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  • Author or Editor: Uttara C. Samarakoon x
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Clematis (Clematis ×hybrida) is among the flowering plants well-recognized by the retail consumer; however, production has not traditionally fit into standard greenhouse production systems. One reason is the relatively long 2-year production cycle from propagation to flowering. Four experiments were conducted with clematis ‘H.F. Young’ to understand the factors that influence shoot development and flowering of clematis so that strategies could be developed for bulking, providing a cold treatment, and flowering the plants with a shortened production time. The first experiment showed an increase in shoot and flower numbers and a decrease in time to flower as the duration of cold treatment increased from 0 to 9 weeks and the photoperiod increased from 9 to 16 hours. The second experiment resulted in greater shoot and flower numbers when plants were forced at 21 °C as compared with 27 °C. The third experiment showed that the application of ethephon (500 or 1000 mg·L−1) during bulking increased shoot formation (branching) as compared with the control or 500 mg·L−1 benzylaminopurine treatments. The fourth experiment showed that applications of 500 mg·L−1 ethephon along with a 16-hour photoperiod during the bulking period improved shoot number and flowering of the finished crop. The combined results provide guidelines for producing a well-branched, flowering clematis crop within 1 year from the start of propagation to the time of the first open flower.

Open Access

Poinsettia stock plants consist of a dense canopy of competing shoots, and the growth and development of these individual shoots have not been previously quantified. The effects of air temperature, daily light integral (DLI), and canopy density (CD) were investigated on poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex. Klotsch) ‘Freedom Red’ shoot development in a stock plant canopy. Plants were grown at two constant temperatures (20.3 or 25.7 °C), five CD (43, 86, 129, 172, or 215 shoots/m2), and three DLI treatments (2.6, 4.4, or 7.7 mol·m−2.d−1 for the September planting and 4.0, 6.0, or 10.6 mol·m−2.d−1 for the January planting). Shoot position at the final data collection was used to assign shoots to different levels within the canopy; Level 1 = the four highest shoots, Level 2 = the next four highest shoots, and so forth for Levels 3, 4, and 5. Temperature did not significantly affect leaf unfolding rate (LUR), shoot fresh mass (FM), or shoot caliper, whereas DLI and CD affected shoot growth and development. LUR and FM increased as DLI increased from 2.6 to 10.6 mol·m−2.d−1, whereas LUR and FM decreased on the uppermost shoots in the canopy, e.g., Level 1 shoots, as CD increased from 43 to 129 shoots/m2. Therefore, higher CD required higher DLI to achieve similar LUR and FM. Shoot caliper on Level 1 shoots increased from 6.3 to 7.4 mm as CD decreased from 129 to 43 shoots/m2; and shoot caliper increased from 5.8 to 7.6 mm as DLI increased from 4.0 to 10.6 mol·m−2.d−1. The DLI environment needs to be managed to accommodate greater CD, to sustain growth and development of individual shoots within the canopy of poinsettia stock plants.

Free access

Vegetatively propagated unrooted cuttings are typically imported to the United States from Central America. Death or damage of cuttings during shipping and propagation can be reduced if cuttings can be made more resistant to external forces, such as physical damage or pathogen infection. However, strategies to develop durable cuttings via treating stock plants have not been previously quantified in controlled studies. During the current study, mechanical strength of leaves and resistance to infection by Botrytis cinerea were evaluated after weekly applications of calcium chloride (CaCl2) as a foliar spray to stock plants that delivered calcium (Ca) at the concentrations of 0, 400, or 800 mg·L−1. A texture analyzer quantified the peak force required to fracture the leaf and the work of penetration,or area under the force–displacement curve, and these measurements were indicators of mechanical strength. For poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) cuttings at the time of harvest from the stock plant, work of penetration increased by 10% with the application of 800 mg·L−1 Ca compared with the control, whereas peak force by 9%. For zonal geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum Bailey), work of penetration increased 15% with the application of 800 mg·L−1 Ca compared with the control. Calcium concentration in the leaves increased from 1.2% to 2.0% in geranium and from 1.0% to 1.6% in poinsettia with increasing application from 0 to 800 mg·L−1 Ca. In poinsettia, disease incidence in response to inoculation with B. cinerea spores was 55% and 15% less with CaCl2 applications compared with controls with water and surfactant, respectively, whereas CaCl2 application to geranium did not affect disease incidence.

Free access

Botrytis blight on petunia flowers causes significant losses in the postharvest environment. Infection occurs during greenhouse production, and symptoms are expressed during transport. This phenomenon is termed petunia flower meltdown because of the rapid collapse of flower petal tissue as the plants are transported from the production greenhouse to the retail store. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of calcium (Ca) spray applications on botrytis blight severity in petunia flowers. For the first experiment, petunia ‘Pretty Grand Red’ plants were sprayed twice per week for 2 weeks with calcium chloride (CaCl2) at rates of 0, 400, 800, and 1200 mg·L−1 Ca. A fungicide (cyprodinil, 37.5%; fludioxonil, 25%) was used as an additional control treatment. Twenty-four hours after the last treatment, freshly opened flowers were harvested, placed into a humidity chamber with 99% relative humidity, and inoculated with a Botrytis cinerea spore suspension (1 × 104 conidia/mL). Disease progression was recorded every 12 hours for 72 hours. The results showed a 96% reduction in botrytis blight severity as Ca concentration increased from 0 to 1200 mg·L−1 Ca. The Ca treatments provided better disease control than the fungicide treatment because of the fungicide resistance of the isolate used in the study. A second experiment was performed to determine whether the beneficial response to CaCl2 application was influenced by chlorine (Cl) or the electrical conductivity (EC) of the spray solutions, and no significant responses were observed. These studies prove Ca is the sole source of the reduction in botrytis blight severity following treatment with CaCl2 sprays, and demonstrate the benefit of using Ca as a tool for the management of botrytis blight on petunia flowers.

Open Access

Cut flower productivity and quality of gentian is associated with growth and development of crown buds. Experiments were carried out with the gentian cultivar Showtime Diva to identify the response to treatments that break dormancy [cold temperature (chilling), gibberellic acid (GA3)] applied at different stages of development of crown buds (plants with nonemerged crown buds, shoots recently emerged, or shoots emerged and elongated). The comparative growth potential of crown buds within the cluster was also investigated. At the stages of development examined, the application of GA3 (100 ppm) increased emergence of crown buds as shoots, leading to development of more flowering shoots. A similar response was observed with exposure to cold, but only on plants with nonemerged crown buds. Shoot emergence increased in response to increased duration of cold from 0 to 42 days (5 °C). Both chilling and GA3 could potentially be used to reduce the duration to, and spread of, harvest maturity if applied before shoot emergence. The hierarchical relationship of buds in crown bud clusters led to differential responses to application of GA3. Buds ontogenetically positioned at the proximal end of the bud cluster took a similar duration to reach shoot emergence or harvest maturity. For buds located at the distal end there was a positive correlation between ontogenetic bud position and the duration to reach shoot maturity. Shoot length and number of nodes at harvest maturity showed slight negative correlations with the position of the bud in the bud cluster. The results provide an explanation for possible sources of the variation in quality and quantity of floral shoots, and spread in time to harvest maturity within a single plant, and with development stage.

Free access