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Glenn B. Fain, Charles H. Gilliam, Jeff L. Sibley, Cheryl R. Boyer, and Anthony L. Witcher

flats (PLG288O; ITML Horticultural Products Inc.) of either marigold ( Tagetes patula ‘Hero Spry’; 4 to 5 weeks from sowing) or petunia ( Petunia × hybrida ‘Dreams Purple’ 6 to 7 weeks from sowing) were planted into each container. Containers were

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A. M. Armitage, W. H. Carlson, and C. E. Cress


Flowering time, dry weight, total leaf area, and vegetative height of Tagetes patula L. were predicted on the basis of day temperature, night temperature, and quantum flux density (QFD). High temperatures (30°C) decrease flowering time regardless of QFD and greatest leaf surface area was caused by high QFD. As night temperatures increased, maximum leaf area occurred at lower day temperatures than those necessary for fastest flowering time. Each response was characterized by response surface technique.

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Lee Ann Moccaldi and Erik S. Runkle

Photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) and temperature are two environmental factors that profoundly influence plant growth and development. Two common ornamental annual crops, salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sello ex Roem & Schult.) and marigold (Tagetes patula L.), were grown in glass greenhouses under a mean DLI of 5 to 25 mol·m−2·d−1 at temperatures from 14 to 27 °C. Growth (e.g., plant dry weight at flowering) and flowering characteristics (e.g., time to flowering and flower number) were modeled in response to the mean daily temperature and DLI by using multiple regression analysis. The rate of progress to flowering of salvia and marigold was primarily influenced by the mean air temperature. For example, time from seedling transplant to flowering of salvia decreased from 42 days to 24 days as temperature increased from 15 to 25 °C, with a mean DLI of 10 mol·m−2·d−1. Flower number and plant dry weight on the date of first flowering generally decreased with increasing temperature and decreasing DLI in both species. For example, marigold plants grown at 15 °C and a mean DLI of 25 mol·m−2·d−1 were 2.45 times greater in dry weight, had 2.12 more flowers, and had 49% larger flowers at flowering compared with plants grown at 25 °C and a mean DLI of 5 mol·m−2·d−1. The models can be used to predict the impact of changing light and temperature conditions on plant quality and flowering of these two crops.

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Kristian Borch, Carter Miller, Kathleen M. Brown, and Jonathan P. Lynch

A series of experiments was conducted to investigate the response to drought stress of marigold (Tagetes patula L. `Janie Tangerine') plants grown with reduced phosphorus. Plants were grown with convention al phosphorus fertilization (1 mm, control) or one of two levels of alumina-buffered phosphorus (Al-P), 21 or 5 μm. Plants supplied with 21 μm Al-P produced plants with equal total dry weight, more flowers and reduced leaf area compared to control plants. Whole-plant photosynthetic CO2 assimilation expressed on a leaf area basis was nearly twice as high in 21 μm Al-P plants as in controls, probably as a result of reduced intraplant shading. In plants supplied with 21 μm Al-P, smaller leaf area resulted in reduced whole-plant transpiration. Moreover, the relative water content of the growing medium was significantly lower at wilting with 21 μm Al-P than for control or 5 μm Al-P regimes. The improved water acquisition with 21 μm Al-P could be explained by increased root proliferation via longer main roots and less densely distributed lateral roots. The results indicate that optimizing phosphorus nutrition with solid-phase buffered-phosphorus fertilizer improves drought tolerance by reducing transpiration and increasing water acquisition from the medium.

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John R. Young, E. Jay Holcomb, and Charles W. Heuser

Though high electrical conductivity (EC) levels are commonly held to be the primary limiting factor for using spent mushroom compost (SMC) as a growing substrate, EC can be reduced by leaching. This allowed SMC to be successfully used for growing plants. Leaching reduced EC of the substrate solution from as high of 30 dS·m-1 (mmhos·cm-1) to 2 to 3 dS·m-1, a level acceptable for growing plants. The initial EC and container capacity determined the number of leachings and total volume of water required to lower EC of SMC substrates to acceptable levels. As the concentration of SMC was increased, a higher number of leachings or larger volume of water were required to adequately reduce EC levels. In trials spanning 2.5 years, SMC was effectively used as a substrate in the production of marigold (Tagetes patula) `Yellow Girl'. Benefits to plant growth from SMC incorporation included a slow release of nutrients as the SMC decomposed and a good air-filled pore space/water-holding capacity when amended with a commercial nursery mix. From these trials, it is recommended that SMC be incorporated at rates of 25% to 50%. It is not recommended that SMC be used in concentrations over 50% because the EC may be too difficult to manage and the high levels of air-filled pore space of SMC. Though season may affect the initial EC level of SMC, such variation is minimized by leaching while differences in plant response are more likely to be attributed to environmental conditions. No differences in plant growth were observed among SMC sources.

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C.C. Pasian and M.A. Bennett

Bedding plants and many vegetable crop seeds are often sown in plug trays. Some crops, like marigold (Tagetes sp. L.), tend to stretch early after germination, especially if grown in low light environments. By the time growers apply plant growth regulators (PGRs), stretching of the hypocotyl has already occurred and seedling applications are ineffective. Seedling height may be controlled by applying the plant growth regulator directly to the seed. Seeds of `Bonanza Gold' marigold (Tagetes patula L.), `Cherry Orbit' geranium (Pelargonium {XtimesX} hortorum L.H. Bailey), and `Sun 6108' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were soaked for 6, 16, or 24 hours in paclobutrazol solutions of 0, 500, or 1000 mg·L-1. After the soak treatment, seeds were dried for 24 hours prior to laboratory germination testing or sowing in plug trays. Percentage of emergence and seedling height were measured 16, 26, and 36 days after sowing. Laboratory germination of treated seeds was less than that of the control, which was attributed to the PGR being concentrated around the seed on the blotters. In contrast, seedling survival was unaffected in plugs. The higher concentration of PGR and longer times of soaking increased growth regulation, but also inhibited emergence of geraniums (71% vs. 99%). When seeds were imbibed 6, 16, or 24 hours, growth restriction was 31%, 31%, and 40%, respectively, for tomato, 61%, 37%, and 76%, respectively, for geranium and 30%, 38%, and 41%, respectively, for marigold. These results indicate that PGR application to geranium, marigold, and tomato seeds may be feasible using a 6- or 16-hour soak in 500 mg·L-1 paclobutrazol. Chemical name used: (±)-(R *,R *)-ß-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-{XsalphaX}-(1,1-dimethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol).

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Byoung Ryong Jeong and Chiwon W. Lee

Ageratum houstanianum Mill. (tolerant), Tagetes patula L. (French marigold, very sensitive), Petunia hybrida Vilm. (sensitive), and Salvia splendens F. Sellow et. Roem & Schult. (very sensitive) were grown with NO3 -, NH4 +NO3 -, or NH4 + as the N source to examine whether NH4 +-related growth suppression (NH4 +-RGS) in the NH, -sensitive species was associated with excessive Cl- absorption from the nutrient solution. Amounts of Cl- applied were 4 or 11 meq·liter-1 (Expt. 1) and 0 or 4 meq·liter-1 (Expt. 2). When fertilized with NH4 + as a sole N source, marigold, petunia, and salvia showed NH4 +-RGS symptoms with yield reduction regardless of altered Cl- levels in the nutrient solution, while ageratum showed no such symptoms. When grown with NH4 + solution, these sensitive plants had shoot fresh and dry weight reductions of ≈ 50% compared to those grown with the NH4 + + NO3 - solution. Plants fertilized with NH4 + showed more severe NH4 +-RGS symptoms when grown in rockwool (RW) than in peat-lite mix (PL). The NH4 +-grown plants contained more NH4 + and much more Cl- in the tissue than plants fertilized with NO3 - or NH4 + + NO3 -, irrespective of the Cl- level in the nutrient solution. However; NH4 +-RGS symptoms in marigold, petunia, and salvia appear to be caused by the uptake of NH4 +, but not in association with Cl- from the nutrient solution.

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Stephanie Burnett, Paul Thomas, and Marc van Iersel

We previously found that incorporation of PEG-8000 into the growing medium delayed germination and resulted in shorter seedlings. However, in that study, we were unable to determine whether the reduced height was merely the effect of delayed germination or of reduced elongation after germination. To answer this question, we studied whether postgermination drenches with PEG-8000 can reduce seedling height. Annual salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sellow. ex Roem. & Shult. `Bonfire') and French marigold (Tagetes patula L. `Boy Orange') seedlings were treated with drenches of PEG-8000: 0, 15, 20, 30, 42, 50, 62, 72, or 83 g·L–1. At least 20% of seedlings treated with 62 to 83 g·L–1 of PEG-8000 were dead 14 d after treatment. Salvia and marigolds treated with the remaining PEG-8000 concentrations were up to 34% and 14% shorter than untreated seedlings, respectively. Leaf water (Ψw) and turgor potential (Ψp) also decreased for salvia which were grown with greater concentrations of PEG-8000, one probable cause of the observed reduction in elongation. Since the PEG-8000 in this study was applied after germination, it is clear that PEG-8000 does not reduce elongation merely by delaying germination, but also by reducing the elongation rate. Thus, postgermination drenches with PEG-8000 can be used to produce shorter seedlings.

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Kristian Borch, Kathleen M. Brown, and Jonathan P. Lynch

Bedding plants are frequently exposed to water stress during the postproduction period, resulting in reduced quality. We demonstrated that alumina-buffered P fertilizer (Al-P) provides adequate but much lower P concentrations than conventionally used in soilless mixes. When impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook. f. `Impulse Orange') and marigold (Tagetes patula L. `Janie Tangerine') plants were grown with reduced phosphorus using Al-P, P leaching was greatly reduced and plant quality was improved. Diameter of impatiens plants and leaf area of plants of both species were reduced by Al-P. Marigold plants grown with Al-P had more flowers and fewer wilted flowers. Flower wilting was also reduced for impatiens plants grown with Al-P. In marigold plants, roots were confined to a small volume beneath the drip tube in control plants, while roots of Al-P plants were well distributed through the medium. There was no obvious difference in impatiens root distribution. When plants at the marketing stage were exposed to drought, the Al-P plants of both species wilted more slowly than the conventionally fertilized controls. The reduced leaf area in both species and the improved root distribution of marigold may account for the improvement in drought tolerance of the Al-P plants.

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Candice A. Shoemaker and William H. Carlson

Seeds of eight commonly grown bedding plant species [Ageratum houstonianum Mill., Begonia × semperflorens Hort., Impatiens wallerana Hook., Lobularia maritima (L.) Desv., Petunia × hybrida Hort., Pelargonium hortorum L.H. Bailey, Salvia splendens F. Sellow, Tagetes patula] were germinated at pH values from 4.5 to 7.5 at 0.5 increments. Seeds were germinated in petri dishes on filter paper saturated with buffer solutions or in petri dishes containing a 50 sphagnum peat: 50 coarse vermiculite (peatlite) medium moistened with buffer solutions. Germination on filter paper was affected by pH for all species tested. Peatlite medium pH affected germination of all species tested, except Salvia splendens. Species response to similar pH values differed between the two germination procedures. Total percent germination of seeds germinated was less in peatlite medium than on filter paper.