Potted plants need to be handled carefully right from late production phase to retailing to ensure the best quality. Proper handling of potted plants at retail ensures plants will perform to their genetic potential for the end consumer.
It is often impossible to keep plants watered when they are in supermarkets or on retail shelves. The delayed release of ABA-type products for reducing postharvest water loss has increased the need for other products. Therefore, to reduce dehydration, avoid wilting and maintain an efficient hydration system, a study was conducted at North Carolina State University to evaluate the efficacy of two products designed to improve the postharvest quality of potted plants: Chrysal VaporSeal and Chrysal Aqua Pad.
Two Products With Potential
VaporSeal is a water-dilutable concentrated spray product that reduces transpiration. Aqua Pad is a wood fiber mat that absorbs and releases water, thus providing extra water during the postharvest phase. Both products were tested alone and in combination for shelf life extension of five potted plants.
High-quality chrysanthemums, gerberas, poinsettias, roses and spathiphyllum plants, all in 4-inch pots, except 6-inch poinsettias, were received from commercial growers and sorted by plant size and number of open flowers into uniform groups. All plants were thoroughly irrigated and allowed to drain for 30 minutes.
To test VaporSeal, one half of the plants were thoroughly sprayed with VaporSeal at 25 ml (0.85 fl. oz.) per liter on both foliage surfaces until runoff and the other half were left unsprayed. Afterward, each plant was weighed and placed into a pot cover.
To test Aqua Pad, each plant was weighed and one half of the plants were placed on two Aqua Pads holding 140 mL (4.8 fl. oz.) of tap water and making a firm contact between substrate at the base of the pot and the pads, while the other half was placed directly into the pot covers without Aqua Pads and additional water. An additional treatment was also tested for chrysanthemum, gerbera, poinsettia and roses by applying Chrysal VaporSeal along with Chrysal Aqua Pad. Ten plants were used for each treatment. All plants were placed in a postharvest evaluation room at temperatures of 68°F under 20 µmol∙m-2∙s-1 light for 12 h∙d-1 at 40 percent to 60 percent relative humidity.
Both products were effective in extending the shelf life and reducing dehydration of all tested crops except Chrysal VaporSeal for poinsettia. The plants sprayed with Chrysal VaporSeal had a glossy look and delayed first wilting; however, it was not effective on poinsettias due to the sensitivity of the bracts. Plants placed on Aqua Pad stayed turgid and fresh. Both products should improve shelf life, customer satisfaction and sell-through potential. Moreover, they should decrease labor costs associated with maintaining displays, water use and plant wilting. The results for individual crops are summarized in Tables 1 and 2.
Editor’s Note:The authors thank Masson Farms and Altman Plants for providing plant materials.