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  • Author or Editor: Jerry M. Parsons x
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Texas maroon bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis Hook. `Texas Maroon') grown for fall planting may be germinated as early as September. Plant growth regulators are commonly applied to control excessive stem elongation during production, but may potentially result in adverse responses in the landscape due to residual effects. In October 2003, an experiment was initiated to observe potential landscape residual effects of paclobutrazol (formulated as Bonzi) applied during the production phase to retard internode elongation. Seedlings were received in six-pack cell units. On 30 Oct. 2003, while still in six-packs, bluebon-nets were sprayed with paclobutrazol. Paclobutrazol was applied at concentrations of 0, 5, 10, and 15 mg·L-1 a.i. at a coverage rate of 10 mL per 0.93 m2. After treatment, half of the plants were transplanted from six-packs to 0.73 L pots and the other half remained in six-packs. Plants were grown in a nursery until they reached a marketable stage (13 Nov. 2003 for six-packs, 20 Nov. 2003 for 0.73-L pots). At the end of nursery production, one half of the plants (both container sizes) were then planted to landscape plots (0.3 m centers) at either College Station, Texas or Dallas, Texas. During the production phase, bluebonnets grown in 0.73-L pots had slightly larger growth indices than those produced in six-packs. As application rates of paclobutrazol increased, growth indices decreased. Possible residual effects on growth and flowering will also be discussed.

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Plant trialing and marketing assistance programs have become popular in recent years with several state and some regional programs emerging. Successful implementation requires considerable labor, facilities, and monetary resources for evaluation of large numbers of taxa over several years to ensure that plants are well adapted to the region of interest. Research and development funds, dedicated facilities, and cooperator commitment to trialing programs can be limiting during the early years of the programs. Involvement in plant trialing programs allows students to be exposed to plot layout planning, statistical design, plant maintenance, data collection and analysis, and professional communication of trial results. Construction of facilities for conducting plant trials, growing plants for use in trials, trial installation, and maintenance of plants all provide practical hands-on horticultural training. Replicated plant trials provide the latest information on regionally adapted taxa for inclusion in classroom instruction and publications. Plant trialing programs benefit from labor assistance, development of dedicated facilities, and the opportunity to share equipment and supplies among teaching, trialing, and student research projects.

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The Coordinated Educational and Marketing Assistance Program identifies outstanding landscape plants for Texas and provides support for the nursery industry, thereby making superior plants available to Texans. CEMAP funding comes directly from industry and from consumers through the sale of plant tags bearing the Texas Superstar logo. Additionally, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and Texas Department of Agriculture is conducting a Texas Superstar publicity campaign. An estimated $10 million in new plant sales have been generated during the first 10 years of this program. Because plants are chosen based on their performance under minimal input conditions, Texas SuperStars greatly reduce their impact on the urban environment.

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