Dark storage of three cultivars of bare-root Ficus benjamina foliage plants
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AbstractThe ability of bare-root Ficus benjamina foliage plants to withstand dark storage (simulating shipment) was compared with the storability of control plants grown and stored in pots. Bare-root plants were produced either by growing plants in hydroponic culture or in pots and washing off the soil from the roots prior to storage. The study included the common ‘Standard’ cultivar, which has dark green leaves, and ‘Golden Princess’ and ‘Star Light’ which have variegated leaves. ‘Standard’ and ‘Golden Princess’ hydroponically-grown plants and control potted plants lost a similar percentage of their foliage (less than 20% when stored up to 3 weeks). ‘Star Light’ pot-grown plants had lost 15–30% of their foliage when transferred without storage into the indoor environment, and up to 90% when stored for 3 weeks. The amount of leaf drop in ‘Star Light’ plants stored bare-root was always significantly higher than in those grown and stored in pots. A foliar spray of ‘Star Light’ plants with silver thiosulfate prior to storage did not prevent subsequent leaf abscission. The results imply the feasibility of shipment of bare-root foliage plants, and point to the possibility of reducing shipping expenses by saving transport of soil and containers. The genetic background (cultivar differences) in F. benjamina is a major factor affecting storability and subsequent performance under simulated home conditions.

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