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  • Author or Editor: Jianjun Chen x
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Tissue-culturedexplantsofDieffenbachiamaculate`Exotic Perfection', D.`Snow Flake', and D. × `Tropic Breeze' were grown on ebb-and-flow trays subirrigated with nitrogen (N) at 50, 200, or 800 mg·L-1 using a water-soluble fertilizer 17N–2.1P–15.7K for 10 weeks in a shaded greenhouse under a maximum photosynthetic photon flux density of 285 μmol·m-2·s-1. Plants were then transferred to interior rooms under a light level of 8 μmol·m-2·s-1. Samples of the midrib were taken from the first mature leaf of plants before being placed indoors and also from the first mature leaf of plants 8 months after growing indoors. Counts of calcium oxalate crystal idioblasts in cross-sections of the basal midrib using polarized light microscopy showed that the number of crystal idioblasts was higher in all three cultivars fertigated with 200 mg·L-1 N than those fertigated with either 50 or 800 mg·L-1 N. The number of crystal idioblasts in each cultivar grown under 8 μmol·m-2·s-1 was about 50% of the number detected when plants were grown under 285 μmol·m-2·s-1. `Snow Flake' had the highest number of crystal idioblasts with counts up to 60 per cross-section, whereas `Exotic Perfection' had the lowest with only 30 per cross-section. This study shows that in addition to cultivar differences, light intensity and N can significantly affect calcium crystal formation, and the highest number of crystal idioblasts occurred when Dieffenbachia cultivars were grown under optimum conditions.

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Curcuma L. is an economically important genus in the family Zingiberaceae. Many species are grown as medicinal, culinary, and ornamental crops. As a result of their high morphological diversity and small chromosome sizes, chromosome numbers and species relationships of Chinese Curcumas remain debated. This study examined chromosome numbers of 15 populations representing 11 species of Curcuma from China. Results showed that only Curcuma flaviflora S. Q. Tong was diploid with 2n = 2x = 42 and C. kwangsiensis S. G. Lee & C. F. Liang was tetraploid with 2n = 4x = 84. The other species were triploid (2n = 3x = 63). The study indicated that the basic chromosome number of Curcuma from China could be x = 21. The diploid C. flaviflora produced viable seeds, which was the main means for propagation. The tetraploid and the triploids produced no seeds and relied on rhizomes for propagation. Chromosome sizes of all species were small, ranging from 0.5 to 2.1 μm, which prevented karyotype analysis. The fact that nine of 11 species studied were triploid indicates that triploidy may have some type of competitive advantage over the diploid and tetraploid. In addition, the triploids are popular commercially because of abundant rhizome production and this may contribute to their wide distributions.

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A simple and effective method for quantification of leaf variegation was developed. Using a digital camera or a scanner, the image of a variegated leaf was imported into a computer and saved to a file. Total pixels of the entire leaf area and total pixels of each color within the leaf were determined using an Adobe Photoshop graphics editor. Thus, the percentage of each color's total pixel count in relation to the total pixel count of the entire leaf was obtained. Total leaf area was measured through a leaf area meter; the exact area of this color was calculated in reference to the pixel percentage obtained from Photoshop. Using this method, variegated leaves of ‘Mary Ann’ aglaonema (Aglaonema x), ‘Ornate’ calathea (Calathea ornate), ‘Yellow Petra’ codiaeum (Codiaeum variegatum), ‘Florida Beauty’ dracaena (Dracaena surculosa), ‘Camille’ dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia maculata), and ‘Triostar’ stromanthe (Stromanthe sanguinea) were quantified. After a brief training period, this method was used by five randomly selected individuals to quantify the variegation of the same set of leaves. The results were highly reproducible no matter who performed the quantification. This method, which the authors have chosen to call the quantification of leaf variegation (QLV) method, can be used for monitoring changes in colors and variegation patterns incited by abiotic and biotic stresses as well as quantifying differences in variegation patterns of plants developed in breeding programs.

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Compost is the product resulting from the controlled biological decomposition of organic material that has been sanitized through the generation of heat and processed to further reduce pathogens as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and stabilized to the point that the compost is beneficial to plant growth. Organic materials used for composting in Florida are mainly yard wastes (trash) and food wastes. More than 5.7 million tons of composts could be produced from yard trash and food waste in the state. Animal manure and biosolids (treated sludge) can also be composted, but are not discussed in this article. “Other wastes” as discussed herein [food processing wastes, coal ash, wood ash, drinking water treatment residuals (WTRs), and phosphogypsum] are by-products of leading Florida industries and are available in large quantities for reuse. About 5 million tons of food processing waste [citrus (Citrus spp.) and vegetables alone], 1.85 million tons of coal ash (from 28 coal-burning power plants), 0.05 million tons of wood ash, 1000 million tons of phosphogypsum (from the state's phosphate fertilizer industry), and significant, but unknown, amounts of WTRs are available. Due to the growing interest in sustainable agriculture practices, this article is intended to discuss the current regulations and guidelines for composting and the use of composts and other wastes in Florida, the characteristics, benefits, and concerns of Florida compost and other wastes, and current research and needs of research and extension for incorporating compost and other waste materials in Florida's sustainable agriculture. Our literature search was largely limited to studies conducted in Florida.

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This study evaluated the potential for using cowpeat, a composted dairy manure, as a component of container substrates for foliage plant propagation. Using a commercial formulation (20% perlite and 20% vermiculite with 60% Canadian or Florida peat based on volume) as controls, peat was replaced by cowpeat at 10% increments up to 60%, which resulted in a total of 14 substrates. Physical and chemical properties such as air space, bulk density, container capacity, total porosity, pH, carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, and cation exchange capacity of the cowpeat-substituted substrates were largely similar to those of the respective control. However, the electrical conductivity (EC) increased with the increased volume of cowpeat. The 14 substrates were used for rooting single-node cuttings of golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens ssp. oxycardium) and three-node cuttings of ‘Florida Spire’ fig (Ficus benjamina) and germinating seeds of sprenger asparagus (Asparagus densiflorus) in a shaded greenhouse. All cuttings rooted in the 14 substrates, and the resultant shoot and root dry weights of golden pothos and ‘Florida Spire’ fig 2 months after rooting did not significantly vary across seven Canadian peat- or Florida peat-based substrates. Shoot dry weights of heartleaf philodendron were also similar across substrates, but the root dry weight produced in the Canadian peat-based control substrate was much greater than that produced in the substrate containing 60% cowpeat. Root dry weight and root length produced in the Florida peat-based control substrate were also significantly greater than those produced in substrates substituted by 60% cowpeat. These results may indicate that cuttings of golden pothos and ‘Florida Spire’ fig are more tolerant of higher EC than those of heartleaf philodendron, as the substrate with 60% cowpeat had EC ≥ 4.16 dS·m−1. Seed germination rates of sprenger asparagus from cowpeat-substituted Canadian peat-based substrates were greater than or comparable to those of the control substrate. Seed germination rates were similar across the seven Florida peat-based substrates. The root-to-shoot ratios of seedlings germinated from both control substrates were significantly greater than those germinated from substrates substituted by cowpeat. This difference could be partially explained by the higher nutrient content in cowpeat-substituted substrates where shoot growth was favored over root growth. Propagation is a critical stage in commercial production of containerized plants. The success in using up to 60% cowpeat in rooting and seed germination substrates may suggest that cowpeat could be an alternative to peat for foliage plant propagation.

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Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Blume, commonly known as crotons, are among the most popular ornamental foliage plants cultivated for either landscaping or interiorscaping. Currently, more than 300 cultivars are available; each has a distinct phenotype, particularly in leaf morphology. Thus far, there is no information regarding their genetic relationships. In this study, genetic relatedness of 44 cultivars of C. variegatum was investigated using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers. Fourteen primer combinations generated a total of 549 AFLP fragments, which were used to estimate genetic distances and construct dendrograms based on the neighbor-joining method. The 44 cultivars were divided into seven clusters, which concurred with the known history of croton geographical isolation, adaptation, introduction, and breeding activities but differed from the classification made by the Croton Society based on leaf morphology. The established genetic relationships could be important for future germplasm identification and conservation and new cultivar development. Additionally, genetic distance among the 44 cultivars was 0.322 or less, indicating that they have a narrow genetic base. The narrow genetic base may indicate that the cultivars were derived from a common progenitor. On the other hand, 81% of the 549 fragments were polymorphic and the average polymorphic information content was 0.22, which suggests that the cultivars are genetically highly polymorphic. The high polymorphisms may be attributed to significant gene loss or gain facilitated by mutation and/or chromosome variation, thus contributing to a wide range of leaf morphological differences among cultivars.

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Four water-based cold protection systems [under-benches mist (UBM), over-roadways mist (ORM), and two among-plants fog (APF1, APF2)] were evaluated for their water use and effectiveness in protecting ornamental foliage plants from chilling injury (CI) under protected shade structures at three commercial locations in Florida. UBM used a two-stage thermostat-controlled system with mist nozzles on 25-cm above-ground risers combined with an overhead retractable heat curtain. Both ORM and APF1 had seasonally applied polyethylene film cladding and manually controlled irrigation systems. The ORM system had the mist nozzles located 1.8 m high and APF1 and APF2 systems had the low-pressure fog nozzles mounted on 25-cm above-ground risers spaced among the plants. Temperature data loggers were placed outside and inside the northwest sections of the shadehouses. ORM and the two APF systems were evaluated during freeze events in 2006, 2007, and 2008 and UBM only in 2007 and 2008. UBM, ORM, and APF1 successfully kept the shadehouse temperatures above critical chilling temperatures for all of the foliage plants. APF2 protected all foliage crops except for jungle drum “palm” (Carludovica sp.) that sustained CI. At the UBM site, the air temperatures recorded inside the shadehouse were ≈17 °C warmer than outside. Both ORM and APF1 maintained adequately warm temperatures inside the shadehouses; however, the fog system maintained equal or higher temperatures than the mist system and used 86% less water. Inside temperatures were lower with APF2 than APF1 although the emitter type was the same and the water application rates were similar. These temperature differences were attributable to the greater APF2 shadehouse surface area (SA) and volume (V) compared with APF1 and indicate that the SA and V of structures being heated need to be considered when designing water-based low-pressure fog heating systems. The ORM and both fog systems conserved water compared with using the conventional sprinkler irrigation systems. These results show the potential of water-based approaches for maintaining shadehouses above chilling temperatures during freeze events.

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Adenium obesum (Forssk.), Roem. & Schult., commonly known as desert rose, is a high-value, container-grown ornamental plant produced worldwide for its bright floral display and striking sculptural caudex. Little scientific-based information exists regarding the effect of light intensity and nutritional levels on Adenium growth and flowering. In this study, A. obesum ‘Red’ and ‘Ice Pink’ were grown under full sun [with a measured maximum photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) of 1850 μmol·m−2·s−1], 30% shade (1255 μmol·m−2·s−1), or 50% shade (943 μmol·m−2·s−1) in 1.25-L pots top-dressed with controlled-release fertilizer Nutricote® Plus (18N–2.6P–6.6K) at rates to provide 0.4, 0.9, or 1.4 g of nitrogen (N) per pot. Canopy height and width, flower number, and visual quality ratings (based on plant size and form, foliage color, and flowering) were highest after 16 weeks of growth for both cultivars when fertilized with 1.4 g of N per pot. A 30% shade level resulted in plants with the highest flower numbers and quality ratings. Plants grown at 50% shade had the greatest canopy heights and widths, but flower numbers and quality ratings were low. In full sun, plants were smaller overall. In a second experiment, A. obesum ‘Red’ produced the highest shoot dry weight when grown 20 weeks at 30% or 50% shade with 1.4 g of N per pot. Root formation is an important measure of aesthetic value for this crop. As plants mature, roots enlarge dramatically and are often washed to expose sculptural forms. The highest root dry weights were measured at 1.4 g of N under both full sun and 30% shade.

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