Bedding plants are exposed to a wide range of environmental conditions, both during production and in the landscape. This research compared the effect of short-term temperature changes on the CO2 exchange rates of four popular bedding plants species. Net photosynthesis (Pnet) and dark respiration (Rdark) of geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bail.), marigold (Tagetes patula L.), pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams.), and petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr.) were measured at temperatures ranging from 8 to 38 °C (for Pnet) and 6 to 36 °C (for Rdark). Net photosynthesis of all species was maximal at 14 to 15 °C, while Rdark of all four species increased exponentially with increasing temperature. Gross photosynthesis (Pgross) was estimated as the sum of Pnet and Rdark, and was greater for petunia than for the other three species. Gross photosynthesis was less sensitive to temperature than either Pnet or Rdark, suggesting that temperature effects on Pnet were caused mainly by increased respiration at higher temperatures. Gas exchange-temperature response curves were not useful in determining the heat tolerance of these species. There were significant differences among species in the estimated Rdark at 0 °C and the Q10 for Rdark. Differences in the Q10 for Rdark were related to growth rate and plant size. Large plants had a greater Q10 for Rdark, apparently because these plants had a higher ratio of maintenance to growth respiration than small plants. The Q10 of the maintenance respiration coefficient was estimated from the correlation between the Q10 and relative growth rate, and was found to be 2.5 to 2.6.
Marc van Iersel
Auxins are commonly used to induce root formation during in-vitro culture of higher plants. Because transplanting is often accompanied by root damage and loss of small roots, auxins also could be beneficial in minimizing transplant shock. Vinca (Cataranthus rosea) seeds were germinated in a peat-lite growing mix and transplanted into pots (55 mL) filled with a diatomaceous earth (Isolite) 10 days after planting. Pots were then placed in a tray containing 62.5 mL of auxin solution per pot. Two different auxins [indole-acetic acid (IAA) and naphtylacetic acid (NAA)] were applied at rates ranging from 0.01 to 100 mg/L. Post-transplant growth was slow, possibly because of Fe+2-deficiencies. Both IAA (1–10 mg/L) and NAA (0.01–10 mg/L) significantly increased post-transplant root and shoot growth. As expected, NAA was effective at much lower concentrations than IAA. At 63 days after transplant, shoot dry mass of plants treated with 0.1 mg NAA/L was four times that of control plants, while 10 mg IAA/L increased shoot dry mass three-fold. High rates of both IAA (100 mg/L) and NAA (10–100 mg/L) were less effective. The highest NAA rate (100 mg/L) was phytotoxic, resulting in very poor growth and death of many plants. These results suggest that auxins may be a valuable tool in reducing transplant shock and improving plant establishment.
Marc van Iersel
Transplanting often causes root damage, and rapid root growth following transplanting may help to minimize the effects of transplant shock. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of NAA and IAA on posttransplant growth of vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.). Bare-root seedlings were germinated in a peat-based growing mix and transplanted into diatomaceous earth 10 days after seeding. Immediately after transplanting, seedlings were drenched with several concentrations of IAA or NAA (62.5 mL/plant). Both auxins increased posttransplant root and shoot growth, but the response was dose-dependent. The maximum growth occurred at concentrations of 10 mg·L-1 (IAA) or 0.1 mg·L-1 (NAA). The growth-stimulating effect of these auxins decreased at higher rates and NAA was highly toxic at 100 mg·L-1, killing most of the plants. Unlike the growth of bare-root seedlings, plug seedling growth was not stimulated by drenching with NAA solutions. These results show that auxins have the ability to stimulate posttransplant growth of vinca, but their effects may depend on the application method, rate, and timing, and transplanting method. Chemical names used: 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA); 1-indole-3-acetic acid (IAA).
Marc W. van Iersel*
Literature reports on the Q10 for respiration vary widely, both within and among species. Plant size and metabolic activity may be responsible for some of this variation. To test this, respiration of whole lettuce plants was measured at temperatures ranging from 6 to 31 °C during a 24-h period. Subsequently, plant growth rate (in moles of carbon per day) was determined by measuring the CO2 exchange rate of the same plants during a 24-h period. Environmental conditions during this 24-h period resembled those that the plants were exposed to in the greenhouse. The measured growth rate was then used to estimate the relative growth rate (RGR) of the plants. The respiratory Q10 ranged from 1.4 for small plants to 1.75 for large plants. The increase in Q10 with increasing plant size was highly significant, as was the decrease in Q10 with increasing RGR. However, growth rate had little or no effect on the respiratory Q10. One possible explanation for these findings is that the Q10 depends on the ratio of growth to maintenance respiration (which is directly related to RGR). The growth respiration coefficient generally is considered to be temperature-insensitive, while the maintenance respiration coefficient normally increases with increasing temperature. Based on this concept, the Q10 for the maintenance respiration coefficient can be estimated as the estimated Q10 at a RGR of zero (i.e. no growth and thus no growth respiration), which was 1.65 in this experiment. Although the concept of dividing respiration into growth and maintenance fractions remains controversial, it is useful for explaining changes in respiratory Q10 during plant development.
Marc van Iersel
Transplanting can result in root damage, thereby limiting the uptake of water and nutrients by plants. This can slow growth and sometimes cause plant death. Antitranspirants have been used to minimize transplant shock of vegetables. The objective of this research was to determine if antitranspirants are useful to reduce transplant shock of impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook.f.) seedlings in the greenhouse. Seedling foliage was dipped in or sprayed with antitranspirant (Vapor Gard or WiltPruf) and shoot dry mass was determined at weekly intervals. Antitranspirants reduced posttransplant growth of impatiens as compared to untreated plants, possibly because of a decrease in stomatal conductance, leading to a decrease in photosynthesis. The two dip treatments also caused phytotoxic effects (necrotic spots) on the leaves. In a second study, leaf water, osmotic and pressure potential were determined at 2, 9, and 16 days after transplant. Application of antitranspirants (as a dip or spray) decreased water and osmotic potential compared to control plants. The results of this study indicate that antitranspirants are not useful for minimizing transplant shock of impatiens under greenhouse conditions.
Marc van Iersel
Salvia splendens `Top burgundy' was grown in pots of different sizes (5, 50, 150, and 450 mL) to assess the effect of rooting volume on the growth and development of salvia. Seeds were planted in a peat-lite growing medium and plants grown in a greenhouse during the winter and spring of 1996. Plants were spaced far enough apart to minimize mutual shading and interplant light competition. Plants were harvested at weekly intervals and shoot and root dry mass and leaf area were measured. Relative growth rate (RGR) and net assimilation rate were calculated from these data. Differences in plant size became evident at 25 days after seeding. A small pot size (5 mL) decreased root and shoot dry mass, RGR, and NAR, while increasing the root:shoot ratio. Differences between the pot sizes became more apparent during the course of the experiment. The observation that root: shoot ratio decreased with increasing pot volume suggests that the decreased plant size in smaller pots was not the direct effect of reduced root size. Growth most likely was limited by the ability of the roots to supply the shoots with sufficient water and/or nutrients. Pot volume did not only affect the growth, but also the development of the plants. Salvia flowered faster in bigger pots (about 50 days after seeding in 450-mL pots), while the plants in 5-mL cells did not flower during the 9-week period of the experiment.
Marc van Iersel
Various growth stimulators have been reported to improve plant growth. Some of these are formulated to improve root growth, which would be particularly beneficial for reestablishing transplants. Three commercially available plant growth stimulators—PGR IV (MicroFlo, Lakeland, Fla.), Roots2 (Lisa Products Corp., Independence, Mo.), and Up-Start (The Solaris Group, San Ramon, Calif.)—were tested to quantify their effect on post-transplant growth of petunia (Petunia × hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr.) and impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook.f.) seedlings and to assess their value for the greenhouse industry. Seedlings were transplanted from plug flats into larger 5.6-fl oz (166-cm3) containers and treated with 1.1 fl oz (31 mL) of growth stimulator per plant (22 fl oz/ft2). Applications were made immediately after transplant. None of the treatments affected root mass at any time. Up-Start (2 fl oz/gal) increased final shoot dry mass by ≈20% compared to the control plants. The increase in shoot growth by Up-Start most likely is caused by the fertilizer it contains. Up-Start also increased flowering of petunia from 34 to 40 days after transplant. PGR IV (0.5 fl oz/gal) and Roots2 (1.28 fl oz/gal) did not affect dry mass of the plants. PGR IV increased the number of flowers of petunia and impatiens, but this effect occurred well after the plants were marketable. Roots2 caused a small delay in early flowering and an increase in late flowering of petunia but had no effect on flowering of impatiens. Since the effects of the growth stimulators was either due their fertilizer content (Up-Start) or occurred after the plants would have been sold (PGR IV, Roots2), none of the growth stimulators appears to be beneficial for bedding plant producers.
Marc W. van Iersel
Do you accurately measure and report the growing conditions of your controlled environment experiments? Conditions in controlled environment plant growth rooms and chambers should be reported in detail. This is important to allow replication of experiments on plants, to compare results among facilities, and to avoid artefacts due to uncontrolled variables. The International Committee for Controlled Environment Guidelines, with representatives from the U.K. Controlled Environment Users' Group, the North American Committee on Controlled Environment Technology and Use (NCR-101), and Australasian Controlled Environment Working Group (ACEWG), has developed guidlines to report environmental conditions in controlled environment experiments. These guidelines include measurements of light, temperature, humidity, CO2, air speed, and fertility. A brochure with these guidelines and a sample paragraph on how to include this information in a manuscript will be available.
Marc van Iersel
Mechanical conditioning can be used to control the height of vegetable and ornamental transplants. Previous research indicated that brushing plants increases cuticular water loss from detached leaves, which may be an indication of decreased drought resistance. This might decrease post-transplant survival of the plants. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of brushing on growth and gas exchange by tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and quantify whole-plant water use during a slow dry-down period. Tomato plants were grown from seed in a greenhouse during Fall 1995. The brushing treatment started 11 days after seeding and consisted of 40 strokes, twice each day. After 39 days of treatment, brushing reduced height 32%, leaf area 34%, and shoot dry mass 29% compared to control plants. Brushing did not affect leaf gas exchange. Brushed plants had a higher stem water flux than control plants during the first 3 days of a 6-day dry-down period. Stem water flux was lower than that of control plants later in the cycle, presumably because brushed plants used more of the available water during the first 3 days. On the third day of the dry-down period, leaf conductance of brushed plants was 35% higher than that of control plants, resulting in a 10% higher transpiration rate per unit leaf area. Because brushed plants had less leaf area than controls, differences in whole-plant water use were small. Time to wilting was similar for the brushed and unbrushed plants (6 days after withholding water). It seems unlikely that brushing would have a major effect on drought tolerance of plants.
Marc van Iersel
Container size can affect the growth and development of bedding plants. The effects of widely differing container sizes on growth and development of salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sellow ex Roem. & Schult.) were quantified. Plants were grown in a greenhouse in 7.3-, 55-, 166-, and 510-mL containers. Container volume affected plant growth as early as 18 days after planting. Growth was positively correlated with pot size and differences increased throughout most of the growing period. Growth of the plants in the 7.3-mL cells was reduced because of a low net assimilation rate (4.34 g·m-2·d-1), compared to the plants in the 55-, 166-, and 510-mL pots (≈5.44 g·m-2·d-1). Plants in 510-mL containers grew faster than those in 55- and 166-mL containers because of a higher leaf area ratio. Both lateral branching and leaf expansion were suppressed by root restriction and flowering was delayed. The growth rate of plants in 166-mL pots declined after the onset of flowering, and final plant size was comparable for plants in 55- and 166-mL pots. Although water deficit stress or nutrient deficiencies cannot be excluded as contributing factors, these were probably not the main reason for observed differences.