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Mohammad Baqir and Richard L. Harkess

On 2 Feb. 1996, rooted cuttings of Pelargonium × hortorum L. H. Bailey cvs. Tango and Blues were planted in 750-cm3 (14 cm in diameter) pots containing peatmoss mixed with shredded tire rubber (2–6.0 mm particle size) at 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, or 80%. Plants were irrigated by hand, drip, or ebb-and-fl ood, and were arranged in a split-plot experimental design. A wetting agent (Aqua Gro 2000 L, Aquatrols Corporation, Cherry Hill, N.J.) was mixed at the rate of 6 ml per 3750 ml of water and 120 ml of solution was applied to each plant. Greenhouse studies indicated that geraniums could be grown successfully in media containing up to 20% shredded tire rubber by volume when irrigated by hand. Plants grown in media containing more than 20% rubber were observed to be slow-growing and chlorotic. Tissue analysis of the plants indicated significantly increased levels of zinc in plants grown in media containing high percentages of rubber. Geraniums grown in media containing 80% rubber and irrigated using ebb-and-fl ood benches had the significantly highest levels of foliar zinc. Media porosity, percent air space, and bulk density increased, while water holding capacity decreased with increasing amounts of shredded tire rubber added to the media.

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Lynn Burney and Richard L. Harkess

Maintaining annual color throughout the long summer season in warm temperate regions has become an interest to landscapers and nursery operators. Some colorscaping companies have begun implementing a second summer planting season. There is little information available concerning suitable cultivars and species of bedding plants for establishment in late summer. This study examined plant establishment in two container sizes and three dates of transplanting to determine late season establishment in Starkville, Miss. (33°27' latitude, 88°49' longitude). Seeds of 27 different cultivars were grown in plug flats in the greenhouse and transplanted into jumbo 606 or 10-cm square containers. The plants were grown in the greenhouse until transplanting on 16 Aug., 30 Aug., or 13 Sept. 1996. The plants were transplanted into plots containing nine plants with three replications per planting date. The plants were spaced on 20-cm centers among and between plots. The earliest two plantings resulted in better plant establishment and floral display. Some of the cultivars and species were more tolerant of the late season temperature and humidity establishing and providing a good color display from 6 weeks after transplanting until frost, 2 Nov. 1996. Cultivars that performed well included: Impatiens wallerana `Deco Crystal', `Expo Lavender Blush', `Dazzler Salmon', Begonia semperflorens `Varsity Bronze Scarlet', Zinnia `White Pinwheel', Tagetes erecta `Marvel Gold', and Tagetes patula `Bonanza Harmony'. Cultivars that did not establish well under these conditions included: Verbena hybrida `Romance Pink' and Salvia splendens `Salsa Salmon'. The container size did not significantly affect plant establishment.

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Amir Rezazadeh and Richard L. Harkess

Purple firespike (Odontonema callistachyum), native to Central America, has potential for use as a new flowering potted plant. The effects of number of pinches (zero, one, or two) and number of cuttings (one, two, or three) per 6-inch pot were evaluated on the control of plant height. Plant height was suppressed as the pinch number increased. The greatest reduction was recorded with one cutting per pot and two pinches. The maximum number of branches per pot was recorded with two pinches and three cuttings per pot. In a second experiment, plant growth regulators (PGR) were also tested for efficacy of height control; 2 weeks after pinching, foliar sprays of paclobutrazol, flurprimidol, daminozide, chlormequat, and a tank-mix of daminozide + chlormequat or media drenches of paclobutrazol, uniconazole, or flurprimidol were applied. Plant height, leaf area, and leaf dry weight were recorded at 3, 6, and 9 weeks after PGR application. Maximum height control was obtained with uniconazole drench at 8 ppm, resulting in plants 22 cm tall, 61% shorter than the untreated control (56 cm); however, it resulted in severe leaf distortion. Plant height was 56% and 46% shorter than the control using drenches of paclobutrazol at 30 ppm and flurprimidol at 15 ppm, respectively. Daminozide spray at 2000 ppm and tank-mix of daminozide + chlormequat at 4500/1500 ppm suppressed stem elongation by 20.3% and 19%, respectively. Plants treated with paclobutrazol drench at 30 ppm reduced leaf area and leaf dry weight compared with other PGRs. Chlormequat spray at tested concentrations was ineffective for controlling firespike plant growth. The most attractive potted plants were produced using a drench application of paclobutrazol at 10 or 15 ppm.

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Kathryn S. Hahne and Richard L. Harkess

The Transplanted Floral Meadow is a culture technique designed to provide an herbaceous planting of continuous seasonal bloom beginning about 1 month after transplanting to the landscape. The technique requires little or no maintenance once the plants have become established. The meadow consists of a seed mix of annual flowers that are started in the greenhouse in mixed plugs and transplanted to the landscape. In this study, plugs of the annual transplanted floral meadow seed mix were started by broadcasting the seed mix over flats of standard nursery cell-packs filled with a commercial growing medium. The plugs were grown in the greenhouse and transplanted to plots 4 weeks after sowing at 30 × 30-, 30 × 45-, or 30 × 60-cm spacing. The plug sizes used were 801, 1801, 804, or 1804 cell-packs. The plugs were transplanted to 2.25-m2 plots with three replications, each plot being a replication. Plug size and spacing were evaluated based on the rate of canopy closure measured biweekly as the amount of photosynthetically active radiation penetrating the canopy. Close transplant spacing with large plug sizes provided the quickest site coverage. The 1801 and 801 plug sizes provided the greatest species diversity. The 1804 plug size reduced the number of seedlings present at the time of transplanting and did not cover the site until late in the season. The 801 and 1801 plug sizes at 30 × 30or 30 × 45-cm spacing resulted in the best floral display. The results of this research will be used to standardize the transplanted floral meadow technique for use as a new product in the nursery trade.

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Ritu Dhir, Richard L. Harkess and Guihong Bi

The development of bleaching of the youngest leaves of actively growing ivy geranium (Pelargonium peltatum) has been observed as the season progresses from late spring to summer. Cultivar differences in foliar bleaching in response to elevated air temperature were studied. Ivy geranium ‘Beach’ and ‘Butterfly’ were grown in media containing sphagnum peat and perlite (70:30 v/v) for 6 weeks in modified greenhouse chambers with air temperatures averaging 28/16 or 36/22 °C (day/night). ‘Beach’ had greater plant width, growth index, leaf area, total fresh weight, and total dry weight than ‘Butterfly’ regardless of temperature. Overall, elevated air temperatures severely reduced plant width, plant growth index, leaf area, fresh weight, and dry weight of ivy geraniums. Elevated air temperatures caused foliar bleaching in both cultivars; however, ‘Butterfly’ was more susceptible to bleaching than ‘Beach’. ‘Beach’ had higher chlorophyll (Chl) b and total Chl content than ‘Butterfly’ at ambient air temperature, but they were similar at elevated air temperatures. Regardless of temperature, ‘Beach’ had greater Chl a, carotenoids (Caro), and pheophytins content but lower Chl a:Caro, Chl b:Caro, and total Chl:Caro ratios than ‘Butterfly’. This may contribute to the lower susceptibility to bleaching of ‘Beach’. Elevated air temperatures reduced Chl a, Caro, Chl a:Caro, Chl b:Caro, total Chl:Caro, and pheophytins content of ivy geraniums. In both cultivars, manganese (Mn) content increased with elevated air temperatures, but ‘Beach’ had greater Mn content than ‘Butterfly’. Total iron (Fe) content did not vary with cultivar or temperature. Irrespective of temperature, zinc (Zn) content was greater in ‘Beach’ than ‘Butterfly’, and irrespective of cultivar, Zn content was greater at elevated air temperatures. These results suggest greater chlorophyll, carotenoids, pheophytins, foliar Mn, and Zn contents play a role in reduced susceptibility of ‘Beach’ to foliar bleaching.

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Richard L. Harkess and Robert E. Lyons

Combinations of seeding rate, spacing, and weed control treatments were evaluated for their effect on the performance of the Virginia Tech transplanted meadow technique. The treatments consisted of seeding at 112 or 56 g·90 m−2; within-row transplant spacing of 30, 45, or 60 cm; and mulching, oryzalin application, or no weed control measures. Plant competition alone was insufficient, whereas oryzalin was the most effective for weed control but also reduced the plant stand and floral display. Mulch provided effective weed control with maximum floral display. Close transplant spacing within rows resulted in quick site coverage initially, but this advantage disappeared after 8 weeks compared to wider spacing. Seeding rate did not affect site coverage until the meadow reached maturity at 12 weeks. The lower seed rate allowed more lodging, resulting in a more open appearance and greater canopy light transmission. Chemical name used: 4-(dipropylamino)-3,5-dinitrobenzenesulfonamide (oryzalin).

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Amir Rezazadeh, Richard L. Harkess and Guihong Bi

Red firespike (Odontonema strictum) is an ornamental shrub with potential for use as a flowering potted plant due to its dark green foliage and attractive red flower spikes. To stimulate branching and improve quality of red firespike, foliar spray applications of dikegulac sodium (DS) and benzyladenine (BA) and hand pinching were evaluated across two seasons (Spring and Summer 2014). There were three pinching treatments: one, two, or three pinches. Plant growth regulators (PGRs) were applied at 400, 800, 1600, or 2400 ppm DS or 600, 1000, 1250, or 1750 ppm BA. Both studies included an untreated control. Red firespike treated with all concentrations of BA and 1600 and 2400 ppm DS had increased branching compared with the control, except 1000 ppm BA in Expt. 1. Pinching did not affect the number of branches. Dikegulac sodium at 1600 and 2400 ppm and all concentrations of BA resulted in shorter plants than the control. Phytotoxicity was observed in plants treated with 1600 or 2400 ppm DS. In both experiments, DS at 1600 and 2400 ppm had the least plant dry weight compared with the control. Treatment with BA at 1750 ppm resulted in greatest leaf area compared with control. Dikegulac sodium at 800 ppm increased the number of flowers compared with control. Pinching and BA did not affect number of inflorescences. All concentrations of BA and DS delayed flowering, except 1000 ppm BA. Plants treated with 800, 1600, and 2400 ppm DS had shorter inflorescences compared with control plants. Benzyladenine decreased the length of the inflorescence at high concentrations, 1250 and 1750 ppm. Pinching treatments did not affect inflorescence length.

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Pablo R. Hidalgo and Richard L. Harkess

An experiment was conducted to determine the effect of earthworm (Eisenia fetida andrei) castings derived from sheep, cow, or horse manures on the growth of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima `Freedom Red'). Poinsettia cuttings were transplanted to 1-L (15-cm-diameter) plastic pots that were filled with castings:peat moss at 1:0, 1:3, 1:1, 3:1, or 0:1 by volume for each animal manure evaluated. Plants were fertilized using 200 ppm N from a 15-5-25 (N-P2O5-K2O) fertilizer applied with the irrigation water. Total bract area and growth index were greatest in those treatments consisting of 3:1 and 1:1 (castings:peat) from sheep and cow manures, 1:0 (castings:peat) from cow manure and for growth index only, 1:0 (castings:peat) from horse manure. For these two characteristics, 100% sheep manure castings and 100% peatmoss had the lowest values. The time to anthesis was least when poinsettias were grown in 3:1 or 1:1 castings:peat from sheep and cow manures and 1:3, 1:0, or 3:1 from sheep, cow, or horse manure respectively. Anthesis was most delayed when plants were grown in 100% castings from sheep manure.

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Scarlett L. Walker and Richard L. Harkess

Flowering of Impatiens hawkeri Bul. during production results in an accumulation of dead plant material and directs energy away from vegetative growth. Ethephon is currently used at 500 ppm during the production of cuttings to eliminate flowering on stock plants. In this study, the timing and rate of ethephon application during production was examined. Two cultivars were used: `Innocence' and `Shadow'. Ethephon was adjusted to pH 5.0 and applied at planting (0), or 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks after planting at 0, 250, or 500 ppm. An additional control of water adjusted to pH 5.0 was also included. Five replications were used in a completely randomized experimental design. The experiment was conducted twice—26 June 26 and 7 Oct.1995—each lasted 10 weeks. The number of branches, plant size, fresh:dry weight ratio, and days to first flower were recorded. `Innocence' did not significantly respond to the treatments, except for branch number and fresh:dry weight ratio, which decreased when treated with ethephon. In `Shadow', a treatment of ethephon at 250 ppm 1 or 3 weeks after transplanting provided the best control of flowering with a minimal delay in production and high plant quality.

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Michael R. Evans and Richard L. Harkess

Geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey) `Freckles' and poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzch) `Freedom' were grown in six peat and shredded-rubber substrates formulated to contain 75:25:0, 50:50:0, 25:75:0, 75:0:25, 50:0:50, 25:0:75 sphagnum peat: fine-grade rubber: coarse-grade rubber (by volume). Additionally, plants were grown in a 50 peat: 30 perlite: 20 loam (by volume) control substrate. Shredded rubber-containing substrates had higher bulk densities, lower total pore space, and higher total solids than the control substrate. Fine rubber-containing substrates had lower air-filled pore space (AFP) and lower water-holding capacities (WHC) than the control substrate. Substrates containing 25% coarse rubber had lower AFP and WHC than the control, but substrates containing 50% and 75% coarse shredded rubber had higher AFP and lower WHC than the control. Shredded rubber-containing substrates had significantly higher levels of Zn than the control substrate. Plants grown in rubber-containing substrates had tissue Zn levels significantly higher than the control and at levels reported to be phytotoxic in other species. Geraniums grown in rubber-containing substrates had lower root and shoot fresh mass, were shorter, and had fewer axillary branches than those grown in the control substrate. Poinsettia plants grown in rubber-containing substrates were shorter, had lower shoot fresh mass, fewer bracts, and lower bract area as compared to plants grown in the control substrate.