Getting the most from foliage plants in the retail shop

Material Information

Getting the most from foliage plants in the retail shop
Series Title:
Conover, Charles Albert, 1934-
Agricultural Research Center (Apopka, Fla.)
Place of Publication:
Apopka Fla
University of Florida, IFAS, Agricultural Research Center
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
5 leaves : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Foliage plants -- Growth -- Florida ( lcsh )
Foliage plants -- Marketing -- Florida ( lcsh )
Retail stores ( jstor )
Foliage plants ( jstor )
Soil science ( jstor )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


General Note:
Caption title.
Statement of Responsibility:
Charles A. Conover.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
71194427 ( OCLC )


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The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida


Charles A. Conover i
Agricultural Research Center Apopka
Mimeo No. 72-6 U 4G 27

Retail shop managers are faced with the same problem .ewrienced
'-1' u^ 01
by consumers when they maintain foliage plants under interior conriTtieona

Those most frequently encountered are foliar yellowing, abscission (leaf

drop), tip burn and size reduction. Although these problems can be

discouraging to everyone they can be prevented or controlled in the

retail shop. In addition, when proper information is supplied at point-

of-sale, the consumer also remains satisfied and becomes a repeat


To get the most from any foliage plant.- especially for the short

term period in the shop there are three main factors to consider.

The first two factors, proper light and watering, are equally important

and are the keys to successful plant maintenance. The third factor,

proper nutrition is less important in the retail shop because it is a

long-term factor and of more concern Lo the consumer. Other important

factors include temperature, humidity, growing medium, disease and

insect pests and residues on foliage. Considering the three main

factors mentioned, the way to get the most from any foliage plant in a

retail shop is (1) give adequate light, (2) always keep soil moist,

but not saturated and (3) do not fertilize for the first 3 months. On

the other hand, to obtain the least from a foliage plant in a retail

shop; (1) provide inadequate light, (2) water only when soil is dry or

keep saturated, and (3) apply excessive fertilizer. Since these

recommendations probably differ from those practices used by retail


shop managers, further clarification is provided under the separate

headings of light, watering and fertilization. Comments on some

aspects of other, but less controllable factors influencing longevity

are also discussed.

Light Unless a greenhouse is part of the retail shop, the quantity of

light available in the shop will probably be much lower than the

location in which the foliage plant was grown. However, foliage plants

will not deterioriate rapidly unless light levels are below 50 foot-

candles. Desirable lighting for foliage plants in retail shops may

vary, but should be in the range of 150 to 200 foot-candles for ten

hours a day including weekends. Less total light may be supplied

for longer periods, as long as the equivalent amount received remains

the same (200 foot-candles x 10 hours = 2000 foot-candles or 100 foot-

candles x 20 hours = 2000 foot-candles). Light quality is less

important for foliage plants than those grown primarily for their

flowers. Light sources in retail shops may be fluorescent, incandescent

or a combination of the two types. Foliage plants look best under

fluorescent lighting and usually sell best from such displays. Excess-

ively low light levels cause chlorophyll degradation (foliar yellowing),

utilization of carbohydrate (food) reserves and formation of hormones

which cause leaf abscission; any of which reduce quality of foliage

plants in the retail shop and those obtained by the consumer.

Watering Proper soil moisture is absolutely necessary for plant and

root growth and prevention of root damage from soluble salts present

in the soil medium. A soluble salt level in moist soil of up to 2000

parts per million (ppm) will not cause injury to most foliage plants

* i; i


if soil is moist, but if soil is allowed to become dry plants may be

severely injured because the salt level may double or triple the

original figure. This occurs because the level of soluble salts

depend on the amount of free water present in a soil medium, and salt

levels double each time there is a 50% reduction in soil moisture.

Resulting higher soluble salts levels often severely damage root systems

which prevents absorption of nutrients and water and may predispose

them to disease organisms. Symptoms of injury from high soluble salts

on foliage plants may appear as marginal leaf chlorosis or necrosis

of newer leaves and yellowing and dropping of older leaves.

Application of excessive water to foliage plants also creates

problems, because saturated soils exclude oxygen and often cause root

death. Saturated soil conditions may be prevented by allowing excessive

water to drain from containers with provision for drainage, tipping

small containers without drainage on their side until excessive water

is removed and using a dipstick technique on large planters and

containers without drainage. Two rules to remember for proper

watering techniques are (1) never allow the entire soil medium to

become dry (top to inch is acceptable) and (2) never allow plants

to stand in water.

Nutrition Additions of fertilizer to foliage plants for the first few

months after moving to interior locations are unnecessary. Nutritional

levels supplied by growers are adequate under reduced interior light

levels fgr up to three months, and fertilizer added by the retail shop

manager increase the probability of soluble salts damage to roots.

Therefore, retail shop managers should not only resist the temptation

to add fertilizer, but should caution consumers about the practice.


Retail shop managers sometimes add fertilizer because the plant

is not of the desired dark-green color. However, in most cases this is

unnecessary, as foliage plants will develop a darker green color under

reduced light intensities found inside retail shops.

Factors of no lesser importance, but those where the retail shop

manager often has less control include temperature, humidity, original

soil medium, pests and foliar residue.

Comfortable temperature levels for humans will also be adequate

for most foliage plants. Humidity, unfortunately, is lower in modern

building interiors than optimum for foliage plants, however, proper

watering and maintenance of adequate light levels will aid in obtaining

the most from foliage plants when low humidity exists, unless levels

are less than 20 percent.

Foliage growers use many soil mixtures, but they generally have

in common the ability to retain water and fertilizer and still provide

proper aeration. When repotting is.necessary or desired in the retail

shop, a mixture of three parts sphagnum peat and one part perlite is

suggested. One ounce of Perk and four ounces Dolomite per cubic

foot should be incorporated into this soil medium before potting to

control pH and supply needed micronutrients. Addition of six ounces

of 13-6-12 Osmocote per cubic foot is also suggested where fertilization

for a year is desired.

Unfortunately plants are sometimes received that have insect or

disease causing organisms present. Foliar diseases are usually

controlled most easily by keeping foliage dry, although this nor any

method will have an effect on already damaged areas.

Soil borne diseases (root and lower stem rots) can usually be

controlled with a soil drench of Dexon and Terraclor. Use one ounce

of Dexon and 3/4 ounce Terraclor to 6 gallons of water and apply the

equivalent of 1 pint to a 6 inch pot, 2 pints to an 8 inch and 5 pints

to a 12 inch. Terraclor may cause slight growth reductions, but this

will not be unacceptable under interior conditions. Insect pests may

be controlled systemically with Temik, but plants cannot be sold for

10 days after treatment because of possible human toxicity.

Foliar residues are undesirable, but usually present to some

degree because of pesticide sprays and use of overhead irrigation.

Two methods presently used to combat this problem are use of shine or

cleaning compounds and hand cleaning with a soft moist cloth and a

small amount of hand soap.

In summary, remember that to get the most from foliage plants in

a retail shop (1) provide adequate light, (2) always keep soil moist,

but not saturated and (3) do not fertilize for the first 3 months

unless the plant is obviously nutritionally deficient.