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Mengzi Zhang and Erik S. Runkle

Manipulating light quality is a potential alternative method of regulating plant height in the commercial production of ornamental crops. In particular, end-of-day (EOD) lighting with a high red (R; 600–700 nm) to far-red (FR; 700–800 nm) ratio (R:FR) can suppress extension growth, whereas a low R:FR can promote it. We investigated the effects of the R:FR and duration of EOD lighting in regulating extension growth and flowering of two poinsettia cultivars, White Glitter and Marble Star. Plants were grown at 20 °C under 9-hour days with or without EOD lighting provided by two types of light-emitting diode bulbs: R+white+FR (subsequently referred to as R+FR) and FR only. The R:FR ratios were 0.73 and 0.04, respectively, and the photon flux density between 400 and 800 nm was adjusted to 2 to 3 μmol·m−2·s–1 at plant canopy. The six EOD lighting treatments were R+FR or FR for 2 or 4 hours, 2 hours of R+FR followed by 2 hours of FR, and 4 hours of R+FR followed by 2 hours of FR. We also investigated the impact of a 4-hour moderate-intensity (13 μmol·m−2·s–1) EOD FR treatment in the second replication. EOD lighting generally increased poinsettia extension growth, with the greatest promotion under the longest lighting periods. There were no differences in days to first bract color and days to anthesis when the 9-hour day was extended by 2 hours, but flowering was delayed under 4- or 6-hour EOD treatments, except for the 2-hour R+FR + 2-hour FR and 4-hour FR treatments. Four hours of moderate-intensity EOD FR greatly promoted extension growth and delayed or prevented bract coloration in both cultivars. We conclude that EOD lighting promotes extension growth of poinsettia, and specifically, EOD FR at a low intensity (2–3 μmol·m−2·s–1) is not perceived as long-day signal, whereas a higher intensity (13 μmol·m−2·s–1) of FR delays flowering.

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Qingwu Meng and Erik S. Runkle

Photoperiodic lighting from lamps with a moderate ratio of red [R (600–700 nm)] to far-red [FR (700–800 nm)] light effectively promotes flowering of long-day plants (LDPs). Because of spectral controllability, long life span, and energy efficiency, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have emerged as an alternative to conventional light sources, such as incandescent (INC) and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. We conducted a coordinated trial with five commercial greenhouse growers to investigate the efficacy of R + white (W) + FR LEDs, with an R:FR of 0.82, to regulate flowering of daylength-sensitive ornamental crops. The trial was also performed in two replicate greenhouses at Michigan State University (MSU). Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum), calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ×hybrida), dahlia (Dahlia ×hybrida), dianthus (Dianthus chinensis), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), and verbena (Verbena ×hybrida) were grown under natural short days (SDs) with 4-hour night-interruption (NI) lighting provided by the R + W + FR LEDs or conventional lamps typically used by each grower. Two companies used HPS lamps, whereas the other sites used INC lamps. In addition, a natural SD treatment, a truncated 9-hour SD treatment, or a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) NI treatment was provided at three different sites. With few exceptions, time to flower and flowering percentage of the bedding plant crops tested were similar under the R + W + FR LEDs to that under the conventional lamps at all sites. At MSU, ageratum, dianthus, petunia, snapdragon, and verbena flowered earlier under NI lighting treatments than under 9-hour SDs. In addition, plant height and visible flower bud or inflorescence number at flowering were similar under the R + W + FR LEDs and INC lamps for most crops. Therefore, we conclude that the R + W + FR LEDs are as effective as lamps traditionally used in greenhouses at controlling flowering of photoperiodic plants.

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Daedre S. Craig and Erik S. Runkle

In protected cultivation of short-day (SD) plants, flowering can be inhibited by lighting from incandescent (INC) lamps during the night. INC lamps are being phased out of production and replaced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs), but an effective spectrum to control flowering has not been thoroughly examined. We quantified how the red [R (600 to 700 nm)] to far red [FR (700 to 800 nm)] ratio (R:FR) of photoperiodic lighting from LEDs influenced flowering and extension growth of SD plants. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×morifolium), dahlia (Dahlia hortensis), and african marigold (Tagetes erecta) were grown at 20 °C under a 9-hour day with or without a 4-hour night interruption (NI) treatment by INC lamps or LEDs with seven different R:FR ranging from all R to all FR. Flowering in the most sensitive species, chrysanthemum, was not inhibited by an R:FR of 0.28 or lower, whereas an R:FR of 0.66 or above reduced flowering percentage. Flowering in dahlia was incomplete under the FR-only NI and under SDs, but time to flower was similar under the remaining NI treatments. The least sensitive species, african marigold, flowered under all treatments, but flowering was most rapid under the FR-only NI and under SDs. For all species, stem length increased quadratically as the R:FR of the NI increased, reaching a maximum at R:FR of ≈0.66. We conclude that in these SD plants, a moderate to high R:FR (0.66 or greater) is most effective at interrupting the long night, blue light is not needed to interrupt the night, and FR light alone does not regulate flowering.

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Linsey A. Newton and Erik S. Runkle

Inflorescences of some moth orchid (Phalaenopsis and Doritaenopsis) hybrids can become very tall, which can pose shipping challenges for commercial producers and be unwieldy for consumers. We determined the efficacy of paclobutrazol as a foliar spray to inhibit inflorescence elongation of these genera and intergeneric hybrids. A single application of 15, 30, or 45 mg·L−1 palcobutrazol at a volume of 0.2 L·m−2 was applied to Doritaenopsis Miss Saigon, Doritaenopsis Andrew, and Phalaenopsis ‘Smart Thing’ grown at 23 °C to induce flowering. Applications were made after inflorescence emergence but before flower initiation (inflorescences were 1 to 2 cm long) or after flower initiation (inflorescences were 10 to 18 cm long). None of the paclobutrazol applications inhibited total inflorescence elongation of ‘Smart Thing’ or Miss Saigon. However, paclobutrazol inhibited inflorescence elongation from treatment until first flowering of Andrew by 19% to 23% when plants were treated with 15 or 45 mg·L−1 before flower initiation and 30 or 45 mg·L−1 after flower initiation. One or more concentrations of paclobutrazol applied after flower initiation reduced the length of the internode between the first and second flower on all three orchid clones. Paclobutrazol delayed flowering only on Miss Saigon (by 2 days) and only when applied after flower initiation. Paclobutrazol application did not affect the number of inflorescences or flowers, diameter of the first flower, number of new leaves formed, or increase in leaf span. Growers are advised to perform small-scale trials with paclobutrazol solutions starting at 30 to 45 mg·L−1 within 1 week of inflorescence emergence, although higher concentrations may be appropriate for the most vigorous varieties. Furthermore, a late spray application can cause unwanted crowding of the flowers.

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Lee Ann Pramuk and Erik S. Runkle

Commercial greenhouse growers often produce bedding plants from midwinter to early summer, and thus crops are grown under a wide range of environmental conditions. Despite bedding plants' high economic value, the interactions of temperature and photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) on growth and flowering have not been determined for many bedding plants. We grew celosia (Celosia argentea L. var. plumosa L.) and seed impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook.f.) in glass greenhouses in a range of temperature (15 to 27 °C) and DLI (8 to 26 mol·m-2·d-1) conditions to quantify effects on growth and flowering. Growth (e.g., plant dry mass at flowering) and flowering characteristics (e.g., time to flowering and flower bud number) were modeled in response to the average daily temperature and DLI by using multiple regression analysis. Rate of progress to flowering (1/days to flower) of celosia increased as temperature increased up to ≈25 °C and as the average DLI increased to 15 ·mol·m-2·d-1. Impatiens grown under a DLI <15 mol·m-2·d-1 flowered progressively earlier as temperature increased from 14 to 28 °C, whereas temperature had little effect on flowering time when plants were grown under the highest DLI treatments. Number of flowers and flower buds at first flowering increased in both species as temperature decreased or DLI increased. Shoot dry mass at first flowering followed a similar trend, except celosia dry mass decreased as temperature decreased. The models developed to predict flowering time and plant quality could be used by commercial growers to determine the impacts of changing growing temperature, growing plants at different times of the year, and providing supplemental lighting.

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Lee Ann Moccaldi and Erik S. Runkle

Photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) and temperature are two environmental factors that profoundly influence plant growth and development. Two common ornamental annual crops, salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sello ex Roem & Schult.) and marigold (Tagetes patula L.), were grown in glass greenhouses under a mean DLI of 5 to 25 mol·m−2·d−1 at temperatures from 14 to 27 °C. Growth (e.g., plant dry weight at flowering) and flowering characteristics (e.g., time to flowering and flower number) were modeled in response to the mean daily temperature and DLI by using multiple regression analysis. The rate of progress to flowering of salvia and marigold was primarily influenced by the mean air temperature. For example, time from seedling transplant to flowering of salvia decreased from 42 days to 24 days as temperature increased from 15 to 25 °C, with a mean DLI of 10 mol·m−2·d−1. Flower number and plant dry weight on the date of first flowering generally decreased with increasing temperature and decreasing DLI in both species. For example, marigold plants grown at 15 °C and a mean DLI of 25 mol·m−2·d−1 were 2.45 times greater in dry weight, had 2.12 more flowers, and had 49% larger flowers at flowering compared with plants grown at 25 °C and a mean DLI of 5 mol·m−2·d−1. The models can be used to predict the impact of changing light and temperature conditions on plant quality and flowering of these two crops.

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Catherine M. Whitman and Erik S. Runkle

Flowering of the herbaceous perennial Aquilegia is generally considered to require vernalization after seedlings are mature, whereas photoperiod has little or no effect. We performed experiments to determine the flowering responses for two Aquilegia ×hybrida varieties, one of which reportedly has reduced cold requirements. Seedlings of Aquilegia ‘Origami Blue and White’ and ‘Winky Double Red and White’ with three to five leaves were either placed directly into a 5 °C cooler with low-intensity lighting for 9 hours/day or transplanted to 13-cm containers and grown (bulked) for 0, 3, or 6 weeks at 20 °C under 9-hour short days (SDs) or 16-h long days (LDs). Plants were then cooled at 5 °C for 0, 5, or 10 weeks and placed in a common forcing environment at 20 °C under LDs. Flowering response of the two cultivars differed markedly. All Aquilegia ‘Origami Blue and White’ plants placed directly into the forcing environment flowered and in a mean of 93 days. Flowering percentage of plants cooled in the plug tray decreased with increasing duration of cold treatment, and only 15% flowered after a 10-week cold treatment. All plants bulked for 3 or 6 weeks before cold treatment flowered after 25 to 36 days in the forcing environment. Adding bulking and forcing time together, time to flowering of ‘Origami Blue and White’ was complete and most rapid (62 days) when plants were bulked for 3 weeks under SDs and then forced under LDs. In contrast, no ‘Winky Double Red and White’ plants flowered without cold treatment, and 6 weeks of bulking followed by 10 weeks of cold was required for 100% flowering. These results indicate that ‘Origami Blue and White’ has a relatively short juvenile phase and flowering was promoted by SD bulking or cold treatment, whereas ‘Winky Double Red and White’ has a longer juvenile phase and requires cold for flowering.

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Brian R. Poel and Erik S. Runkle

Supplemental radiation (SR), traditionally provided by high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, is recommended for greenhouse production of seedlings during radiation-limiting conditions. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have emerged as an appealing alternative to HPS lamps primarily because they can provide SR at improved energy efficiencies, they have longer fixture lifetimes, and the radiation spectrum can be tailored to potentially manipulate plant morphology by targeting radiation absorption of specific photoreceptors. We grew seedlings of three annual bedding plants and two vegetable transplants in greenhouses at 20 °C under a 16-h photoperiod under six SR treatments: five that delivered a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 90 μmol·m−2·s–1 from HPS lamps (HPS90) or LEDs [four treatments composed of blue (B; 400–500 nm), red (R; 600–700 nm), far red (FR; 700–800 nm), and/or white LEDs] and one that delivered 10 μmol·m−2·s–1 from HPS (HPS10) lamps as a control with matching photoperiod. The LED treatments, defined by the percentages of B, green (G; 500–600 nm), and R radiation, were B10R90, B45R55, B10G5R85, and B12G20R68 + FR (FR at 12 μmol·m−2·s–1). At transplant, leaf area and seedling height were similar among 90 μmol·m−2·s–1 treatments in all species except snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), in which seedlings grown under B12G20R68 + FR had 62% greater leaf area than those grown under B45R55 and were 47%, 18%, 38%, and 62% taller than those grown under HPS90, B10R90, B10G5R85, and B45R55, respectively. After transplant and finishing under the same SR treatments, snapdragon flowered on average 7 days earlier under the B12G20R68 + FR treatment than the other LED treatments, whereas geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum) grown under B45R55 and B12G20R68 + FR flowered 7 to 9 days earlier than those under the B10G5R85 and B10R90 treatments. Seedlings of each species grown under the HPS10 treatment accumulated less dry weight and took longer to flower compared with seedlings under the other SR treatments. We conclude that radiation quality of SR has relatively little effect on seedling growth and subsequent flowering although in some crops, flowering may be earlier when SR includes FR radiation.

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Brian R. Poel and Erik S. Runkle

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have the potential to replace high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps as the main delivery method of supplemental lighting (SL) in greenhouses. However, few studies have compared growth under the different lamp types. We grew seedlings of geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum), pepper (Capsicum annuum), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) at 20 °C under six lighting treatments: five that delivered a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 90 μmol·m−2·s−1 from HPS lamps (HPS90) or LEDs [four treatments composed of blue (B, 400–500 nm), red (R, 600–700 nm), or white LEDs] and one that delivered 10 μmol·m−2·s−1 from HPS lamps (HPS10), which served as a control with matching photoperiod. Lamps operated for 16 h·d−1 for 14 to 40 days, depending on cultivar and season. The LED treatments defined by their percentages of B, green (G, 500–600 nm), and R light were B10R90, B20R80, B10G5R85, and B15G5R80, whereas the HPS treatments emitted B6G61R33. Seedlings of each cultivar grown under the 90 μmol·m−2·s−1 SL treatments had similar dry shoot weights and all except pepper had a similar plant height, leaf area, and leaf number. After transplant to a common environment, geranium ‘Ringo Deep Scarlet’ and petunia ‘Single Dreams White’ grown under HPS90 flowered 3 days earlier than those grown under HPS10, but flowering time was not different from that in LED treatments. There were no consistent differences in morphology or subsequent flowering among seedlings grown under HPS90 and LED SL treatments. The inclusion of white light in the LED treatments played an insignificant role in growth and development when applied as SL with the background ambient light. The LED fixtures in this study consumed substantially less electricity than the HPS lamps while providing the same PPFD, and seedlings produced were of similar quality, making LEDs a suitable technology option for greenhouse SL delivery.

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Matthew G. Blanchard and Erik S. Runkle

An increasingly popular technique for applying plant growth regulators (PGRs) to floriculture crops is to dip or soak the root medium of a transplant in a chemical solution before transplanting. This PGR application method, termed a “liner dip,” can be an effective height-control strategy for greenhouse crop production. However, few studies have quantified how bedding plant species respond to different chemicals and application rates. Argyranthemum (Argyranthemum ×hybrida ‘Sunlight’), calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ×hybrida ‘Callie Dark Blue’), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Cascadias Vivid Red’), scaevola (Scaevola albida ‘Jacob's White’), and verbena (Verbena ×hybrida ‘Rapunzel Red’) liners were dipped in paclobutrazol at 4, 8, or 16 mg·L−1 or in uniconazole at 2, 4, or 8 mg·L−1 for 30 seconds and subsequently transplanted into 4.5-inch-diameter round pots. At 28 days after transplant, all rates of paclobutrazol and uniconazole inhibited subsequent stem elongation by 21% to 67% in calibrachoa, petunia, scaevola, and verbena. In argyranthemum, stems were 33% to 42% shorter in plants treated with paclobutrazol at 8 or 16 mg·L−1 or uniconazole at all rates. In some species, the liner dip delayed flowering and reduced flower number compared with that of nontreated plants. This pretransplant PGR application technique can be useful on vigorous ornamental species when grown together in the same container with less aggressive species without a PGR application.