Consumer and market research, business marketing and management.
Greenhouse production of edible flowers and culinary herb
The Gardens are an educational facility that supports and integrates teaching, research, and service relative to the needs of the Department of Horticulture, the university and the public.
Research on storage and forcing of bare-root ornamental plants, propagation and production techniques for herbaceous perennials from seeds and vegetative propagules. A current focus of this research has been to develop forcing/production strategies for a wide range of herbaceous perennials based on vernalization and photoperiod requirements. This research is conducted in cooperation with several other faculty members in the department. Art is also an avid perennial gardener. Ornamental grasses are a current passion - and there is no telling what is next.
My research group focuses on the environmental physiology of ornamental herbaceous plants, with an emphasis on commercial floriculture crops. In particular, we are investigating how light (quantity, quality, and duration) and temperature (including vernalization) influence growth and development of annual bedding plants, herbaceous perennials, and potted flowering plants. Three underlying objectives of this research are: 1) to introduce "new" floriculture crops to the greenhouse industry to replace or supplement the production of other, less profitable crops; 2) to improve the production efficiency of crops currently grown; and 3) to minimize production inputs - with an emphasis on greenhouse energy - to reduce production costs. The major foci of my research program are listed below.
Lighting Applications in Floriculture Crop Production
There are two types of lighting applications in the production of greenhouse crops: low-intensity lighting to create artificially long photoperiods, and high-intensity (supplemental) lighting to increase photosynthesis and thus plant growth. Long days can promote flowering in some crops (long-day plants) or inhibit flowering in others (short-day plants). We are evaluting plant responses to different photoperiodic lighting strategies, including different lighting intensities, durations, and spectral characteristics. We are also performing experiments with supplemental lighting to better manage lamp operation considering the crop, production period, and ambient light conditions. Our overall goal is to use lighting to produce ornamental plants with desirable attributes (morphologically and physiologically) with the least amount of inputs (e.g., energy). Recent grower articles on lighting can be found on our Floriculture Production website.
Managing the Greenhouse Environment for Energy Conservation
With the recent rise in energy costs, some greenhouse growers have lowered their temperature setpoints to reduce fuel consumption for heating. A lower greenhouse temperature delays crop timing, but surprisingly little information is available on how temperature controls the rate of development of many economically important bedding and perennial plants. We are performing studies to determine how temperature and daily light integral (DLI) regulate plant development during the plug or liner stage and the finish stage. Effects on plant quality, including flowering characteristics, are also being determined. These studies will enable us to predict how changing the greenhouse temperature influences crop timing. For more information on greenhouse energy, please visit our Greenhouse Energy Cost Reduction Strategies website.
Growth and Development of Herbaceous Perennials
In the past 15 years, one of the major thrusts of the floriculture group at Michigan State University has been to determine the cultural and environmental requirements for production of flowering herbaceous perennials. One main objective continues to be determining how various species and new introduction respond to photoperiod, vernalization treatments, daily light integral, growing temperatures, and plant growth retardants. From this information, we can generate production schedules to flower crops of perennials for a predetermined date. For more information, visit the Herbaceous Perennial Production page of the MSU Floriculture website and the MSU Perennial Research website.
Plant Growth Regulators on Greenhouse Crops
A constant challenge for many greenhouse growers is to properly manage plant height and architecture of their crops. For the past several years, we have been quantifying how the timing, method, and rate of application of various PGRs influence growth and development of bedding plants, perennials, and potted plants. Research continues on products that are currently on the market and on chemicals that are being considered for use with ornamentals. Information on the use of plant growth retardants on greenhouse crops can be found on our Plant Growth Regulator Research website.
Flowering Physiology of Potted Orchids
Orchids represent the second-most valuable flowering potted crop in the United States, with an estimated wholesale value of $126 million in 2007 (for the 15 U.S. states surveyed). However, with the exception of a few genera, little is known about flower induction and development of orchids. One of my areas of research is to determine how environmental parameters (light and temperature) and exogenous plant hormones control growth and flowering of various orchid hybrids. The overall goal is to develop production schedules to predictably flower various orchids for sales at any time of the year. Visit our Orchid Research and Development website for more information and our recent publications.