Methods for growth regulation of greenhouse produced ornamental pot- and bedding plants – a current review

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Abstract

Chemical plant growth regulators (PGRs) are used in the production of ornamental potted and bedding plants. Growth control is needed for maximizing production per unit area, reducing transportation costs and to obtain a desired visual quality. However, the use of PGRs is associated with toxicity risks to humans and the environment. In many countries the availability of PGRs is restricted as few substances are registered for use. A number of alternative methods have been suggested. The methods include genetic methods (breeding) and crop cultivation practices such as fertigation, temperature and light management. A lot of research into “alternative” growth regulation was performed during the 1980-1990s, revealing several possible ways of using different climatic factors to optimize plant growth with respect to plant height. In recent years, the interest in climatic growth regulation has been resurrected, not least due to the coming phase-out of the plant growth regulator chlormequat chloride (CCC). Today, authorities in many countries are aiming towards reducing the use of agrochemicals. At the same time, there is a strong demand from consumers for products produced without chemicals. This article provides a broad overview of available methods for non-chemical growth control. It is concluded that a combination of plant breeding and management of temperature, fertigation and light management has the potential of replacing chemical growth regulators in the commercial production of ornamental pot- and bedding plants.

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