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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
S; STORAGE OF FICUS BENJAMIN L. AS AFFECTED BY VITERRA AND TEMPERATURE
Richard T. Poole and C. A. Cover ---..
University of Florida, IFAS: .
Agricultural Research Cent r-Apopka
ARC-A Research Report R1-83-16I i; ic
Foliage plants are commonly shipped and stor(&F6rS3-t~-i~d day s ,,;th dark
without loss of quality, but development of internttirrat-markets-for-tropical
foliage plants will require plants to tolerate dark periods for 2 to 4 weeks.
Production environment, duration and temperature of storage affect the plants'
ability to maintain good quality during dark storage (1,2,6). Watering plants
10 days before storage or 24 hours before storage caused a difference in water
usage by plants, but did not affect quality of plants after storage (3). The
use of high moisture retentive amendments as a possible method of impr ving
quality maintenance during storage has not been explored, but Viterra tb/2
(hydrogel), a granular organic polymer, has been shown to increase water holding
capacity of the growing medium (4,5). This experiment was conducted to determine
if incorporation of Viterra(Dinto a potting medium would influence quality
maintenance of F. benjamin stored at various temperatures.
A 2 x 3 x 2 factorial experiment in randomized block design with 5 replica-
tions was initiated August 14, 1978, to test 2 levels of hydrogel, 0 and 3 kg/m3;
3 storage temperatures, 60, 70 and 801F; and 2 storage times, 5 and 10 days. One
Ficus benjamin cutting was planted per 20-cm pot containing 3 Florida peat:l
builder's sand (v/v) amended with 2 kg/m3 Perk and 4 kg/m3 dolomite. Plants were
fertilized with 11 g/pot Osmocote 19-3-8 (N-P-K) applied to the surface August 30,
November 14, 1978, and March 19, 1979. Plants were grown at maximum light levels
of 7,000 ft-c and temperatures of 55 to 1000F. Plants were stored in rooms of
85 10% relative humidity July 27, 1979. Upon removal from dark storage, plants
were placed in growth rooms with 125 ft-c for 12 hours daily at temperatures of
75 t 20F. Data taken included counting leafdrop following removal from dark
storage on September 24, 1979, and measuring height September 26, 1979.
Treatments did not affect height of F. benjamin which were about 150 cm tall
at termination of the experiment. Treatments did affect leafdrop after removal
from storage (Table 1). Hydrogel did not cause differences in leafdrop but both
duration of storage and temperature during storage did cause differences, Plants
kept in the dark 10 days dropped an average of 27 leaves/plant, but plants kept 5
days dropped only 16. Plants averaged 350 to 400 leaves, so leafdrop did not
affect quality, with all plants of excellent quality. Plants stored at 80F
dropped more leaves than those stored at 60 or 70F. Other research (7) showed
that 50 to 550F storage of F. benjamin was better than 60 to 650F.
Hydrogel amendment as used in this experiment did not appear to be beneficial.
Earlier work showed that moisture content variation did not affect storage of
Dieffenbachia (3). Hydrogel amendment to media, and watering at different times
prior to placement in storage did not affect quality of plants. Thus, it would
appear that moisture content (if not deficient or excessive) would not be a
-irl factor for maintenance of quality Ficus when plants are stored at
..:;vely cool temperatures with little or no exchange of air.
1. Batson, D. B. and T. M. Blessington. 1983. Influence of production
light levels on long-term effects of dark storage on the postharvest
keeping quality of Schefflera arboricola. HortScience 81(1):82-83.
2. Ben-Jaacov, J., R. T. Poole and C. A. Conover. 1982. Effects of long-
term dark storage on quality of Schefflera. HortScience 17(3):347-349.
3. Ben-Jaacov, J., R. T. Poole and C. A. Conover. 1982. Effects of
nutrition, soil water content and duration of storage on quality of
Dieffenbachia maculata (Lodd.) G. Don 'Rudolph Roehrs'. HortScience
4. Conover, C. A. and R. T.
on growth and control of
1976. Influence of Viterra Hydrogel
of 3 foliage plants. Fla. Foliage
5. Conover, C. A. and R. T. Poole. 1979. Influence on activity of
Viterra R and effects on growth and shelf life of Maranta and Pilea.
Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 92:332-333.
6. Poole, R. T. and C. A. Conover. 1979. Influence of shade and nutrition
during production and dark storage simulating shipment on subsequent
quality and chlorophyll content of foliage plants. HortScience 14(5):
7. Poole, R. T. and C. A. Conover. 1983.
environments on foliage plant quality.
Influence of simulated shipping
Table 1. Leaf drop of Ficus benjamin.
5 days 16 az
10 days 27 b
60 17 a
70 17 a
80 30 b
ZMean separation within columns in treat-
ment groups by Duncan's multiple range
test, 5% level.