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Wesley C. Randall and Roberto G. Lopez

To produce uniform, compact, and high-quality annual bedding plant seedlings in late winter through early spring, growers in northern latitudes must use supplemental lighting (SL) to achieve a photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) of 10 to 12 mol·m−2·d−1. Alternatively, new lighting technologies may be used for sole-source photosynthetic lighting (SSL) to grow seedlings in an indoor high-density multilayer controlled environment. The objective of this study was to compare seedlings grown under low greenhouse ambient light (AL) to those grown under SL or SSL with a similar DLI. On hypocotyl emergence, seedlings of vinca (Catharanthus roseus), impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), and French marigold (Tagetes patula) were placed in a greenhouse under AL or AL plus SL delivering a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 70 µmol·m−2·s–1 for 16 hours, or under multilayer SSL delivering a PPF of 185 µmol·m−2·s–1 for 16 hours in a walk-in growth chamber. Supplemental lighting consisted of high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps or high-intensity light-emitting diode (LED) arrays with a red:blue light ratio (400–700 nm; %) of 87:13, and SSL consisted of LED arrays providing a red:blue light ratio (%) of 87:13 or 70:30. Root and shoot dry mass, stem diameter, relative chlorophyll content, and the quality index (a quantitative measurement of quality) of most species were generally greater under SSL and SL than under AL. In addition, height of geranium, petunia, and marigold was 5% to 26%, 62% to 79%, and 7% to 19% shorter, respectively, for seedlings grown under SSL compared with those under AL and SL. With the exception of impatiens, time to flower was similar or hastened for all species grown under SL or SSL compared with AL. Seedlings grown under SSL were of similar or greater quality compared with those under SL; indicating that LED SSL could be used as an alternative to traditional greenhouse seedling production.

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Christopher J. Currey and Roberto G. Lopez

The influence of pre-plant bulb dips in paclobutrazol solutions on final plant height, days to flower, and flower bud number were evaluated for easter lily (Lilium longiflorum). ‘Nellie White’ easter lily bulbs were placed in solutions of paclobutrazol containing 0, 30, 60, or 120 mg·L−1 for 15 min preceding planting. Days to flower and flower bud number were unaffected by paclobutrazol. Plant height at flowering for bulbs dipped in paclobutrazol solutions was 15% to 26% shorter compared with untreated bulbs. Additionally, dipping bulbs in 120 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol resulted in plants that met target height specifications for commercially grown easter lily. Based on these results, dipping easter lily bulbs in paclobutrazol solutions can be an effective strategy for reducing stem elongation without negatively impacting days to flower or flower bud number for commercially grown easter lily.

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Madeline W. Olberg and Roberto G. Lopez

Due to the high cost associated with constructing and operating a greenhouse, many growers have begun using alternative, low-input methods for bedding plant production, such as unheated high tunnel and outdoor production. Previous research indicates that bedding plant production in unheated high tunnels may be suitable for cold-tolerant species, but flowering is delayed compared with greenhouse production. To our knowledge, there has been no published research on the effects of outdoor production on bedding plant species. The objectives of this study were therefore to 1) compare the growth and development of 10 cold-tolerant and intermediate annual bedding plant species grown in an unheated high tunnel or in an unprotected outdoor growing area, 2) evaluate the effect of a 1-week acclimation period in the high tunnel before outdoor production, and 3) quantify the effectiveness of these production methods for producing high-quality bedding crops. Seedlings of ‘Antigua Orange’ african marigold (Tagetes erecta), ‘Hot Cakes White’ stock (Matthiola incana), and ‘Lilac Flame’ primula (Primula acaulis), and rooted cuttings of ‘Aloha Kona Hot Pink’ calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ×hybrida), ‘Royal Lavender’ regal geranium (Pelargonium ×domesticum), ‘Bella Oceano’ lobelia (Lobelia erinus), ‘Potunia Plus Red’ petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), ‘Phloxy Lady Purple’ phlox (Phlox maculata), ‘Summertime Pink Charme’ osteospermum (Osteospermum ecklonis), and ‘Empress Purple’ verbena (Verbena ×hybrida) were transplanted on 13 Apr. 2015 (week 16) into an unheated high tunnel or an outdoor growing area, or into an unheated high tunnel for a 1-week acclimation period before being moved outdoors. Average mean daily air temperature was 2.3 °C lower outdoors compared with inside the high tunnel, whereas average daily light integral (DLI) increased by 11.7 mol·m−2·d−1. All plants were delayed when grown outdoors compared with in the high tunnel, and all marigolds grown outdoors died in April when outdoor air temperatures dropped below −4 °C. When plants were acclimated for a 1-week period before outdoor production, all species, with the exception of regal geranium, were delayed by less than 1 week compared with those grown in the high tunnel. Stem length of all species grown outdoors was reduced or similar to those in the high tunnel, whereas biomass accumulation and branch number was unaffected or increased for most species. Overall, high-quality bedding plants could be grown outdoors, although development may be delayed compared with high tunnel production. Growers must be aware of the risk of crop loss due to extreme temperatures and plan for delays when growing annual bedding plant crops outdoors.

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Christopher J. Currey and Roberto G. Lopez

During the propagation of herbaceous stem-tip cuttings, the photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) inside greenhouses can be low (≈1–4 mol·m−2·d−1) during the winter and early spring when propagation typically occurs. The mechanisms by which cuttings adapt biomass allocation patterns, gas exchange, and starch accumulation in response to the photosynthetic DLI are not clearly understood. Our objectives were to quantify the impact of DLI on growth, photosynthesis, and carbohydrate concentration during the root development phase of cutting propagation. Petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Suncatcher Midnight Blue’), geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum ‘Fantasia Dark Red’), and new guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri ‘Celebration Pink’) cuttings were propagated in a glass-glazed greenhouse with 23 °C air and substrate temperature set points. After callusing (≈5 mol·m−2·d−1 for 7 days), cuttings of each species were placed under either no shade or one of the two different fixed-woven shade cloths providing ≈38% or 86% shade with 16 hours of supplemental light for 14 days, resulting in DLIs of 13.0‒14.2, 5.5‒6.0, and 2.0‒2.4 mol·m−2·d−1, respectively. Leaf, stem, and root biomass accumulation increased linearly with DLI by up to 122% (geranium), 118% (petunia), and 211% (new guinea impatiens), as DLI increased by ≈11‒12 mol·m−2·d−1, while relative biomass allocation into roots increased under increasing DLI. Compared with cuttings rooted under low DLIs (2.0‒2.4 mol·m−2·d−1), cuttings of all three species generally had greater maximum gross photosynthesis under high DLIs (13.0‒14.2 mol·m−2·d−1) starting 5 or 8 days after transfer. Starch concentration increased with DLI by up to 946% (impatiens) during propagation. Taken together, the increased growth of cuttings appears to be a result of increased carbohydrate availability from elevated photosynthesis and/or photosynthetic capacity.

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Christopher J. Currey and Roberto G. Lopez

Plant growth retardants (PGRs) are commonly applied to control poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) stem elongation to meet a target final height. Two weeks after pinching, 4-fl·oz substrate drenches containing 0.0, 0.05, 0.10, 0.15, 0.20, or 0.25 mg·L−1 flurprimidol were applied to high-vigor ‘Orion’ and low-vigor ‘Polly Pink’ poinsettia (Expt. I); while drenches containing 0.0, 0.05, 0.10, or 0.15 mg·L−1 flurprimidol or a foliar spray containing 1250 mg·L−1 daminozide and 750 mg·L−1 chlormequat chloride were applied to high-vigor ‘Classic Red’ and low-vigor ‘Freedom Salmon’ poinsettia (Expt. II). Final height of ‘Orion’ and ‘Polly's Pink’ poinsettia was suppressed by 12% to 25% and 13% to 30%, respectively, as flurprimidol concentration increased from 0.05 to 0.25 mg·L−1. Final height of ‘Classic Red’ and ‘Freedom Salmon’ was suppressed by 11% to 30% and 10% to 19%, respectively, as flurprimidol concentration increased from 0.05 to 0.15 mg·L−1. Although the daminozide and chlormequat chloride spray had no significant effect on bract area index compared with untreated plants, bract area index was smaller for all plants treated with flurprimidol. However, the bract area to height ratio of all cultivars was not impacted by any PGR application, indicating aesthetic appearance was not negatively affected with smaller bract area. Time to anthesis was delayed by up to 4 days when 0.10 mg·L−1 was applied to ‘Classic Red’, although no significant delays were observed for the remaining cultivars. Based on these results, flurprimidol may be applied as an early drench to suppress height of poinsettia without adversely impacting finished plant quality or crop timing.

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W. Garrett Owen and Roberto G. Lopez

Under low-light greenhouse conditions, anthocyanin pigmentation in vegetative tissues of red- or purple-leafed floricultural crops is not fully expressed and, consequently, plants are not as visually appealing to consumers. Our objective was to quantify the effect of end-of-production (EOP; before shipping) supplemental lighting (SL) of different light sources, qualities, and intensities on foliage color of geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey ‘Black Velvet’) and purple fountain grass [Pennisetum ×advena Wipff and Veldkamp (formerly known as Pennisetum setaceum Forsk. Chiov. ‘Rubrum’)]. Plants were finished under early (Expt. 1) and late (Expt. 2) seasonal greenhouse ambient solar light and provided with 16 hours of day-extension lighting from low-intensity light-emitting diode (LED) lamps [7:11:33:49 blue:green:red:far-red light ratio (%); control] delivering 4.5 μmol·m−2·s−1, or 16 hours of EOP SL from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps delivering 70 μmol·m−2·s−1, or LED arrays (100:0, 87:13, 50:50, or 0:100 red:blue) delivering 100 μmol·m−2·s−1, or 0:100 red:blue LEDs delivering 25 or 50 μmol·m−2·s−1. Geranium and fountain grass chlorophyll content and leaf color were estimated using a SPAD-502 chlorophyll meter and Minolta tristimulus colorimeter, respectively. Relative chlorophyll content (RCC) and foliage L* (lightness), C* (chroma; a measure of saturation), and h° (hue angle; a measure of tone) values were significantly influenced by EOP SL and days of exposure. Generally, RCC of geranium and fountain grass increased from 3 to 14 days of exposure to EOP SL from HPS lamps and LEDs delivering 100 μmol·m−2·s−1. Under low daily light integrals (DLIs) [8.6 mol·m−2·d−1 (geranium) and 9.4 mol·m−2·d−1 (purple fountain grass)] EOP SL providing 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 of 100:0, 87:13, 50:50, or 0:100 red:blue light for ≥14 days resulted in lower L* (darker foliage), C* (saturated), and h° (orange to violet-red hues). Our data indicate that a minimum of 14 days of EOP SL providing 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 of 50:50 or 0:100 red:blue light enhanced foliage color of geranium and fountain grass leaves when plants were grown under a low greenhouse DLI ≤ 9 mol·m−2·d−1.

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Roberto G. Lopez and Erik S. Runkle

The vegetatively propagated `Fire Kiss' clone of the hybrid Zygopetalum Redvale orchid has appealing potted-plant characteristics, including fragrant flowers that are waxy lime-green and dark maroon with a broad, three-lobed, magenta and white labellum. We performed experiments to quantify how temperature influenced leaf unfolding and expansion, time from visible inflorescence to flower, and longevity of individual flowers and inflorescences. Plants were grown in controlled-environment chambers with constant temperature set points of 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, and 29 °C and an irradiance of 150 μmol·m-2·s-1 for 9 h·d-1. As actual temperature increased from 14 to 25 °C, the time to produce one leaf decreased from 46 to 19 days. Individual plants were also transferred from a greenhouse to the chambers on the date that an inflorescence was first visible or the first flower of an inflorescence opened. Time from visible inflorescence to open flower decreased from 73 days at 14 °C to 30 days at 26 °C. As temperature increased from 14 to 29 °C, flower and inflorescence longevity decreased from 37 and 38 days to 13 and 15 days, respectively. Data were converted to rates, and thermal time models were developed to predict time to flower and senescence at different temperatures. The base temperature was estimated at 6.2 °C for leaf unfolding, 3.5 °C for time to flower, and 3.7 °C for flower longevity. These models could be used by greenhouse growers to more accurately schedule Zygopetalum flowering crops for particular market dates.

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Ariana P. Torres and Roberto G. Lopez

Tecoma stans (L. Juss. Kunth) ‘Mayan Gold’ is a tropical flowering plant that was selected as a potential new greenhouse crop for its physical appearance and drought and heat tolerance. The objective of this study was to quantify how temperature during the finishing stage and photoperiod during propagation and finishing stages influence growth, flowering, and quality. In Expt. 1, plants were propagated from seed under four photoperiods (9, 12, 14, or 16 h) for 35 days. Under long-day (LD) photoperiods (14 h or greater), seedlings were 3.0 to 3.7 cm taller than those propagated under 9-h photoperiods. During the finishing stage, days to first open flower, shoot dry mass, and number of nodes below the terminal inflorescence were reduced when plants were grown under LD photoperiods. In addition, number of open flowers and branches increased under LD photoperiods. Few plants developed visible buds when grown under short-day (SD) photoperiods (12 h or less). In Expt. 2, plants were forced at average daily temperatures of 19, 20, or 22 °C after transplant. Time to first open flower was reduced by 7 days as temperature increased. Inversely, number of visible buds increased by 57 as temperature increased from 19 to 22 °C. Under the experimental conditions tested, the most rapid, complete, and uniform flowering of Tecoma occurred when plants were propagated and finished under LD photoperiods and forced at 22 °C.

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Ariana P. Torres and Roberto G. Lopez

Current market trends indicate an increasing demand for unique and exotic flowering crops, including tropical plants. Tecoma stans (L. Juss. Kunth) ‘Mayan Gold’ is a tropical plant that was selected as a potential new greenhouse crop for its physical appearance and drought and heat tolerance. However, in winter and early spring, when propagation occurs, outdoor photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) can be relatively low. The objective of this study was to quantify the effects of DLI during propagation of Tecoma and to determine optimum DLI levels for seed propagation. Seeds were propagated under 13 mean DLIs ranging from 0.75 to 25.2 mol·m−2·d−1 created by the combination of high-pressure sodium lamps (HPS) and fixed woven shadecloths of varying densities. Thirty-five days after sowing, height, stem diameter, node number, relative leaf chlorophyll content, leaf fresh weight, leaf number, total leaf area, individual leaf area, leaf area ratio, shoot and root dry mass increased as DLI increased. Average internode elongation and specific leaf area decreased at a quadratic and linear rate, respectively, as DLI increased from 0.75 to 25.2 mol·m−2·d−1. These experiments indicate that high-quality Tecoma seedlings were obtained when DLI was 14 to 16 mol·m−2·d−1 during propagation.

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Roberto G. Lopez and Erik S. Runkle

A majority of commercial propagation of herbaceous ornamental cuttings occurs during the winter when the photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) is relatively low. We quantified how the mean DLI influenced rooting and subsequent growth and development of two popular vegetatively propagated species, New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri Bull.) and petunia (Petunia ×hybrida hort. Vilm.-Andr.). Three cultivars of each species were propagated under a mean DLI ranging from 1.2 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1. Cuttings were rooted in a controlled greenhouse environment maintained at 24 to 25 °C with overhead mist, a vapor-pressure deficit of 0.3 kPa, and a 12-h photoperiod. Rooting and growth evaluations of cuttings were made after 8 to 16 d. In a separate experiment, rooted cuttings under DLI treatments were then transplanted into 10-cm containers and grown in a common greenhouse at 21 ± 2 °C under a 16-h photoperiod to identify any residual effects on subsequent growth and development. In both species, rooting, biomass accumulation, and quality of cuttings increased and subsequent time to flower generally decreased as mean propagation DLI increased. For example, root number of petunia ‘Tiny Tunia Violet Ice’ after 16 days of propagation increased from 17 to 40 as the propagation DLI increased from 1.2 to 7.5 mol·m−2·d−1. In addition, cutting shoot height decreased from 6.3 to 4.5 cm, and root and shoot dry biomass of cuttings harvested after 16 days of propagation increased by 737% and 106%, respectively. Subsequent time to flower for ‘Tiny Tunia Violet Ice’ from the beginning of propagation decreased from 50 to 29 days as propagation DLI increased from 1.4 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1 regardless of the DLI provided after propagation. In New Guinea impatiens ‘Harmony White’, root and shoot dry weight of cuttings increased by 1038% and 82%, respectively, and subsequent time to flower decreased from 85 to 70 days as the propagation DLI increased from 1.2 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1. These experiments quantify the role of the photosynthetic DLI during propagation on the rooting and subsequent growth and development of vegetatively propagated herbaceous ornamental cuttings.