanne Briggs, Ted Whitwell, R. Thomas Fernandez, and Melissa B. Riley

Field research was conducted at a container nursery to investigate fungicide movement in runoff water. Fungicides were applied as either a preventative treatment to all container plants, or as a component of an integrated pest management (IPM) program in which fungicides were only applied to plants showing signs of pathogen infestation. Thiophanate-methyl and chlorothalonil were applied in July and August 1998, and metalaxyl was applied in September 1998. Runoff water was sampled on the day after application (first irrigation after pesticide application) through three pulse irrigation cycles. Total amounts of thiophanate-methyl and chlorothalonil in runoff water were 7% and 4%, respectively, of applied amount in July. In August, 2% and 4% of thiophanate-methyl and chlorothalonil were found from the preventative treatment. Of the applied metalaxyl, 25% was detected in runoff water for the first irrigation event after application from the preventative treatment. Metalaxyl is a highly water soluble pesticide and nontarget losses from the granular application contributed to the large amounts detected. Total amounts of thiophanate-methyl, chlorothalonil and metalaxyl detected in runoff from the IPM treatment were 25% of amounts from the preventative treatment. No treatment differences were found in container plant salability or in the number of culls at the end of the study.

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Jessica M. Hicks, Bridget K. Behe, Thomas J. Page, Jennifer H. Dennis, and R. Thomas Fernandez

Customers take some risk when they buy plants, and the emotions they experience from that purchase are important indications of whether they will return to buy again. Previous research by Dennis et al. showed that regret, a negative emotion, caused consumer switching behavior by their intentions to either buy an alternative product, purchase products from an alternative retailer, or switch out of gardening entirely. What happens when things go right? Customer satisfaction has been the metric businesses use to quantify success in customer retention. If customers who regret the purchase switch, do happy customers return to buy again? This research investigated the role of customer satisfaction, delight (a positive emotion), and prior plant knowledge on repurchase intentions. An Internet survey with 659 flowering plant purchasers throughout the U.S. was conducted in Sept. 2004 to examine the initial purchase and the actual performance of the plant following purchase.

Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling with LISREL software. Results showed that customer satisfaction level and delight were not affected by prior plant knowledge. Satisfaction level did not affect repurchase intentions, but customer delight did. Results were consistent with existing literature, indicating that greater emphasis should be placed on delighting consumers, rather than merely satisfying them.

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Jill Hardy, Bridget Behe, Susan Barton, Thomas Page, R. Thomas Fernandez, Robert Schutzki, and D. Bradley Rowe

For most residential home improvements, excluding landscapes, professionals can document return on investment. Our objective was to compare costs of installing landscapes with perceived home value, and determine return on investment. We administered surveys in eight selected U.S. cities in 1999. Self-selected participants from home and garden shows were asked to examine a photograph of a home without landscaping (base home), and were given its value estimated by local realtors. Participants were asked to view 16 additional photographs of the base home with different landscapes. Cost estimates for landscape materials and installation were calculated. Results showed that a sophisticated landscape with large and diverse plant material added up to 13% to the perceived value of a new $200,000 home. On average, any level of landscaping added value to the home. The increase in perceived value as a percentage of project cost was greatest for simple designs with small evergreen plant material. Complicated designs that included hardscapes and large, diverse plant material returned the least. In general, we found that return on investment for landscaping is comparable to the returns gained on several major home improvements, yet differed with respect to geographic region. We found that colored hardscape, developed from a red brick paver walkway, returned less than color from flowering annuals. Return on investment was greatest for annual plants added for color.

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R. Thomas Fernandez, Ted Whitwell, Melissa B. Riley, and Cassandra R. Bernard

Canna ×generalis L.H. Bail. (canna), Pontaderia cordata L. (pickerel weed), and Iris L. × `Charjoys Jan' (`Charjoys Jan' iris) were exposed to a 5 mg·L-1 suspension of isoxaben or oryzalin or a water control for 9 days. Growth and photosynthetic responses were monitored throughout treatment and for an additional 22 d after termination of treatment. By the end of the experiment plant height of pickerel weed was reduced by oryzalin. Isoxaben resulted in lower height and reduced leaf emergence for all three taxa by the end of the experiment. Leaf CO2 assimilation (A) and transpiration (E) were lower for oryzalin-treated canna only 17 and 18 days after treatment, several days after treatment had been terminated. Leaf A and E were lower for oryzalin-treated pickerel weed and `Charjoys Jan' iris for most days after day 17. Isoxaben reduced A and E of all three plants for all days measured except day 6 for `Charjoys Jan' iris. Lower photosystem II efficiency (Fv/Fm) was found for isoxaben-treated canna from day 5 onward and days 7, 20, and 23 for pickerel weed and `Charjoys Jan' iris. Rapid reduction in A and Fv/Fm for all plants treated with isoxaben indicates a direct effect of isoxaben on photosynthesis. Reductions in growth and photosynthetic parameters due to oryzalin were minimal for all plants indicating these plants would be useful in phytoremediation systems where oryzalin is present. However, growth and photosynthetic parameters were reduced substantially for all plants exposed to isoxaben indicating the taxa studied would not perform well in phytoremediation systems with this level of isoxaben exposure. Chemical names used: isoxaben (N-[3-(1-ethyl-1-methylpropyl)-5-isoxazolyly]-2,6-dimethoxybenzamide); oryzalin (4-(dipropylamino)-3,5-dinitrobenzenesulforamide).

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Melinda Knuth, Bridget K. Behe, Charles R. Hall, Patricia Huddleston, and R. Thomas Fernandez

Water is becoming scarcer as world population increases and will be allocated among competing uses. Some of that water will go toward sustaining human life, but some will be needed to install and support landscape plants. Thus, future water resource availability may literally change the American landscape. Recent research suggests that consumers’ attitudes and behavior toward potable water supplies have changed in other countries because of greater social awareness and increasingly widespread exposure to drought conditions. We conducted an online survey of 1543 U.S. consumers to assess their perceptions about landscape plants, the water source used to produce them, and plant water needs to become established in the landscape. Using two separate conjoint designs, we assessed their perceptions of both herbaceous and woody perennials. Consumers placed greater relative importance on water source in production over water use in the landscape for both herbaceous and woody perennials included in this study. They preferred (had a higher utility score for) fresh water over recycled water and least preferred a blend of fresh with recycled water for perennials and recycled water used for woody perennial production. In addition, the group that did not perceive a drought but experienced one placed a higher value (higher utility score) on nursery plants grown with fresh water compared with those which were actually not in drought and did not perceive one. Educational and promotional efforts may improve the perception of recycled water to increase the utility of that resource. Promoting the benefits of low water use plants in the landscape may also facilitate plant sales in times of adequate and low water periods.

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Melinda Knuth, Bridget K. Behe, Charles R. Hall, Patricia T. Huddleston, and R. Thomas Fernandez

Activity level, or the amount of action/interaction with a product, can be an indication of interest in a product category and influences purchases. Our goal was to assess the overall market for landscape plants using consumers’ activity level from the active/passive continuum proposed by . An online survey instrument was administered to invitees from a national online panel from 7 to 13 Sept. 2016 yielding 1543 useful responses. Factor analysis of 23 items adapted from a previous study revealed five factors, including one active factor and a separate passive factor. These two factors were used in the present study as a basis for a k-means cluster analysis. Two clusters emerged and were labeled “Active Engagement” and “Obligatory Passive Engagement” in landscape activities. We compared cluster means for all five factors and found the Active cluster purchased more plants of all types as well as had greater landscape pride and desire for a low (water) input landscape. Members of the Active cluster were from higher income and education households which were slightly larger and more likely to have Caucasian residents compared with the Passive cluster. In practice, retail employees and landscape professionals might initially ask about consumers’ activity level desired in the landscape as a screening question. Subsequent assistance in design and/or plant selection/purchase could then be tailored toward the desired activity level.

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Bridget K. Behe, Melinda Knuth, Charles R. Hall, Patricia T. Huddleston, and R. Thomas Fernandez

The strain on potable water supplies heightens the competition for water resources and potentially reduces the demand for outdoor plantings and landscaping. We conducted an online survey with 1543 respondents in 2016 to ascertain their water conservation and plant expertise, their involvement in water conservation and plant issues, and the importance of plants and landscaping. We also collected demographic characteristics. Cluster analysis results identified two key market segments comprising ≈50% of the sample each: those who are Actively Interested in Water Conservation and those who are Disinterested in Water Conservation. The Actively Interested segment was younger, had more adults and children in the household, and had a higher household income. In addition to having a higher mean score for water conservation involvement and expertise, the Actively Interested segment had a higher mean score for water conservation importance and impact, as well as plant expertise and involvement. The Actively Interested segment scored higher on select components relating to horticultural importance, including aesthetically beautiful landscapes, active landscape enjoyment, desire for a low maintenance landscape, and response in drought, compared with the Disinterested segment. The Disinterested segment scored higher on the Non-Landscape Use with no enjoyment. Findings suggest that pro–water-conserving attitudes are found among consumers who value outdoor landscapes and those individuals who spend more on plants. Results suggest that producers and retailers should focus marketing and communication efforts on low water use cultivar selection and operationalizing water-conserving behaviors more than convincing consumers that plant purchases and landscaping are important.

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Anuradha Tatineni, Nihal C. Rajapakse, R. Thomas Fernandez, and James R. Rieck

Responses to selected chemical growth retardants (daminozide, paclobutrazol, and prohexadione-Ca) and GA1 and GA3 under photoselective greenhouse covers with various phytochrome photoequilibrium estimates (φe) were evaluated using `Bright Golden Anne' chrysanthemum [Dendranthema ×grandiflora Kitam. (syn. Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat.)] as the model plant to better understand the height control mechanism by far red (FR) light depleted environments. Plant height linearly decreased as φe increased from 0.72 to 0.83. The rate of height decrease of daminozide treated plants was less than that of water (control) or GA3-treated plants. The rate of height reduction was not different between control and GA3-treated plants among chambers with various φe. Both paclobutrazol and prohexadione-Ca reduced plant height regardless of φe, but the height reduction by paclobutrazol was more than that by prohexadioneCa. The combination of paclobutrazol and prohexadione-Ca reduced plant height more than either alone. GA1 reversed the height reduction caused by paclobutrazol and prohexadione-Ca regardless of φe, but the height increase by GA1 was more when it was applied with prohexadione-Ca than when applied alone. Results show that photoselective covers with high φe were effective in controlling height of chrysanthemums without chemical growth retardants. The linear relationship between plant height and φe suggests that effectiveness of photoselective covers increased as φe increased. The photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) transmission of photoselective covers decreased as the φe increased because of the increasing dye concentration. Identifying photoselective covers that effectively filter out FR light from sunlight and reduce plant height while minimizing the PPF reduction is critical for commercial success of photoselective covers. Gibberellins are, at least partially, involved in height control by photoselective covers. Photoselective greenhouse covers did not reduce responsiveness to gibberellins, and it appears that the mechanism may be to suppress gibberellin biosynthesis. Results also suggest that increased metabolism of GA1 to GA8 was not the mechanism of height control by photoselective covers. Chemical names used: butanedioic acid mono (2,2-dimethylhydrazide) [daminozide]; (±)-(R*,R*)-b-((4-chlorophenyl)methyl)-a-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol [paclobutrazol]; 3,5-dioxo-4-(1-oxopropyl)cyclohexanecarboxylic acid [prohexadione-Ca]; gibberellic acid [GA].

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Melinda Knuth, Bridget K. Behe, Charles R. Hall, Patricia T. Huddleston, and R. Thomas Fernandez

In the coming decades, no natural resource may prove to be more critical to human health and well-being than water. There is abundant evidence that the condition of water resources in many parts of the United States is deteriorating. In some regions of the country, the availability of sufficient water to meet growing domestic uses, and the future sufficiency of water to support the use of landscape plants where we live, work, and play is in doubt. Conservation through water efficiency measures and water management practices may be the best way to help resolve water problems. Yet, consumer perceptions and attitudes and behavior toward water conservation may differ widely, particularly in the presence of drought. This study sought to add to the current horticulture and water conservation literature by exploring consumer attitudes and behavior during real and perceived drought situations, especially in terms of their landscape purchases and gardening/landscaping activities. Study findings could better inform educational programs and marketing strategies, helping to ensure the future demand of Green Industry products and services. With a national sample of 1543 subjects, an online survey tool was used to classify respondents into categories based on whether they accurately perceived if the region in which they lived was experiencing drought. We hypothesized that consumers were heterogeneous in their attitudes and behavior regarding plants and water conservation, depending on their real and perceived drought situations, and that their attitudes affected their behavior regarding plant purchases. Results confirmed this hypothesis. Attitudes and behaviors for those who correctly perceived they were in drought were different from those who correctly perceived they were not in drought, as well as those who incorrectly did not perceive they were in an actual drought.