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Central Florida Research
FLORIDA and Education Center
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Research Report
Acclimatization of Brassaia actinophylla and Schefflera arboricola
R.T. Poole and C.A. Conover1
CFREC-Apopka Research Report RH-93-8
Snier 0of Flori
University of Florida
Schefflera arboricola (dwarf schefflera) grown under high light with 10 or 15 g of 19-6-
12 Osmocote per 6-inch pot produced tall, good quality plants with sturdy stems that remained
upright indoors. Best quality dwarf schefflera plants after eighty-six days indoors were grown
in 7500 ft-c and plants maintained under interior light intensities of 75 or 150 ft-c were of
comparable quality. Dwarf schefflera also maintained better quality than Brassaia actinophylla
(schefflera) at 75 ft-c, making dwarf schefflera more suited for low light sites.
The range of environments to which foliage plants can successfully adjust, and the time
needed for adjustment, vary for individual species and also depend on previous growth
conditions. Rapid adjustment to a wide range of environments, especially to low light interior
conditions, is a desirable characteristic for foliage plants. In previous research, Schefflera
arboricola (dwarf schefflera) performed better than Brassaia actinophylla (schefflera) when both
were grown under similar light intensities and then placed in low light indoor conditions (75 ft-
High quality dwarf schefflera have sturdy stems and an upright growth habit. A problem
sometimes associated with dwarf schefflera is weak stems that fall over (lodge) when plants are
moved indoors. The following two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of
production light levels and fertilizer rates on growth and quality of schefflera and dwarf
schefflera maintained in low or medium interior light intensities.
'Professor of Plant Physiology and Professor of Environmental Horticulture and Center Director, respectively,
Central Florida Research and Education Center-Apopka, 2807 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE, HOME ECONOMICS, STATE OF FLORIDA, IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AND BOARDS OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COOPERATING.
Materials and Methods
Experiment 1 began on July 16, 1991 when liners of schefflera and dwarf schefflera
growing in #72 cell-pack trays were potted into 6-inch containers, one cell per pot. Growing
medium was composed of Florida sedge peat:pine bark:builder's sand (6:3:1, by volume)
amended with 7 lbs/yd3 dolomite and 1 lb/yd3 Micromax (Grace/Sierra Co., Milpitas, CA
Schefflera and dwarf schefflera were grown to salable size in greenhouses where air
temperatures ranged from 70 to 950F and plants were watered three times per week. Maximum
light intensity at plant level was 1500, 3000 or 6000 ft-c. Experiment 1 was a 3 x 3 x 2
factorial test, with 5 replications per treatment, using a single pot as an experimental unit. All
containers were top-dressed with 5, 10 or 15 g/6-inch pot 19-6-12 Osmocote (Grace/Sierra Co.,
Milpitas, CA 95035) on July 16, 1991 and again on October 16, 1991.
When plants reached salable size (dwarf schefflera on October 10, 1991; schefflera on
December 17, 1991), they were moved into interior environment rooms where light intensity
from cool white fluorescent lamps was 75 or 150 ft-c for 12 hours daily. Air temperature in
rooms ranged from 65 to 80F. Watering schedules were changed to twice a week after plants
were moved indoors.
Height, plant grade (based on a scale of 1 = dead, 2 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair
quality, salable, 4 = good quality and 5 = excellent quality) and number of lodged stems per
plant were determined for dwarf schefflera on December 12, 1991. Height and plant grade were
determined for schefflera on March 12, 1992.
Experiment 2, a 3 x 2 factorial with 5 replications per treatment, was initiated on April
9, 1992. Liners of schefflera and dwarf schefflera, in #72 cell-pack trays, were potted into 6-
inch containers, one cell per pot, using the same potting mix as in experiment 1. Containers
were top-dressed with 10 g/6-inch pot 19-6-12 Osmocote and moved to a greenhouse where light
intensity at plant level was 2500, 5000 or 7500 ft-c. Air temperatures ranged from 70 to 950F
and plants were watered three times a week.
Schefflera in 7500 ft-c were damaged in May by heavy infestations of red spider mites
and leafhoppers. Plants never regained full vigor and growth was slower compared to that
expected for normal healthy plants. Height and plant grade measurements were adversely
On July 21, 1992, when both schefflera and dwarf schefflera had grown to salable size,
plants were moved into interior rooms. As in experiment 1, plants received 75 or 150 ft-c from
cool white fluorescent lamps for 12 hours daily, air temperature ranged from 65 to 800F and
plants were watered two times per week.
Height and plant grade (based on same scale as in experiment 1) were recorded shortly
after plants were moved indoors in July and again on October 20, 1992, when experiment 2 was
In experiment 1, interaction of production light level and fertilizer rate affected schefflera
quality (plant grade). Schefflera quality was better when plants received 3000 or 6000 ft-c light
and 15 g/6-inch pot 19-6-12, but increases in fertilizer rate did not improve quality of plants
produced under 1500 ft-c (Table 1).
Interaction of production light level and fertilizer rate in experiment 1 also affected
number of lodged stems on dwarf schefflera. Number of lodged stems after eighty-six days
indoors increased for plants produced in 1500 ft-c (Table 2). Lodging was not a problem for
plants grown under the two higher light intensities regardless of fertilizer rate because plants had
sturdier stems that were better able to support foliage.
In both experiments, dwarf schefflera grown in the two higher light intensities were taller
and had sturdier stems (when fertilized at the two higher rates) than plants in the low light
(Tables 3 and 4). In comparison, production light level did not produce as much variation in
height of the schefflera plants grown in experiment 1. Although schefflera produced in
experiment 2 were shorter as light intensity increased, the extreme shortness of the crop grown
under 7500 ft-c was probably due to combined stress of pests and light.
Plant grades of dwarf schefflera in both tests were much better when plants were grown
in the two higher light intensities, 3000 or 6000 ft-c in experiment 1, 5000 or 7500 ft-c in
experiment 2 (Tables 3 and 4). In experiment 1, schefflera grown in all three production light
levels tested were of good quality. Schefflera quality in experiment 2 deteriorated as light
intensity increased, but pest damage on plants under 7500 ft-c also reduced plant quality.
Only plant grade of schefflera in experiment 1 was affected by interior light intensities
(data not shown). Schefflera in 150 ft-c received a 4.6 average plant grade compared to an
average 3.8 for plants in 75 ft-c. Dwarf schefflera plant grades (average 4.1) were not
influenced by interior light levels.
The highest production light intensities tested, 6000 ft-c in experiment 1, or 7500 ft-c in
experiment 2, produced taller, sturdier dwarf schefflera with strong stems that remained upright
when moved indoors. Furthermore, dwarf schefflera were able to adapt quickly without losing
quality when moved from production light intensities as high as 7500 ft-c to low light interior
conditions (75 ft-c).
Neither schefflera quality nor interior performance was enhanced by the higher
production light levels and were best in both tests when plants were grown under the lowest
production intensity and placed in an interior environment where light intensity was 150 ft-c.
These finding confirm earlier research which also showed dwarf schefflera was better
able to maintain quality at low interior light intensities (75 ft-c) compared to schefflera. The
most important finding of these two tests is the wider range of interior light levels to which
dwarf schefflera can quickly adapt, when grown using production light levels high enough to
promote sturdy stem growth. After time under 150 or 75 ft-c interior light intensities, best
quality dwarf schefflera were those produced under the highest levels plants that are now
commonly used in commercial nurseries for dwarf schefflera production (experiment 1) or higher
Braswell, J.H., T.M. Blessington and J.A. Price. 1982. Influence of cultural practices on
postharvest interior performance of two species of schefflera. HortScience 17(3):345-
Conover, C.A., A.R. Chase and L.S. Osborne. 1983. Brassaia and schefflera. Nurseryman's
Conover, C.A., and R.T. Poole. 1990. Light and fertilizer recommendations for production
of acclimatized potted foliage plants. Nursery Digest 24(10):34-36, 58-59.
Conover, C.A., and R.T. Poole. 1979. Factors influencing acclimatization of Brassaia
arboricola. Foliage Digest 2(10):5-6.
Fonteno, W.C. and E.L. McWilliams. 1978. Light compensation points and acclimatization
of four tropical foliage plants. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 103(1):52-56.
Pass, R.G. and D.E. Hartley. 1979. Net photosynthesis of three foliage plants under low
irradiation levels. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 104(6):745-748.
Sarracino, J.M., R, Merritt and C.K. Cain. 1992. Light acclimatization potential of Leea
coccinia and Leea rubra grown under low light flux. HortScience 27(5):404-406.
Effects of production light levels and fertilizer rates on plant grades of Brassaia
actinophylla (schefflera) after fifty-six days in an interior environment'.
19-6-12, g/6-inch potx
Light intensity (ft-c)
5 10 15
1500 4.1 4.2 4.1
3000 4.0 4.2 4.5
6000 3.8 4.2 4.5
Interaction significant at P = 0.016.
zPlants graded based on a scale of 1 = dead, 2 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair quality,
salable, 4 = good quality and 5 = excellent quality.
YPlants grown in production light levels from July 16 until October 10, 1991 and maintained in
interior environment rooms from October 10 until December 12, 1991.
xFertilizer was applied July 16 and again October 16, 1991.
Effects of production light levels and fertilizer rates on number of lodged stems
on Schefflera arboricola (dwarf schefflera) after eighty-six days in an interior
environment. Experiment 1.
19-6-12, g/6-inch poty
Light intensity (ft-c) 10 15
1500 0.3 0.8 0.9
3000 0.1 0.1 0.1
6000. 0.1 0.0 0.0
Interaction significant at P = 0.006.
'Plants grown in production light levels from July 16 until December 17, 1991 and maintained
in interior environment rooms from December 17, 1991 until March 13, 1992.
YFertilizer was applied July 16 and again October 16, 1991.
Influence of production light levels on height of Brassaia actinophylla (schefflera)
after fifty-six days, and height and plant grade of Schefflera arboricola (dwarf
schefflera) after eighty-six days in an interior environmenty. Experiment 1.
Light intensity (ft-c) Height Height (cm) Plant grades
1500 40 29 3.6
3000 45 38 4.5
6000 43 35 4.5
linear ns ** **
quadratic ** ** **
zPlants grown in production light levels from July 16 until October 10, 1991 and maintained in
interior environment rooms from October 10 until December 12, 1991.
YPlants grown in production light levels from July 16 until December 17, 1991, maintained in
interior environment rooms from December 17, 1991 until March 13, 1992.
xPlants graded based on a scale of 1 = dead, 2 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair quality,
salable, 4 = good quality and 5 = excellent quality.
"ns, **; Results nonsignificant or significant at P = 0.05, respectively.
Height and plant grade of Brassaia actinophylla (schefflera) and Schefflera arboricola (dwarf schefflera) after production compared to height
and plant grade after time spent in an interior environment".
Brassaia actinophylla Schefflera arboricola
Light Height (cm) Ht Plant grades Plant Height (cm) Ht Plant grade Plant
intensity change grade change grade
(ft-c) Jul 27 Oct 20 (cm)Y Jul 23 Oct 20 change" Jul 27 Oct 20 (cm) Jul 23 Oct 20 change
2500 37.1 43.4 6.3 4.7 4.8 0.1 17.3 20.5 3.2 2.0 2.8 0.8
5000 28.5 37.7 8.2 3.1 3.6 0.4 27.1 28.7 1.6 3.3 4.4 1.0
7500 21.1 32.5 11.4 2.1 3.1 1.0 23.3 26.9 3.6 3.7 4.6 0.9
linear ** ** ns ** ** ** ** ** ns ** ** ns
quadratic ns ns ns ns ns ns ** ns ns ns ns ns
zPlant height (cm) and plant grade were determined for both species July 27, 1992, after greenhouse production, and again on October 20, 1992 after time spent
in an interior environment.
YHeight change = Plant height measured October 27 plant height measured July 27, 1992.
xPlants graded based on a scale of 1 = dead, 2 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair quality, salable, 4 = good quality and 5 = excellent quality.
"Plant grade change = plant grade determined October 20 plant grade determined July 27, 1992.
vns, **; Results nonsignificant or significant at P = 0.05, respectively.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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