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Jeff S. Kuehny, Aaron Painter, and Patricia C. Branch

Eight bedding plant species were grown from plugs obtained from two sources. The plugs were transplanted into jumbo six packs and sprayed with a solution of chlormequat/daminozide with concentrations of 1000/800, 1250/1250, or 1500/5000 mg·L-1 when new growth was ≈5 cm in height or width. Three different species were grown in the fall (Dianthus chinensis L., `Telstar Mix', Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr., `Dreams Red', and Viola ×wittrockiana Gams., `Bingo Blue'), winter [Antirrhinum majus L., `Tahiti Mix', Matthiola incana (L.) R. Br., `Midget Red', and P. × hybrida, `Dreams Mix'], and spring [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don, `Cooler Pink', Salvia splendens F. Sellow ex Roem. & Schult., `Empire Red', and Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum Hort., `Cocktail Mix']. The treatments significantly reduced finished plant size of all species for each season. There was a significant difference in finish size between sources for Dianthus, Antirrhinum, Matthiola, Catharanthus, Salvia, and Begonia. The efficacy of chlormequat/daminozide also differed for each source of Dianthus, Matthiola, and Begonia, but the treatments minimized the differences in finish size between sources for Petunia and Viola. Chemical names used: (2-chlorethyl) trimethylammonium chloride (chlormequat); (N-dimethylaminosuccinamic acid) (daminozide).

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Stanislav V. Magnitskiy, Claudio C. Pasian, Mark A. Bennett, and James D. Metzger

Shoot stretching in plug production reduces quality and makes mechanized transplanting difficult. The objectives of this study were to measure seedling emergence and shoot height of plugs as affected by paclobutrazol application during seed soaking, priming, or coating on seedling emergence and height. Verbena (Verbena ×hybrida Voss. `Quartz White'), pansy (Viola wittrockiana L. `Bingo Yellow Blotch'), and celosia (Celosia cristata L. `New Look') seeds were soaked in water solutions of paclobutrazol and subsequently dried on filter paper at 20 °C for 24 h. Soaking seeds in paclobutrazol solutions before sowing reduced growth and percentage seedling emergence of verbena and pansy but had little effect on those of celosia. Verbena seeds soaked in 50, 200, or 500 mg paclobutrazol/L for 5, 45, or 180 min produced fewer and shorter seedlings than controls. Osmopriming verbena seeds with 10 to 500 mg paclobutrazol/L reduced seedling emergence. Seedling height and emergence percentage of pansy decreased with increasing paclobutrazol concentrations from 2 to 30 mg·L–1 and with soaking time from 1 to 5 min. The elongation of celosia seedlings was reduced by soaking seeds in 10, 50, 200, or 500 mg paclobutrazol/L solutions for 5, 180, or 360 min. However, these reductions were negligible and without any practical application.

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Mark P. Kaczperski, Allan M. Armitage, and Pamela M. Lewis

Pelargonium×hortorum L.H. Bailey `Scarlet Elite' seedlings were grown in plugs from seed to transplant size. About 14 days before attaining transplant size, seedlings were exposed to various fertility or temperature regimes (preconditioning treatments), then stored for 1 to 3 weeks at 5C. Seedlings receiving 150 mg N/liter before storage flowered sooner and required less crop time (days to flower – days in storage) than those receiving 0, 75, or 300 mg. Temperature preconditioning at 10 or 15C delayed flowering compared to preconditioning at 20C. Final plant height and dry weight were not adversely affected by varying N levels or temperature during preconditioning. Preconditioning seedlings with 300 mg N/liter resulted in seedling mortality rates up to 16% after 7 days' storage. Low temperature or fertility were not effective preconditioning treatments. Best results were attained by preconditioning seedlings with 150 mg N/liter.

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Mark P. Kaczperski, Allan M. Armitage, and Pamela M. Lewis

Seed of Petunia × hybrida `Ultra White' were germinated in #406 plug trays at 2.5 C and at a light intensity of 100 μ mol s-1m-2 using a 24 or photoperiod. At germination, seedlings were grown under natural light conditions for 8 hrs (SD) or for 8 hrs with the photoperiod extended to 16 hrs (LD) using incandescent bulbs. At approximately the 6th leaf stage, seedlings were stored at 5 C in the dark or at 12 μ mol s-1m-2 and a 24 hr photoperiod for 0 to 21 days. After storage, plants were potted n 10 cm pots and grown to flowering in a greenhouse. Plants grown under SD to the 6th leaf stage with no cold treatment were shorter. flowered later and had more lateral branching than unstored LD plants. Storage at 5 C decreased time to flower of SD plants and increased branching of LD plants regardless of photoperiod during storage.

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Ronald W. Garton and Irvin E. Widders

Seedlings of processing tomato `H 2653' (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were cultured in 288-cell (< 6 cm3 volume) plug trays in a soilless growing medium. Pretransplant fertilization with nutrient solutions containing 10 or 20 mm N and 2 or 5 mm P for 10 days altered the total ammoniacal-N and P, and the soluble NO3-N and PO4-P concentrations in the shoot tissue at transplanting. Post-transplanting shoot and root growth were more rapid in late May plantings than in earlier plantings. The 20-mm N and 2-mm P pretransplant treatment caused the most rapid shoot growth following early season plantings in the field. Rapid seedling establishment after transplanting was generally not a good indicator of potential fruit yield. The 5-mm P pretransplant treatment produced higher marketable fruit yields in early plantings but not in later. Culture of seedlings under a low fertilization regime (5.4 mm N, 1.0 mm P, and 1.6 mm K) before pretransplant treatment produced as high or higher fruit yields than did seedlings from a higher regimen. Withholding fertilizer temporarily before transplanting resulted in a depletion in tissue N and P concentrations, slow post-transplanting shoot growth, and lower yields.

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Mark P. Kaczperski and Royal D. Heins

Plug-grown Pelargonium × hortorum `Pinto Red' seedlings were grown under natural daylight (average of 4.7 mol/day) or with supplemental irradiance from high-pressure sodium lamps. Seedlings were grown under 8-, 16-, or 24-h photoperiods with supplemental irradiances of 2.5, 3.75, or 5.0 mol/day at each photoperiod. Supplemental irradiance was provided for 7, 14, 21, and 28 days beginning 7, 14, 21, 28, and 35 days after sowing. Seedlings were transplanted 63 days after sowing to 8-cm containers (121 plants/m2) and grown to flower. Leaf number at time of transplant was not affected by photoperiod, but increased as daily irradiance and weeks of supplemental irradiance increased. Seedlings were more responsive to supplemental irradiance applications beginning 28 and 35 days than at 7 to 21 days after sowing. Ninety-two percent of seedlings receiving 28 days of 5.0 mol/day supplemental irradiance under a 24-h photoperiod starting 35 days after sowing had initiated flower buds at time of transplant; 75% of those receiving 3.75 mol/day were initiated. Plants receiving less than 3 weeks of supplemental irradiance or with an irradiance period beginning less than 28 days after sowing had not initiated flowers at transplant.

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JiWeon Lee and Paul V. Nelson

Tomato `Marglobe' seed were sown on germination paper in enclosed plastic dishes in a growth room Ammonium was more toxic when applied as the single salt, ammonium sulfate, than when applied as part of a complete Hoagland solution. The lowest toxic ammonium levels were for the single salt 1.5 mM and for the complete solution 4.5 mM. Symptoms included reduced length of primary and particularly lateral roots, reduced numbers of root hairs, and chlorosis, distortion, and slower development of cotyledons. Tomato `Marglobe' seedlings were also grown in 288 cell plug trays in a substrate of 3 sphagnum peat moss and 1 perlite containing no N, P, or K but amended with dolomitic limestone to pH 6.0 They were fertilized every third watering with 4 mM NH4 + NO3, 0.4 mM PO4, and 1.2 mM K from 15 to 28 days after sowing and at double this concentration from 29 to 42 days. A zero leaching percentage was practiced. Ammoniacal-N comprised 25, 50, or 75% of total N. There were no effects of ammonium on root or shoot weights, height or appearance of plants through this period. Plant growth was limited throughout this period by N stress in accordance. with commercial practice. After 42 days N stress was alleviated by again doubling the nutrient solution concentration and applying it with every watering. Ammonium toxicity developed with symptoms of shorter plant height, general chlorosis of lower leaves, and necrosis of the base of lower leaves.

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Yoshiaki Kitaya, Genhua Niu, Toyoki Kozai, and Maki Ohashi

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Summer-green) plug transplants were grown for 3 weeks under 16 combinations of four levels (100, 150, 200, and 300 μmol·m-2·s-1) of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), two photoperiods (16 and 24 h), and two levels of CO2 (400 and 800 μmol·mol-1) in growth chambers maintained at an air temperature of 20 ±2 °C. As PPF increased, dry mass (DM), percent DM, and leaf number increased, while ratio of shoot to root dry mass (S/R), ratio of leaf length to leaf width (LL/LW), specific leaf area, and hypocotyl length decreased. At the same PPF, DM was increased by 25% to 100% and 10% to 100% with extended photoperiod and elevated CO2 concentration, respectively. Dry mass, percent DM, and leaf number increased linearly with daily light integral (DLI, the product of PPF and photoperiod), while S/R, specific leaf area, LL/LW and hypocotyl length decreased as DLI increased under each CO2 concentration. Hypocotyl length was influenced by PPF and photoperiod, but not by CO2 concentration. Leaf morphology, which can be reflected by LL/LW, was substantially influenced by PPF at 100 to 200 μmol·m-2·s-1, but not at 200 to 300 μmol·m-2·s-1. At the same DLI, the longer photoperiod promoted growth under the low CO2 concentration, but not under the high CO2 concentration. Longer photoperiod and/or higher CO2 concentration compensated for a low PPF.

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Jin-Sheng Huang and Paul V. Nelson

Salinity guidelines for seed germination substrates are extremely low and difficult to attain given the salinity contributions of components such as peatmoss, vermiculite, limestone, wetting agent, and nutrients. This study was conducted to determine the value of N, P, K, and S as pre-plant nutrients with the anticipation that some could be eliminated. Seed were sown in two similar experiments on 23 Mar. and 6 June 1995 in 288-cell plug trays containing a substrate of 3 sphagnum peat: 1 perlite (v/v) amended with 6 g dolomitic limestone and 1.5 g Esmigran micronutrient mix per liter. Test plants included impatiens `Accent Rose' (Impatiens wallerana L.) and gomphrena `Buddy' (Gomphrena globosa. L.) Six preplant treatments including none, all, or all minus one of the nutrients N, P, K, and S were applied, each at a rate of 100 mg·L–1, substrate, in a randomized complete-block design with three blocks. Post-plant fertilization with 13–0.9–10.8 at 50 mg N/L began 1 week after sowing and was increased to 100 mg N/L when the fourth true leaf appeared. Omission of pre-plant K and S did not result in any reduction in final plant size in impatiens and only a minor reduction in one of the two gomphrena crops. Omission of N and P consistently reduced final size of plants by a commercially significant amount. While K and S are not necessary, N and P should be considered in a pre-plant fertilizer for these crops. In each situation where shoot size was smaller the root/shoot ratio was unchanged.

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Marc van Iersel

Various growth stimulators have been reported to improve plant growth. Some of these are formulated to improve root growth, which would be particularly beneficial for reestablishing transplants. Three commercially available plant growth stimulators—PGR IV (MicroFlo, Lakeland, Fla.), Roots2 (Lisa Products Corp., Independence, Mo.), and Up-Start (The Solaris Group, San Ramon, Calif.)—were tested to quantify their effect on post-transplant growth of petunia (Petunia × hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr.) and impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook.f.) seedlings and to assess their value for the greenhouse industry. Seedlings were transplanted from plug flats into larger 5.6-fl oz (166-cm3) containers and treated with 1.1 fl oz (31 mL) of growth stimulator per plant (22 fl oz/ft2). Applications were made immediately after transplant. None of the treatments affected root mass at any time. Up-Start (2 fl oz/gal) increased final shoot dry mass by ≈20% compared to the control plants. The increase in shoot growth by Up-Start most likely is caused by the fertilizer it contains. Up-Start also increased flowering of petunia from 34 to 40 days after transplant. PGR IV (0.5 fl oz/gal) and Roots2 (1.28 fl oz/gal) did not affect dry mass of the plants. PGR IV increased the number of flowers of petunia and impatiens, but this effect occurred well after the plants were marketable. Roots2 caused a small delay in early flowering and an increase in late flowering of petunia but had no effect on flowering of impatiens. Since the effects of the growth stimulators was either due their fertilizer content (Up-Start) or occurred after the plants would have been sold (PGR IV, Roots2), none of the growth stimulators appears to be beneficial for bedding plant producers.