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D. Yvette Henson, Steven E. Newman, and David E. Hartley

This study was conducted to evaluate the growth, visual quality, and stress response of 17 species of bedding plants and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) grown outdoors for 10 weeks during the summer of 2003 at three locations in Colorado. Plants were irrigated at 100% of the reference evapotranspiration (ET0) (amount required to maintain Kentucky bluegrass in an optimum condition) for 2 weeks followed by 8 weeks at five irrigation levels: 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% ET0. Begonia carrieri Hort. `Vodka', Lobelia erinus L. `Cobalt Blue', and Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. `Crown Gold' grew well with a minimum of 50% or more ET0 based on Kentucky bluegrass. Impatiens walleriana Hook. fil. `Tempo White' grew well only with 100% ET0. Antirrhinum majus L. `Sonnet Yellow', Dianthus L. `First Love', Lobularia maritima (L.) Desv. `Carpet White', and Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey performed well with 25% to 50% ET0. The species Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don `Peppermint Cooler', Rudbeckia hirta L. `Indian Summer', Senecio cineraria D.C. `Silver Dust', Tagetes erecta L. `Inca Yellow' and T. patula L. `Bonanza Gold', Zinnia angustifolia Kunth., and Salvia farinacea Benth. `Rhea Blue', which are adapted to midsummer heat and low water, performed well with 0% to 25% ET0. Species considered to be heat or drought tolerant—Petunia ×hybrida hort. ex. E. Vilm. `Merlin White' and Glandularia J.F. Gmel. `Imagination'—required little or no irrigation. The bedding plant species evaluated in this study that required 25% or less ET0 are well adapted for low-water landscape installations.

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James E. Faust, Veronda Holcombe, Nihal C. Rajapakse, and Desmond R. Layne

Daily light integral (DLI) describes the rate at which photosynthetically active radiation is delivered over a 24-hour period and is a useful measurement for describing the greenhouse light environment. A study was conducted to quantify the growth and flowering responses of bedding plants to DLI. Eight bedding plant species [ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum L.), begonia (Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum L.), impatiens (Impatiens wallerana L.), marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Juss.), salvia (Salvia coccinea L.), vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.), and zinnia (Zinnia elegans L.)] were grown outdoors in direct solar radiation or under one of three shade cloths (50, 70 or 90% photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) reduction) that provided DLI treatments ranging from 5 to 43 mol·m–2·d–1. The total plant dry mass increased for all species, except begonia and impatiens, as DLI increased from 5 to 43 mol·m–2·d–1. Total plant dry mass of begonia and impatiens increased as DLI increased from 5 to 19 mol·m–2·d–1. Impatiens, begonia, salvia, ageratum, petunia, vinca, zinnia, and marigold achieved 50% of their maximum flower dry mass at 7, 8, 12, 14, 19, 20, 22, and 23 mol·m–2·d–1, respectively. The highest flower number for petunia, salvia, vinca, and zinnia occurred at 43 mol·m–2·d–1. Time to flower decreased for all species, except begonia and impatiens, as DLI increased to 19 or 43 mol·m–2·d–1. There was no consistent plant height response to DLI across species, although the shoot and flower dry mass per unit height increased for all species as DLI increased from 5 to 43 mol·m–2·d–1. Guidelines for managing DLI for bedding plant production in greenhouses are discussed.

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Robert D. Wright and Jake F. Browder

Due to uncertainties of future supplies of pine bark (PB) and peatmoss, ground Pinus taeda logs [pine chips (PC)] were compared to ground PB as a potential container substrate for japanese holly (Ilex crenata Thunb. `Chesapeake'), azalea (Rhododendron obtusum Planch. `Karen'), and marigold (Tagetes erecta Big. `Inca Gold'). Plants were potted in 2.8-L plastic containers 8 Apr. 2004 with either 100% PC, 100% PB, or 75% PC:25%PB (v/v), and glasshouse grown 8 weeks for marigold and 13 weeks for holly and azalea. Plant dry weights were higher for marigold grown in 100% PB compared to 100% PC but not different from plants grown in 75% PC:25% PB. Plant dry weights of azalea were higher in 100% pine bark than both substrates containing chips. There was no difference in shoot dry weight for japanese holly between the three substrates. Root dry weight was higher for 75% PC:25% PB than for 100% PB, but root weight of 100% PB and 100% PC was the same. The percent air space for the PC was higher than the PB substrate but container capacity and available water was not different for the three substrates. Substrate solution electrical conductivity (EC) for PC, was lower than that of PB, possibly due to greater leaching with the more porous PC and nutrient retention by the PC. These factors could account for the cases where larger plants developed with the PB substrate. Nutrient analysis of the substrate solution indicated that there are no toxic nutrient levels associated with PC. The pH of PC is also acceptable for plant culture. As well, there was no apparent shrinkage due to decomposition during the course of this short-term experiment. Pine chips, therefore, offer potential as a container substrate for greenhouse and nursery crops.

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Madeline W. Olberg and Roberto G. Lopez

Due to the high cost associated with constructing and operating a greenhouse, many growers have begun using alternative, low-input methods for bedding plant production, such as unheated high tunnel and outdoor production. Previous research indicates that bedding plant production in unheated high tunnels may be suitable for cold-tolerant species, but flowering is delayed compared with greenhouse production. To our knowledge, there has been no published research on the effects of outdoor production on bedding plant species. The objectives of this study were therefore to 1) compare the growth and development of 10 cold-tolerant and intermediate annual bedding plant species grown in an unheated high tunnel or in an unprotected outdoor growing area, 2) evaluate the effect of a 1-week acclimation period in the high tunnel before outdoor production, and 3) quantify the effectiveness of these production methods for producing high-quality bedding crops. Seedlings of ‘Antigua Orange’ african marigold (Tagetes erecta), ‘Hot Cakes White’ stock (Matthiola incana), and ‘Lilac Flame’ primula (Primula acaulis), and rooted cuttings of ‘Aloha Kona Hot Pink’ calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ×hybrida), ‘Royal Lavender’ regal geranium (Pelargonium ×domesticum), ‘Bella Oceano’ lobelia (Lobelia erinus), ‘Potunia Plus Red’ petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), ‘Phloxy Lady Purple’ phlox (Phlox maculata), ‘Summertime Pink Charme’ osteospermum (Osteospermum ecklonis), and ‘Empress Purple’ verbena (Verbena ×hybrida) were transplanted on 13 Apr. 2015 (week 16) into an unheated high tunnel or an outdoor growing area, or into an unheated high tunnel for a 1-week acclimation period before being moved outdoors. Average mean daily air temperature was 2.3 °C lower outdoors compared with inside the high tunnel, whereas average daily light integral (DLI) increased by 11.7 mol·m−2·d−1. All plants were delayed when grown outdoors compared with in the high tunnel, and all marigolds grown outdoors died in April when outdoor air temperatures dropped below −4 °C. When plants were acclimated for a 1-week period before outdoor production, all species, with the exception of regal geranium, were delayed by less than 1 week compared with those grown in the high tunnel. Stem length of all species grown outdoors was reduced or similar to those in the high tunnel, whereas biomass accumulation and branch number was unaffected or increased for most species. Overall, high-quality bedding plants could be grown outdoors, although development may be delayed compared with high tunnel production. Growers must be aware of the risk of crop loss due to extreme temperatures and plan for delays when growing annual bedding plant crops outdoors.

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W. Garrett Owen, Qingwu Meng, and Roberto G. Lopez

Under natural short days, growers can use photoperiodic lighting to promote flowering of long-day plants and inhibit flowering of short-day plants. Unlike traditional lamps used for photoperiodic lighting, low-intensity light-emitting diode (LED) lamps allow for a wide array of adjustable spectral distributions relevant to regulation of flowering, including red (R) and white (W) radiation with or without far-red (FR) radiation. Our objective was to quantify how day-extension (DE) photoperiodic lighting from two commercially available low-intensity LED lamps emitting R + W or R + W + FR radiation interacted with daily light integral (DLI) to influence stem elongation and flowering of several ornamental species. Long-day plants [petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.-Andr. ‘Dreams Midnight’) and snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L. ‘Oh Snap Pink’)], short-day plants [african marigold (Tagetes erecta L. ‘Moonsong Deep Orange’) and potted sunflower (Helianthus annuus L. ‘Pacino Gold’)], and day-neutral plants [pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. ‘Matrix Yellow’) and zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq. ‘Magellan Cherry’)] were grown at 20/18 °C day/night air temperatures and under low (6–9 mol·m−2·d−1) or high (16–19 mol·m−2·d−1) seasonal photosynthetic DLIs from ambient solar radiation combined with supplemental high-pressure sodium lighting and DE LED lighting. Photoperiods consisted of a truncated 9-hour day (0800–1700 hr) with additional 1-hour (1700–1800 hr, 10 hours total), 4-hour (1700–2100 hr, 13 hours total), or 7-hour (1700–2400 hr, 16 hours total) R + W or R + W + FR LED lighting at 2 μmol·m−2·s−1. Days to visible bud, plant height at first open flower, and time to first open flower (TTF) of each species were influenced by DLI, lamp type, and photoperiod though to different magnitudes. For example, plant height of african marigold and potted sunflower at first open flower was greatest under R + W + FR lamps, high DLIs, and 16-hour photoperiods. Petunia grown under R + W lamps, high DLI, and 10- and 13-hour photoperiods were the most compact. For all species, TTF was generally reduced under high DLIs. For example, regardless of the lamp type, flowering of african marigold occurred fastest under a high DLI and 10-hour photoperiod. Flowering of petunia and snapdragon occurred fastest under a high DLI, R + W + FR lamps, and a 16-hour photoperiod. However, only under high DLIs, R + W or R + W + FR lamps were equally effective at promoting flowering when used to provide DE lighting. Our data suggest that under low DLIs, flowering of long-day plants (petunia and snapdragon) occurs more rapidly under lamps providing R + W + FR, whereas under high DLIs, flowering is promoted similarly under either R + W or R + W + FR lamps.

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Suejin Park, Sarah A. Mills, Youyoun Moon, and Nicole L. Waterland

Water stress during shipping and retailing reduces the postproduction quality and marketability of bedding plants. Antitranspirants can temporarily prevent plants from wilting by either physically blocking stomata or physiologically inducing stomatal closure, limiting transpirational water loss from leaves. The goal of this research was to evaluate the efficacy of commercially available antitranspirants on enhancing temporary water stress tolerance in bedding plants. Two physical antitranspirants [β-pinene polymer (βP) and vinyl-acrylic polymer (VP)], and three physiological antitranspirants [two sugar alcohol-based compounds (SACs) and a biologically active form of abscisic acid (s-ABA)] were applied to begonia (Begonia semperflorens-cultorum), new guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), african marigold (Tagetes erecta), and french marigold (Tagetes patula). Physical antitranspirants were sprayed on foliage and physiological antitranspirants were drenched to the media. All antitranspirants were applied at half (0.5×), equal to (1×), or twice (2×) the manufacturer’s recommended rate. Extended shelf life was observed when βP or s-ABA was applied. Treatment with βP increased the shelf life of impatiens and african marigold by 1 and 1.3 days compared with control plants, respectively. The application of βP at 2× was more effective at delaying visual wilting than at lower rates (0.5× and 1×) in african marigold. Applications of s-ABA delayed wilting by 1.3 to 3.7 days in all tested cultivars. The shelf lives of impatiens and petunia treated with s-ABA at 2× were extended the most by 3.7 and 3.0 days compared with control plants, respectively. A rapid reduction of stomatal conductance (g S) was observed within 4 hours of βP or s-ABA application in plants showing delayed wilting symptoms. s-ABA treatment appeared to cause marginal leaf chlorosis in impatiens, whereas application of βP damaged the opened flowers in all tested cultivars. The application of VP or SACs did not extend shelf life in any treated plants. These results suggest that foliar application of βP on selected species and treatment with s-ABA on most of species would allow bedding plants to withstand water deficit during shipping and/or retailing.

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W. Garrett Owen, Brian E. Jackson, Brian E. Whipker, and William C. Fonteno

Processed pine wood (Pinus sp.) has been investigated as a component in greenhouse and nursery substrates for many years. Specifically, pine wood chips (PWC) have been uniquely engineered/processed into a nonfiberous blockular particle size, suitable for use as a substrate aggregate. In container substrates, nitrogen (N) tie-up during crop production is of concern when substrates contain components with high carbon (C):N ratios, like that of PWC that are made from fresh pine wood. The objective of this research was to compare the N requirements of plants grown in sphagnum peat–based substrates amended with perlite or PWC. Fertility concentrations of 100, 200, or 300 mg·L−1 N were applied to ‘Profusion Orange’ zinnia (Zinnia ×hybrida) and ‘Moonsong Deep Orange’ marigold (Tagetes erecta) grown in sphagnum peat–based substrates containing 10%, 20%, or 30% (by volume) perlite or PWC. Zinnia plant substrate solution electrical conductivity (EC) was not influenced by percentage of perlite or PWC. Perlite-amended substrates fertilized with 200 mg·L−1 N for growing zinnia, maintained a constant EC within optimal levels of 1.0 to 2.6 mS·cm−1 from 14 to 42 days after planting (DAP), and then EC increased at 49 DAP. In substrates fertilized with 100 and 300 mg·L−1 N, EC levels steadily declined and then increased, respectively. Zinnia plants grown in PWC-amended substrates fertilized with 200 mg·L−1 N maintained a constant EC within the optimal range from 14 to 49 DAP. Marigold substrate solution EC was only influenced by N concentration and followed a similar response to zinnia substrate solution EC. Zinnia and marigold substrate solution pH was influenced by N concentration and generally decreased with increasing N concentration. Plant growth and shoot dry weight were similar when fertilized with 100 and 200 mg·L−1 N. According to this study, plants grown in PWC-amended substrates fertilized with 100 to 200 mg·L−1 N can maintain adequate substrate solution pH and EC levels and sustain plant growth with no additional N supplements. Pine wood chips are engineered and processed to specific sizes and shapes to be functional as aggregates in a container substrate. Not all wood components are designed or capable of improving/influencing the physical and chemical behavior of a substrate the same. On the basis of the variability of many wood components being developed and researched, it is suggested that any and all substrate wood components not be considered the same and be tested/trialed before large-scale use.

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Jasmine J. Mah, David Llewellyn, and Youbin Zheng

In greenhouse ornamental crop production, bedding plants grown below high densities of hanging baskets (HBs) tend to be of lower quality. Hanging basket crops can decrease the red to far red ratio (R:FR) of the growing environment below; however, the extent to which decreased R:FR affects plant morphology and flowering of the lower-level crops is unknown. The present study examined effects of R:FR on morphology and flowering of marigold ‘Antigua Orange’ (Tagetes erecta), petunia ‘Duvet Red’ (Petunia ×hybrida), calibrachoa ‘Kabloom Deep Blue’ (Calibrachoa ×hybrida), and geranium ‘Pinto Premium Salmon’ (Pelargonium ×hortorum). Five R:FR light treatments were provided ranging from R:FR 1.1 (representing unfiltered sunlight) to R:FR 0.7 (representing shaded conditions under HBs) using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in growth chambers, each with identical photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) (400–700 nm) and FR added to achieve the target R:FR ratio. Two experiments using the same R:FR treatments were conducted with day/night temperature regimes of 20 °C/18 °C and 25 °C/21 °C, respectively. In the second experiment, a fluorescent light treatment was included. The results of the second experiment were more dramatic than the first, where reducing R:FR from 1.1 to 0.7 increased height by 11%, 22%, and 32% in marigold, petunia, and calibrachoa, respectively, and increased petiole length in geranium by 10%. Compared with R:FR 1.1, the R:FR 0.7 shortened the time to the appearance of first flower bud by 2 days in marigold, whereas flowering was minimally affected in other species. Compared with pooled data from the LED treatments, fluorescent light increased relative chlorophyll content for all species, reduced height in marigold, petunia, calibrachoa, and geranium by 26%, 67%, 60%, and 48%, and reduced stem dry weight by 28%, 39%, 21%, and 31%, respectively. The differences in morphology observed under fluorescent light compared with LED R:FR treatments indicate that light quality manipulation is a potential alternative to chemical growth regulators in controlled environments such as greenhouses and growth chambers.

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Luis A. Valdez-Aguilar, Catherine M. Grieve, James Poss, and Donald A. Layfield

lateral shoots (LLS) of marigold Tagetes erecta ‘Flagstaff’. Table 3. Significance of trends and the effect of electrical conductivity of irrigation water (EC w ), pH, and pH × EC w interaction on ion concentration in leaves from the main shoot (LMS

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Kelly M. Oates, Darren H. Touchell, and Thomas G. Ranney

blooming are common, they are generally undesirable in many agronomic crops and are often selected against in M 1 and M 2 mutagenic populations ( van Harten, 1998 ). In African marigold ( Tagetes erecta ), bud initiation, days to first color, and days to