A study was conducted to observe changes in mineral element concentrations within different sections of leafy stem cuttings of Hibiscus acetosella ‘Panama Red’ (PP20121) during a 21-day propagation period under standard industry propagation conditions. Concentrations of 13 mineral elements were analyzed in leaves, lower stems (below substrate), upper stems (above substrate), and roots at 3-day intervals. Before root emergence (day 0–6), P, K, Zn, Ca, and Mg concentrations decreased in the shoots (including upper stems and leaves), whereas Zn, Ca, and B concentrations decreased in the lower stems. Sulfur increase occurred in lower stems before root emergence. After rooting (day 9–21), N, P, Zn, Fe, Cu, and Ni concentrations decreased in the roots; K, S, B, and Mg concentrations increased. In the lower stems, N, P, K, S, and Zn concentrations decreased, whereas B increased. Potassium concentration decreased in the leaves; P, K, S, and Zn decreased in the upper stems. Calcium and Mg increased in leaves. This study indicates specific nutrients are important in adventitious rooting, and that it is important to analyze rooting as a function of fine-scale temporal measurements and fine-scale sectional measurements.
Michael T. Martin Jr., Geoffrey M. Weaver, Matthew R. Chappell, and Jerry Davis
Amanda Bayer, Imran Mahbub, Matthew Chappell, John Ruter, and Marc W. van Iersel
Efficient water use is becoming increasingly important for horticultural operations to satisfy regulations regarding runoff along with adapting to the decreasing availability of water to agriculture. Generally, best management practices (BMPs) are used to conserve water. However, BMPs do not account for water requirements of plants. Soil moisture sensors can be used along with an automated irrigation system to irrigate when substrate volumetric water content (θ) drops below a set threshold, allowing for precise irrigation control and improved water conservation compared with traditional irrigation practices. The objective of this research was to quantify growth of Hibiscus acetosella ‘Panama Red’ (PP#20,121) in response to various θ thresholds. Experiments were performed in a greenhouse in Athens, GA, and on outdoor nursery pads in Watkinsville and Tifton, GA. Soil moisture sensors were used to maintain θ above specific thresholds (0.10, 0.15, 0.20, 0.25, 0.30, 0.35, 0.40, and 0.45 m3·m−3). Shoot dry weight increased from 7.3 to 58.8 g, 8.0 to 50.6 g, and from 3.9 to 35.9 g with increasing θ thresholds from 0.10 to 0.45 m3·m−3 in the greenhouse, Watkinsville, and Tifton studies, respectively. Plant height also increased with increasing θ threshold in all studies. Total irrigation volume increased with increasing θ threshold from 1.9 to 41.6 L/plant, 0.06 to 23.0 L/plant, and 0.24 to 33.6 L/plant for the greenhouse, Watkinsville, and Tifton studies, respectively. Daily light integral (DLI) was found to be the most important factor influencing daily water use (DWU) in the greenhouse study; DWU was also found to be low on days with low DLI in nursery studies. In all studies, increased irrigation volume led to increased growth; however, water use efficiency (grams of shoot dry weight produced per liters of water used) decreased for θ thresholds above 0.35 m3·m−3. Results from the greenhouse and nursery studies indicate that sensor-controlled irrigation is feasible and that θ thresholds can be adjusted to control plant growth.
Ji Jhong Chen, Haifeng Xing, Asmita Paudel, Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, and Matthew Chappell
More than half of residential water in Utah is used for landscape irrigation. Reclaimed water has been used to irrigate urban landscapes to conserve municipal water. High salt levels in reclaimed water may pose osmotic stress and ion toxicity to salt-sensitive plants. Viburnums are commonly used landscape plants, but salinity tolerance of species and cultivars is unclear. The objective of this study was to characterize gas exchanges and mineral nutrition responses of 12 viburnum taxa subjected to salinity stress in a greenhouse study. Plants were irrigated with a nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.3 dS·m–1 or saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m–1 or 10.0 dS·m–1. The net photosynthesis rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g S), and transpiration rate (E) of all viburnum taxa, except for Viburnum ×burkwoodii and V. ×‘NCVX1’, decreased to various degrees with increasing salinity levels. The Pn, g S, and E of V. ×burkwoodii and V. ×‘NCVX1’ were unaffected by saline solutions of 5.0 dS·m–1 at the 4th and 9th week after treatment initiation, with the exception of the Pn of V. ×burkwoodii, which decreased at the 9th week. Leaf sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl–) concentrations of all viburnum taxa increased as salinity levels increased. Viburnum ×burkwoodii had relatively low leaf Na+ and Cl– when irrigated with saline solutions of 10.0 dS·m–1. Plant growth and gas exchange parameters, including visual score, plant height, Pn, g S, E, and water use efficiency (WUE) correlated negatively with leaf Na+ and Cl– concentrations. The ratio of potassium (K+) to Na+ (K+/Na+) and ratio of calcium (Ca2+) to Na+ (Ca2+/Na+) decreased when salinity levels increased. Visual score, plant height, Pn, g S, E, and WUE correlated positively with the K+/Na+ and Ca2+/Na+ ratios. These results suggest excessive Na+ and Cl– accumulation inhibited plant photosynthesis and growth, and affected K+ and Ca2+ uptake negatively.
Youping Sun, Ji Jhong Chen, Haifeng Xing, Asmita Paudel, Genhua Niu, and Matthew Chappell
Viburnums are widely used in gardens and landscapes throughout the United States. Although salinity tolerance varies among plant species, research-based information is limited on the relative salt tolerance of viburnum species. The morphological and growth responses of 12 viburnum taxa to saline solution irrigation were evaluated under greenhouse conditions. Viburnum taxa included Viburnum ×burkwoodii, V. cassinoides ‘SMNVCDD’, V. dentatum ‘Christom’, V. dentatum var. deamii ‘SMVDLS’, V. dilatatum ‘Henneke’, V. ×‘NCVX1’, V. nudum ‘Bulk’, V. opulus ‘Roseum’, V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Summer Snowflake’, V. pragense ‘Decker’, V. ×rhytidophylloides ‘Redell’, and V. trilobum. A nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.3 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solutions at ECs of 5.0 and 10.0 dS·m−1 were applied eight times over a 9-week period. Growth, visual quality, and morphological characteristics were quantified at the 4th week and 8th–9th week to assess the impact of salinity stress on the viburnum taxa. Saline solution irrigation imposed detrimental salinity stress on viburnum plant growth and visual quality, and the degree of salt damage was dependent on the salinity levels of irrigation solution and the length of exposure to salinity stress as well as viburnum taxa. Viburnum ×burkwoodii and V. ×‘NCVX1’ had little foliar salt damage during the entire experiment, except those irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS·m−1 exhibited slight to moderate foliar salt damage at the eighth week. Viburnum dilatatum ‘Henneke’, V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Summer Snowflake’, and V. trilobum irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m−1 had slight and severe foliar salt damage at the 4th and 8th week, respectively. Plants irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS·m−1 exhibited severe foliar salt damage at the 4th week, and all died by the 8th week. Other viburnum taxa also showed various foliar salt damage, especially at an EC of 10.0 dS·m−1. The shoot dry weights of V. ×burkwoodii and V. ×‘NCVX1’ irrigated with saline solution at ECs of 5.0 and 10.0 dS·m−1 were similar to those in the control at both harvest dates. However, the shoot dry weight of other tested viburnum taxa decreased to some extent at the 9th week. A cluster analysis concluded that V. ×burkwoodii and V. ×‘NCVX1’ were considered the most salt-tolerant viburnum taxa, whereas V. dilatatum ‘Henneke’, V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Summer Snowflake’, and V. trilobum were sensitive to salinity levels used in this study. This research may guide the green industry to choose relatively tolerant viburnum taxa for landscape use and nursery production where low-quality water is used for irrigation.
Matthew Chappell, Sue K. Dove, Marc W. van Iersel, Paul A. Thomas, and John Ruter
Water quality and quantity are increasingly important concerns for agricultural producers and have been recognized by governmental and nongovernmental agencies as focus areas for future regulatory efforts. In horticultural systems, and especially container production of ornamentals, irrigation management is challenging. This is primarily due to the limited volume of water available to container-grown plants after an irrigation event and the resultant need to frequently irrigate to maintain adequate soil moisture levels without causing excessive leaching. To prevent moisture stress, irrigation of container plants is often excessive, resulting in leaching and runoff of water and nutrients applied to the container substrate. For this reason, improving the application efficiency of irrigation is necessary and critical to the long-term sustainability of the commercial nursery industry. The use of soil moisture sensing technology is one method of increasing irrigation efficiency, with the on-farm studies described in this article focusing on the use of capacitance-based soil moisture sensors to both monitor and control irrigation events. Since on-farm testing of these wireless sensor networks (WSNs) to monitor and control irrigation scheduling began in 2010, WSNs have been deployed in a diverse assortment of commercial horticulture operations. In deploying these WSNs, a variety of challenges and successes have been observed. Overcoming specific challenges has fostered improved software and hardware development as well as improved grower confidence in WSNs. Additionally, growers are using WSNs in a variety of ways to fit specific needs, resulting in multiple commercial applications. Some growers use WSNs as fully functional irrigation controllers. Other growers use components of WSNs, specifically the web-based graphical user interface (GUI), to monitor grower-controlled irrigation schedules.
Mary Lewis, Matthew Chappell, Donglin Zhang, and Rebekah Maynard
We documented a successful embryo rescue (ER) protocol for butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a member of the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae). Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) includes more than 100 species native to the United States, is an important pollinator plant, and has many commercially desirable traits. However, there is little commercial production outside of native plant nurseries because milkweed species are typically seed-grown and suffer from low seed set during pollination, late-term abortion of seed pods, and nonuniform germination. This project determined the optimal growing media (study one) and embryo maturity (study two) to recover mature seedlings from excised embryos and compared the results to those of traditional methods of seed germination (in soilless substrate). Study one investigated three different media: Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium at full strength and half strength and woody plant medium. MS medium at half strength was optimal for butterfly weed germination and maturation, with greater root and shoot lengths at the time of harvest. In study two, the effects of MS medium at half strength on embryo maturation 90, 60, and 30 days after pollination (DAP) were investigated. The optimal time to harvest embryos was 60 DAP; embryos at 30 DAP were capable of germination but not maturation. A mean germination rate of 97.4% was observed when using embryo rescue, but it was 72.3% with mature seed germinated in soilless substrate typical of commercial production. A similar increase in germination rates was observed for all embryo maturities when compared with seed germinated using soilless substrate. The protocol developed for this study should help to standardize production, reduce propagation time, and improve the commercial acceptance and profitability of milkweed.
Mary Lewis, Matthew Chappell, Paul A. Thomas, Rebekah C. Maynard, and Ockert Greyvenstein
Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) is an important pollinator genus across North America and is a host plant for many butterfly species, notably the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Commercial production of Asclepias is limited to a few species, because most species lack commercial traits, with minimal branching habit, excessive height, and minimal color variation. This study used a commercially viable Asclepias species, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa L.), as a maternal parent and trialed three different pollination methods in an attempt to create interspecific hybrids. Pollination methods included a traditional method, a pollen–solution-based method, and a novel inverted pollinia method. The inverted pollinia method increased pollination success rates 4-fold among intraspecific crosses of A. tuberosa. When pollination methods were optimized, A. tuberosa was used as the maternal parent, and one-way crosses were made to seven other Asclepias species using the inverted pollinia method. Of the seven species used as pollen donors, four developed hybrid seed successfully: green milkweed (Asclepias hirtella Woodson), purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens L.), showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa Torr.), and common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.). As germination methods vary significantly among Asclepias species, three methods of germination were trialed on seed developed via interspecific hybridizations: direct seeded, cold–moist stratification, and embryo rescue. Of the three methods, cold–moist stratification was superior to direct seeding and embryo rescue. This research is the first documented case of a controlled interspecific hybridization event among these species.
Haifeng Xing, Julie Hershkowitz, Asmita Paudel, Youping Sun, Ji Jhong Chen, Xin Dai, and Matthew Chappell
Reclaimed water provides a reliable and economical alternative source of irrigation water for landscape use but may have elevated levels of salts that are detrimental to sensitive landscape plants. Landscape professionals must use salt-tolerant plants in regions where reclaimed water is used. Ornamental grasses are commonly used as landscape plants in the Intermountain West of the United States due to low maintenance input, drought tolerance, and unique texture. Six ornamental grass species, including Acorus gramineus (Japanese rush), Andropogon ternarius (silver bluestem), Calamagrostis ×acutiflora (feather reed grass), Carex morrowii (Japanese sedge), Festuca glauca (blue fescue), and Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed), were evaluated for salinity tolerance. Plants were irrigated every 4 days with a fertilizer solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.2 dS·m–1 (control) or with a saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m–1 (EC 5) or 10.0 dS·m–1 (EC 10). At 47 days, most species in EC 5 exhibited good visual quality with averaged visual scores greater than 4.6 (0 = dead, 5 = excellent). In EC 10, most A. gramineus plants died, but C. ×acutiflora, F. glauca, and S. heterolepis had no foliar salt damage. At 95 days, C. ×acutiflora, F. glauca, and S. heterolepis in EC 5 had good visual quality with averaged visual scores greater than 4.5. Acorus gramineus, A. ternarius, and C. morrowii showed foliar salt damage with averaged visual scores of 2.7, 3.2, and 3.4, respectively. In EC 10, A. gramineus died, and other grass species exhibited moderate to severe foliar salt damage, except C. ×acutiflora, which retained good visual quality. Plant height, leaf area, number of tillers, shoot dry weight, and/or gas exchange parameters also decreased depending on plant species, salinity level, and the duration of exposure to salinity stress. In conclusion, A. gramineus was the most salt-sensitive species, whereas C. ×acutiflora was the most salt-tolerant species. Festuca glauca and S. heterolepis were more tolerant to salinity than A. ternarius and C. morrowii. Calamagrostis ×acutiflora, F. glauca, and S. heterolepis appear to be more suitable for landscapes in which reclaimed water is used for irrigation. Plant responses to saline water irrigation in this research could also be applied to landscapes in salt-prone areas and coastal regions with saltwater intrusion into aquifers and landscapes affected by maritime salt spray.
Matthew R. Chappell, Sarah A. White, Amy F. Fulcher, Anthony V. LeBude, Gary W. Knox, and Jean-Jacques B. Dubois
In 2014, the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management (SNIPM) Working Group published both print and electronic versions of IPM for Shrubs in Southeastern U.S. Nursery Production: Volume I. Five hundred print books (of 3000 copies) were distributed to commercial ornamental growers and extension educators in return for their participation in a follow-up survey. The survey was administered to determine the value of book contents, savings that growers realized from using the book, perceived value of the book had users been asked to pay for it, and demographic information. The survey response rate was 46.2%, with respondents from 18 states. Of 243 respondents, 194 (79.8%) had used the book. Entomology information was most used and most useful, followed by plant pathology, weed science, and cultural information. Collective savings attributed to book use totaled $408,832/year for the 194 nurseries that used the book. Applying the use rate (79.8%) identified in this survey, this represents $5.62 million in savings per year for the 3000 printed books, of which 2394 are estimated to have been used. Savings varied by the type and size of operation. Larger operations had greater savings per year. Container growers saved $44.15/acre and field growers $28.37/acre. The price that growers were willing to pay for the book also varied by operation type and size. Extension educators and growers were willing to pay an average of $41.20, with an additional $0.063/acre for container growers and $0.126/acre for field growers. Return on investment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant funding for the project was $187.60 per dollar of funding. This survey demonstrates that collaborative efforts can produce high-value deliverables with significant regional and/or national impact.
Anthony LeBude, Amy Fulcher, Jean-Jacque Dubois, S. Kris Braman, Matthew Chappell, J.-H (J.C.) Chong, Jeffrey Derr, Nicole Gauthier, Frank Hale, William Klingeman, Gary Knox, Joseph Neal, and Alan Windham
Three, 2-day hands-on experiential learning workshops were presented in three southeastern United States cities in June 2014, by the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management (SNIPM) working group. Attendees were provided 4 hours of instruction including hands-on demonstrations in horticultural management, arthropods, plant diseases, and weeds. Participants completed initial surveys for gains in knowledge, skills, and abilities as well as their intentions to adopt various integrated pest management (IPM) practices after the workshop. After 3 years, participants were again surveyed to determine practice adoption. Respondents changed their IPM practice behavior because of attending the workshops. Those returning the survey set aside more time to scout deliberately for pests, plant diseases, and weeds; used a standardized sampling plan when scouting; and adopted more sanitation practices to prevent plant disease. Fewer horticultural management practices were adopted than respondents originally intended. Future emphasis should be placed on using monitoring techniques to estimate pest emergence, for example, traps and pheromone lures, as well as plant phenology and record keeping. However, more work is needed to highlight both the immediate and long-term economic benefits of IPM practice adoption in southeastern U.S. nursery production.