Effects of light and fertilizer levels on production of Cocculus laurifolius cut foliage

Material Information

Effects of light and fertilizer levels on production of Cocculus laurifolius cut foliage
Series Title:
ARC-A research report
Conover, Charles Albert, 1934-
Poole, R. T ( Richard Turk )
Agricultural Research Center (Apopka, Fla.)
Place of Publication:
Apopka FL
University of Florida, IFAS, Agricultural Research Center-Apopka
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
3 p. : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Foliage plants -- Effect of light on -- Florida ( lcsh )
Foliage plants -- Fertilizers -- Florida ( lcsh )
Plants ( jstor )
Leaves ( jstor )
Fertilizers ( jstor )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


General Note:
Caption title.
Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
Statement of Responsibility:
C.A. Conover and R.T. Poole.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location:
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
71302254 ( OCLC )


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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

Effects of light and fertilizer levels on production of
_-- Cocculus laurifolius cut foliage

..l 4 \ C. A. Conover and R. T. Poole
Si University of Florida, IFAS
,_ \ C Agricultural Research Center Apopka
oW.O \o\ ARC-A Research Report RH-84-9
Cocculus laurifolius (common name cocculus or snailseed) is an ever-
green shrub that will reach 15 feet in height in Florida, but is normally
pruned to smaller sizes in the landscape. Leaves are spectacular in
appearance, being lance-shaped, dark glossy green and dramatized by three
raised, light yellow veins running the full length of each leaf. Growth
habit is upright, but as stems increase in length they cascade. The over-
all appearance of foliage from this plant is eye-catching in arrangements
and it provides a form desired by designers.

On June 17, 1976, a 3 x 4 factorial experiment was established using
Cocculus laurifolius liners 4 to 6" tall in 10 cm pots. Plants were
planted in ground beds of Blanton fine sand with 2 plants per 48 ft plot
on 4 by 6 ft centers and replicated 3 times. Treatments included 3 light
intensities, 30, 47 and 63% shade, obtained by using polypropylene shade-
cloth and 4 fertilizer levels, 200, 400, 600 and 800 lbs N/A/yr, applied
monthly from a 6-6-6 (N-P 05-K,0) analysis dry fertilizer source. Fresh
weight (Ibs) of cut foliage (stems 12 to 18 inches in length) were recorded
at each harvest date and grouped into annual and 2 year totals. The first
harvest date was September 1977 and the last in August 1979. Sane light
pruning occurred prior to August 1977, but it was designed to shape plants
rather than harvest commercial sized stems.

Annual yields and the 2 year total was greater for plants grown under
47 or 63 percent shade than plants under 30 percent (Table 1). Although
cocculus will grow in full sun, it has its best appearance when grown in
shade because leaf color is darker and the 3 veins are more prominent.
Even under 30 percent shade, leaf color was not as dark green as when grown
under 47 or 63 percent, thus the higher shade levels appear best.

Fertilization level of 400 lb N/A/yr was best for the annual and
combined yields (Table 1). This level is above that recommended for
production of Pittosporum tobira cut foliage (1), but lower than that
required for leatherleaf fern (2). Total yield increased when the level
was raised from 200 to 400 Ibs, but decreased when 600 lbs was applied,
indicating a possible salt effect. The interaction of shade and ferti-
lizer levels (Table 2) shows that the best combinations were either 47 or
63 percent shade and 400 lbs N/A/yr. From an appearance standpoint, we
could not discern any difference between foliage grown under these shade

1Professor and Center Director and Professor and Plant Physiologist,

Subsequent to this experiment, we conducted several tests on post-
harvest quality of cocculus. In these tests, stems were cut 12 to 15
inches long, the lower 4 inches of leaves stripped and placed in water
under a light level of 75 to 100 ft-c for 12 hours per day at 75 F.
Harvests made during winter, spring or fall lasted 14 to 21 days, while
those made in sumner lasted 12 to 15 days. All these postharvest survival
periods were satisfactory and indicate cocculus will last longer than most
cut flowers.

Culture of cocculus is not demanding, and the plant has few pests.
Our planting was irrigated once weekly with approximately one inch of water
during dry periods and not watered during periods of rainfall. We observed
no disease development during the years we grew cocculus and the only
insect pests detected were aphids on new growth and at times slight grass-
hopper damage. Aphid infestations were not as serious as occurs on
Although cocculus appears to be an easy cut foliage item to grow,
there is at least one major problem for growers in areas subject to hard
freezes. Our experience shows that cocculus will not tolerate temperatures
below 25oF without incurring foliage and stem damage when in active growth.
When the plant is not actively growing (hardened), it can tolerate
temperatures in the 20 to 25"F range without serious damage. In
comparison, this plant is not as freeze tolerant as Pittosporum tobira
and is not as safe a choice in hard freeze areas. However, cocculus
grows rapidly and even when killed back will recover in several months.

We determined, based on yield during the second year (the only year
plants were at maximum size), at our suggested light and fertilizer levels
that 25 lbs/48 ft were produced. If this were projected to 35.000 sq ft
planted per acre, the yield would be 18,230 lbs. When sold by the bunch
(approximately one lb/bunch) at an average price of $1.25, the gross income
could approach $23,000.00 per acre. Although these data indicate this can
be a profitable crop, producers of cut foliage should realize that the
market is probably quite limited at this time because many designers are
not familiar with the product.

Table 1. Influence of production light and fertilizer levels on fresh 2
weight (lbs) of Cocculus laurifolius cut foliage harvested frac 48 ft
plots (2 plants/plot).

Annual Harvest (yrs front planting) 2 year
2 3
Treatments total

Light Intensity
% Shade

30 4.2 14.3 18.5

47 8.8 20.7 29.5

63 9.0 19.4 28.4

Fertilizer level
(lb N/A/yr)

200 6.6 15.0 21.6

400 10.0 22.4 32.4

600 7.1 17.6 24.7

800 5.7 17.6 23.3

Thble 2. Interaction of light and fertilizer levels on fresh2weight (lbs)
of Cocculus laurifolius cut foliage harvested from 48 ft plots (2
year total, 2 plants/plot).

Fertilizer level (lbs N/A/yr)

Treatments 200 400 600 800

Light level
(% shade)

30 13.9 25.4 12.4 22.3

47 24.9 35.7 32.5 24.8

63 25.8 36.2 29.0 22.5