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Ramsey Sealy and Michael R. Evans

Biological substrate amendments including SG-11, Subtilex, SoilGuard, ActinoIron, Companion, RootShield and BioYield were evaluated for their efficacy to control common soil-borne fungal and fungal-like pathogens when incorporated into the substrate at transplanting. The biological agents were incorporated into an 80% Sphagnum peat and 20% perlite substrate at the label recommended rates and four-to-six-leaf plugs of the test species were transplanted into the substrates. Substrates were either inoculated or uninoculated with a test pathogen. Pathogen-host combinations included Pythium ultimum on geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum), Phytophthora nicotianae and Pythium aphanidermatum on vinca (Catharanthus roseus), and Theilaviopsis basicoli on pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana). The incidence of disease development, plant mortality and root fresh weights did not differ among the biological agents and the inoculated controls. Therefore, under the conditions of this study, the biological agents did not provide significant disease suppression. Pansy and vinca plants grown in uninoculated substrates amended with Subtilex had significantly higher shoot dry weights than those grown in unamended substrates. Pansy, vinca and tomato plants grown in uninoculated substrates amended with SG-11 had significantly higher shoot dry weights than those grown in unamended substrates.

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Timothy J. Smalley

Ornamental annuals were planted in field beds amended to a depth of 15 cm with 0, 98, 196, or 392 g·m–3 of Hydrosource (Western Polyacrylamide, Castle Rock, Colo.). Hydrosource is a sodium-based, cross-linked, polyacrylamide hydrogel. Salvia splendens `Redtop' and Catharanthus roseus `Peppermint Cooler' were planted on 3 June 1993 and sampled for dry shoot weight and growth index 6 and 12 weeks after planting. Salvia splendens `Red Hot Sally' and Begonia sempervirens `Vodka' were planted on 13 June 1994 in the same beds, with no additional amendments added, and were sampled for dry shoot weight and inflorescence weight 5 and 10 weeks after planting. Plants were irrigated as needed in both years until the first sampling date, and then irrigation ceased. For 1993, a dry experimental period, amending beds with Hydrosource increased dry weight and growth index of both annuals after 12 weeks. In 1994, a wet experimental period, Hydrosource increased shoot weight of plants after 5 weeks, but no differences existed among the weights of the plants after 12 weeks. The inflorescence weight increased with Hydrosource for salvia after 12 weeks. The data indicated that Hydrosource can increase growth of annuals during drought and have no detrimental effect on growth during a wet growing season.

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Robert L. Geneve and Sharon T. Kester

Early seedling growth rate can be used to estimate seed vigor for small-seeded vegetable and flower seeds. However, hand measurement of small seedlings is tedious and difficult to reproduce among analysts. Computer-aided analysis digital images of seedlings should improve accuracy and reproducibility. A flat-bed scanner fitted with base and top lighting provided high resolution images of even small-seeded species like petunia [Petunia ×hybrida `Blue Picotee' (Hort) Vilm.] and lisianthus [Eustoma grandiflorum `Mariachi Pure White' (Raf.) Shinn]. Uniform lighting was provided and images were captured and analyzed in less than 2 minutes. A clear, cellulose film was used as the germination substrate in petri dish germination assays to facilitate capturing images with a flat-bed scanner. The transparent medium permitted seedlings to be imaged without removal from the petri dish and also allowed for repeated measures of the same seedlings in order to calculate growth rate. Six species evaluated in this study included cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L., var. Botrytis), tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. `New Yorker'), pepper (Capsicum annuum L. `North Star'), impatiens [Impatiens walleriana Hook. f. `Impact Lavender'], vinca [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don. `Little Bright Eye'], and marigold (Tagetes patula L. `Little Devil Flame'). For germination and early seedling growth, the cellulose film compared favorably with other standard germination media (blue blotter and germination paper) for five of the six species tested. Computer analysis of seedling length was possible for all six species and was statistically similar to hand measurements averaged for three analysts.

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Jeff S. Kuehny, Aaron Painter and Patricia C. Branch

Eight bedding plant species were grown from plugs obtained from two sources. The plugs were transplanted into jumbo six packs and sprayed with a solution of chlormequat/daminozide with concentrations of 1000/800, 1250/1250, or 1500/5000 mg·L-1 when new growth was ≈5 cm in height or width. Three different species were grown in the fall (Dianthus chinensis L., `Telstar Mix', Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr., `Dreams Red', and Viola ×wittrockiana Gams., `Bingo Blue'), winter [Antirrhinum majus L., `Tahiti Mix', Matthiola incana (L.) R. Br., `Midget Red', and P. × hybrida, `Dreams Mix'], and spring [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don, `Cooler Pink', Salvia splendens F. Sellow ex Roem. & Schult., `Empire Red', and Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum Hort., `Cocktail Mix']. The treatments significantly reduced finished plant size of all species for each season. There was a significant difference in finish size between sources for Dianthus, Antirrhinum, Matthiola, Catharanthus, Salvia, and Begonia. The efficacy of chlormequat/daminozide also differed for each source of Dianthus, Matthiola, and Begonia, but the treatments minimized the differences in finish size between sources for Petunia and Viola. Chemical names used: (2-chlorethyl) trimethylammonium chloride (chlormequat); (N-dimethylaminosuccinamic acid) (daminozide).

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J.E. Barrett, R.K. Schoellhorn, C.A. Bartuska, D.G. Clark and T.A. Nell

Uniconazole was applied as a spray to the surface of container media prior to planting bedding plant plugs. This medium spray was compared to a standard whole-plant spray applied 2 weeks after planting. For petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.) and coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides L.) the efficacy of the medium spray was similar to the whole-plant spray. However, for impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook. f.) and vinca [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don.] the medium spray had greater efficacy than the whole-plant spray. Increased concentrations of uniconazole in the medium spray decreased plant height; however, the effect of higher concentrations was greater in a medium with out pine bark compared to a medium with pine bark as a component. In the above experiments, uniconazole was applied in a volume of 200 mL·m-2. In a test where spray volume varied, there was a negative linear relationship between plant height and spray volume. Chemical name used: (E)-(+)-(S)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)-pent-1-ane-3-ol (uniconazole).

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C.E. Wieland, J.E. Barrett, C.A. Bartuska, D.G. Clark and T.A. Nell

Salvia (Salvia splendens F.), vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.), and pansy (Viola × wittrockiana Gams.) were examined to determine efficacy of growth retardants for inhibiting stem elongation of seedlings in the plug stage and after transplanting to 10-cm pots. Studies on salvia showed plugs sprayed with single applications of ancymidol at 10 or 20 ppm, paclobutrazol at 30 or 60 ppm, or daminozide/chlormequat tank mix at 2500/1500 ppm inhibited plug elongation by 17% to 22%. Pansy plugs were sprayed either once or twice with ancymidol at 5, 10, or 15 ppm. Number of applications was statistically significant with two applications reducing elongation by an average of 35%, whereas a single application resulted in a 23% average reduction. Ancymidol concentration was significant in reducing stem elongation with increasing rates in pansy; however, the concentration and application time interaction was not significant. In both pansy and salvia, plant size at flowering was similar to controls after transplanting. Vinca plugs were sprayed with ancymidol at 5, 10, or 15 ppm either the 3rd week, 4th week, or both weeks after sowing. As ancymidol concentrations increased, plug height decreased, and the concentration effect was greater week 3 than at week 4. Two applications of ancymidol was most effective in retarding stem elongation (36%) followed by one spray the 3rd week (29%) and one spray during week 4 (20%).

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Karen L. Panter, Amy M. Briggs, Michael J. Roll and Steven E. Newman

The objective of this study was to determine which combination of three types of irrigation systems, three fertilization method, and four growing media produced optimum growth of flowering vinca, Catharanthus roseus. Irrigation systems used included ebb-and-fl ood, drip, and pulse; fertilization methods included slow release, prepackaged, and custom mixed; and the four growing media were peatmoss:perlite:vermiculite (1:1:1, by volume), peatmoss:rockwool (1:1, by volume), and 0.6-cm diameter shredded rubber or fabric from waste tires: vermiculite:peatmoss (1:1:2, by volume). Four replications of five plants each were used in each of the 36 treatment combinations. Plants were potted 29 and 30 May 1996 in 10-cm containers, grown for 10 weeks, and harvested 6 Aug. 1996. The drip-irrigated benches were irrigated once per day for 15 s. Pulse-irrigated benches were watered twice per day for 6 s. This resulted in the drip- and pulse-irrigated plants receiving a similar volume of water daily. Ebb-and-fl ood benches were filled once per day with drainage occurring 15 min after filling. Ending plant heights and dry weights indicated that those plants in the prepackaged fertilizer/drip or ebb-and-fl ood irrigation/shredded tire fiber growing medium were comparable to plants grown in the peatmoss:rockwool medium with the same fertilizer and irrigation methods.

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T.K. Hartz and C. Giannini

Windrows of municipal yard and landscape waste at three commercial composting sites in California were sampled at ≈3-week intervals through 12 to 15 weeks of composting to observe changes in physiochemical and biological characteristics of importance to horticulture. Initial C, N, P, and K content averaged 30%, 1.3%, 0.20%, and 0.9%, respectively. Carbon concentration declined rapidly through the first 6 to 9 weeks, while N, P, and K remained relatively stable throughout the sampling period. Few viable weed seeds were found in any compost. A high level of phytotoxicity, as measured by a tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seed bioassay, was observed at only one site; overall, the degree of phytotoxicity declined with compost age. Short-term net N immobilization (in a 2-week aerobic incubation) was observed in nearly all samples, with an overall trend toward decreased immobilization with increased compost age. In a 16-week pot study in which fescue (Festuca arundinacea Shreb.) was grown in compost-amended soil, net N mineralization averaged only 2% to 3% of compost total N content. Neither composting site nor duration of composting significantly affected either N mineralization rate or fescue growth. Growth of vinca (Catharanthus roseus Don.) in a blend of 1 compost : 1 perlite increased with increasing compost age. Overall, at least 9 to 12 weeks of composting were required to minimize the undesirable characteristics of immature compost.

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Marc van Iersel

Transplanting often causes root damage, and rapid root growth following transplanting may help to minimize the effects of transplant shock. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of NAA and IAA on posttransplant growth of vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.). Bare-root seedlings were germinated in a peat-based growing mix and transplanted into diatomaceous earth 10 days after seeding. Immediately after transplanting, seedlings were drenched with several concentrations of IAA or NAA (62.5 mL/plant). Both auxins increased posttransplant root and shoot growth, but the response was dose-dependent. The maximum growth occurred at concentrations of 10 mg·L-1 (IAA) or 0.1 mg·L-1 (NAA). The growth-stimulating effect of these auxins decreased at higher rates and NAA was highly toxic at 100 mg·L-1, killing most of the plants. Unlike the growth of bare-root seedlings, plug seedling growth was not stimulated by drenching with NAA solutions. These results show that auxins have the ability to stimulate posttransplant growth of vinca, but their effects may depend on the application method, rate, and timing, and transplanting method. Chemical names used: 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA); 1-indole-3-acetic acid (IAA).

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D.M. Quinn, B.K. Behe, J.R. Kessler and J.S. Bannon

In the summer of 1995 and 1996, 245 and 400 annual plant cultivars were evaluated for heat tolerance and landscape performance. Nine transplants of each cultivar were installed in raised beds amended with controlled-release fertilizer as per soil analysis recommendations, under full-sun and overhead irrigation, at the E.V. Smith Research Center in Shorter, Ala. (lat. 32° 30′ N, long. 85° 40′ W). No mainte-nance, with the exception of one midseason pruning of petunia, was performed on any of the cultivars. Catharanthus roseus 'Blush Cooler' was the best performer in 1995 with a mean rating of 4.1 (of 5.0). Salvia farinacea `Victoria Blue' and Petunia ×milliflora `Fantasy Pink' performed well, with a mean rating of 3.5. In 1996, the cultivar with the highest mean rating was Gomphrena globosa `Lavender Lady' (4.1). Second highest was G. globosa `Strawberry Fields' (4.0). Other cultivars that performed well in 1996 and had high mean ratings were Verbena × speciosa `Imagination' (3.6) and Melampodium paludosium `Derby' and `Medallion' (3.5 and 3.5).