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Esther E. McGinnis and Mary H. Meyer

Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) has horticultural and restoration potential, but the achenes are difficult to germinate due to complex dormancy requirements. This study identified treatments to overcome physiological dormancy and determined light and temperature requirements for optimum germination. We first tested the effects of perigynia removal and light on achene germination. In the second experiment, achenes were subjected to varying durations of dry-cold or dry-warm storage conditions and a presowing soak in gibberellic acid (GA3). In a third experiment, we studied whether storage conditions, cold stratification, and sowing temperatures affected germination. Pennsylvania sedge germination was improved by dry-warm storage, perigynia removal, cold stratification, and germination in light.

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Esther E. McGinnis, Alan G. Smith, and Mary H. Meyer

Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) is an upland forest sedge with restoration and horticultural potential as a low-maintenance groundcover for dry shade. For large landscape and restoration plantings, seed or achenes in this case are much preferred due to lower labor and material costs. However, pennsylvania sedge typically produces few achenes in its native habitat. As a first step in improving achene production, this research evaluated the effect of vernalization and photoperiod on floral initiation and development. We conclude that this sedge is an obligate short-day plant that does not require vernalization for flowering. Plants flowered when exposed to daylengths of 6 to 12 hours. Flowering was completely inhibited with 14-hour photoperiods. Pennsylvania sedge was florally determined after 4 weeks of 8-hour photoperiods. Inflorescence quantity and normal floral development varied by clone and by weeks of exposure to 8-hour photoperiods. For two of the clones, the largest number of normal monoecious inflorescences was produced with 8 to 10 weeks of 8-hour photoperiods while the other two clones only required 6 to 8 weeks of exposure to inductive photoperiods. Therefore, it is important to evaluate observable variation between clones when attempting to propagate pennsylvania sedge.

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Randy S. Nelson, Esther E. McGinnis, and Aaron L.M. Daigh

Although sedges (Carex L. spp.) are commonly recommended for planting in rain gardens, little work has been carried out in evaluating the ability of sedge species to tolerate the challenging moisture fluctuations in this environment. Seven sedge species native to the north central United States, yellow fox sedge [Carex annectens (E.P. Bicknell) E.P. Bicknell], plains oval sedge [Carex brevior (Dewey) Mack. ex Lunell], gray’s sedge (Carex grayi J. Carey), porcupine sedge (Carex hystericina Muhl. ex Willd.), palm sedge (Carex muskingumensis Schwein.), pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica Lam.), and sprengel’s sedge (Carex sprengelii Dewey ex Spreng.), were evaluated in a greenhouse trial to determine their ability to tolerate repeated flooding and drought cycles. Treatments consisted of two flood periods (2 or 7 days), followed by one of three drought set points measured by volumetric water content (VWC) thresholds of 0.05 (severe drought), 0.10 (moderate drought), or 0.15 m3·m−3 (drought onset). Each plant was subjected to a minimum of four flooding and drought cycles. For sprengel’s sedge, plains oval sedge, gray’s sedge, and yellow fox sedge, there was no significant difference in shoot counts between severe drought, moderate drought, and drought onset treatments. Shoot mass and root mass for all sedge species were significantly reduced under the severe drought set point. Plants subjected to the 7-day flood treatment exhibited significantly increased shoot mass compared with those in the 2-day flood treatment. Plains oval sedge showed a significantly higher shoot mass than all other species under all treatments. Visible damage ratings suggest that sprengel’s sedge, plains oval sedge, gray’s sedge, and yellow fox sedge could be suitable for the rain garden environment under all but the most extreme drought conditions. Results show that plains oval sedge, yellow fox sedge, and gray’s sedge may be able to tolerate harsh flooding and drought cycles that can occur in rain gardens. For the remaining species, supplemental irrigation of rain gardens should be considered during drought.

Open access

Sarada Krishnan, Heather Kirk-Ballard, Esther McGinnis, and Lauren Garcia Chance

The retail gardening industry in the United States is expected to reach $50 billion by 2023, and it is a significant driver of the agricultural economy. To meet the corresponding demand for information, consumer horticulture (CH) professionals will need to develop innovative digital outreach, research-based solutions, a concerted recruitment of youth, and enhanced collaborations. To understand the current gaps in CH research and the extent of the involvement of public gardens in CH, surveys were conducted among the two groups, CH/extension researchers and staff of public gardens. The results of the surveys were presented at the virtual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science on 12 Aug. 2020 during a workshop hosted by the Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardener Professional Interest Group. The workshop included four presentations, and two of those are discussed in this paper: 1) research gaps in CH and 2) bridging the divide between CH and public gardens. Among researchers, even though there was a general understanding of CH, there was a disconnect in participants’ perceptions of the roles of CH in the economy and recreation. The greatest knowledge gap was in basic horticultural practices. Regarding public garden professionals, there needs to be a concerted effort to educate them about CH so they can provide a consistent message to their audiences and the general public.

Open access

Esther McGinnis, Alicia Rihn, Natalie Bumgarner, Sarada Krishnan, Jourdan Cole, Casey Sclar, and Hayk Khachatryan

The millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996, is the largest demographic age group in the United States. This generation of plant enthusiasts has experienced financial setbacks; nevertheless, they collectively wield immense economic power. In 2018, this generation made one-quarter of all horticulture purchases. Consumer horticulture (CH) is challenged to develop targeted programming and outreach methods to connect with this influential and information-hungry generation. To examine the possibilities, the CH and Master Gardener Professional Interest Group held a workshop on 23 July 2019, in Las Vegas, NV, at the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) annual conference. The workshop first actively engaged participants to build points of connection by discussing nontraditional terminology that resonates with younger audiences. Suggested terminology included plant parent, plant enthusiast, plant babies, apartment-friendly, sustainable, and urban agriculture. After the opening discussion, three presentations explored innovative content, marketing and outreach in the areas of social media, retail promotions, and public gardens. The social media presentation focused on building a two-way partnership with millennials on Instagram that emphasized shared values of sustainability, local foods, and wellness. During the second presentation, the speaker highlighted retail point-of-sale promotions that appeal to younger audiences. The final presentation described creative programming used by botanical gardens to engage younger visitors. A facilitated discussion followed the presentations to identify and evaluate techniques and content that could be incorporated into CH research, teaching, and extension to reach and interact with new millennial audiences. Based on the workshop presentations and the facilitated discussions, the ASHS CH and Master Gardener Professional Interest Group concluded that more CH professionals should engage in social media outreach tailored to the needs and preferences of younger generations. To support this valuable outreach, research of consumer behavior and retail marketing should be encouraged to identify the preferred terminology and subject matter that appeal to millennials. Finally, CH can learn from and partner with public gardens as they implement multidisciplinary programming and exhibitions.

Open access

Natalie Bumgarner, Sheri Dorn, Esther McGinnis, Pam Bennett, Ellen Bauske, Sarada Krishnan, and Lucy Bradley

Many fields of research converge to assess the impact of plants on human health, well-being, and nutrition. However, even with a recent history of horticulturists contributing to human–plant interaction work, much of the current research is conducted outside the context of horticulture and specifically outside of consumer horticulture (CH). To connect CH to research being conducted by other disciplines that explore the role of plants in improving human quality of life, a workshop was held on 1 Aug. 2018 in Washington, DC, at the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) annual conference. The workshop focused on current food science, nutrition, and crop-breeding efforts to enhance nutrition and flavor, and human health and well-being research related to nature and plant interactions in an increasingly urban population. Following these presentations regarding potential research linkages and collaboration opportunities, a facilitated discussion identified ways to improve future CH research and foster collaborative work. Action items identified included connecting research and vocabulary to help cultivate an interest in plants in younger generations; supporting awareness of collaborative opportunities with health, nutrition, urban planning, and public health practitioners; ensuring CH is known to administrators; and taking responsibility for initiating communication with colleagues in these areas.