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  • Author or Editor: Margaret Aiken x
  • HortScience x
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Ethephon [(2-chloroethyl) phosphonic acid] is widely used as a growth regulator in floricultural crop production, with foliar sprays as the typical application method. Ethephon efficacy is determined by rate of uptake and subsequent ethylene evolution, which can be influenced by a number of factors, including solution pH. This study examines whether an ethephon substrate drench (100 mg⋅L−1 at a volume of 296 mL per 2.8-L container) would allow for plant uptake in two herbaceous perennials, Verbena bonariensis (L.) ‘Lollipop’ and Veronica spicata (L.) ‘Goodness Grows’, as measured by subsequent effects on shoot growth and days to flower. We also investigated substrate pH effects on ethephon drench efficacy by analyzing the shoot responses to ethephon applied at a range of starting substrate pH (4.5 to 7.0) compared with untreated plants grown under the same substrate pH conditions (controls). One or more measurements of shoot growth (height, width, shoot dry weight) were reduced in both taxa treated with ethephon as compared with controls. Veronica plant growth was not influenced by substrate pH in either the control or ethephon-drenched plants. For Verbena plants receiving the ethephon drench, as substrate pH increased, height and width increased. For example, when ethephon was applied at substrate pH 4.5, finished plant height averaged 32.0 cm, compared with 43.5 cm for those plants that received the drench at a substrate pH of 7.0. Increasing substrate pH conditions also influenced the days to flower in Verbena plants. Ethephon-treated plants at a substrate pH of 4.5 required an average of 6.5 days longer to flower than those at a substrate pH of 7.0. In summary, ethephon drench applications can result in significant growth regulation effects, as seen in both Veronica and Verbena. Furthermore, increasing substrate pH can reduce the efficacy of ethephon drench applications.

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