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  • Author or Editor: Jianjun Chen x
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Aglaonema is among the most popular tropical ornamental foliage plants used indoors because of its bright foliar variegation, low light and humidity tolerance, and few pests. Aglaonema, however, has been labeled as one of the most chilling-sensitive foliage plants. The dark, greasy-appearing patches on leaves injured by chilling can result in completely unsalable plants. With recent breeding activity, more and more Aglaonema cultivars have been developed and released. How new cultivars respond to chilling temperatures is, however, mostly unclear. This study was undertaken to evaluate cultivar chilling responses to identify chilling-resistant cultivars. Twenty cultivars were chilled at 1.7, 4.4, 7.2, 10, and 12.7 °C for 24 h using a detached single-leaf method and also whole-plant assay. Results indicate that great genetic variation exists among the cultivars, ranging from no injury at 1.7 °C to severe injury at 12.7 °C. A popular cultivar, Silver Queen, is the most sensitive, while the cultivar Stars is the most resistant. There was also a chilling response difference based on leaf maturity. Young leaves showed less injury than did either mature or old leaves. In addition, there was a significant correlation between the single-leaf and whole-plant assay for chilling resistance in Aglaonema'; the single leaf assay could be particularly useful for a quick test.

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Containerized ornamental plant production represents extremely intensive agricultural production. An average of 200,000 containers may occupy 1 acre of surface area, to which a large amount of chemical fertilizers will be applied. Because of the use of high-drainage soilless potting mixes coupled with excessive fertigation, a great amount of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, are leached, which increases the potential for ground and surface water contamination. Over the past 2 decades, research has been centered on developing fertigation delivery systems such as nutrient film techniques, ebb-and-flow and capillary mat systems, for reducing leaching. Relatively limited research has been conducted on improving potting medium substrates to minimize nutrient leaching. The objectives of this study were to determine the adsorption isotherm of six different zeolites to ammonium, nitrate and phosphorus, identify and incorporate desired zeolites in a peat/bark-based medium for reducing nutrient leaching in ornamental plant production. Results indicated that the zeolites possess great holding capacities for ammonium, nitrate, and phosphorus. Compared to control, ammonium leaching was reduced 70% to 90%, phosphorus 30% to 80% and nitrate 0% to 60% depending on zeolite species and quantity used per pot. Zeolite amended media caused no adverse effects on plant growth. Conversely, biomass increased significantly when compared to that of the control.

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Irrigation runoff water from a containerized landscape plant production bed was blended with rainwater from green house roofs in a constructed collection basin. Water from both the collection basin and an on-site potable well were characterized and used to grow foliage and bedding plants with overhead and ebb-and-flow irrigation systems. Over a 2-year period, a total of 18 foliage and 8 bedding plant cultivars were produced with plant growth and quality quantified. Alkalinity, electrical conductivity, hardness, and concentrations of nutrients of water from both sources were well within desired levels for greenhouse crop production. Turbidity and pH were relatively high from algal growth in the collection basin. However, substrate pH, irrigated by either water source, remained between 6 and 7 throughout the production periods. All plants at the time of finishing were of marketable sizes and salable quality independent of water source. No disease incidences or growth disorders related to water sources were observed. Results suggest that captured irrigation runoff blended with rainwater can be an alternative water source for green house crop production.

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Tissue culture plugs of Aglaonema `Cory', `Maria', and `Silver Queen' and Dieffenbachia `Panther', `Snowflake', and `Sport Lynn' were potted singly in 15-cm pots and grown in a shaded greenhouse under a photosynthetic irradiance (PI) of 100 mmol·m–2·s–1. Eight months after potting, 27 plants of each cultivar were placed in nine interior evaluation rooms under three different PI levels (three rooms per level): 4, 8, and 16 mmol·m–2·s–1. In addition, three plants of each cultivar were maintained in the original greenhouse for the duration of the experiment. Number of leaves, plant height and width were monitored monthly. Recently matured leaves were removed at 3-month intervals for 9 months for determination of fresh and dry weight, leaf area, and percentage leaf variegation. Variegated leaf area was assessed using digitized leaf images. Interior PI levels affected growth parameters, but the degree of response was cultivar-dependent. Smallest leaves developed on plants grown under 4 mmol·m–2·s–1 and largest leaves developed under 16 mmol·m–2·s–1. Leaf area of Dieffenbachia `Sport Lynn' showed the greatest response and Aglaonema `Maria' the least response to PI levels. Percentage leaf variegation of Dieffenbachia `Snowflake' was least affected and Dieffenbachia `Sport Lynn' was most affected by PI levels. Fresh leaf weight of unit area decreased as PI levels decreased from 16 to 4 mmol·m–2·s–1, however, the decrease in unit area was most pronounced in cultivars that maintained the highest quality ratings. Based on the results of this study, Aglaonema `Maria' and Dieffenbachia `Snowflake' had the most satisfactory interior performance within their respective genera.

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Anthurium cultivars are being produced primarily as cut-flower plants. Whether Anthurium can be used as a flowering interiorscape plant is not well documented. Therefore, five finished Anthurium cultivars were evaluated in interior acclimatization rooms under two light intensities provided by cool-white fluorescent lamps for 12 hours daily: 16 mmol·m–2·s–1 (low light) and 48 16 mmol·m–2·s–1 (high light). Temperature of the rooms was maintained at 24 °C with a relative humidity of 60%. Total number of open flowers and number of senesced flowers were recorded weekly over 5 months. In addition, plant canopy height and width and total number of leaves were measured monthly. Number of open flowers per week ranged from 1.4 to 4.7 under low light and 2.4 to 6.3 under high light. The cultivar Red Hot showed the best performance with a weekly average flower count of 4.7 under low light and 6.3 under high light. All cultivars continued to produce new leaves, ranging from one to five per month under low light and two to five leaves under high light. Leaves were dark green and shiny under the interior conditions. Growth index of `Red Hot' increased 31% under low light and 20% under high light. Results from this study demonstrate that Anthurium can continue to grow and produce flowers under interior environmental conditions. Variation among cultivars indicates that genetic potential exists for selecting improved cultivars based on interior performance.

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Weigela florida (Bunge) A. DC. is a popular flowering shrub adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Efficient methods for micropropagation of this species have not been well developed. The present study established a protocol for in vitro shoot culture of W. florida ‘Tango’ after a systematic evaluation of different culture media, cytokinins, and auxins on axillary shoot induction. Single-node stems were cultured on Driver and Kuniyuki Walnut (DKW) medium for initial production of axillary shoots. The shoots were used as explants and cultured on DKW medium supplemented with 8.88 μm 6-benzylaminopurine (BA) and 0.27 μm naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), resulting in the production of more than six axillary shoots per explant. The axillary shoots could either be used as explants for additional shoot production or be cultured on ½ DKW medium supplemented with 0.25 μm indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) for rooting. Plantlets were transplanted into a substrate with 99% survival rate in a shaded greenhouse. This established method could be used for rapid propagation of W. florida to speed the introduction of new hybrids or cultivars for commercial production.

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Chinese cymbidiums are important flowering ornamental plants. Traditional propagation via seed or division cannot satisfy growers’ demand for commercialization of new cultivars, and in vitro propagation has a low micropropagation efficiency due to the browning of rhizomes. In this study, rhizomes of Cymbidium ‘14-16-13’ and ‘14-16-5’ were cultured on half-strength Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium supplemented with 6-benzyl aminopurine (BAP), NAA (α-napthaleneacetic acid), or BAP with NAA under either the dark or light. The degree of browning was read, and rhizome proliferation or sprouting (sprout numbers) was evaluated. Results showed that there was significant difference in browning grade of rhizomes between ‘14-16-13’ and ‘14-16-5’ regardless of dark and light culture. Dark culture induced rhizome proliferation but failed to induce sprouts. Light culture slightly elevated the degree of browning but induced sprouting. Among the growth regulators evaluated, BAP was more effective for sprout induction. As rhizome browning appeared to be inevitable in micropropagation of the cymbidiums, a compromise between browning and sprout production could be a realistic approach. Our study showed that rhizomes cultured on half-strength MS medium supplemented with 1.5 mg·L−1 BAP were able to produce more than 16 sprouts per vessel even though browning occurred in the rhizomes. Thus, culturing rhizomes in this medium could be a practical solution for in vitro propagation of Chinese cymbidiums.

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Recent concerns over the environmental impact of peat harvesting have led to restrictions on the production of peat in Florida and other areas. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the use of composted dairy manure solids as a substitute for sphagnum or reed-sedge peat in container substrates on the growth of Solenostemon scutellarioides L. Codd ‘Wizard Velvet’, Tagetes patula L. ‘Safari Queen’, and Begonia ×hybrida ‘Dragon Wing Red’ and to examine the nutrient content in leachate from pots. Plants were grown for 5 weeks in a greenhouse in 15-cm plastic pots with seven substrates containing various proportions of sphagnum peat (S) or reed-sedge peat (R) and composted dairy manure solids (C), each with 20% vermiculite and 20% perlite. Substrate composition had no effect on plant quality ratings, number of flowers, or root dry mass for any of the plant species evaluated. Substrate composition did not affect the growth index (GI) or shoot dry mass of S. scutellarioides ‘Wizard Velvet’ or the GI of T. patula ‘Safari Queen’. However, growth of B. ×hybrida ‘Dragon Wing Red’ (GI and shoot dry mass) and T. patula ‘Safari Queen’ (shoot dry mass only) was highest in the 3S:0R:0C substrate. The substrates containing sphagnum peat and/or composted dairy manure solids (3S:0R:0C, 2S:0R:1C and 1S:0R:2C) had the highest NH4-N losses through the first 7 d of production. The 0S:3R:0C substrate had the highest initial leachate NO3+NO2-N losses and this trend persisted throughout most of the production cycle. Significantly more dissolved reactive phosphorus was leached from substrate mixes containing composted dairy manure solids than mixes containing only sphagnum or reed-sedge peat materials through 19 d after planting. All substrates tested as part of this study appeared to be commercially acceptable for production of container-grown bedding plant species based on plant growth and quality. However, nutrient losses from the containers differed depending on the peat or peat substitute used to formulate the substrates.

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Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo is a famous traditional Chinese medicinal plant. It produces various phytochemicals, particularly polysaccharides, which have nutraceutical and pharmaceutical values. To increase its biomass production and polysaccharide content, our breeding program has generated a series of polyploid cultivars through colchicine treatment of protocorm-like bodies (PLBs). The present study compared two tetraploid cultivars, 201-1-T1 and 201-1-T2, with their diploid parental cultivar, 201-1, in an established in vitro culture system. Tetraploid ‘201-1-T1’ and ‘201-1-T2’ had shorter leaves and shorter and thicker stems and roots, and they produced higher biomass compared with the diploid cultivar. The length and width of stomata significantly increased, but stomatal density decreased in tetraploid cultivars. The PLB induction rates from the stem node explants of the tetraploid cultivars were significantly higher than those of diploid. However, the PLB proliferation of tetraploids was lower than that of the diploid. The mean number of plantlets regenerated from tetraploid PLBs was also lower than that of the diploid after 4 months of culture. Polysaccharide contents in stems, leaves, and roots of 6-month-old tetraploid plantlets were significantly higher than those of diploids. The polysaccharide content in the stem of ‘201-1-T1’ was 12.70%, which was a 2-fold increase compared with the diploid cultivar. Our results showed that chromosome doubling could be a viable way of improving D. officinale in biomass and polysaccharide production.

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