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Rotating high-pressure sodium lamps provide flowering plants for spring markets
Date:9/21/2010

EAST LANSING, MIWhen consumers visit garden centers in spring they will most likely buy flowering ornamental plants that are ready for their home gardens. Studies have shown that consumers favor plants that are already in flower rather than those that are "vegetative"a preference that can present multiple challenges for commercial growers.

To satisfy consumers' wishes, producers of ready-to-flower ornamentals like bedding plants and perennials start growing crops far in advance of the spring buying season, often during the dark and short days of winter. When the days are short, commercial growers turn to "light manipulation" techniques that either promote or prevent flowering in preparation for delivery to markets. New research from a team at Michigan State University offers commercial plant producers a cost-effective method for producing market-ready plants that appeal to both consumers and retailers.

"Long-day" plants are varieties in which flowering is promoted under short periods of darkness, whereas "short-day" plants flower when the dark period exceeds a critical duration. To satisfy spring markets, some commercial ornamental growers create artificial long-day (LD) environments to produce flowering plants for delivery to retailers. Growers employ several methods to promote flowering in LD plants under natural short photoperiods. Methods include extending day length with artificial lighting, shortening the period of darkness by providing night-interruption (NI) lighting, or using cyclic or intermittent lighting during which incandescent lamps are turned on and off at specific intervals for a certain duration.

Matthew G. Blanchard and Erik S. Runkle from the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State designed an experiment to evaluate a technology for long-day lighting for commercial production of ornamentals. The experiment used four popular flowering ornamentals (campanula, coreopsis, petunia, and rudbeckia) to compare the
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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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