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Rebecca A. Schnelle and James E. Barrett

The influence of several environmental and cultural factors on the efficacy of paclobutrazol liner dips were evaluated for three species of bedding plants: ‘Fancy’ scaevola (Scaevola aemula), ‘Suncatcher Plum’ petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), and ‘Double Fiesta Rose’ impatiens (Impatiens walleriana). The impact of paclobutrazol concentration in the dip solution, location of treatment, root substrate moisture status, and time in the dip solution were investigated. Before the liner dip application, the rooting substrate was brought to a specific percentage of container water capacity (20%–100%). Liners were then dipped in a paclobutrazol solution of the prescribed concentration (1–16 mg·L−1) for a prescribed time interval (10–300 s) in a specific location (open-wall greenhouse, polyethylene-glazed greenhouse under 80% shade fabric, three-wall potting shed, or building interior). Plant size data were collected when the untreated control plants reached a marketable stage. Paclobutrazol concentration and root substrate moisture status had a significant effect on size control, but location and dip duration did not. Size suppression varied by species. Following a liner dip at 2 mg·L−1, scaevola, impatiens, and petunia plants were 44%, 26%, and 11% smaller than the untreated controls, respectively. Petunia plants dipped in a 8 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol solution with substrate moisture status of 100%, 90%, 80%, 70%, 50%, or 20% of container capacity were 11%, 8%, 25%, 30%, 41%, or 42% smaller than the untreated control, respectively (30 s dip duration, open-wall greenhouse). Petunia plants dipped in a solution of 8 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol for 10, 30, 120, or 300 s were all between 18% and 23% smaller than the control (50% of container capacity, open-wall greenhouse). Petunia plants dipped in an 8 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol solution in all four locations were all 20% to 21% smaller than the untreated control.

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Rebecca A. Schnelle and James E. Barrett

The paclobutrazol liner dip is a plant growth regulator application technique that is becoming widespread in the commercial bedding plant industry. This technique, in which plug trays are dipped in a solution of paclobutrazol before transplant, is an efficient method for applying this growth regulator to a large number of plants. In previous studies, significant variability in size control was documented following liner dip treatments with identical solution concentrations. To elucidate the causes of this variability, three bedding plant species with varying levels of paclobutrazol sensitivity (Petunia ×hybrida, Impatiens wallerana, and Scaevola aemula) were treated with paclobutrazol liner dips under various conditions. Four factors identified in previous studies that may impact the efficacy of paclobutrazol liner dips were evaluated in this study. The age of the cuttings at the time of treatment ranged from 2 to 4 weeks after propagation. The light intensity incident to the plants from 2 h before through 2 h following the time of treatment ranged from about 1000 μmol·m-2·s-1 in a greenhouse to 5 μmol·m-2·s-1 indoors. The relative moisture content of the plug media before the treatment was saturated or at 25%, 50%, or 80% dry down by weight, based on air-dried media. The amount of time the plug media remained in the paclobutrazol solution was 10 s, 30 s, or 2 min. Data were collected on stem elongation 3 weeks after transplanting and again 2 weeks later. The results confirm that all four factors tested interact with the concentration of paclobutrazol in the dip solution to determine the control in stem elongation achieved by the treatment.

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Renee Conneway, Sven Verlinden, Andrew K. Koeser, Michael Evans, Rebecca Schnelle, Victoria Anderson and J. Ryan Stewart

While research on the use of alternative containers for greenhouse production is growing, most studies have focused on a limited number of types of alternative containers and primarily on short-term greenhouse crops. With the recent release of several new bioplastic alternatives, comparisons to established alternative containers and production of longer rotation ornamental crops should be investigated. Our work, therefore, investigates the performance of ten commercially available alternative containers and their effects on both a short-term ‘Sunpatiens Compacta’ impatiens (Impatiens ×hybrida) and a long-term greenhouse crop ‘Elegans Ice’ lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) at four different locations. Results indicated that plant growth in terms of dry weight differed by container at most locations. Combined analysis of all locations showed that only straw and a bioplastic sleeve outperformed plastic pots in terms of shoot dry weight and then only after 12 weeks of production. Leachate pH, but not electrical conductivity (EC), varied by container in both the short- and long-term crop with alternative containers made from composted cow manure and peat showing consistently higher and lower pH readings, respectively. Postharvest container strength varied significantly by container, with the plastic control maintaining the highest puncture resistance after both 6 and 12 weeks, in some instances matched by the puncture strength of coconut fiber pots. Some alternative containers, in particular, wood, manure, and peat showed algal growth after 6 and 12 weeks of greenhouse production. We conclude that while some alternative containers were linked to increased growth, most showed growth equal to the plastic control, and could therefore make appropriate alternatives to plastic pots. However, changes in pH, low puncture strengths after production, higher denesting times, and algal growth on manure, wood, and peat may make these pots less desirable alternatives than other pots under investigation. However, other factors not studied here, such as compostability, biodegradability in the landscape, water use, consumer preference, aesthetics, compatibility with mechanized operations, and cost may also need to be taken into account when deciding on an appropriate container for greenhouse production.