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Joshua K. Craver, Jennifer K. Boldt, and Roberto G. Lopez

The production of young plants from seed (plugs) for spring bedding plant markets commonly begins during late winter and early spring ( Styer, 2003 ). For high-quality plug production, the recommended DLI is 10 to 12 mol·m −2 ·d −1 ( Pramuk and

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Virginia I. Lohr and Caroline H. Pearson-Mims

The effect of organic matter addition and irrigation rates on the growth of bedding plants was found to vary with species. Marigold and sweet alyssum were field-grown with or without added peat moss under normal or 50 percent reduced irrigation.

Regardless of organic matter treatment, marigolds with reduced irrigation were shorter than those with normal irrigation. Under normal irrigation, adding organic matter had no effect on height. Under reduced irrigation, incorporating organic matter was beneficial to marigolds: plants in these plots were 10% taller than plants under reduced irrigation without added organic matter.

Sweet alyssum, a relatively drought-tolerant plant, was wider under reduced than under normal irrigation. It did not benefit from added organic matter: plants grown with added organic matter were 17% narrower than those without added organic matter, regardless of irrigation level. Blanket recommendations to add organic matter to conserve water should be avoided.

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John M. Dole

Three cut-flower species, Ageratum houstonianum `Tall Blue Horizon', Antirrhinum majus `Spring Giants Mix', and Helianthus annuus `Sunrich Orange' were grown in 806, 1801, or 1001 bedding plants flats resulting in 32 (85), 86 (280), and 156 (620) cm2 (mililiter medium)/plant, respectively. Plants were sown Sept. 1997 (fall), Dec. 1997 (winter), or Mar. 1998 (spring). Increasing area per plant decreased number of stems harvested but increased percent of stems harvested for all species. Increasing area per plant increased stem length and selling price for Antirrhinum and Helianthus; no significant difference was noted for Ageratum. Days to anthesis decreased with later planting for Antirrhinum and Helianthus; however, for Ageratum winter planting had the longest crop time and spring planting the shortest. Gross profit per square meter and square meter per week increased with decreasing area per plant for Ageratum and Helianthus; no significant difference was noted for Ageratum. Gross profit per square meter per week increased with later planting for all species. With all species 806 flats or spring planting required frequent irrigation, which would best be supplied by an automated irrigation system. Experiment was repeated in 1998/1999 using Carthamus tinctorius `Lasting Yellow', Celosia argentea `Chief Mix', Cosmos bipinnatus `Early Wonder', Helianthus annuus `Sunbright, Tagetes erecta `Promise Orange' and `Promise Yellow', and Zinnia elegans `Giant Deep Red' and `Oklahoma Mix'.

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Charles Gilliam and James Donald

Broiler litter is an abundant natural resource in the Southeastern United States. In Alabama, an estimated 1.4 tons are produced annually. In Expt. 1, two broiler litter treatments were compared at 3 rates. Sixty days after planting, growth of 4 bedding plants (Ageratum, begonia, dianthus, and marigold) was greater with both litter treatments at 20 ton/acre rate compared to the standard fertilizer recommendation of 120 1bN/A (applied as 12N-2.6P-4.9K) Composting reduced the unpleasant odor associated with traditional deepstack handling of broiler litter. In Expt. 2, selected ratios of broiler litter, pinebark, and cotton waste were mixed and composted. Maximum plant response occurred with a combination of composted media plus commercial fertilizer.

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GyeSoon Jeong, John M. Brown, and Byoung Ryong Jeong

Trichoderm a spp. are currently being investigated for biological control of soil-borne pathogens and their potential to enhance plant growth and development. The influence of T. harzianum and T. hamatum on growth of 7 bedding plant species was Investigated. Trichoderm a formulated in peat moss and wheat bran, was mixed into germination and growing media at 1 × 106 cfu per gram of medium. Seeds were germinated in plugs and later grown in cellpacks containing a treated and non-treated medium until market stage. Plants were evaluated by measuring height, fresh and dry weight, and number and timing of flowering. Growth enhancement was found in marigold (14.8% dw), petunia (15.5% dw) and tomato (38.2% dw), however, no significant differences were seen in celosia, impatiens, salvi a and vinca. Results suggest that growth enhancement by Trichoderm a is species dependent and that Trichoderm a applied in the plug mix remains-effective through marketing stage.

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Dharmalingam S. Pitchay and Paul V. Nelson

It is a common practice in greenhouses to apply fertilizers with a high proportion of N in the NO3 form to achieve short, compact shoots and a moderate (25% or greater) proportion of NH4 or urea for large shoots. However, this practice is not substantiated in the scientific literature. Two experiments were conducted in a greenhouse to assess effects of N form on development. In the first, Petunia hybrida `Mid-night Dreams' was treated with five ratios of NH4:NO3 or urea:NO3 in a factorial arrangement with three concentrations of N (50-low, 100-adequate, and 200-high mg/L at each irrigation). In the second experiment six species of bedding plants were treated in a factorial arrangement of five ratios of NH4:NO3 and two pH levels (acceptably low, 5.4-5.8, and unacceptably low, 4.6-5.2). In all comparisons, height and dry weight of shoots grown with 100% NO3 were equal or larger than the plants grown with combinations of N. There was a general trend for plants to be shorter and lighter at higher NH4 or urea proportions. These results refute the hypothesis that shoot size is under the control of N form. Depth of green foliar color correlated positively with proportion of NH4 or urea. Reputed NH4 toxicity symptoms of chlorosis, necrosis, and curling of older leaves occurred only at adversely low pH levels below 5.2 in experiment 2. Resistance of plants to this disorder under conditions of pH levels in the range of 5.4 to 5.8, high N application rates, and applications of 100% NH4 indicates that bedding plants during commercial production are fairly resistant to this disorder.

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Mark A. Nash, Tim P. Brubaker, and Billy W. Hipp

Expanded shale and peat moss were mixed in 5 ratios and evaluated as potting media for Petunia and Impatiens. Two grades of shale (coarse and fine) were used. Bulk density increased linearly with increasing shale whereas total pore space and container capacity increased linearly with increasing peat. Air space of peat-fine shale was consistently lower than that of peat-coarse shale when the peat/shale ratio was the same. Container capacity of peat-fine shale was consistently higher than that of peat-coarse shale when the peat/shale ratio was the same. Growth and quality of both bedding plants increased quadratically with increasing peat in peat-coarse shale and increased linearly with increasing peat in peat-fine shale. Highest growth and quality of both plants were found in peat-coarse shale media with at least 50% peat and in peat-fine shale media with at least 75% peat.

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James L. Gibson and Shannon Crowley

The objective of this study was to compare the effects of flurprimidol or paclobutrazol on the growth of four bedding plant species: nicotiana (Nicotiana ×sanderae), portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora), verbena (Verbena ×hybrida), and zinnia (Zinnia elegans). Plants were treated 10 days after transplanting with foliar sprays of five concentrations (in mg·L–1): 5, 10, 20, 40, or 80 from each plant growth regulator. Phytotoxicity symptoms were not observed on plants sprayed with flurprimidol or paclobutrazol. Foliar sprays of flurprimidol at 20 mg·L–1 and paclobutrazol at 80 mg·L–1 provided sufficient growth control of nicotiana for retail sales, while concentrations of 40 to 80 mg·L–1 flurprimidol produced more compact plants for wholesale production. For portulaca only flurprimidol sprays of 40 and 80 mg·L–1 produced plants that were proportionate to the container. Foliar sprays of flurprimidol at 20 mg·L–1 and paclobutrazol at 40 mg·L–1 controlled growth of verbena and zinnia suitable for retail sales, while concentrations of 40 mg·L–1 flurprimidol and 80 mg·L–1 paclobutrazol provided more compact plants which may be useful for wholesale growers. Concentrations were based under Florida conditions and should be adjusted for other areas.

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Marc W. van Iersel and Bruce Bugbee

Benzimidazoles are effective and widely used fungicides, but they may be phytotoxic. We studied the effects of a single drench application of six benzimidazoles and one acetanilide fungicide on photosynthetic gas exchange, growth, development, and nutrient levels of four species of bedding plants in twenty growth-chamber and four greenhouse studies. Daily carbon gain and carbon-use efficiency were calculated from continuous crop gas-exchange measurements in the growth chambers. The maximum labeled rate of Benlate DF caused a 7- to 10-day decrease in net photosynthesis and daily carbon gain in transplants of all species. It also caused pronounced interveinal chlorosis and a 2- to 3-day delay in flowering. Growth of Benlate DF-treated plants was reduced more at high (90%) than at low (60% to 80%) relative humidity. Benlate DF had severe effects on 2-week-old petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) seedlings in plug flats, reducing photosynthesis 25% to 57%. Cleary's 3336 WP decreased photosynthesis in some trials. Benlate DF reduced photosynthesis within 24 hours, but 3336 WP effects did not become apparent until 1 week after the treatment. This suggests different modes of inhibition. 3336 WP also caused leaf-tip and marginal chlorosis in impatiens (Impatiens wallerana). Mertect 340-F was extremely phytotoxic but is not labeled for drench applications (it was included because of its chemical similarity to other benzimidazoles). The only benzimidazole fungicide that did not reduce photosynthesis was Derosal, but it caused slight interveinal chlorosis in some studies with petunia. Benlate DF and Derosal decreased leaf Ca levels. Subdue (or metalaxyl), an acetanilide fungicide, did not affect photosynthesis or cause any visual symptoms. Our results indicate that some benzimidazole fungicides can cause growth reductions and visual damage in bedding plants.

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Joshua K. Craver, Jennifer K. Boldt, and Roberto G. Lopez

The production of young plants from seed (plugs) for the annual bedding plant market commonly occurs during winter and early spring ( Styer, 2003 ). However, in northern latitudes, the natural photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) is not