Coral bells (Heuchera sp.) are popular herbaceous perennials grown for their colorful foliage and venation and their aesthetic appeal in mixed containers and landscapes. Commercial coral bell production requires greenhouse or nursery growers to optimize production inputs such as managing mineral nutrition, thereby maximizing plant growth potential and foliage color. The objective of this study was to determine the optimum fertilizer concentrations, identify leaf tissue nutrient sufficiency ranges by chronological age, and to expand leaf tissue nutrient standards of coral bells grown in soilless substrates during container production. Coral bells (H. hybrida ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Cherry Cola’, ‘Marmalade’, and ‘Peppermint Spice’), varying in leaf color, were grown under one of six constant liquid fertilizer concentrations [50, 75, 100, 200, 300, or 400 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N)] with a constant level of water-soluble micronutrient blend in a greenhouse. Fertilizer concentrations for optimal plant growth and development were determined by analyzing plant height, diameter, growth index, and total dry mass, and were found to be 50 to 75 mg·L−1 N after a nine-week crop cycle. Recently mature leaf tissue samples were collected and analyzed for elemental content of 11 nutrients at 3, 6, and 9 weeks after transplant (WAT) from plants fertilized with 50 to 75 mg·L−1 N. The black- (‘Black Beauty’) and red- (‘Cherry Cola’) colored-leaved cultivars contained higher total N, phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), zinc (Zn), and boron (B) than the orange- (‘Marmalade’) and green- (‘Peppermint Spice’) colored-leaved cultivars. For instance, in mature growth, total N concentration for ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Cherry Cola’ ranged between 3.45 to 3.63% and 3.92% to 4.18% N, respectively, whereas for ‘Marmalade’ and ‘Peppermint Spice’, ranges were between 2.98% to 3.25% and 2.78% to 3.23% N, respectively. Optimal leaf tissue concentration sufficiency ranges determined in this scientifically based study were narrower and often times higher than previously reported survey values for coral bells.
Calceolaria (Calceolaria ×herbeohybrida) is a flowering potted greenhouse crop that often develops upper-leaf chlorosis, interveinal chlorosis, and marginal and leaf-tip necrosis (death) caused by cultural practices. The objectives of this research were to 1) determine the optimal incorporation rate of dolomitic and/or hydrated lime to increase substrate pH; 2) determine the influence of the liming material on substrate pH, plant growth, and leaf tissue nutrient concentrations; and 3) determine the optimal substrate pH to grow and maintain during calceolaria production. Sphagnum peatmoss was amended with 20% (by volume) perlite and incorporated with pulverized dolomitic carbonate limestone (DL) and/or hydrated limestone (HL) at the following concentrations: 48.1 kg·m−3 or 144.2 kg·m−3 DL, 17.6 kg·m−3 DL + 5.3 kg·m−3 HL, or 17.6 kg·m−3 DL + 10.6 kg·m−3 HL to achieve a target substrate pH of 4.5, 5.5, 6.5, and 7.5, respectively. Calceolaria ‘Orange’, ‘Orange Red Eye’, ‘Yellow’, and ‘Yellow Red Eye’ were grown in each of the prepared substrates. For all cultivars, substrate solution pH increased as limestone incorporation concentration and weeks after transplant (WAT) increased, although to different magnitudes. For example, as limestone incorporation increased from 48.1 kg·m−3 DL to 17.6 kg·m−3 DL + 10.6 kg·m−3 HL, substrate solution pH for ‘Orange’ calceolaria increased from 4.1 to 6.9 to 4.8 to 7.2 at 2 and 6 WAT, respectively. Substrate solution electrical conductivity (EC) and growth indices were not influenced by limestone incorporation, but total plant dry mass increased. Few macronutrients and most micronutrients were influenced by limestone incorporation. Leaf tissue iron concentrations for ‘Orange’, ‘Orange Red Eye’, ‘Yellow’, and ‘Yellow Red Eye’ calceolaria decreased by 146%, 91%, 71%, and 84%, respectively, when plants were grown in substrates incorporated with increasing limestone concentrations from 144.2 kg·m−3 DL to 17.6 kg·m−3 DL + 10.6 kg·m−3 HL (pH 6.5–6.9). Therefore, incorporating 144.2 kg·m−3 DL into peat-based substrates and maintaining a pH <6.5 will avoid high pH–induced Fe deficiency and prevent upper-leaf and interveinal chlorosis.
The objective of this study was to determine optimum fertilizer concentrations, identify leaf tissue nutrient sufficiency ranges by chronological age, and establish leaf tissue nutrient standards of containerized Russian sage (Perovskia sp.). Common Russian sage (P. atriplicifolia Benth.) and ‘Crazy Blue’ Russian sage were greenhouse-grown in a soilless substrate under one of six constant liquid fertilizer concentrations [50, 75, 100, 200, 300, or 400 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N)] with a constant level of a water-soluble micronutrient blend. Fertilizer concentrations sufficient for optimal plant growth and development were determined by analyzing plant height, diameter, growth index, primary shoot caliper, axillary shoot number, and total dry mass; they were found to be 100 to 200 mg·L−1 N after a 6-week crop cycle. Recently, mature leaf tissue samples were collected from plants fertilized with 100 to 200 mg·L−1 N and analyzed for elemental contents of 11 nutrients at 2, 4, and 6 weeks after transplant (WAT). An overall trend of increasing foliar nutrient concentrations over time was observed for all elemental nutrients. For instance, at 2 WAT, the total N concentrations of common Russian sage and ‘Crazy Blue’ Russian sage ranged between 3.68% and 5.10% and between 3.92% and 5.12%, respectively, and increased to ranges of 5.94% to 5.98% and 5.20% to 5.86% at 6 WAT, respectively. Before this study, no leaf tissue concentration standards have been reported; therefore, this study established leaf tissue concentration sufficiency ranges for the trialed Perovskia selections.
Our objective was to quantify the efficacy of paclobutrazol substrate drenches on growth of nine black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) cultivars. Liners of ‘Autumn Colors’, ‘Cherokee Sunset’, ‘Cherry Brandy’, ‘Denver Daisy’, ‘Glowing’, ‘Happy’, ‘Indian Summer’, ‘Prairie Sun’, and ‘Sunny’ black-eyed Susan were transplanted into 6.5-inch-diameter plastic containers (2 qt) filled with a commercial soilless peat-based substrate. After 16 days, six single-plant replicates received a substrate drench of 5-fl-oz aliquots of solutions containing deionized water [0 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol (control)] or 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol (0, 0.375, 0.75, 1.5, and 3.0 mg/pot). Paclobutrazol drenches of 2.5 to 20 mg·L−1 significantly influenced plant height, plant diameter, growth index (GI), and shoot dry weight (SDW) of all black-eyed Susan cultivars, although the magnitude of response to paclobutrazol substrate drench concentration varied with cultivar. For most cultivars, GI, an integrated measurement of height and diameter, was suppressed as paclobutrazol substrate drench concentrations increased from 2.5 to 20 mg·L−1, resulting in plants that were 30% to 43% smaller than untreated plants. Increasing paclobutrazol substrate drench concentrations from 2.5 to 20 mg·L−1 limited SDW of each cultivar differently, although plants were 5% to 59% smaller at 20 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol than untreated plants. Time to flower for ‘Autumn Colors’, ‘Cherry Brandy’, ‘Happy’, ‘Indian Summer’, and ‘Prairie Sunset’ was unaffected by any paclobutrazol substrate drench concentration; however, concentrations of ≤10 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol are suggested for ‘Cherokee Sunset’, ‘Denver Daisy’, ‘Glowing’, and ‘Sunny’, as higher concentrations delay flowering. Our results indicate that growers can attain growth control with substrate drenches containing 5 to 10 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol during greenhouse black-eyed Susan production without delaying flowering.
Under low-light greenhouse conditions, such as those found in northern latitudes, foliage of red leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) varieties is often green and not visually appealing to consumers. Our objective was to quantify the effect of end-of-production (EOP; prior to harvest) supplemental lighting (SL) of different sources and intensities on foliage color of four red leaf lettuce varieties, ‘Cherokee’, ‘Magenta’, ‘Ruby Sky’, and ‘Vulcan’. Plants were finished under 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 (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, 0:100, or 50:50 (%) red:blue] delivering 100 μmol·m−2·s−1, or 0:100 blue LEDs delivering 25 or 50 μmol·m−2·s−1. Relative chlorophyll content (RCC) and foliage L* (lightness), and chromametric a* (change from green to red) and b* (change from yellow to blue) values were significantly influenced by EOP SL and days of exposure. Generally, RCC of all varieties increased from day 3 to 14 when provided with EOP SL from the HPS lamps and LEDs delivering 100 μmol·m−2·s−1. End-of-production SL providing 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 of 100:0, 0:100, or 50:50 red:blue light for ≥5 days resulted in increasing a* (red) and decreasing L* (darker foliage), b* (blue), and h° (hue angle; a measure of tone) for all varieties. Our data suggests that a minimum of 5 days of EOP SL providing 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 of 100:0, 0:100, or 50:50 red:blue light enhanced red pigmentation of ‘Cherokee’, ‘Magenta’, ‘Ruby Sky’, and ‘Vulcan’ leaves when plants are grown under a low greenhouse daily light integrals (DLIs) <10 mol·m−2·d−1.
Crown division, tissue culture, and culm cuttings are methods for propagating purple fountain grass [Pennisetum ×advena Wipff and Veldkamp (formerly known as Pennisetum setaceum Forsk. Chiov. ‘Rubrum’)]. However, propagation by culm cuttings is becoming an economically attractive method for quick liner production. Our objective was to quantify the impact of propagation daily light integral (PDLI) and root-zone temperature (RZT) on root and culm development of single-internode purple fountain grass culm cuttings. Before insertion into the rooting substrate, cuttings were treated with a basal rooting hormone solution containing 1000 mg·L−1 indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) + 500 mg·L−1 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA). The cuttings were placed in a glass-glazed greenhouse with an air temperature of 23 °C and benches with RZT set points of 21, 23, 25, or 27 °C. PDLIs of 4 and 10 mol·m−2·d−1 (Expt. 1) or 8 and 16 mol·m−2·d−1 (Expt. 2) were provided. After 28 d, culm and root densities (number) increased as the RZT increased from 21 to 27 °C, regardless of PDLI during Expt. 1. Compared with 4 mol·m−2·d−1, a PDLI of 10 mol·m−2·d−1 generally resulted in the greatest root biomass accumulation. For example, as PDLI increased from 4 to 10 mol·m−2·d−1, root dry mass increased by 105%, 152%, and 183% at RZTs of 21, 25, and 27 °C, respectively. In Expt. 2, as the RZT increased from 21 to 23 °C, root dry mass increased by 70% under a PDLI of 8 mol·m−2·d−1. However, root dry mass was similar among all RZTs under a PDLI of 16 mol·m−2·d−1. Our results indicate that single-internode culm cuttings of purple fountain grass can be most efficiently propagated under PDLIs of 8–10 mol·m−2·d−1 together with RZT set points of 23 to 25 °C for quick liner production.
Variability in outdoor daily temperatures and photosynthetic daily light integrals (DLIs) from early spring to late fall limits the ability of propagators to accurately control propagation environments to consistently callus, root, and yield compact herbaceous perennial rooted liners. We evaluated and compared the effects of sole-source lighting (SSL) delivered from red (R) and blue (B) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to supplemental lighting (SL) provided by high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps on herbaceous perennial cutting morphology, physiology, and growth during callusing and initial rhizogenesis. Cuttings of perennial sage (Salvia nemorosa L. ‘Lyrical Blues’) and wand flower (Gaura lindheimeri Engelm. and A. Gray ‘Siskiyou Pink’) were propagated in a walk-in growth chamber under multilayer SSL provided by LEDs with [R (660 nm)]:[B (460 nm)] light ratios (%) of 100:0 (R100:B0), 75:25 (R75:B25), 50:50 (R50:B50), or 0:100 (R0:B100) delivering 60 µmol·m−2·s–1 for 16 hours (total DLI of 3.4 mol·m−2·d−1). In a glass-glazed greenhouse (GH control), cuttings were propagated under ambient solar light and day-extension SL provided by HPS lamps delivering 40 µmol·m−2·s–1 to provide a 16-hour photoperiod (total DLI of 3.3 mol·m−2·d−1). At 10 days after sticking cuttings, callus diameter and rooting percentage were similar among all light-quality treatments. For instance, callus diameter, a measure of growth, of wand flower cuttings increased from an average 1.7 mm at stick (0 day) to a range of 2.7 to 2.9 mm at 10 days after sticking, regardless of lighting treatment. Relative leaf chlorophyll content was generally greater under SSL R75:B25 or R50:B50 than all other light-quality treatments. However, stem length of perennial sage and wand flower cuttings propagated under SSL R50:B50 at 10 days were 21% and 30% shorter and resulted in 50% and 8% greater root biomass, respectively, compared with those under SL. The herbaceous perennial cuttings propagated in this study under SSL R50:B50 were of similar quality or more compact compared with those under SL, indicating that callus induction and initial rooting can occur under LEDs in a multilayer SSL propagation system.
Boston and Australian swordferns (Nephrolepis sp.) are popular tropical ferns for hanging baskets and containers; however, greenhouse production occurs during times of the year when growers may need to deploy shade or supplemental lighting to manage the growing environment. Our objectives were to quantify the impact of the daily light integral (DLI) on growth, morphology, physiology, and ornamental quality of containerized Nephrolepis species and cultivars, and to establish optimal DLIs for containerized swordferns to assist commercial greenhouse growers with light management strategies during production. Eleven cultivars of Boston swordfern [N. exaltata (L.) Schott Blue Bells, Compacta, Fluffy Ruffles, Gold, Montana, Nevada, Petticoat, Pom Pom, Super, Tiger, and True] and one cultivar of Australian swordfern [N. obliterata (R. Br.) J. Sm. Western Queen] were investigated. Plants were grown for 58 days at 20 °C and placed under one of four different fixed-woven shadecloths providing ≈86%, 62%, 42%, or 26% shade or no shade, thereby establishing mean DLIs of 3.2, 6.4, 10.7, 12.4, and 17.1 mol⋅m−2⋅d−1, respectively. For most cultivars, the growth index, which is an integrated measurement of height and diameter, decreased linearly as the DLI increased from 3.2 to 17.2 mol⋅m−2⋅d−1, resulting in smaller compact plants. Increasing the DLI significantly affected the frond number of each cultivar differently, whereas dry mass generally increased as the DLI increased from 3.2 to 10.7 to 12.4 mol⋅m−2⋅d−1 for most cultivars. For each cultivar, as the DLI increased from 3.2 to 17.1 mol⋅m−2⋅d−1, the chlorophyll concentration index decreased, whereas the hue angle increased and chroma was unaffected. Our results indicate that growers should maintain ≈10 to 12 mol⋅m−2⋅d−1 during greenhouse Nephrolepis production; however, DLIs ≥5.5 mol⋅m−2⋅d−1 and ≤16.5 mol⋅m−2⋅d−1 also improved the quality of some Nephrolepis cultivars.
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.
Under natural short days, growers can use photoperiodic lighting to promote flowering of long-day plants and inhibit flowering of short-day plants. Unlike traditional lamps used for photoperiodic lighting, low-intensity light-emitting diode (LED) lamps allow for a wide array of adjustable spectral distributions relevant to regulation of flowering, including red (R) and white (W) radiation with or without far-red (FR) radiation. Our objective was to quantify how day-extension (DE) photoperiodic lighting from two commercially available low-intensity LED lamps emitting R + W or R + W + FR radiation interacted with daily light integral (DLI) to influence stem elongation and flowering of several ornamental species. Long-day plants [petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.-Andr. ‘Dreams Midnight’) and snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L. ‘Oh Snap Pink’)], short-day plants [african marigold (Tagetes erecta L. ‘Moonsong Deep Orange’) and potted sunflower (Helianthus annuus L. ‘Pacino Gold’)], and day-neutral plants [pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. ‘Matrix Yellow’) and zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq. ‘Magellan Cherry’)] were grown at 20/18 °C day/night air temperatures and under low (6–9 mol·m−2·d−1) or high (16–19 mol·m−2·d−1) seasonal photosynthetic DLIs from ambient solar radiation combined with supplemental high-pressure sodium lighting and DE LED lighting. Photoperiods consisted of a truncated 9-hour day (0800–1700 hr) with additional 1-hour (1700–1800 hr, 10 hours total), 4-hour (1700–2100 hr, 13 hours total), or 7-hour (1700–2400 hr, 16 hours total) R + W or R + W + FR LED lighting at 2 μmol·m−2·s−1. Days to visible bud, plant height at first open flower, and time to first open flower (TTF) of each species were influenced by DLI, lamp type, and photoperiod though to different magnitudes. For example, plant height of african marigold and potted sunflower at first open flower was greatest under R + W + FR lamps, high DLIs, and 16-hour photoperiods. Petunia grown under R + W lamps, high DLI, and 10- and 13-hour photoperiods were the most compact. For all species, TTF was generally reduced under high DLIs. For example, regardless of the lamp type, flowering of african marigold occurred fastest under a high DLI and 10-hour photoperiod. Flowering of petunia and snapdragon occurred fastest under a high DLI, R + W + FR lamps, and a 16-hour photoperiod. However, only under high DLIs, R + W or R + W + FR lamps were equally effective at promoting flowering when used to provide DE lighting. Our data suggest that under low DLIs, flowering of long-day plants (petunia and snapdragon) occurs more rapidly under lamps providing R + W + FR, whereas under high DLIs, flowering is promoted similarly under either R + W or R + W + FR lamps.