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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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Ritu Dhir, Richard L. Harkess and Guihong Bi

Bleaching of the youngest leaves of actively growing ivy geranium (Pelargonium peltatum L.) develops as the temperature increases from late spring to summer in the southeastern United States. Heat stress-induced iron deficiency has been suspected as causing this disorder. Ivy geranium ‘Beach’ (bleaching-resistant) and ‘Butterfly’ (bleaching-susceptible) were grown for 8 weeks at 24 or 31 °C average root-zone temperature and iron chelate (Fe-EDDHA, 6% Fe) was applied at 0 mg Fe (control), 0.54 mg Fe foliar spray, 1.08 mg Fe foliar spray, 54 mg Fe drench, or 108 mg Fe drench per plant at 30-day intervals. In a second experiment, ivy geranium ‘Beach’ and ‘Butterfly’ plants were grown for 6 weeks at 28 °C day/16 °C night or 36 °C day/22 °C night average air temperatures and iron chelate (Fe-EDDHA, 6% Fe) was applied at 0 mg (control) or 27 mg Fe soil drench per pot at 15-day intervals. No bleaching was observed as a result of elevated root-zone temperatures. High levels of Fe-chelate suppressed growth reducing fresh weight, dry weight, and fresh-to-dry-weight ratio in ‘Butterfly’. Elevated air temperatures severely reduced plant growth, leaf area, fresh weight, and dry weight in both cultivars. Elevated air temperature reduced chlorophyll a, carotenoids, and pheophytins in ‘Butterfly’ but not in ‘Beach’. Fe-chelate application had no effect at ambient temperature but increased chlorophyll to carotenoids ratio (Chl:Caro) at elevated air temperatures in ‘Butterfly’. Therefore, elevated air temperatures were determined to be the cause of bleaching in ivy geranium.