Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 3 of 3 items for

  • Author or Editor: Peter Alem x
Clear All Modify Search
Free access

Peter Alem, Paul A. Thomas and Marc W. van Iersel

Height regulation is crucial in poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) production for both aesthetics and postharvest handling. Controlled water deficit (WD) offers a potential alternative to plant growth retardants (PGRs) for poinsettia height regulation. We have previously shown that WD can be used to regulate poinsettia stem elongation. However, it is not clear how WD can be used to achieve different plant heights and how it affects aesthetic qualities such as bract size. Our objectives were to determine whether a range of plant heights can be achieved using controlled WD and to investigate possible adverse effects of WD on shoot morphology. Rooted cuttings of poinsettia ‘Classic Red’ were transplanted into 15-cm pots filled with 80% peat:20% perlite (v/v) substrate. Three target heights (43.2, 39.4, and 35.6 cm) were set at pinching (Day 27) and height tracking curves were used to monitor plants throughout the production cycle (77 days from pinching to finish). Substrate volumetric water content (θ) was maintained at 0.40 m3·m−3 (a matric potential of ≈–5 kPa) during well-watered conditions and reduced to 0.20 m3·m−3 (≈–75 kPa) when plants were taller than desired based on the height tracking curves. Control plants were maintained at a θ of 0.40 m3·m−3 throughout the study and had a final height of 51.2 cm. Plants with the 35.6-cm target height exceeded the upper limits of the height tracking curve despite being kept at a θ of 0.20 m3·m−3 for 70 days and had a final height of 39.8 cm. The final plant heights in the 39.4- and 43.2-cm target height treatments were 41.3 and 43.5 cm, respectively, within the 2.5-cm margin of error of their respective target heights. Relative to control plants, bract area was reduced by 53%, 47%, and 31% in the 35.6-, 39.4-, and 43.2-cm target height treatments, respectively. Our results indicate that WD can be an effective method of height control, but WD may also decrease bract size.

Free access

Peter Alem, Paul A. Thomas and Marc W. van Iersel

Production of poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) often involves intensive use of plant growth retardants (PGRs) to regulate height. Height control is necessary for visual appeal and postharvest handling. Since PGRs do not always provide consistent height control and can have unwanted side effects, there is interest in alternative methods of height control. Since turgor potential drives cell expansion, and thus stem elongation, drought stress has potential for regulating plant height. Through soil moisture sensor-controlled irrigation, the severity of drought stress can be both monitored and controlled. The objective of our study was to compare poinsettia ‘Classic Red’ height control using PGRs (spray, mixture of daminozide and chlormequat at 1000 mg·L−1 each and drench, 0.25 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol) with the use of controlled water deficit (WD). Graphical tracking of plant height, using a final target height of 43.5 cm, was used to determine when to apply PGR or controlled WD. In the WD treatment, substrate volumetric water content (θ) was reduced from 0.40 to 0.20 m3·m−3 when actual height exceeded the expected height. PGR applications (spray or drench) reduced poinsettia height to 39 cm, below the final target level of 43.5 cm. WD resulted in a height of 44.5 cm, closest to the target height, while control plants were taller (49.4 cm). There was no effect of PGR drenches or WD on bract size, while spraying PGR reduced bract size by ≈ 40%. Bract chroma was unaffected by WD or PGR treatments. There was no difference in shoot dry weight between PGR- and WD-treated plants. Lateral growth was reduced by the PGR treatments, but not by WD. These results indicate that controlled WD can be used to regulate poinsettia height.

Free access

Peter Alem, Paul A. Thomas and Marc W. van Iersel

Rising concerns over environmental impacts of excessive water and fertilizer use in the horticultural industry necessitate more efficient use of water and nutrients. Both substrate volumetric water content (θ) and fertilizer affect plant growth, but their interactive effect is poorly understood. The objective of this study was to determine the optimal fertilizer rates for petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) ‘Dreams White’ grown at different θ levels. Petunia seedlings were grown at four levels of θ (0.10, 0.20, 0.30, and 0.40 m3·m−3) with eight different rates of controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) (Osmocote 14-14-14; 14N–6.1P–11.6K; rates of 0 to 2.5 g/plant, equivalent to 0 to 6.25 kg·m−3 substrate). Shoot dry weight increased as the CRF rate increased from 0 to 1.67 g/plant but decreased again at even higher CRF rates. The effect of CRF rate on growth was more pronounced at higher θ. Leaf size doubled as the θ thresholds increased from 0.10 to 0.40 m3·m−3. Flowering was reduced by a combination of high CRF rates (greater than 0.63 g/plant) and high θ (0.30 and 0.40 m3·m−3), indicating that optimal conditions for vegetative growth are different from those for maximal flowering. These results suggest that without leaching, high-quality petunias can be grown with lower CRF rates than commercially recommended rates.