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

Open access


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.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Alexenizer M. Dorn A. 2007. Screening of medicinal and ornamental plants for insecticidal and growth regulating activity. J. Pest Sci. 80: 205-215.

  • Alsanius B.W. Löfkvist K. Kritz G. Ratkic A. 2009. Reflection on reflection in action: a case study of growers conception of irrigation strategies in pot plant production. AI & Soc. 23: 545-558.

  • Álvarez S. Navarro A. Bañón S. Sánchez-Blanco M.J. 2009. Regulated deficit irrigation in potted Dianthus plants: Effects of severe and moderate water stress on growth and physiological responses. Sci. Hortic. 122: 579-585.

  • Autio J. Voipio I. Koivunen T. 1994. Responses of aster dusty miller and petunia seedlings to daily exposure to mechanical stress. HortScience 29: 1449-1452.

  • Baas R. Brandts A. Straver N. 1993. Growth regulation of bedding plants and poinsettia using low phosphorus fertilization and ebb-and flow irrigation. Acta Hort. 378: 129-138.

  • Bañón S. González A. Cano E.A. Franco J.A. Fernández J.A. 2002. Growth development and colour response of potted Dianthus caryophyllus cv. Mondriaan to paclobutrazol treatment. Sci. Hortic. 94(3): 371-377

  • Beel E. De Bruyn P. Frederick F. Lemeur R. 1997. Effects of different lighting strategies on the growth and development of Ficus benjamina. Acta Hort. 418: 37-44.

  • Benton Jones J. 1998. Plant Nutrition Manual. CRC Press Boca Raton USA.

  • Bergstrand K.-J. Asp H. Schüssler H.K. 2016. Growth control of ornamental and bedding plants by manipulation of photoperiod and light quality. Acta Hort. 1134: 33-40.

  • Bertram L. 1992. Stem elongation of Dendranthema and tomato plants in relation to day and night temperatures. Acta Hort. 327: 61-70.

  • Bhattacharya A. Kourmpetli S. Davey M.R. 2010. Practical applications of manipulating plant architecture by regulating gibberellin metabolism. J. Plant Growth Regul. 29: 249-256.

  • Cameron R. Wilkinson S. Davies W. Harrison-Murray R. Dunstan D. Burgess C. 2002. Regulation of plant growth in container-grown ornamentals through the use of controlled irrigation. Acta Hort. 630: 305-312.

  • Caron J. Rivière L.-M. Charpentier S. Renault P. Michel J.-C. 2002. Using TDR to estimate hydraulic conductivity and air entry in growing media and sand. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 66: 373-383.

  • Carvalho S. Heuvelink E. Cascais R. Van Kooten O. 2002. Effect of day and night temperature on internode and stem length in chrysanthemum: is everything explained by DIF? Ann. Bot. 90: 111-118.

  • Casal J. Smith H. 1989. The function action and adaptive significance of phytochrome in light‐grown plants. Plant Cell Environ.12: 855-862.

  • Cerny T.A. Faust J.E. Layne D.R. Rajapakse N.C. 2003. Influence of photoselective films and growing season on stem growth and flowering of six plant species. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 128: 486-491.

  • Clifford S.C. Runkle E.S. Langton F.A. Mead A. Foster S.A. Pearson S. Heins R.D. 2004. Height control of poinsettia using photoselective filters. HortScience 39: 383-387.

  • Cockshull K.E. Langton F.A. Cave C.R.J. 1995. Differential effects of different DIF treatments on Chrysanthemum and poinsettia. Acta Hort. 378: 15-25.

  • Cuijpers L.H.M. Vogelezang J.V.M. 1992. DIF and temperature drop for short-day pot plants. Acta Hort. 327: 25-32.

  • Cummings I.G. Foo E. Weller J.L. Reid J.B. Koutoulis A. 2008. Blue and red photoselective shadecloths modify pea height through altered blue irradiance perceived by the cry1 photoreceptor. J. Hort. Sci. Biotechnol. 83: 663-667.

  • Currey C.J. Lopez R.G. 2013. Cuttings of Impatiens Pelargonium and Petunia propagated under lightemitting diodes and high-pressure sodium lamps have comparable growth morphology gas exchange and post-transplant performance. HortScience 48: 428-434.

  • Davis T.D. Skytt Andersen A. 1989. Growth retardants as aids in adapting new floricultural crops to pot culture. Acta Hort. 252: 77-85.

  • Decoteau D.R. Friend H.H. 1991. Growth and subsequent yield of tomatoes following end-of-day light treatment of transplants. HortScience 26: 1528-1530.

  • Evans L.T. Hendricks S.B. Borthwick H.A. 1965. The role of light in suppressing hypocotyl elongation in lettuce and Petunia. Planta 64: 201-218.

  • Folta K.M. Childers K.S. 2008. Light as a growth regulator: controlling plant biology with narrowbandwidth solid-state lighting systems. HortScience 43: 1957-1964.

  • Garner L. Allen Langton F. Björkman T. 1996. Commercial adaptations of mechanical stimulation for the control of transplant growth. Acta Hort 435: 219-230.

  • Garner L.C. Björkma n T. 1996. Mechanical conditioning for controlling excessive elongation in tomato transplants: sensitivity to dose frequency and timing of brushing. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 121: 894-900.

  • Grindal G. Moe R. 1994. Effects of temperature-drop and a short dark interruption on stem elongation and flowering in Begonia hiemalis Fotsch. Sci. Hortic. 57: 123-132.

  • Grindal G. Moe R. Junttila O. 1998. The role of gibberellin and phytochrome in DIF-mediated stem elongation Acta Hort. 514: 205-212.

  • Grindal Patil G. Moe R. 2009. Involvement of phytochrome B in DIF mediated growth in cucumber. Sci. Hortic. 122: 164-170.

  • Hansen C. Nielsen K. 2001. Reduced phosphorus availability as a method to reduce chemical growth regulation and to improve plant quality. Plant Nutrition. Springer pp. 314-315.

  • Hansen C.W. Petersen K.K. Larsen A.K. 2003. Effects of reduced nutrient and water availability on plant growth and post-production quality of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Acta Hort. 669: 269-274.

  • Hatt Graham H.A. Decoteau D.R. 1995. Regulation of bell pepper seedling growth with end-of-day supplemental fluorescent light. HortScience 30: 487-489.

  • Hendriks L. Ueber E. 1995. Alternative methods of regulating the elongation growth of ornamental plants: a current assessment. Acta Hort. 378: 159-167.

  • Ihlebekk H. Eilertsen S. Junttila S. Grindal G. Moe R. 1994. Control of plant height in Campanula isophylla by temperature alternations; involvement of GAs. Acta Hort. 394: 347-355.

  • Islam M.A. 2013. Genetic engineering and light quality as tools to control shoot elongation in poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd ex Klotsch). Diss Norwegian University of Life Sciences Ås Norway.

  • Islam M.A. Kuwar G. Clarke J.L. Blystad D.R. Gislerød H.R. Olsen J.E. Torre S. 2012. Artificial light from light emitting diodes (LEDs) with a high portion of blue light results in shorter poinsettias compared to high pressure sodium lamps. Sci. Hortic. 147: 136-143.

  • Jacobsen L.H. Amsen M.G. 1990. The effect of temperature and light quality on stem elongation of chrysanthemum. Acta Hort. 305: 45-50.

  • Jensen E. Eilertsen S. Ernsten A. Juntilla O. Moe R. 1996. Thermoperiodic control of stem elongation and endogenous gibberellins in Campanula isophylla. J. Plant Growth Regul. 15: 167-171.

  • Khattak A.M. Pearson S. 2006. Spectral filters and temperature effects on the growth and development of chrysanthemums under low light integral. Plant Growth Regul. 49: 61-68.

  • Khattak A.M. Pearson S. Johnson C.B. 2004. The effects of far red spectral filters and plant density on the growth and development of chrysanthemums. Sci. Hortic. 102: 335-341.

  • Kresten Jensen H.E. 1994. Effects of duration and degree of pulse-DIF temperatures on plant height and flowering of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana v. Poelln. Sci. Hortic. 59: 45-54.

  • Langton F.A. Cockshull K.E. 1997. Is stem extension determined by DIF or by absolute day and night temperatures? Sci. Hortic. 69: 229-237.

  • Latimer J.G. Mitchell C.A. 1988. Effects of mechanical stress or abscisic acid on growth water status and leaf abscisic acid content of eggplant seedlings. Sci. Hortic. 36: 37-46.

  • Li S. Rajapakse N.C. Young R.E. 2003. Far-red light absorbing photoselective plastic films affect growth and flowering of Chrysanthemum cultivars. HortScience 38: 284-287.

  • Lykas C. Kittas C. Katsoulas N. 2008. Gardenia jasminoides height control using a photoselective polyethylene film. HortScience 43: 2027-2033.

  • Lütken H. Sander Jensen L. Hovbye Topp S. Mibus H. Müller R. Rasmussen S.K. 2010. Production of compact plants by overexpression of AtSHI in the ornamental Kalanchoë. Plant Biotechnol. J. 8: 211-222.

  • Löfkvist K. Larsen R. Englund J.-E. Alsanius B. 2009. Light integral as an indicator of water use in commercial greenhouse nurseries. Acta Agric. Scand. Sect. B 59: 326-334.

  • Markvart J. Rosenqvist E. Aaslyng J.M. Ottosen C.-O. 2010. How is canopy photosynthesis and growth of Chrysanthemum affected by diffuse and direct light? Europ. J. Hort. Sci 75(6): 253-258

  • Mata D.A. Botto J.F. 2009. Manipulation of light environment to produce high-quality Poinsettia plants. HortScience 44: 702-706.

  • McMahon M.J. Kelly J.W. 1990. Influence of spectral filters on height leaf chlorophyll and flowering of Rosa x hybrida ’Meirutral’. J. Environ. Hort. 8: 209-211.

  • Mibus H. Hoff K. Serek M. 2014. Ethanol treatment induces compact growth in Kalanchoë. Sci. Hortic. 168: 234-239.

  • Miller W.B. Hammer P.A. Kirk T.I. 1993. Reversed greenhouse temperatures alter carbohydrate status in Lilium longiflorum Thunb. ‘Nellie White’. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 118: 736-740.

  • Miralles-Crespo J. Sánches-Blanco M.J. Navarro G.A. Martínez-Sánches J.J. Franco L.J.A. Bañón A.S. 2010. Comparison of stem diameter variations in three small ornamental shrubs under water stress. HortScience 45(11):1681-1689.

  • Moe R. 1990. Effect of day and night temperature alternations and of plant growth regulators on stem elongation and flowering of the long-day plant Campanula isophylla Moretti. Sci. Hortic. 43: 291-305.

  • Moe R. Glomsrud N. Bratberg I. Valsø S. 1992. Control of plant height in Poinsettia by temperature drop and graphical tracking. Acta Hort. 327: 41-48.

  • Moe R. Willumsen K. Ihlebekk I.H. Stupa A.I. Glomsrud N.M. Mortensen L.M. 1995. DIF and temperature drop responses in SDP and LDP a comparison. Acta Hort. 378: 27-33.

  • Morgan D. Smith H. 1979. A systematic relationship between phytochrome-controlled development and species habitat for plants grown in simulated natural radiation. Planta 145: 253-258.

  • Morgan D.C. Smith H. 1976. Linear relationship between phytochrome photoequilibrium and growth in plants under simulated natural radiation. Nature 262: 210-212

  • Morrow R.C. 2008. LED Lighting in Horticulture. HortScience 43: 1947-1950.

  • Mortensen L.M. 2014. The effect of photon flux density and lighting period on growth flowering powdery mildew and water relations of miniature roses. Amer. J. Plant Sci. 5: 1813-1818.

  • Mortensen L.M. Strømme E. 1987. Effects of light quality on some greenhouse crops. Sci. Hortic. 33: 27-36.

  • Myster J. Junttila O. Lindgaard B. Moe R. 1997. emperature alternations and the influence of gibberellins and indoleacetic acid on elongation growth and flowering of Begonia × hiemalis Fotsch. Plant Growth Regul. 21: 135-144.

  • Nelson P.V. 1998. Greenhouse operation and management. Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River. USA.

  • Neto A.E.F. Boldrin K.V.F. Mattson N.S. 2015. Nutrition and quality in ornamental plants. Ornamental Horticulture 21(2): 139-150

  • Norcini J.G. Hudson W.G. Garber M.P. Jones R.K. Chase A.R. Bondari K. 1996. Pest management in the US greenhouse and nursery industry: III. Plant Growth Regul. HortTechnology 6: 207-210.

  • Ottosen C.-O. Rosenqvist E. Aaslyng J.M. Jakobsen L. 2004. Dynamic climate control in combination with average temperature control saves energy in ornamentals. Acta Hort. 691: 133-140.

  • Oyaert E. Volckaert E. Debergh P.C. 1995. Growth of Chrysanthemum under coloured plastic films with different light qualities and quantities. Sci. Hortic. 79: 105-205.

  • Parker M.W. Borthwick H.A. Rappleye L.E. 1950. Photoperiodic responses of poinsettia. Florist’s Exchange 115(20):11 49-50.

  • Poorter H. Bühler J. van Dusschoten D. Climent J. Postma J.A. 2012. Pot size matters: a meta-analysis of the effects of rooting volume on plant growth. Functional Plant Biology 39: 839-850.

  • Rademacher W. 2015. Plant growth regulators: Backgrounds and uses in plant production. J. Plant Growth Regul. 34: 845-872

  • Rademacher W. Bucci T. 2002. New plant growth regulators: High risk investment? HortTechnology 12: 64-67.

  • Rajapakse N.C. Kelly J.W. 1995. Spectral filters and growing season influence growth and carbohydrate status of Chrysanthemum. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci 120: 78-83.

  • Runkle E.S. Heins R.D. 2001. Specific functions of red far red and blue light in flowering and stem extension of long-day plants. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 126: 275-282.

  • Runkle E.S. Padhye S.R. Oh W. Getter K. 2012. Replacing incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps may delay flowering. Sci. Hortic. 143:56-61.

  • Sager J. Smith H. Edwards J. Cyr K. 1988. Photosynthetic efficiency and phytochrome photoequilibria determination using spectral data. Trans. ASABE (Am. Soc. Agric. Biol. Eng.) 31: 1882-1889.

  • Sánchez-Blanco M.J. Álvarez S. Navarro A. Bañón S. 2009. Changes in leaf water relations gas exchange growth and flowering in potted geranium plants irrigated with different water regimes. J. Plant. Physiol. 166:467-476.

  • Schum A. 2003. Mutation breeding in ornamentals: an efficient breeding method? Acta Hort. 612: 47-60.

  • Schüssler H.K. Bergstrand K.J. 2012. Control of the shoot elongation in bedding plants using extreme short day treatments. Acta Hort. 956: 409-415.

  • Schüssler H.K. Kosiba A. 2006. Effects of extreme short-day treatment (ESD) on the development and appearance of Calibrachoa hybr. Cerv. and Scaevola saligna G. Forst. Acta Hort. 711: 297-300.

  • Skytt Andersen A. Andersen L. 2000. Growth regulation as a necessary prerequisite for introduction of new plants. Acta Hort. 541: 183-192.

  • Starkey K.R. Andersson N.E. 2000. Effects of light and nitrogen supply on the allocation of dry matter and calcium in poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch). J. Hortic. Sci. Biotech. 75: 251-258.

  • Tangerås H. 1979. Modifying effects of ancymidol and gibberellins on temperature induced elongation in Fuchsia × hybrida. Acta Hort. 91: 411-417.

  • Tantau H.-J. 1998. Energy saving potential of greenhouse climate control. Mathematics and Computers in Simulation 48: 93-101.

  • Tatineni A. Rajapakse N.C. Fernandez T. Rieck J.R. 2000. Effectiveness of plant growth regulators under photoselective greenhouse covers. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci 125: 673-678.

  • Teixeira da Silva J.A. 2004. Ornamental chrysanthemums: improvement by biotechnology. Plant Cell Tissue Organ Cult. 79: 1-18.

  • van Haeringen C.J. West J.S. Davis F.J. Gilbert A. Hadley P. Pearson S. Wheldon A.E. Henbest R.G.C. 1998. The development of solid spectral filters for the regulation of plant growth. Photochem. Photobiol. 67: 407-413.

  • van Ieperen W. 2012. Plant morphological and developmental responses to light quality in a horticultural context. Acta Hort. 956: 131-139.

  • Vince-Prue D. 1977. Photocontrol of stem elongation in light-grown plants of Fuchsia hybrida. Planta 133: 149-156.

  • Warrington I. Norton R. 1991. An evaluation of plant growth and development under various daily quantum integrals. J. Americ. Soc. Hort. Sci. 116: 544-551.

  • Went F.W. 1944. Plant growth under controlled conditions. II. Thermoperiodicity in Growth and Fruiting of the Tomato. Am. J. Bot. 31(3): 135-150.

  • Xiong J. Grindal Patil G. Moe R. 2002. Effects of DIF and end-of-day light quality on stem elongation in Cucumis sativus. Sci. Hortic. 94: 219-229.

  • Yamaguchi S. 2008. Gibberellin metabolism and its regulation. Annu. Rev. Plant Biol. 59: 225-251.

  • Yang Z.-C. Kubota C. Chia P.-L. Kacira M. 2012. Effect of end-of-day far red light from a movable LED fixture on squash rootstock hypocotyl elongation. Sci. Hortic. 136: 81-86.

Journal information
Impact Factor

Web of Science, IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.532

CiteScore 2018: 0.6

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.198
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.644

Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 868 470 30
PDF Downloads 446 267 21