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  • Author or Editor: Katherine F. Garland x
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Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) traditionally has been recommended as a shade plant, but many cultivars are also suitable for full sun. In regions of the country where light limits growth and photosynthesis, supplemental lights are used to increase daily light integral (DLI). Understanding the minimum DLI necessary to produce coleus would minimize supplemental lighting use, reducing costs and improving production sustainability. ‘Kong Red’ and ‘Wizard Coral Sunrise’ coleus were grown in a greenhouse under a 12-hour photoperiod and a mean DLI of 2.9, 3.8, 5.8, or 10.0 mol·m−2·d−1 to determine the lowest light level needed to produce high-quality plants. After 8 weeks, both cultivars had a 4.2-fold increase in shoot dry weight as DLI increased from 2.9 to 10.0 mol·m−2·d−1. Plants grown under 10.0 mol·m−2·d−1 were 22% to 25% taller and 18% to 21% wider compared with those grown under 2.9 mol·m−2·d−1. ‘Kong Red’ had 3.6 times as many branches and ‘Wizard Coral Sunrise’ had over twice as many branches when grown under 10.0 mol·m−2·d−1 compared with those grown under the lowest DLI. Leaf counts for both cultivars were 64% greater when grown under the highest DLI compared with those produced under the lowest DLI; leaf area for both cultivars was also positively correlated with DLI. Leaves of both cultivars had significantly more green area (i.e., less variegation) when grown under lower DLIs. Overall, both cultivars exhibited a more dense growth habit and greater degree of variegation when grown under the highest DLI. Therefore, we recommend growing ‘Kong Red’ and ‘Wizard Coral Sunrise’ coleus under a minimum DLI of 10.0 mol·m−2·d−1.

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Two investigations were conducted to determine the morphological and physiological impacts of varying light and substrate water levels on Heuchera americana ‘Dale's Strain’ (american alumroot). Both investigations used a capacitance sensor automated irrigation system to maintain constant substrate volumetric water contents (θ = volume of water/volume of substrate). In the first study, the substrate was maintained at one of eight θ ranging from 0.15 to 0.50 L·L−1. Leaf area of plants grown at the highest θ was more than twice that of plants grown at the lowest θ. Shoot dry weight also responded positively to θ increasing from 0.15 to 0.35 L·L−1, but plants did not have greater dry weights when maintained at θ higher than 0.35 L·L−1. The second experiment assessed american alumroot's performance under four daily light integrals (DLIs) (7.5, 10.8, 14.9, and 21.8 mol·m−2·d−1) with θ maintained at 0.35 L·L−1. Increasing DLI from 7.5 to 21.8 mol·m−2·d−1 caused shoot dry weight, leaf area, maximum width, and leaf count to change quadratically. Dry weight and leaf area reached their maximum at 10.8 mol·m−2·d−1, whereas leaf count was greatest at 14.9 mol·m−2·d−1. Increasing DLI to 21.8 mol·m−2·d−1 negatively impacted leaf area and leaf count but did not lower shoot dry weight. Leaf area ratio and petiole length of the uppermost fully expanded leaf decreased with increasing DLI. Measures of leaf-level net photosynthesis, light response curves, and CO2 response curves indicated no physiological differences among plants grown under different water or light levels. In both studies, long-term, whole crop measures of water use efficiency based on shoot dry weight and water applied (WUEc) did not reflect the same water use trends as instantaneous, leaf-level measures of WUE based on leaf gas exchange (WUEl). WUEc decreased with increasing θ and DLI, whereas WUEl was not influenced by θ and increased with increasing DLI. WUEl is often used to provide insight as to how various abiotic and biotic factors influence how efficiently water is used to produce biomass. However, these findings demonstrate that there are limitations associated with making such extrapolations.

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