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Eugene K. Blythe

Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis), a native of southeastern China, is an old-fashioned, ornamental plant often found in older gardens in the southern United States. Current breeding programs aim at developing selections with improved garden performance, thus providing new cultivars for nursery production. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones 7 to 9, plants grow as large shrubs or small trees in warmer areas, but generally die back to a woody base or short trunk in colder areas of their range. Stems from the past growing season that remain on plants during the winter in the warmer regions may be used to prepare hardwood stem cuttings. The current study examined hardwood cutting propagation of confederate rose in response to a 1-second basal quick-dip in auxin [1000 ppm indole-3-butyric acid (IBA), 3000 ppm IBA, 1000 ppm IBA + 500 ppm 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), and 3000 ppm IBA + 1500 ppm NAA] and a basal wound (along with 1000 ppm IBA only). Cuttings were rooted in a warm, high-humidity environment within a greenhouse. Auxin treatments improved overall rooting percentage and total root length, with 1000 ppm IBA (without and with a basal wound) providing the highest rooting percentages (about 70%) and nontreated cuttings the lowest (44%). A significant increase in total root length on rooted cuttings resulted with the use of 3000 ppm IBA (211 cm) and use of a basal wound plus 1000 ppm IBA (193 cm) compared with nontreated cuttings (87 cm). Auxin and wounding treatments did not have any significant inhibitory effects on budbreak and growth of new shoots on rooted cuttings.

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Eugene K. Blythe and Donald J. Merhaut

The pour-through method is a simple and useful technique for on-site monitoring of pH and electrical conductivity (EC) in container nurseries, and has also been used in numerous research studies focused on substrates, plant nutrition, and plant production. Linear models, including the special cases of analysis of variance and linear regression analysis, are often used for statistical analysis of extract data and are readily available as procedures in statistical software packages. Certain assumptions, including normality of the data values or model residuals, are required to develop valid statistical inferences using linear models. This study evaluated the normality of pH and EC variables using data obtained from 100 extract samples collected weekly over 12 weeks using the pour-through method from a uniform containerized substrate (25 pine bark : 18 peatmoss : 7 sand blend amended with calcium sulfate and top-dressed with Polyon 17N–2.1P–9.1K + micros, a 365-day controlled-release fertilizer, at 10 g/container) in 2.8-L containers. Graphical techniques (histograms and QQ plots) and formal goodness-of-fit tests (tests based on the empirical distribution function, moment tests, and the Shapiro-Wilk regression test) were used to demonstrate methods for assessing normality. The variables pH and EC both exhibited relatively normal distributions. For comparative purposes, the transformed variables ln(pH), 10–pH, and ln(EC) were also evaluated. The latter two variables exhibited significant departures from normality, whereas ln(pH) did not. Average weekly EC exhibited positive correlations with time-lagged, average weekly substrate temperature, suggesting that nutrient release from the controlled-release fertilizer could be more dependent on temperature in the second to fourth weeks preceding extraction than on temperature in the week immediately preceding extraction.

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Warren E. Copes and Eugene K. Blythe

In the southern and eastern United States, azalea stems cut during the spring for propagation may be infested with Rhizoctonia spp. Multiple methods were evaluated in a series of laboratory experiments for the purpose of eliminating Rhizoctonia from stem cuttings of Rhododendron L. ‘Gumpo White’ [‘Gumpo White’ (Satsuki) azalea] to prevent spread of azalea web blight during the propagation phase of nursery production. Leafless stem sections were inoculated with an isolate of binucleate Rhizoctonia anastomosis group P (AG P). Disinfestants (sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen dioxide, and quaternary ammonium chloride) or fungicides (chlorothalonil + thiophanate-methyl and flutolanil) applied at several rates (below, at, and above label rates) did not eliminate Rhizoctonia AG P from stem sections. Recovery of Rhizoctonia AG P was not reduced by submersing stem pieces in 45 °C water, but was eliminated at water temperatures of 50 °C or greater. Mortality of Rhizoctonia infesting azalea stem pieces was best explained by a cubic regression model. Mortality increased with increasing time (0, 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, 9, 10.5, 12, 15, 18, and 21 min) in water at 50 and 55 °C and with increasing temperatures (52, 55, 58, 61, 64, 67, and 70 °C) when stem pieces were submerged for 30 and 60 s. The duration of hot water treatment at which 99% of stem pieces were predicted to be free of Rhizoctonia was 20 min 16 s at 50 °C and 5 min 19 s at 55 °C. The average water temperature at which 99% of the stem pieces were predicted to be free of Rhizoctonia was 60.2 and 56.9 °C when stem pieces were submerged for 30 and 60 s, respectively. Only minor leaf damage occurred on terminal, leafy stem cuttings when submerged in 50 °C water after 40 min. Severe leaf damage did occur if cuttings were submerged long enough in water of 55 °C or greater. Leaf damage was predicted to exceed a proportional leaf damage value of 0.25 (indicating severe damage) when leafy stem cuttings were submerged in 55 °C water for longer than 13 min 54 s or for 30 and 60 s with water temperature greater than 57.4 and greater than 56.8 °C, respectively. Of the methods tested, submersion in hot water has the greatest potential for eliminating Rhizoctonia AG P from azalea stem cuttings. Submerging stem pieces in 50 °C water for 21 min eliminated Rhizoctonia and provided the least risk for development of severe leaf damage.

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Eugene K. Blythe and Donald J. Merhaut

Nursery growers develop container substrate blends based on factors such as cost, availability of substrate components, and the physical and chemical properties of the blends. Comparative examination of potential substrate blends typically involves comparison of measured values one variable at a time; however, multivariate methods are available that can allow simultaneous consideration of all variables. In this study, 127 container substrate blends were prepared, each blend containing two to four of 11 individual substrate components with at least one inorganic component (soil, sand, soil + sand, soil + perlite) and at least one organic component (coir, peatmoss, compost, pine bark, cedar bark, redwood shavings, fine-grade coconut husk chips, and medium-grade coconut husk chips). One blend containing only soil and perlite was an exception. Mean values for air space, container capacity, and bulk density were determined using five samples of each blend in #1 (2.84 L) containers. Among the 127 blends, air space ranged from 5.1% to 40.4% (by volume) and container capacity ranged from 24.8% to 59.4% (by volume). Bulk density among the blends ranged from 0.35 g·cm−3 to 1.00 g·cm−3 with bulk densities below and above ≈0.55 g·cm−3 represented almost exclusively by blends with and without perlite, respectively. Principal components analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis (Ward's method) were used to group the blends into eight groups based on the three physical property variables with each group distinguishable from all other groups based on simultaneous consideration of the three variables. In this study, we demonstrate that exploratory multivariate statistical techniques can be used to create groups of substrate blends, thus providing information to assist nursery growers in identifying and comparing substrate blends with similar or dissimilar physical properties among blends containing similar or different inorganic and organic components and proportions of those components.

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Eugene K. Blythe and Jeff L. Sibley

Heller’s japanese holly [Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’ (synonym: Ilex crenata f. helleri)] is a popular landscape plant in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5b to 8a because of its dwarf habit, slow growth rate, and dark green leaves. Plants can be propagated readily by stem cuttings and use of an auxin treatment is generally recommended to promote rooting. This study was conducted to determine if auxin treatment could be eliminated, thus reducing labor and chemical requirements in the cutting propagation process. In three experiments, terminal stem cuttings of Heller’s japanese holly were taken in winter, prepared both with and without use of a basal quick-dip in an auxin solution [2500 ppm indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) + 1250 ppm 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA)], and rooted in a warm, high-humidity environment. Both nontreated cuttings and cuttings receiving a 1-second basal quick-dip in the auxin solution rooted at, or near, 100%. However, treatment of cuttings with auxin resulted in larger root systems on the rooted cuttings, which could allow earlier transplanting into larger nursery containers. No inhibition of new spring growth was exhibited by cuttings treated with auxin in comparison with nontreated cuttings.

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Warren E. Copes and Eugene K. Blythe

Submerging terminal leafy cuttings of Rhododendron L. ‘Gumpo White’ (‘Gumpo White’ azalea) in 50 °C water for 21 min was previously shown to eliminate binucleate Rhizoctonia species, the cause of azalea web blight, from plant tissues. Before considering commercial use of this practice, a better understanding of the rooting response and tissue sensitivity of evergreen azalea cultivars to 50 °C water was needed; therefore, the current study was conducted. Terminal cuttings of the azalea cultivars Conleb (Autumn Embers), Fashion, Formosa, Gumpo White, Hardy Gardenia, Hershey Red, Macrantha Pink, Midnight Flare, Red Ruffles, Renee Michelle, Roblel (Autumn Debutante), and Watchet were collected and submerged or not submerged in 50 °C water for 20 min before propagation in one experiment. All 12 cultivars tolerated 50 °C water for 20 min. Cuttings collected from the 12 cultivars were submerged in 50 °C water for 20, 40, 60, and 80 min in a second experiment. The cultivars varied in sensitivity when exposed to 50 °C water for 60 to 80 min resulting in differing responses in root development and final leaf count. In a third experiment, degrees of leaf damage caused by hot water submersion or by leaf removal were evaluated for the effect on root development and subsequent leaf count on rooted cuttings of ‘Gumpo White’ and ‘Roblel’. Induced incremental increases in leaf damage from hot water resulted in incremental reductions in the final leaf count and extent of root development for ‘Gumpo White’ and ‘Roblel’ while increasing percentage of leaf removal caused no reduction until 75% or greater leaf area was removed. Despite the risk imposed by submersing azalea cuttings in 50 °C water, all 12 azalea cultivars were tolerant of submersion durations long enough to eliminate binucleate Rhizoctonia species from stem and leaf tissue with only a low likelihood of sustaining detrimental damage.

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Eugene K. Blythe and Jeff L. Sibley

Auxin solutions prepared with sodium cellulose glycolate (SCG; a thickening agent, also known as sodium carboxymethylcellulose) and applied to stem cuttings using a basal quick-dip extend the duration of exposure of cuttings to the auxin and have previously been shown to increase root number and/or total root length on stem cuttings of certain taxa. In a series of three experiments, 3.75-cm stem sections (representing the bases of stem cuttings) of three ornamental plant taxa were dipped to a depth of 2.5 cm for 1 s in solutions prepared with selected rates of SCG using either deionized water or a 10% dilution of an alcohol-based rooting compound (Dip 'N Grow). Each stem section was weighed before and after being dipped in the solution. Regression equations were determined for each experiment and the rate of SCG providing the maximum ratio of SCG solution weight to stem piece weight was determined by setting the first derivative of the regression equation equal to zero. Maximum adhesion of solution was obtained using SCG at 13.35 to 13.71 g·L−1 with an average rate of 13.5 g·L−1.

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Eugene K. Blythe and Jeff L. Sibley

‘Dwarf Burford’ holly (Ilex cornuta ‘Dwarf Burford’) is a significant nursery crop and is widely used in landscapes in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7 to 9. Stem cuttings can be rooted at multiple times during the year, provided cutting wood is sufficiently mature, with auxin treatments traditionally used to encourage rooting. This study was conducted to determine if auxin treatment could be eliminated, thus reducing labor and chemical requirements in the cutting propagation process. In three experiments, terminal stem cuttings of ‘Dwarf Burford’ holly were taken in winter, prepared with and without use of a basal quick-dip in an auxin solution, and rooted in a warm, high-humidity environment. Rooting percentages for nontreated cuttings and cuttings treated with 2500 ppm indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) + 1250 ppm 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) were similar, while treatment of cuttings with 5000 ppm IBA + 2500 ppm NAA resulted in a decrease in rooting percentage. The number of primary roots and total root length were similar among the three treatments, except in one experiment where total root length was greater with auxin-treated cuttings than with nontreated cuttings. Initial shoot growth responses were variable among the three experiments. The treatment of cuttings with auxin was not required for successful rooting and can be eliminated from the process for winter stem cutting propagation of ‘Dwarf Burford’ holly.

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Eugene K. Blythe, Jeff L. Sibley and John M. Ruter

Stem cuttings of golden euonymus (Euonymus japonicus `Aureo-marginatus'), shore juniper (Juniperus conferta `Blue Pacific'), white indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica `Alba'), and `Red Cascade' miniature rose (Rosa `Red Cascade') were successfully rooted in plugs of a stabilized organic substrate that had been soaked in aqueous solutions of the potassium salt of indole-3-butyric acid (K-IBA) at 0 to 75 mg·L–1 before inserting the cuttings. Cuttings were rooted under intermittent mist in polyethylene-covered greenhouses with rooting periods appropriate for each species. Rooting percentages showed some increase with increasing auxin concentration with juniper cuttings, but were similar among treatments for the other three species. Number of roots per rooted cutting increased with increasing auxin concentration with cuttings of juniper, Indian hawthorn, and rose, and was greatest using around 60 mg·L-1 K-IBA for cuttings of juniper and Indian hawthorn and 30 to 45 mg·L-1 K-IBA for cuttings of rose.

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Donald J. Merhaut*, Joseph Albano, Eugene K. Blythe and Julie Newman

Release patterns of ammonium, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and zinc were measured during an eleven month period for four types of Controlled Release Fertilizers (CRF): Apex 17-5-11, Multicote 17-5-11, Nutricote 18-6-8 and Osmocote 24-4-9. Rate of fertilizer incorporation was 2.3 kg/m3 of nitrogen. Media consisted of 50% composted forest products, 35% ¼%-3/4% pine bark and 15% washed Builder's sand. The media was also amended with 0.60 kg/m3 of dolomite. Fertilizer was incorporated into the media with a cement mixer and placed into 2.6-L black polyethylene containers. Containers were placed on benches outside. Air and media temperature were monitored throughout the 11-month period. Containers were irrigated through a ring-dripper system. Leachate was collected twice weekly. Leachate electrical conductivity, pH, and nutrient content were measured weekly. Significant differences in the nutrient release patterns were observed between fertilizer types throughout much of the experimental period. Release rates were significantly greater during the first 20 weeks of the study compared to the last 20 weeks of the study, regardless of the fertilizer type.