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Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, and Terri Starman

Bedding plants are extensively used in urban landscapes. As high-quality water supply becomes limited in many parts of the world, the use of recycled water with high salt levels for landscape irrigation is being encouraged. Therefore, information on salt tolerance of bedding plants is of increasing importance. Two experiments were conducted, one in a 25% light exclusion shadehouse in summer (Expt. 1) and the other in a greenhouse in winter (Expt. 2). Plants were irrigated with saline solution at electrical conductivities of 0.8, 2.8, 4.0, 5.1, or 7.4 dS·m−1 created by adding NaCl, MgSO4, and CaCl2 to tap water to simulate the composition of local reclaimed water. In Expt. 1, shoot dry weight (DW) at the end of the experiments was reduced in all species at 7.4 dS·m−1 compared with the control (0.8 dS·m−1). The magnitude of reduction varied with species and cultivars. The salinity thresholds of irrigation water in which growth reduction occurred were 4.0 dS·m−1 for angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) cultivars and ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum) ‘Calico’ and 4.0 to 5.1 dS·m−1 for helenium (Helenium amarum), licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolatum), and plumbago (Plumbago auriculata). Shoot DW and growth index of ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ and vinca (Catharanthus roseus) ‘Rose’ decreased linearly as salinity increased. All plants survived in Expt. 1 regardless of treatment, except for ornamental pepper ‘Purple Flash’. No visual injuries were observed in Expt. 1 regardless of treatment. Leaf sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) concentrations varied with species and treatments. Ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ had the highest leaf Cl concentrations at higher salinities compared with other species and cultivars. Leaf Na concentrations in licorice plant and plumbago were in the range of 10 to 30 g·kg−1 DW, higher than those in other species. In Expt. 2, shoot DW was reduced by salinity treatments in ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’, plumbago, and angelonia but not in other species. The three ornamental peppers, ‘Black Pearl’, ‘Calico’, and ‘Purple Flash’, exhibited slight foliar injuries on some plants in Expt. 2 as a result of high salinity in the root zone in the highest salinity treatment. Ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ was most sensitive to salinity stress. In general, the bedding plants tested in this study are moderately tolerant to salt stress and may be irrigated with saline water up to 4.0 dS·m−1 with little reduction in aesthetical appearance.

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John W. Kelly and Terri W. Starman

Physostegia purpurea Blake is a native, herbaceous perennial that has potential as a field-grown cut flower. Physostegia stems were harvested with one third of the florets open and were recut underwater in the laboratory. Fresh cut flowers treated with silver thiosulfate (STS) and held in a 2% preservative solution lasted 14 days, while control stems in deionized water (DI) lasted 6 days. Cut stems placed in darkness at 0C for 1 week had 8 days of vase life after removal from storage and treatment with STS and preservative, while stems held in DI after storage lasted only 4 days. Stems held dry at 22.5C and 43% RH for 8 hours before being placed in preservative had similar vase life as flowers placed in preservative immediately after harvest.

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Terri Woods Starman, Xiangrong Duan, and Shane Abbitt

DNA amplification fingerprinting (DAF) was used to evaluate the genetic relationships among 11 cultivars of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd.). Amplification was with 10 octamer oligonucleotide primers that generated 336 DNA bands. Thirty-one percent of the bands were polymorphic and distinguished among cultivars. Genetic relationships were evaluated by cluster analysis, and the resulting dendrogram closely agreed with published cultivar relationships. Arbitrary signatures from amplification profiles (ASAP) were further used to characterize two cultivars, `Nutcracker Red' and `Peterstar Red', that were previously found to be genetically and morphologically similar, as well as five cultivars in the “Freedom” series. The DAF products generated with arbitrary octamer primers were reamplified with mini-hairpin decamer primers in these experiments. The ASAP profiles were complex and yielded a total of 231 bands, 38% of which were polymorphic and capable of distinguishing each Freedom cultivar. Five of the eight primer combinations distinguished `Nutcracker Red' from `Peterstar Red'. Thus, closely related cultivars of poinsettia can be separated using new and improved molecular fingerprinting protocols.

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Genhua Niu, Terri Starman, and David Byrne

The responses of garden roses to irrigation water with elevated salts are unknown. Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the relative salt tolerance of 13 self-rooted rose cultivars by irrigating the plants with nutrient solutions at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.4 dS·m−1 (control) or nutrient saline solutions at EC of 3.1, 4.4, or 6.4 dS·m−1. In Expt. 1, ‘Belinda’s Dream’, ‘Caldwell Pink’, ‘Carefree Beauty’, ‘Folksinger’, ‘Quietness’, and ‘Winter Sunset’ plants were grown in a greenhouse from 13 Aug. to 21 Oct. (10 weeks). Shoot dry weight of all cultivars decreased as EC of irrigation water increased. ‘Winter Sunset’ was most sensitive among these cultivars to salt stress followed by ‘Carefree Beauty’ and ‘Folksinger’ with severe leaf injury at EC of 3.1 dS·m−1 or higher or death at EC of 6.4 dS·m−1. No visual damage was observed in ‘Belinda’s Dream’ or ‘Caldwell Pink’, regardless of the salinity level. In Expt. 2, ‘Basye’s Blueberry’, ‘Iceberg’, ‘Little Buckaroo’, ‘The Fairy’, ‘Marie Pavie’, ‘Rise N Shine’, and ‘Sea Foam’ plants were grown in the greenhouse from 29 Sept. to 16 Nov. (7 weeks) and irrigated with the same nutrient or nutrient saline solutions. Salinity treatment did not affect shoot dry weight of ‘Basye’s Blueberry’, ‘Little Buckaroo’, ‘Sea Foam’, and ‘Rise N Shine’. Shoot dry weight of ‘Iceberg’, ‘The Fairy’, and ‘Marie Pavie’ decreased as EC of irrigation water increased. No or little visual damage was observed in ‘Little Buckaroo’, ‘Sea Foam’, and ‘Rise N Shine’. Leaf tip burns were seen in ‘Iceberg’, ‘Marie Pavie’, ‘Basye’s Blueberry’, and ‘The Fairy’ at EC 6.4 of dS·m−1. Generally, these symptoms were less severe than those observed in Expt. 1, probably attributable partially to the shorter treatment period. Whereas shoot Na+ and Cl varied greatly among the rose cultivars, the shoot concentrations of Ca2+, K+, and Mg2+ did not. Generally, salinity-tolerant cultivars had higher shoot Na+ and Cl concentrations. In summary, in Expt. 1, ‘Belinda’s Dream’ was the most tolerant cultivar, whereas ‘Winter Sunset’ was the least tolerant followed by ‘Carefree Beauty’. In Expt. 2, ‘Iceberg’, ‘Marie Pavie’, and ‘The Fairy’ were less tolerant to salinity as compared with other cultivars, although the differences were small.

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Shannon E. Beach* and Terri W. Starman

Vegetative annuals are increasing in popularity among greenhouse growers and consumers but little is known about their postharvest shelf life. Twenty-two cultivars from ten species of vegetative annuals were grown to marketability with optimum greenhouse culture. Plants were then subjected to one of three shipping durations (0, 1, or 2 days) in simulated shipping i.e., a growth chamber at 26.7 ± 0.3 °C, 0 μmol·m-2·s-1, and 50% relative humidity. The plants were then moved to simulated postharvest environment i.e., growth room at 21.1 ± 1.3 °C and 6 μmol·m-2·s-1 to evaluate shelf life. Flower number and plant quality rating were measured weekly in addition to observations of plant appearances. Some of the postharvest disorders noted on several species and cultivars were stem die back, leaf chlorosis, stem elongation, bud abortion, flower drop, and flower fading. The majority of the cultivars maintained their quality one-week postharvest although flower drop was common. After the first week of shelf life, decline in vegetative and reproductive tissues were noted in most plants. Cultivars from nine species: Argyranthemum frutescens (L.) Sch. Bip, Bracteantha bracteata (Vent.) Anderb. & Haegi, Calibrachoa hybrid Lave Lex, Diascia ×hybrida, Lantana camara L., Nemesia ×hybrida, Petunia ×hybrida, Sutera hybrida, and Sutera cordata showed decreased flower number and/or quality rating due to shipping duration, with increased shipping duration causing accelerated postharvest disorders. The only species unaffected by shipping duration was Angelonia angustifolia Benth.

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Terri W. Starman and Millie S. Williams

The effects of concentration and method of application of uniconazole on growth and flowering of Scaevola aemula R. Br. `New Wonder', `Mini Pink Fan', `Purple Fan', and `Royal Fan', Scaevola albida (Sm.) Druce. `White Fan', and Scaevola striata `Colonial Fan' were studied, as was the efficacy of four other growth retardants on S. aemula `New Wonder'. Variables measured included plant width, flower stem number, flower stem length, flower number per stem, flower number per cm stem length, and days to flower. Uniconazole (1.0 mg·L–1) applied as a medium drench to S. aemula `New Wonder' reduced plant width and flower stem length without affecting flower stem number or time to flower. Flower number per stem and number of flowers per cm of stem length were increased, resulting in attractive, compact clusters of flowers. Paclobutrazol medium drench at 4.0 mg·L–1 gave similar results. Daminozide and ethephon sprays reduced plant width; however, flower number was reduced and ethephon delayed flowering. Ancymidol did not affect the parameters measured. When uniconazole drenches were applied to the other cultivars, plant width and flower stem length in all cultivars except `White Fan' decreased as rate increased. Spray applications reduced plant width of all cultivars except `Mini Pink Fan'. Flower stem length was not affected in any cultivar. Flowering habit was improved more in S. aemula `New Wonder', `Purple Fan', and `Royal Fan' than in the other cultivars. Chemical names used: α-cyclopropyl-α-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5-pyrimidinemethanol (ancymidol); butanedioic acid mono (2,2-dimethylhydrazide) (daminozide); (2-chloroethyl)phosphonic acid (ethephon); β-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol); (E)-(s)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethy-2-(1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)-pent-1-ene-3-ol (uniconazole).

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Yanjun Guo, Terri Starman, and Charles Hall

Retail environments are rarely optimal for ornamental plants, and wilting caused by water stress is a major cause of postproduction shrinkage. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of two levels of substrate moisture content (SMC) applied during greenhouse production on angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) ‘Angelface Blue’ and heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) ‘Simply Scentsational’ growth and physiological parameters and subsequent postproduction quality during simulated retail conditions. At the end of production, angelonia total plant shoot dry weight (DW) was reduced with 20% SMC compared with 40% SMC, and plants grown with 20% SMC had higher shoot coloring percentage, reduced internode length, and required less irrigation labor–related costs compared with 40% SMC. Heliotrope grown at 20% SMC produced the same size plant as 40% SMC, but had a higher shoot coloring percentage at the end of production and postproduction, indicating lower SMC resulted in higher visual quality compared with 40% SMC. For both species, 20% SMC increased plant visual quality compared with 40% SMC and reduced irrigation water input throughout production, resulting in reduced production costs and increased floral crop economic value.

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Amy Lynn Bartel and Terri W. Starman

Angelonia angustifolia `Blue Pacific', Asteriscus maritimus `Compact Gold Coin', and Heliotropium aborescens `Fragrant Delight' are three vegetatively propagated species of annuals. The objective of this study was to find which plant growth regulator chemicals could be used to control height and produce compact, well-branched, flowering plants. The plants arrived as rooted plugs and were transplanted to 10-cm plastic containers. When the roots of the transplanted plugs reached the edge of their containers, 15 days after transplanting, the plant growth regulator chemicals were applied. Five different chemicals were used in spray applications at two rates measured in mg/L: ancymidol at 66 and 132; daminozide at 2500 and 5000; paclobutrazol at 20 and 40; ethephon at 500 and1000; and uniconazole at 10 and 20. One drench application of uniconazole at 1 and 2 mg/L and one control (water spray) were also used. Total plant height, plant width, flower number, node number, stem length, internode length, and numbers of days to visible bud were recorded. Ancymidol at both rates caused stunting and flower distortion in asteriscus; however, it was not effective on angelonia or heliotrope. Paclobutrazol and uniconazole sprays were ineffective in controlling height on all three species. Ethephon at both rates was effective in controlling height, and producing well-branched plants in all three species, yet it caused a delay in flowering. Uniconazole drench at both rates was also effective in controlling height but caused stunting. In general, daminozide at 5000 mg/L was most effective in controlling foliage height without a delay in flowering or decrease in flower size or number in all three species.

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Yanjun Guo, Terri Starman, and Charles Hall

This study analyzed the effects of two ranges of drying down of substrate moisture content (SMC) before re-watering on plant growth and development, postproduction quality, and economic value of bedding plants grown in 1.67-L containers during greenhouse production. The two SMC treatments were wide-range (WR) SMC (WR-SMC) for dry-down from container capacity (CC) of 54% SMC dried down to 20% SMC or narrow-range (NR) SMC (NR-SMC) for dry-down from CC of 54% SMC dried down to 40% SMC. Six bedding plant cultivars were used [Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘French Quarter’ (coleus); Petunia ×hybrida ‘Colorworks Pink Radiance’ (petunia); Lantana camara ‘Lucky Flame’ (lantana); Impatiens ×hybrida ‘Sunpatiens Compact Hot Coral’ (SCC); ‘Sunpatiens Spreading Lavender’ (SSL) (impatiens); and Salvia splendens ‘Red Hot Sally II’ (salvia)]. Shoot dry weight was reduced with WR-SMC on petunia, lantana, impatiens SCC, and salvia at the end of production. With WR-SMC, the petunia and impatiens SCC root ball coverage percentages were greater on the bottom of the container, whereas those of impatiens SSL and salvia were reduced. The WR-SMC increased petunia postproduction quality by increasing the flower number. Lantana and impatiens SCC inflorescence/flower and/or bud number were reduced with WR-SMC. The impatiens SSL flower number was unaffected by SMC treatment. Salvia grown with WR-SMC had increased postproduction quality. WR-SMC reduced postproduction water potential in petunia, lantana, and coleus, suggesting that plants with WR-SMC during production were acclimated to reduced irrigation administered during postproduction. WR-SMC saved labor due to less frequent watering and overhead-associated costs due to reduced bench space, with the exception of coleus and impatiens SSL, which used the same bench space as NR-SMC. Considering production and/or postproduction quality, using WR-SMC during greenhouse production is beneficial as an irrigation method for coleus, petunia, impatiens SSL, and salvia, but not for impatiens SCC or lantana grown in 1.67-L containers.

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Millie S. Williams, Terri W. Starman, and James E. Faust

The photoperiodic responses were determined for the following species: Bacopa speciosa `Snowflake', Bidens ferulifolium, Brachycome multifida `Crystal Falls', Helichrysum bracteatum'Golden Beauty', Lysimachia procumbens (Golden Globes), Pentas lanceolata `Starburst', Scaevola aemula `New Blue Wonder', Streptocarpella hybrid `Concord Blue', and Streptosolen jamesonii (Orange Browallia). Each plant species was grown at 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, and 16-hour photoperiods. Photoperiods were provided by delivering 8 hours sunlight, then pulling black cloth and providing daylength extension with incandescent bulbs. Bacopa speciosa `Snowflake', Bidens ferulifolium, Brachycome multifida `Crystal Falls', Helichrysum bracteatum `Golden Beauty', Scaevola aemula `New Blue Wonder', and Streptocarpella hybrid `Blue Concord' were day neutral, i.e., no difference in days to visible bud or days to anthesis in response to photoperiod were observed. Pentas lanceolata `Starburst' and Lysimachia procumbens (Golden Globes) were quantitative long day plants, i.e., days to anthesis decreased as daylength increased. No difference in days to visible bud, number of lateral shoots, number of nodes, or internode length were observed for Pentas lanceolata `Starburst'; however, days to anthesis for 14- and 16-hour photoperiods occurred 9 days earlier than 8-hour photoperiods. Days to visible bud for Lysimachia procumbens (Golden Globes) occurred 7 days earlier and days to anthesis was 9 days earlier under 14- and 16-hour photoperiods than 8-hour photoperiods. By week 8, only one flower per plant developed in the 8-hour photoperiod while 11 flowers per plant developed in the 14-hour photoperiod. Streptosolen jamesonii (Orange Browallia) was a qualitative short day plant. There was no difference in the days to anthesis between 8- and 10-hour daylength, each averaging 36 days from start of photoperiod treatment. Plants under 12- to 16-hour photoperiods did not flower.