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  • Author or Editor: Carol D. Robacker x
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Lantana camara L., a popular nursery and landscape plant, is categorized as an invasive species in Florida, because it produces viable pollen and cross-pollinates with the native species Lantana depressa Small. The invasive potential of L. camara is a challenging issue for the nursery and landscape industry, so sterile non-invasive cultivars are needed to replace fertile invasive ones. This study aimed to determine the ploidy level and male fertility of both commercial L. camara cultivars and breeding lines to identify male-sterile cultivars and assess the effectiveness of sterile triploid production in L. camara. A polyploid series was identified among 32 L. camara cultivars and breeding lines. Male fertility, based on pollen stainability, varied widely among the cultivars/breeding lines. Ploidy level was the most important factor determining L. camara pollen stainability/male sterility. On average, diploids exhibited the highest pollen stainability (64.6%) followed by tetraploids (45.1%), pentaploids (34.6%), and hexaploids (18.0%). Triploids showed the lowest pollen stainability (9.3%), suggesting that generating triploids would be an effective genetic approach to producing sterile L. camara and reducing its pollen-mediated invasiveness. Pollen stainability of triploid cultivars, Balandpawn (LandmarkTM Pink Dawn PP15,516), Lemon Drop, Miss Huff, New Gold, New Red Lantana, Red Butler, Red Spread Lantana, Samson Lantana, and Sunset Lantana was consistently below 10%. A number of triploid cultivars had pollen stainability approaching 20% to 30%, indicating a necessity for careful examination and screening of newly produced triploids to ensure high sterility in selected triploids. Pollen stainability variation was observed within ploidy levels, implying the existence of other genetic and environmental factors that influence the pollen stainability/male fertility of L. camara. Results from this study suggest that there is excellent potential to develop genetically sterile cultivars in L. camara for the U.S. nursery and landscape industry.

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The genetic diversity among H. macrophylla (Thunberg) Seringe taxa is limited as a result of the restricted native distribution and multiple breeding programs that used the same taxa and targeted similar breeding goals. This study assessed the compatibility of interspecific crosses between Hydrangea macrophylla and H. angustipetala Hayata as a source of genetic diversity. Two lacecap cultivars of H. macrophylla, ‘Lady in Red’ and Midnight Duchess® (‘HYMMAD II’), were compatible with H. angustipetala. Hybridity of progeny was confirmed by simple sequence repeat markers and morphological comparisons. Some hybrids had red- or purple-pigmented stems, which are characteristic of ‘Lady in Red’ or Midnight Duchess®, respectively. All hybrids had white lacecap inflorescences. Some of the hybrid flowers were fragrant. Winter leaf retention of the hybrids ranged from deciduous to semievergreen. Male fertility of progeny was evaluated by fluorescein diacetate staining of pollen. ‘Lady in Red’, Midnight Duchess®, and H. angustipetala had 62%, 58%, and 79% stainable pollen, respectively, whereas the ‘Lady in Red’ × H. angustipetala and Midnight Duchess® × H. angustipetala hybrids had means of 48% and 47% stainable pollen, respectively. Selected progeny were used to develop F2 and BC1 populations. The interspecific hybrids produced in this study were attractive, fertile plants that are being used in further breeding to develop new cultivars.

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Pesticides have been the primary method of pest control for years, and growers depend on them to control insect and disease-causing pests effectively and economically. However, opportunities for reducing the potential pollution arising from the use of pesticides and fertilizers in environmental horticulture are excellent. Greenhouse, nursery, and sod producers are using many of the scouting and cultural practices recommended for reducing the outbreak potential and severity of disease and insect problems. Growers are receptive to alternatives to conventional pesticides, and many already use biorational insecticides. Future research should focus on increasing the effectiveness and availability of these alternatives. Optimizing growing conditions, and thereby plant health, reduces the susceptibility of plants to many disease and insect pest problems. Impediments to reducing the use of conventional pesticides and fertilizers in the environmental horticulture industry include 1) lack of easily implemented, reliable, and cost-effective alternative pest control methods; 2) inadequate funding for research to develop alternatives; 3) lack of sufficient educational or resource information for users on the availability of alternatives; 4) insufficient funding for educating users on implementing alternatives; 5) lack of economic or regulatory incentive for growers to implement alternatives; and 6) limited consumer acceptance of aesthetic damage to plants. Research and broadly defined educational efforts will help alleviate these impediments to reducing potential pollution by the environmental horticulture industry.

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Optimizing growing conditions and, thereby, plant growth reduces the susceptibility of plants to many disease and insect pest problems. Educating lawn or landscape management professionals and homeowners about plant health management reduces the need for chemical intervention. Pesticides combined with N and P fertilizers contribute to water pollution problems in urban areas; thus, it is important to manage the amount, timing, and placement of chemicals and fertilizers. To educate consumers applying pesticides and fertilizers in residential gardens, we must educate the sales representatives and others who interact most closely with consumers. Evidence suggests that knowledge about the effects of chemicals is limited and that warning labels are not read or are ignored. Integrated pest management (IPM) offers alternatives to conventional chemical treatments, but such methods are not used commonly because of their relatively high cost and their uncertain impact on pests. Pest detection methods and using pest-resistant plants in landscapes are simple and, in many cases, readily available approaches to reducing the dependence on chemical use. Research on effective, low-cost IPM methods is essential if chemical use in landscape management is to decrease. Current impediments to reducing the pollution potential of chemicals used in the landscape include the limited number of easily implemented, reliable, and cost-effective alternative pest control methods; underfunding of research on development of alternative pest control measures; limited knowledge of commercial operators, chemical and nursery sales representatives, landscape architects, and the general public concerning available alternatives; reluctance of the nursery industry to produce, and of the landscape architects to specify the use of, pest-resistant plant materials; lack of economic or regulatory incentive for professionals to implement alternatives; inadequate funding for education on the benefits of decreased chemical use; and the necessity of changing consumer definition of unacceptable plant damage. We need to teach homeowners and professionals how to manage irrigation to optimize plant growth; use sound IPM practices for reducing disease, weed, and insect problems; and minimize pollution hazards from fertilizers and pesticides.

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