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Buyer beware: Stressed plants won't survive shipping
Date:12/3/2007

COLLEGE STATION, TX -- It's a common springtime disappointment: you buy beautiful, flourishing potted plants from your local retailer, only to watch the once-healthy flowers wither and die shortly after you place them on your patio or porch. How do you know you are actually buying plants that will thrive after they leave the garden store? New research published in the October issue of HortTechnology will give consumers better odds for identifying and purchasing healthy, long-lasting annuals.

Dr. Terri W. Starman, Associate Professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University, recently concluded a research study of potted annuals to determine the strongest survivors of "postharvest experiences" such as shipping and storage. Starman studied 21 vegetative annuals, popular garden plants marketed to consumers for use in landscaping and decorative containers. Most often sold in 10-inch pots, these showy annuals provide instant color for outdoor spaces and are consumer favorites for use in patio planters and window boxes.

On their way to consumers' homes, however, the annuals experience difficult shipping and storing conditions that have an impact on their survival. According to Starman, the annuals are usually packed in boxes at the growers and shipped long distances to retail outlets, where they often are left in the shipping boxes for several days. In the shipping boxes plants are subjected to high temperatures, low light, and increased exposure to ethylene gas.

Under these stressed conditions photosynthesis shuts down, causing plants to stretch, yellow, and "abscise", or shed foliage. Consumers pay the price when these stressed planets die soon after they are purchased from the retailer. The study showed that high-quality plants produced in the greenhouse may look healthy when they are removed from shipping boxes, but, within one week, the plants' quality declines, and by the end of three weeks most plants ar
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science  
Source:Eurekalert

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