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Bridget K. Behe, Elizabeth H. Moore, Arthur Cameron, and Forrest S. Carter

The U.S. wholesale market for flowering potted plants, valued at $701 million in 2000, is growing much slower than the $2.1 billion bedding plant market, indicating the product life-cycle of the former may have matured. A mature product yields little profit. Customers who purchase flowering potted plants for indoor enjoyment may have expectations about them, including that plant life is finite and there is no opportunity for outdoor use. Because scientists have discovered how to force selected perennials to flower, marketers may reposition them as indoor flowering potted plants, creating a new product and potentially stimulating sales of this lagging floral category. One method for relating customer perceptions of new products to familiar ones is perceptual mapping, which shows how consumers implicitly categorize products. Defining how consumers perceive the relationships between the selected flowering plants enables marketers to select the best opportunities for product positioning, merchandising, and pricing. We surveyed 200 self-selected visitors at a Michigan flower show in Apr. 2000 to determine their uses for, preferences for, and perceptions of three traditional indoor flowering potted plants and six traditional outdoor perennials. Perceptions were recorded on a seven-point scale. Squared Euclidean distances were calculated to derive the map in which two major dimensions emerged: use (indoor/outdoor) and flower color. Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Blue Clips' and Oxalis crassipes Urb. were mapped centrally, indicating participants had no strong perceptions for how these plants should be used. This suggests that Campanula and Oxalis have the greatest potential to be positioned for dual indoor and outdoor enjoyment, which may also yield some enhanced profitability.

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Kathleen M. Kelley, Bridget K. Behe, and Elizabeth H. Moore

Four-inch (10.2-cm) potted floweringCampanula carpatica Jacq. 'Blue Clips' (campanula) traditional herbaceous perennials, were sold in floral departments of three retail supermarket chain stores from 5 May through 20 May and 16 June through 1 July 2000. The intent was to determine whether repositioning campanula as a “new” indoor flowering potted plant would add to total floral department sales or detract from sales of more traditional flowering potted plants. Unit sales for all 4- and 4.5-inch (10.2- and 11.3-cm) flowering potted plants stocked in three supermarket floral departments were recorded weekly and compared with unit sales from three stores where campanula were not sold (control). Unit sales for campanula were similar to those of traditional indoor flowering potted plants frequently stocked in floral departments. Statistical analysis showed that mean unit sales of traditional potted flowering plants for stores that did and did not stock campanula were similar. Therefore, adding campanula to the flowering potted plant mix did not detract from or jeopardize sales of similar indoor flowering potted plants.

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A.A. De Hertogh and L.B. Gallitano

Dutch-grown Hippeastrum bulbs (`Apple Blossom' and `Red Lion') were packed in five readily available and economical packing systems and after transport and storage were evaluated as flowering potted plants. After being harvested and graded, bulbs were specially packed and placed in perforated cardboard boxes, shipped by boat to Raleigh, N.C., and stored in the original packing materials for 84 days at 48 °F (9 °C). At planting time, the best old basal root system and lowest disease incidence for both cultivars was obtained when bulbs were packed with hout-wol, a type of excelsior, in perforated polyethylene bags and placed in perforated cardboard boxes. Plants from bulbs with this system and those packed loose in polyethylene bags flowered the earliest. At full flower, the longest leaves were obtained with the hout-wol, box only, and wood chip systems. There were no significant effects of the five packing systems on floral stalk length, number of flowers produced per stalk, flower diameter, strength of the first floral stalk or leaves, or overall plant quality. After flowering, the root systems were harvested. The hout-wol packing system significantly increased the fresh weights of the old basal roots retained, secondary roots produced, and total weights of the root system. there were significant differences between cultivars. `Apple Blossom' produced fewer roots and lower quality plants (shorter leaves and taller floral stalks) than `Red Lion'. Other significant cultivar differences, e.g., days to flower, were attributed to genetic variation. Based on the most desirable forcing characteristics, the superior packing system for shipping and storing Dutch-grown Hippeastrum bulbus was hout-wol combined with perforated polyethylene bags.

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Seung-Hyun Kim, A.A. De Hertogh, and P.V. Nelson

Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of applied ancymidol, chlormequat, daminozide, paclobutrazol, and uniconazole on early spring (March) and late (May) spring forcing of Dutch-grown Bleeding Heart [Dicentra spectabilis (L.) Lem.] as a flowering pot plant. Most of the plant growth regulator (PGR) treatments delayed flowering, however, the average time to flower after planting was from 17 to 21 days for untreated plants and delays were only 3 to 6 days with PGR treatments. Thus, the effect is not important commercially. Acceptable plant quality and height control not only at flowering but also 14 days later was obtained with two sprays of 3000 mg·L-1 (ppm) daminozide or two sprays of 50 mg·L-1 paclobutrazol. Uniconazole reduced total plant height, however, because the inflorescence did not elongate, plant quality was greatly reduced. Most ancymidol sprays were phytotoxic producing a chlorosis of the leaf margins. Media drenches of ancymidol or chlormequat did not control total plant height. Sprays and media drenches of ancymidol, daminozide, paclobutrazol, and uniconazole produced plants with a very deep green leaf color, but chlormequat did not. The total number of shoots per tuberous root, the number of shoots with flowers, and stem strength were not significantly affected by PGR treatments. If the tuberous roots have been properly cold treated, they initiate growth rapidly after planting. Thus, the first PGR spray must be applied immediately after shoot growth is initiated, which was 6 to 8 days after planting, followed by a second spray 5 days later. Two applications are necessary because of uneven shoot emergence and growth from the tuberous roots.

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Annina Delaune* and Jeff Kuehny

The genus Clerodendrum is of interest to the floriculture industry as a woody, flowering pot plant because of its variation in type of foliage and flowers, production of many inflorescences on one plant, continuous bloom, fast growing and short production cycle. Plant height, however, needs to be successfully controlled to produce a marketable plant. Paclobutrazol (Bonzi) and ancymidol (A-Rest) have been shown to reduce plant growth and increase the number of flowers of C. thomsoniae. The remaining species are relatively new to the floriculture industry and very little information is available on use of growth retardants. Determination of the proper timing, number of applications and rates of growth retardants were studied. Paclobutrazol and ancymidol were applied either as a spray at 0, 100 or 200 ppm, or as a drench at 0, 0.5 or 1.0 a.i./pot to C. thomsoniae, C. ugandense, and C. bungii. Applications began three weeks after rooted cuttings were potted for three consecutive weeks, with randomized plants treated either in week one, two or three with all treatment rates. As in previous studies, C. thomsoniae responded to paclobutrazol and ancymidol by producing a marketable plant, while plant height of C. ugandense and C. bungii was not affected by treatments.

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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, Jim E. Barrett, and David G. Clark

Production and postproduction factors were examined to evaluate effects on postproduction performance and longevity of several varieties of potted African violets, carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hibiscus, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Various N rates (150–600 ppm) and fertilizer termination 2 to 3 weeks prior to flowering were evaluated. Chrysanthemums, hydrangea, and lisianthus had better quality and longevity at N rates ranging from 200 to 300 ppm, while all other crops performed best at 150 ppm N. Terminating fertilizer had no effect on longevity or quality of carnation, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, or kalanchoe, while chrysanthemum and cyclamen had a significant increase in longevity when terminated. Lisianthus had an increase in quality and longevity when fertilizer was continued to the end of production. Shipping at the proper bud developmental stage significantly influenced flower opening and longevity in the postharvest environment. Lisianthus and hydrangea need to have at least 75% of the buds fully opened, while carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, and kalanchoe need at least 25% to 50% open. Hiemalis begonia, a very long-lasting potted plant, tolerated a range of 10% to 75% open flowers at shipping. Optimum transport temperature and transport duration varied for each crop. Generally, transporting for 3 days at 2 to 7 °C was best for carnation, chrysanthemum, and gerbera, while transporting at 7 to 12 °C was best for cyclamen, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Hibiscus performed best when transported at 18 °C. Longevity and quality were maximized when maintained at 18 to 21 °C at 14 μmol·m–2·s–1. Differences in variety performance was a major factor in postproduction performance.

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Terril A. Nell, James E. Barrett, and Ria T. Leonard

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Jeffery K. Iles and Nancy H. Agnew

Nine herbaceous perennial species were evaluated for use as flowering potted plants for late winter and early spring sales. Plugs of `King Edward' Achillea × Lewisii Ingw. (yarrow), Arabis sturii Mottet. (rockcress), `Alba' Armeria maritima (Mill.) Willd. (common thrift), `New Hybrid' Bergenia cordifolia (Haw.) Sternb. (bergenia), Chrysogonum virgianum L. (goldenstar), `War Bonnet' Dianthus × Allwoodii Hort. Allw. (Allwood pinks), Phlox × chattahoochee L. (Chattahoochee phlox), `Sentimental Blue' Platycodon grandiflorus (Jacq.) A. DC. (balloonflower), and Veronica L. × `Sunny Border Blue' (veronica) were established in 14-cm (0.8-liter) round plastic containers, grown for one season and covered with a thermoblanket for winter. Five plants of each species were transferred to a 21 ± 3C glasshouse for forcing under natural daylengths at six 10-day intervals beginning 1 Dec. 1993. Arabis sturii, Phlox × chattahoochee, Platycodon grandiflorus `Sentimental Blue', and Veronica × `Sunny Border Blue' flowered out of season without supplemental lighting. `Alba' Armeria maritima and Chrysogonum virginianum also flowered; however, their floral displays were less effective. `New Hybrid' Bergenia cordifolia did not flower and `King Edward' Achillea × Lewisii and `War Bonnet' Dianthus × Allwoodii only flowered sporadically, therefore, these perennials are not recommended for forcing out of season using our vernalization method.

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Thomas H. Boyle, Renate Karle, and Susan S. Han

The reproductive biology of Schlumbergera truncata (Haworth) Moran and S. xbuckleyi (T. Moore) Tjaden was examined in a series of experiments. At anthesis, pollen grains are spherical, 54 to 62 μm in diameter, and tricellular. The receptive surface of the stigma is densely covered with elongated papillae and is devoid of exudate during the period of flower opening. When compatible pollen was applied to mature stigmas, germination occurred between 20 and 30 minutes after pollination and pollen tubes penetrated the stigma surface between 30 and 40 minutes after pollination. Pollen tubes exhibited a nonlinear pattern of growth in the upper two-thirds of the style, and the maximum rate of growth (≫1.9 mm·h-1) occurred between 12 and 18 hours after pollination. Full seed set was attained between 32 and 48 hours after pollination. Genotypic variation in the time required to achieve full seed set was partly attributable to differences in stylar length. Seeds were fully mature 6 months after pollination, but delaying fruit harvest until 8 months after pollination did not affect seed germination.

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Julie A. Plummer, T. Eddie Welsh, and Allan M. Armitage

Zantedeschia aethiopica (L.) K. Spreng. `Childsiana' is a dwarf white calla lily with potential for pot culture. Nine stages of flower development from macrobud to senescence were described and shelf life under a low-light postproduction environment was examined. Flowers at the macrobud stage opened in the postproduction environment. Plants with flowers at the macrobud stage (Stage 1) and plants with spathes fully opened but before pollen shed (Stage 5) had shelf lives of 26 and 11 days, respectively.