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Timing of a Short-Term Reduction in Temperature and Irradiance Affects Growth and Flowering of Four Annual Bedding Plants

Jennifer Boldt, James Altland
Horticulturae 2019 v.5 no.1 pp. 15
Antirrhinum majus, Impatiens walleriana, Petunia hybrida, Viola, annuals, bedding plants, energy, energy conservation, flowering, flowers, greenhouse production, heat, light intensity, lighting, spring, temperature
Heating and supplemental lighting are often provided during greenhouse production of spring bedding plants, but energy inputs are a major production cost. Different energy-savings strategies can be utilized, but effects on plant growth and flowering must be considered. We evaluated the impact and timing of a two-week low-energy (reduced temperature and irradiance) interval on flowering and growth of impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook.f. ‘Accent Orange’), pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. ‘Delta Premium Blue Blotch’), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr. ‘Dreams Pink’), and snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L. ‘Montego Violet’). Flowering was delayed 7 to 10 d when the low-energy exposure occurred prior to flowering. Flower number was reduced 40%-61% in impatiens, 33%-35% in petunia (low-energy weeks 5-6 and weeks 7-8, respectively), and 35% in pansy (weeks 5-6). Petunia and impatiens dry mass gradually decreased as the low-energy exposure occurred later in production; petunias were 26% (weeks 5-6) and 33% (weeks 7-8) smaller, and impatiens were 20% to 31% smaller than ambient plants. Estimated energy savings were 14% to 16% for the eight week period, but only up to 7% from transplant to flowering. Growers can consider including a two-week reduction in temperature and irradiance to reduce energy, provided an additional week of production is scheduled.