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  • Author or Editor: Edzard van Santen x
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Numerous compact pepper (Capsicum annuum) cultivars are available for home gardening. However, evaluations under different environmental conditions are limited. This study aimed to characterize growth and productivity of 14 compact pepper cultivars grown indoors under environmental conditions that simulated a residential space (11 mol·m−2·d−1 provided by white of light-emitting diode fixtures, constant 22 °C, and moderate relative humidity of 40% to 60%) and in a greenhouse with sunlight only. Plants in the greenhouse were generally larger in size and produced more fruit [both in number and total fresh weight (FW)] than those grown indoors. For example, growth index, which is a measure of canopy volume that integrates shoot height and width, and fruit FW were up to 250% and 621% higher in the greenhouse than indoors, respectively. ‘Fresh Bites Red Improved’ and ‘Sweet Yellow’ had the highest fruit FW per plant when grown in the greenhouse (695 g) and indoors (483 g), respectively. All cultivars evaluated in this study are recommended for gardening under sunlight, and most for indoor gardening except for Cosmo, Pinata, and Yellow Tomato, which had the lowest fruit FW when grown indoors (61, 59, and 52 g) and thus, should not be recommended to consumers aiming to maximize fruit yield. In addition, ‘Cayennetta’, ‘Cheyenne’, ‘Hot Tomato Red’, ‘Pinata’, ‘Spicy Jane’, and ‘Sweet Yellow’ were affected by intumescence, which could negatively affect indoor gardening experiences until widespread recommendations to mitigate this disorder become available.

Open Access

Diverse floral resources impart immense value for pollinating insects of all types. With increasing popularity and demand for modern ornamental hybrids, cultivation by breeders has led to selection for a suite of traits such as extended bloom periods and novel colors and forms deemed attractive to the human eye. Largely understudied is pollinator preference for these new cultivars, as compared with their native congeners. To address this gap in understanding, 10 species of popular herbaceous flowering plants, commonly labeled as pollinator-friendly, were evaluated at two sites in Florida [U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cold hardiness zones 8b and 9a] and across three seasons for their floral abundance and overall attractiveness to different groups of pollinating insects. Each genus, apart from pentas, encompassed a native and nonnative species. Native species included blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella), lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), pineland lantana (Lantana depressa), and scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea). Nonnative species included Barbican™ yellow-red ring blanket flower (G. aristata ‘Gaiz005’), Bloomify™ rose lantana (L. camara ‘UF-1011-2’), mysty salvia (S. longispicata ×farinacea ‘Balsalmysty’), Lucky Star® dark red pentas (Pentas lanceolata ‘PAS1231189’), ruby glow pentas (P. lanceolata ‘Ruby glow’) and Uptick™ Gold & Bronze coreopsis (Coreopsis × ‘Baluptgonz’). Flower-visiting insects were recorded during five-minute intervals in the morning and categorized into the following morpho-groups: honey bees, large-bodied bees (bumble and carpenter bees), other bees (small to medium-bodied native bees), butterflies/moths, and wasps. Floral abundance and pollinator visitation varied widely by season, location, and species. Of the plant species evaluated, nonnative plants produced nearly twice as many flowers as native plants. About 22,000 floral visitations were observed. The majority of visits were by native, small to medium-bodied bees (55.28%), followed by butterflies and moths (15.4%), large-bodied native bees (11.8%), wasps (10.0%), and honey bees (7.6%). Among plant genera, both native and nonnative coreopsis and blanket flower were most attractive to native, small to medium-bodied bees (e.g., sweat bees, leafcutter bees) with the greatest number of visitations occurring during the early and midmonths of the study (May–August). Across the study, butterflies and moths visited lantana more frequently than all other ornamentals evaluated, whereas pentas were most attractive to wasps. Large-bodied bees visited plants most frequently in May and June, primarily foraging from both native and nonnative salvia. While results from this study showed nominal differences between native and nonnative species in their ability to attract the studied pollinator groups, care should be taken to making similar assessments of other modern plant types.

Open Access

Trailing lantana [Lantana montevidensis (Spreng.) Briq.] is a low-growing, woody ornamental valued for its heat and drought tolerance and repeat blooming of purple or white flowers throughout much of the year. In 2011, trailing lantana was predicted to have high invasion risk by the UF-IFAS’s assessment of non-native plants in Florida, and therefore it was no longer recommended for use. All cultivars fall under this designation unless proven otherwise. Eight trailing lantana varieties were obtained from wholesale growers or naturalized populations found in Texas and Australia. Plants were propagated vegetatively, finished in 4-inch pots, and planted in field trials located in central (Balm) and northern (Citra) Florida. Throughout the 24-week study from June to November, mean plant quality was between 4.4 and 4.7 (on a 1 to 5 scale) for U.S. varieties and 3.9 for the Australian form. Mean flowering was between 4.1 and 4.5 (on a 1 to 5 scale) for U.S. trailing lantana varieties and 3.5 for Australian trailing lantana. Australian trailing lantana differed from other U.S. varieties tested, being smaller in size, more sensitive to cold, and having a high female fertility index (producing abundant fruit with viable seed per peduncle). Our findings indicate that some U.S. varieties of trailing lantana are unlikely to present an ecological threat and merit consideration for production and use.

Open Access

Improving nutrient uptake and tree health play an important role in managing Huanglongbing (HLB)-affected citrus trees in Florida. A greenhouse experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of increasing rates of manganese (Mn) on growth and development of sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] trees at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, FL. Half the trees were graft-inoculated with the HLB pathogen and the remainder were used as the HLB-free (non HLB) control trees. Four rates of Mn (0.0 kg·ha−1 Mn (Control), 5.6 kg·ha−1 Mn (1x—standard rate), 11.2 kg·ha−1 Mn (2x—standard rate), and 22.4 kg·ha−1 Mn (4x—standard rate) were split applied quarterly to both sets of the trees in a completely randomized design. There were seven single tree replicates for each treatment. Response variables measured were trunk diameter, tree height, leaf Mn concentration, plus above- and belowground biomass. The accumulated Mn in leaf tissues significantly increased trunk diameter but did not affect tree height for both HLB-affected and non-HLB trees, the 2x rate had the maximum value for trunk diameter relative to the 4x rate. This study established a positive correlation between soil available Mn with Fe and Cu, but negative correlation with B and Zn. A strong correlation of −0.76, −0.69, and 0.65 was observed between soil Mn and B, Zn, and Cu, respectively, as compared with 0.49 with Mn and Fe. Among HLB-affected trees, the 2x rate gave the most belowground dry matter, which was 3% greater than the control and 5% greater than 4x. Aboveground dry matter had at least 30% more biomass than belowground matter among all treatments within HLB-affected trees. For small and medium roots, Mn accumulation increased with Mn application until 2x rate and decreased thereafter for HLB-affected trees. The results from our study showed an Mn rate of 8.9–11.5 kg·ha−1 Mn, as the optimum Mn level for young ‘Valencia’ HLB-affected trees in Florida.

Open Access

Consumer demand for novel, visually attractive ornamentals has often overshadowed the functional value plants may provide for flower-visiting insects. As native and nonnative species are hybridized for form, color, flowering, and disease resistance, it is important to assess whether some of these alterations influence plant nutrient quality for foraging insect pollinators. A study was conducted to ascertain the resource value of ornamental cultivars compared with their native congeners. The nectar volume and pollen quantity, viability, and protein content of 10 species of popular herbaceous flowering plants, commonly advertised as pollinator-friendly, were evaluated in northcentral Florida. Each genus encompassed a native and nonnative species, apart from pentas. Native species included blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella), lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), pineland lantana (Lantana depressa), and scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea). Nonnative species included Barbican™ yellow-red ring blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata ‘Gaiz005’), Bloomify™ rose lantana (Lantana camara ‘UF-1011-2’), mysty salvia (Salvia longispicata × farinacea ‘Balsalmysty’), Lucky Star® dark red pentas (Pentas lanceolata ‘PAS1231189’), ruby glow pentas (Pentas lanceolata ‘Ruby glow’) and UpTick™ Gold & Bronze coreopsis (Coreopsis × ‘Baluptgonz’). Floral rewards differed significantly across species. The native scarlet sage exhibited the largest nectar volume per flower in the summer (2.13 ± 0.17 µL), followed by the nonnative mysty salvia (1.26 ± 0.17 µL). In the fall, ruby glow pentas exhibited the largest nectar volume per flower (1.09 ± 0.17 µL) compared with all other ornamentals. The composite flowers of the native and nonnative blanket flower and coreopsis species had the lowest nectar volume per flower regardless of sampling date. Likewise, ruby glow pentas displayed the highest quantity of pollen grains (96.29 ± 0.12) per sample, followed by Lucky star pentas (52.33 ± 0.12), and Barbican blanket flower (50.98 ± 0.12). Pollen viability was similarly high (92% to 98%) among all species, apart from Bloomify rose lantana (20%) and pineland lantana (48%). Pollen protein content was highest in Uptick coreopsis (11.378 ± 1.860 μg/mg dry weight) and Lucky star pentas (10.656 ± 3.726 μg/mg dry weight), followed by lanceleaf coreopsis (7.918 ± 1.793 μg/mg dry weight). These results largely showed that the nonnative ornamentals selected provided resource-rich floral rewards, comparable to native congeners. Still, care should be taken in making similar assessments of other modern floral types.

Open Access

American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L.), a medicinal plant species valued for its sedative properties associated with flavonoids, is generally harvested from the wild. Scientific information on how field cultivation practices affect dry matter yield is lacking in this species. A 2 × 2 × 3 split plot factorial experiment within a randomized complete block design was conducted on a Marvyn loamy sand (fine-loamy, kaolinitic, Thermic Typic Kanhapludults) in Central Alabama to explore effects of light, irrigation, and nutrient application on dry matter yield of American skullcap. Treatment factors were shade (40% shade vs. no shade), irrigation (applied at 30 kPa vs. no irrigation), and nutrients [no added nutrients vs. nutrients added as chemical fertilizer (100 kg nitrogen, 68 kg phosphorus, 42 kg potassium/ha) or chicken litter (100 kg nitrogen, 50 kg phosphorus, and 123 kg potassium/ha)]. Shade formed the main plot units, whereas irrigation × nutrient factorial combinations were subplots. Skullcap shoots in experimental plots were harvested four times during the course of the two-year experiment (2007, 2008). All growth variables measured, except percent dry matter, performed better under shade than in full sun. Dry matter yield was increased 45% by shade, 61% by irrigation, and 22% by addition of nutrients. A significant irrigation × nutrients interaction was observed at the first and second harvests. Highest yields were obtained with the irrigation + manure and irrigation + fertilizer treatments under shade and the lowest with fertilizer and the control treatments in full sun.

Free access

Use efficiency of applied nitrogen (N) is estimated typically to be <50% in most crops. In sandy soils and warmer climates particularly, leaching and volatilization may be primary pathways for environmental loss of applied N. To determine the effect of N fertilization rate on the N use efficiency (NUE) and apparent recovery of N fertilizer (APR), a replicated field study with ‘BHN 602’ tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) grown in sandy soils under a fertigated plastic-mulched bed system was conducted using ammonium nitrate as the N source at four different rates (0, 150, 200, and 250 lb/acre). Spring tomato was followed by fall tomato in the same field, a typical cropping sequence in north Florida. Fertigation of N fertilizer was applied weekly in 13 equal doses for both seasons. The highest NUE was 12.05% (spring) and 32.38% (fall), and the highest APR was 6.11% (spring) for the lowest rate of N applied (150 lb/acre). In the fall, APR was unaffected by fertilizer N rates and ranged from 12.88% to 19.39%. Nitrogen accumulation in tomato plants were similar among the three N fertilizer rates applied (150, 200, and 250 lb/acre), though compared with no N fertilizer application, significant increases occurred. Whole plant N accumulation, NUE, and APR declined or remained similar when N rates increased above 150 lb/acre. Additionally, a regression analysis and derivative of the quadratic fresh yield data showed that yields were maximized at 162 and 233 lb/acre N in the spring and fall seasons, respectively.

Open Access