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John M. Dole, Paul Fisher, and Geoffrey Njue

Several treatments were investigated for increasing vase life of cut `Renaissance Red' poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch.) stems. A vase life of at least 20.6 days resulted when harvested stems were placed directly into vases with 22 °C deionized water plus 200 mg·L-1 8-HQS (the standard floral solution used) and 0% to 1% sucrose without floral foam. Maturity of stems at harvest, ranging from 0 to 4 weeks after anthesis, had no effect on vase life or days to first abscised leaf. Pretreatments immediately after harvest using floral solution heated to 38 or 100 °C, or 1 or 10-min dips in isopropyl alcohol, had no effect, whereas 24 hours in 10% sucrose shortened vase life by 6.4 days and time to first abscised cyathium by 4.5 days. Stem storage at 10 °C decreased vase life, particularly when stems were stored dry (with only 0.8 days vase life after 3 weeks dry storage). Increasing duration of wet storage in floral solution from 0 to 3 weeks decreased vase life from 21.5 to 14.6 days. Placing cut stems in a vase containing floral foam decreased time to first abscised leaf by 3.7 to 11.6 days compared with no foam. A 1% to 2% sucrose concentration in the vase solution produced the longest postharvest life for stems placed in foam but had little effect on stems not placed in foam. A 4% sucrose concentration decreased vase life compared with lower sucrose concentrations regardless of the presence of foam. Holding stems in the standard floral solution increased vase life and delayed leaf abscission compared with deionized or tap water only, with further improvement when stem bases were recut every three days. Commercial floral pretreatments and holding solutions had no effect on vase life and days to first abscised cyathium but delayed leaf abscission.

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John M. Dole, Janet C. Cole, and Randall M. Smith

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima 'Gutbier V-14 Glory'), chrysanthemums (Dendranthema grandiflora 'Tara') and geraniums (Pelargonium xhortorum 'Orbit') were grown using various ratios of controlled release:constant liquid fertilization as a percentage of recommended rates (%CRF:%CLF). While plants grown under the 100:0 CRF:CLF regime produced significantly less nitrates, phosphates and total soluble salts in the leachate than 0:100 or 50:50 CRF:CLF, quality rating, plant diameter, and leaf, bract and flower dry weight of poinsettias and chrysanthemums were reduced. Geraniums grown under 100:0, 50:50 or 0:100 CRF:CLF regimes were similar in quality rating, height, diameter, dry weights and days to anthesis. Poinsettias and chrysanthemums grown under 50:50 CRF:CLF were similar in height, days to anthesis, plant diameter, flower and stem dry weights and quality rating but produced less nitrates, phosphates and total soluble salts in the leachate than plants grown under 0:100 CRF:CLF. However, chrysanthemums grown under 50:50 CRF:CLF had lower leaf and root dry weights and poinsettias had lower leaf and bract dry weights than under 0:100 CRF:CLF regime.

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Alicain S. Carlson, John M. Dole, and Brian E. Whipker

Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are used to control excessive plant growth in potted crops to improve quality and compactness for shipping and display. Pineapple lily (Eucomis sp.), a recent introduction to the potted crop market, can have excessive foliage growth and inflorescence height making the use of PGRs desirable. Bulbs of ‘Leia’ pineapple lily were forced in the greenhouse and drenched at leaf whorl emergence with three PGRs at five different concentrations: 1) flurprimidol (0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0 mg per 6.5-inch pot), 2) uniconazole (0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0 mg/pot), or 3) paclobutrazol (0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0 and 8.0 mg/pot) and an untreated control. As concentration increased, days to anthesis increased and foliage height decreased for each PGR. Paclobutrazol (4.0 and 8.0 mg/pot), uniconazole (4.0 mg/pot), and flurprimidol (2.0 and 4.0 mg/pot) treatments resulted in excessive stunting with none of the plants being marketable. Flurprimidol had the greatest influence on plant growth among all the PGRs. Acceptable concentrations for each PGR are paclobutrazol at 0.5 to 2.0 mg/pot, uniconazole at 0.25 to 2.0 mg/pot, and flurprimidol at 0.5 to 1.0 mg/pot based on percentage of marketable plants and foliage and inflorescence height suppression without excessively increasing the number of days to anthesis.

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Todd J. Cavins, John M. Dole, and Vicki Stamback

Anemone (Anemone coronaria L.), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L.), larkspur [Consolida ambigua (L.) P.W. Ball & Heyw.], delphinium (Delphinium ×cultorum Voss.), sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), lupine (Lupinus hartwegii Lindl.), stock [Matthiola incana (L.) R. Br.], and pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams.) were grown in raised sandy loam ground beds in double-layered polyethylene-covered greenhouses which were either unheated (ambient) or had a 55 °F (13 °C) minimum night temperature in year 1 and 36 or 50 °F (2 or 10 °C) minimum night temperature in year 2. Results were species specific; however, the extreme low temperatures [21 °F (-6 °C)] in the unheated house limited delphinium and lupine production. The warmest greenhouses (55 and 50 °F) reduced production time for anemone, delphinium, larkspur, lupine (year 2), snapdragon (year 2),stock, and sunflower. The coolest greenhouses (unheated and 36 °F) increased stem lengths for anemone (year 2), delphinium, larkspur (year 1), lupine (year 2), snapdragon, stock, and sunflower. The coolest green-houses also yielded a profit or lower net loss for all species except delphinium, lupine, and snapdragon (year 2) for which profits were highest or net losses were lowest in the warmest greenhouses.

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Ben A. Bergmann, John M. Dole, and Ingram McCall

Responses of 14 to 20 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) cultivars were assessed following exposure to environmental stressors common in the crop’s postproduction supply chain and consumer environment: low light levels, low temperatures, and low substrate moisture. As indicated by number of days to unacceptable appearance, 14 cultivars tolerated three low light levels (10, 20, and 40 µmol·m–2·s–1) well, with all individuals of six of the cultivars exhibiting an acceptable appearance at 7 weeks when the experiment ended. An experiment with 20 cultivars showed them to be surprisingly tolerant of low temperatures for a short duration, with no differences found when averaging across cultivars among plants exposed to 2, 5, or 20 °C for 2 days. However, all cultivars exposed to 5 °C for 10 days performed poorly. Cultivars differed markedly in response to low substrate moisture, with frequency of unacceptable plants before 4 weeks across all treatments ranging from 0% to 87% among the 14 cultivars tested. Across 17 cultivars, acceptable plant appearance was extended from 23 days for plants that were never irrigated after 10 d in sleeves to 32 days for plants that received a single irrigation at unsleeving and not thereafter. The low temperatures and low substrate moisture experiments were conducted in 2 years, and years differed significantly for nearly all dependent variables assessed. The significant interaction between year and cultivar for all observed variables in those two experiments indicates the importance of conducting experiments such as these over 2 years or more. Potted plants of many of the poinsettia cultivars tested proved to be highly tolerant in terms of low light levels, low temperatures, and low substrate moisture. Three cultivars appeared to be most tolerant in two of the three experiments: Prestige Red (low light levels and low temperatures), Titan Red (low temperatures and low substrate moisture), and Whitestar (low light levels and low substrate moisture). Three cultivars were most tolerant to all three sources of postproduction plant stress: Christmas Day Red, Early Mars Red, and Titan White.

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Brigitte D. Crawford, John M. Dole, and Ben A. Bergmann

Influence of season of the year, cutting week within a propagation cycle (number of weeks from which a stock plant has been harvested), stock plant age, and rooting compound on postpropagation cutting quality, and adventitious rooting was examined for ‘Stained Glass’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides). Cuttings were of higher quality and produced more robust root systems when a propagation cycle started in summer vs. fall or spring even when cuttings were harvested from stock plants of the same age. Cutting week within a propagation cycle significantly influenced postpropagation cutting quality and rooting when cuttings were harvested over many weeks from the same stock plants and when cuttings were harvested for three propagation events using stock plants of different ages. When cuttings were harvested on the same days from stock plants of three distinct ages, cuttings harvested in the first week were larger with greater root weights but had more yellowed leaves and lower quality ratings compared with the two subsequent cutting weeks, but stock plant age had no effect on any observed parameter. Treatment with rooting compound did not overcome the significant influences of season and cutting week within a propagation cycle whether rooting was carried out in a greenhouse or growth chamber. Shoot and root fresh and dry weights were positively correlated with both daylength and midday instantaneous light of the stock plant environment.

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Laurence C. Pallez, John M. Dole, and Brian E. Whipker

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) has potential as a potted flowering plant due to short crop time, ease of propagation, and attractive flowers but postharvest life is short and plants can grow too tall. Days from sowing to anthesis differed significantly among six sunflower cultivars and ranged from 52 days for `Big Smile' to 86 days for `Elf' and `Pacino.' Height ranged from 6.0 inches (15.2 cm) for `Big Smile' to 14.9 inches (37.8 cm) for `Pacino', postproduction life ranged from 10 days for `Elf' and `Pacino' to 15 days for `Big Smile', and postproduction chlorosis ratings (1 to 5, with 5 the least) ranged from 5.0 for `Teddy Bear' to 4.4 for `Big Smile' after 5 days and 4.2 for `Teddy Bear' to 3.1 for `Sunspot' after 10 days. Promalin (a gibberellin and benzyladenine mixture) applied at 62.5 to 500 ppm (mg·L-1) was not commercially useful in extending postproduction life. Increasing pot size from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in diameter decreased postproduction life and plants in 5-inch-diameter (13 cm) pots were tallest. Pots with three plants flowered more quickly than those with one or five plants and pots with five plants had 1 day shorter postharvest life than those with one or three pots. All cultivars were facultative short-day plants, except for `Sundance Kid', which was day neutral. Storing potted sunflowers at 41 °F (5 °C) for 1 week did not reduce postproduction life, which was 11 to 12 d; however, 2 weeks of cold storage resulted in foliar damage. Three cultivars were found to be most suitable for pot production, `Elf', `Pacino' and `Teddy Bear', with one or three plants per 6-inch pot and sprayed with daminozide (B-Nine) at 8,000 ppm, or drenched with paclobutrazol (Bonzi) at 2 mg/pot (a.i.) (28,350 mg = 1.0 oz).

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W. Roland Leatherwood, John M. Dole, and James E. Faust

Ethephon [(2-chloroethyl) phosphonic acid] is used to increase stock plant cutting productivity through increased flower and flower bud abscission and branching. However, ethylene evolution resulting from ethephon application is suspected to cause leaf abscission of unrooted cuttings during shipping. It was the objective of this study to assess ethylene evolution from ethephon-treated cuttings during storage and shipping of unrooted cuttings. Impatiens hawkeri W. Bull ‘Sonic Red’ and ‘Sonic White’ stock plants were treated with 0, 250, 500, or 1000 mg·L−1 ethephon. Cuttings were harvested from 1 to 21 days later and each harvest was stored at 20 °C in sealed jars for 24 h before ethylene measurement. Higher ethephon doses resulted in greater ethylene generation. Cuttings harvested 1 day after treatment with 0, 250, 500, or 1000 mg·L−1 ethephon evolved 0.07, 1.3, 1.7, or 5.8 μL·L−1·g−1 (fresh weight) ethylene in the first 24 h of storage at 20 °C, respectively. Twenty-one days after treatment, cuttings from the same plants evolved 0.05, 0.05, 0.15, or 0.14 μL·L−1·g−1 (fresh weight) ethylene in the first 24 h of storage at 20 °C, respectively. As cuttings were harvested from Day 1 to Day 21, ethylene concentrations evolved within the first 24 h of storage decreased exponentially. Rinsing cuttings, treated 24 h earlier with 500 mg·L−1 ethephon, by gently agitating for 10 s in deionized water reduced ethylene evolution to 0.7 μL·L−1·g−1 (fresh weight) as compared with 1.7 for unrinsed cuttings. Cuttings harvested 24 h after treatment with 500 mg·L−1 ethephon stored at 10, 15, 20, and 25 °C for 24 h evolved 0.37, 0.81, 2.03, and 3.55 μL·L−1·g−1 (fresh weight) ethylene. The resulting mean temperature coefficient (Q10) for the 10 to 25 °C range from all replications was 5.15 ± 0.85. Thus, ethylene continues to evolve from ethephon-treated Impatiens hawkeri stock plants for up to 21 days and can accumulate to high concentrations during cutting storage.

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Jaime K. Morvant, John M. Dole, and Janet C. Cole

Pelargonium ×hortorum Bailey `Pinto Red' plants were fertilized with equal amounts of N, P, and K derived from: 1) 100% constant liquid fertilization (CLF); 2) 50% CLF plus 50% controlled-release fertilizer (CRF); or 3) 100% CRF per pot and irrigated using hand (HD), microtube (MT), ebb-and-flow (EF), or capillary mat (CM) irrigation systems. The treatment receiving 100% CRF produced greater total dry weights, and released lower concentrations of NO3-N, NH4-N, and PO4-P in the run-off than the 100% CLF treatment. The percentage of N lost as run-off was greatly reduced with the use of CRF. MT irrigation produced the greatest plant growth and HD irrigation produced the least. The EF system was the most water efficient, with only 4.7% of water lost as run-off. Combining the water-efficient EF system with the nutrient-efficient CRF produced the greatest percentage of N retained by plants and medium (90.7) and the lowest percentage of N lost in the run-off (1.7).

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Bridget K. Behe, Paul B. Redman, and John M. Dole

Consumer flower-color preferences are of interest to market researchers, plant producers, and retailers because this information can help them to anticipate accurately the sales product mix. Our objective was to determine consumer bract-color preferences for 47 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) cultivars. Visitors (124) to the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, rated `Sonora', a red cultivar, highest (4.6 of 5.0) of any cultivar. Nine of ten highest rated cultivars were red. We compared the ratings of poinsettia buyers with those of nonpoinsettia buyers and found only one difference: nonpoinsettia buyers rated `Jingle Bells III', a marble cultivar, higher (4.3) than poinsettia buyers (3.8). We also compared consumers who had purchased a red poinsettia to those who had purchased nonred colors and found that red poinsettia buyers rated `Sonora' higher (4.9) than nonred poinsettia buyers (4.5). Men rated `Red Elegance' higher (3.7) than women (3.3), whereas women rated `Freedom White' higher (3.1) than men (2.4). We found few differences between men and women, buyers and nonbuyers, and nonred buyers and red buyers, which may indicate a relatively homogeneous market that does not greatly differentiate among poinsettia bract color.