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Sabrina L. Shaw, William F. Hayslett, and Eddie B. Williams

Seeds of `Majestic Giant Blue Shade' and `Medallion Blue/Blotch' were initially begun in plug trays and later transplanted into flats of 32s. Observations included percent germination, rate of emergence, plant heights before treatment of plant growth regulators (PGR), plant fresh weight, plant dry weight, plant height after treatments, and visual appearance. PGR treatments included paclobutrazol at 16 and 25 ppm, uniconazole at 2 and 4 ppm, and B-Nine as the control. `Majestic Giant' had a higher percent germination rate and rate of emergence than `Medallion'. Overall growth of Medallion seemed to be behind by ≈5 days when compared to that of `Majestic Giant'. The `Medallion' group showed more of a response to PGR treatments than `Majestic Giant'.

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Sabrina L. Shaw, William F. Hayslett, and Eddie B. Williams

A one-time application of fish emulsion 2 days before the application of plant growth regulators (PGR) showed an overriding effect on the growth of pansies. Blue/blotch shades of `Medallion' pansies were placed on a constant feed program of 100 ppm Peat Lite 20N–10P–20K, with half of the pansies receiving an additional one-time supplement of fish emulsion. PGRs and rates included B-Nine, 0.5% (used as the control); uniconazole, 2 and 4 ppm; and paclobutrazol, 16 and 25 ppm. Parameters taken included plant height, top fresh weight, top dry weight, days to anthesis, and visual appearance. Significant differences were noted in the plants receiving the supplement for plant dry weight, plant height, and visual appearance. Plants receiving fish emulsion grew taller and denser than those on constant feed alone despite the effects of the PGRs.

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Kathleen M. Kelley, Bridget K. Behe, John A. Biernbaum, and Kenneth L. Poff

Do consumers prefer certain combinations of edible-flower species and colors over other assortments? Two hundred and sixteen people were self-selected for a survey at a Michigan flower show to rate 15 photographs of edible flowers arranged in 0.24-L, clear, plastic containers. Each container had either an individual species or combinations of Viola tricolor L. `Helen Mount' (viola), Borago officinalis L. (borage), and Tropaeolum majus L. `Jewel Mix' and `Tip Top Apricot' (nasturtium). To determine what color(s) of nasturtium participants would prefer, containers held either orange and crimson, peach and cream, or a combination of all four flower colors. Participants rated photographs using a semantic differential on a 7-point Likert scale (7 being the highest rating) based on their likelihood to purchase each container of edible flowers to serve to family and friends in a meal. Participants were asked an additional 21 questions regarding their attitudes about edible flowers, gardening habits, dining habits, and several demographic questions. Responses were subjected to conjoint analysis (SPSS Inc., Chicago). The addition of other species to nasturtium (viola, borage, viola, and borage) had a greater relative importance (53%) than the color of the nasturtium (47%). A mixture of all four nasturtium colors (peach, cream, orange, and crimson) was awarded the highest utility (0.091). Peach and cream nasturtiums or containers that did not contain any nasturtium flowers at all were least preferred (-0.070 and -0.083 utilities, respectively). Mean ratings that participants assigned to containers of edible flowers supported these utilities. The container assigned the highest mean rating included nasturtiums of all four colors, yet 66% were unlikely to purchase any container with 10% insect damage. Differences in preferences were noted using selected demographic characteristics such as age, gender, and income.

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Kathleen M. Kelley, Bridget K. Behe, John A. Biernbaum, and Kenneth L. Poff

Two surveys were conducted to assess consumer and professional chefs' perceptions of three edible-flower species. Our objectives were to determine opinions, preferences, and uses of Viola tricolor L. `Helen Mount' (viola), Borago officinalis L. (borage), and Tropaeolum majus L. `Jewel Mix' (nasturtium). Flowers were grown using certifiable organic methods and chosen to reflect a variety of flower tastes, textures, and appearances. We quantified three attributes (taste, fragrance, and visual appeal) with a total of seven semantic, differential scales adapted from a scaling authority. The attributes were rated as: visual—“appealing”, “desirable,” and “very interested in tasting”; fragrance—“appealing” and “pleasant”; and taste—“tasty” and “desirable”. Garden Day participants were self-selected to evaluate and taste flowers from a consumer perspective. When asked to rate the three species on visual appeal and desire, no less than 76% of consumers awarded all flowers an acceptable rating. We found similar results when consumers answered questions regarding the taste of two of the three species. Results from this study support our hypothesis that customers would rate edible flower attributes highly and would be likely to purchase and serve the three species tested. Members of the Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Association participated in a similar survey. At least 66% of these chefs rated the three visual attributes and two fragrance attributes of viola and nasturtium acceptable. Chefs' ratings of the fragrance of borage as “appealing” and “pleasant” were higher than those of consumers, but the ratings were still low, 21% and 25%, respectively. Unlike consumers, chefs' ratings of the taste of viola as “appealing” and “desirable” were low (29% and 36%, respectively). We found some minor differences in ratings when groups were compared, using demographic variables as a basis for segmentation, indicating a homogenous marketing strategy may be employed.

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Kathleen M. Kelley, Bridget K. Behe, John A. Biernbaum, and Kenneth L. Poff

Two identical surveys were conducted with separate samples to determine consumer perceptions of the quality of five edible flower species. Participants were either members of a class that reviewed the history and uses of edible flowers at an annual, 1-day event (Garden Days) or Michigan Master Gardeners who attended a similar class. Participants were shown a randomized series of projected photographic slides of five edible flower species and asked to indicate whether they found the flower quality acceptable. The slides depicted a range of ratings of mechanical damage, insect damage, or flower senescence on a Likert reference scale (1 through 5) developed by the researchers. A flower rated 5 was flawless, while a flower rated 1 had substantial damage. Nearly one-half of all participants had eaten edible flowers before the study, and 57% to 59% had grown them for their own consumption, indicating many individuals had previous experience. Both samples rated flower quality equally and found pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana `Accord Banner Clear Mixture'), tuberous begonia (Begonia ×tuberhybrida `Ornament Pink'), and viola (Viola tricolor `Helen Mount') acceptable from stage 5 to 3. Both groups found the nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus `Jewel Mix') flowers acceptable at only rating 5. Garden Days participants rated borage (Borago officinalis) acceptable from ratings 5 to 3, while the Master Gardeners rated their acceptability from only 5 to 4. Participants also rated flower color (yellow, orange, and blue) as equally acceptable.

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Kathleen M. Kelley, Bridget K. Behe, John A. Biernbaum, and Kenneth L. Poff

Three separate marketing studies were conducted during 2000 to determine consumer purchase behavior, use, and potential for purchasing edible flowers. First, a telephone survey was administered to 423 randomly selected residences in the Metro-Detroit area. Participants with some college education were more likely to have eaten edible flowers, would be more likely to eat them, and would be more likely to buy them. A second survey conducted with 25 Michigan Master Gardeners collected more detailed responses about edible flower purchase and use. Females were more likely to purchase edible flowers than males. Single-person households were less likely to have grown edible flowers than larger households. Participants with an annual income ≤$39,999 were half as likely to have purchased edible flowers as the higher income group. A third consumer survey was conducted over a 6-week period with three Metro-Detroit area grocery stores where consumers purchased containers of edible flowers with an attached survey form. A total of 243 of 360 containers of edible flowers were sold, and we received a 27% response rate. All respondents (100%) with an annual income ≥$30,001 were likely to like the flavor of the flowers. Across all three studies, there were few significant differences between demographic characteristics, which indicates that a homogeneous marketing strategy may effectively reach consumers. Based on these results, there appears to be is consumer interest in edible flowers, some consumers have had experience using and serving them, and will purchase them in grocery stores if marketed to attract the consumers interest.

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K. E. Cushman, H. B. Pemberton, B. G. Cobb, and W. E. Roberson

Viola tricolor seed were exposed to aerated solutions of water or 300 or 400 mM NaCl for 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 days. After priming treatments, seed were air dried, placed on moist filter paper in petri dishes, and set in dark growth chambers at 18 or 30°C for germination. priming for 6 days in water increased germination of `Crystal Bowl Yellow' seed from 80 to 88% when germinated at 30 °. Untreated seed germination was 92% at 18°. Priming for 6 days in 300 mM NaCl improved germination of `Majestic Giant Blue' seed from 57 to 76% when germinated at 30°. Untreated seed germination was 80% at 18°. These data indicate that seed priming could be used to improve summer germination of a cool season annual. Priming increased germination at the higher than optimum temperature (30°) to levels similar to that for the optimum temperature (18°). However, the best priming solution depended on the cultivar.

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M.R. Evans and G. Li

The annual bedding plants `Dazzler Rose Star' impatiens (Impatiens wallerana), `Cooler Blush' vinca (Catharanthus roseus), `Orbit Cardinal' geranium (Pelargonium × hotorum), `Janie Bright Yellow' marigold (Tagetes patula) and `Bingo Azure' pansy (Viola tricolor) were grown on germination papers treated with deionized water (DI), 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 (ppm) humic acid (HA) or nutrient control (NC) solutions. Seedlings grown on HA-treated germination papers had higher dry root weights than those grown on DI or NC-treated germination papers. Except for impatiens, seedlings germinated on HA-treated germination papers had higher lateral root numbers and higher total lateral root lengths than those grown on DI and NC-treated germination papers. Impatiens grown on NC-treated germination papers had higher lateral root numbers than those grown on DI or HA-treated germination papers. Overall, lateral root numbers for impatiens were higher for seedlings germinated on HA-treated papers than DI or NC-treated papers and highest lateral root numbers occurred on those impatiens germinated on papers treated with 5000 mg·L-1 HA. Except for geranium, seedlings grown in HA-amended sphagnum-peat-based substrates had similar dry root and dry shoot weights as those grown in unamended substrates. Geranium seedlings grown in HA-amended sphagnum peat-based substrates had significantly higher dry root weights than those grown in unamended substrates. However, dry shoot weights of geranium grown in HA-amended sphagnum peat-based substrates were similar to those grown in unamended substrates.

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Gang Li and Michael R. Evans

Seedlings of Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Tagetes patula (marigold), Viola tricolor (pansy), Pelargonium × hortorum (geranium), and Impatiens wallerana (impatiens) were germinated on towels soaked with either deionized water, nutrient control solutions, or humic acid solutions. Root fresh weight and root dry weights were higher for all seedlings germinated on towels soaked with humic acid as compared to seedlings germinated on towels soaked with deionized water or nutrient control solutions. Lateral root number and total lateral root length were higher for cucumber, marigold, pansy, and geranium seedlings germinated on towels soaked with humic acid than those germinated on towels soaked with deionized water or nutrient control solutions. Root fresh and dry weights were higher for impatiens, Begonia semperflorens (begonia), marigold, and geranium seedlings germinated in a sphagnum peat: vermiculite (80:20, %v/v) substrate drenched with humic acid as compared to seedlings germinated in substrate drenched with deionized water or nutrient control solutions. Foliar sprays of humic acid also resulted in increased root fresh and dry weights while foliar application of nutrient control solutions either had no effect or reduced root fresh and dry weights.

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Gonzalo H. Villarino and Neil S. Mattson

The use of saline irrigation water may be inevitable in the future since the freshwater supply is decreasing over time. In some regions of the United States, producers of both ornamental and agronomic crops are already facing a limited supply of high-quality water. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the salt tolerance of commonly used greenhouse bedding plants to minimize potential salt damage before use of nonpotable water sources is mandated. Research screening several bedding plants has not taken place for more than two decades. Therefore, we undertook experiments to screen popular bedding plants for salt tolerance during greenhouse production. Transplants were exposed to 0 (control), 20, 40, 60, or 80 mm sodium chloride (NaCl) in the irrigation water for 5 weeks resulting in average substrate pour-thru electrical conductivity (EC) values of 4.0 (control), 7.0, 9.8, 12.1, or 14.2 dS·m−1, respectively. Pansy (Viola tricolor) and zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia), the most sensitive species examined, exhibited 100% mortality when exposed to an EC of 14.2 dS·m−1. The least affected species for dry weight (DW) was snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) with a 54% reduction as EC increased from 4.0 to 14.2 dS·m−1. Only fuchsia (Fuchsia hybrida) and snapdragon were unaffected by an EC of 7.0 dS·m−1, whereas at 9.8 dS·m−1 all of the species had a significantly reduced DW as compared with control plants. Verbena (Verbena ×hybrida), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), and begonia (Begonia hiemalis) were the only species that did not undergo a significant height reduction in comparing 9.8 dS·m−1 to control. A classification of the 14 species is created here on the basis of plant DW to provide guidance as to which species could be irrigated with more saline water while not compromising plant growth and quality.