Research Matters - Ethylene and foliage pot plants

The shelf-life of some foliage pot plants is often limited by premature leaf fall, which suggests that they may be sensitive to ethylene in the atmosphere.

In the experiments described here, 20 different foliage pot plants were grown in peat-based compost in shaded greenhouses on commercial nurseries in Florida.

On reaching a marketable stage they were exposed for four days to air containing 0, 0.1, 1.0, or 10 microlitres of ethylene per litre. This was done in the dark to simulate transport by lorry, after which they were moved to a room that was lit for 12 hours per day at 21 degsC.

Exposure to ethylene reduced the display life of 17 of the pot plants tested due either to leaf abscission, leaf senescence or senescence of the spathe as with Anthurium scherzerianum.

However, there was considerable variation between different pot plants, for whereas leaf abscission was induced by the lowest concentration of ethylene in seven species, including Aphelandra squarrosa 'Dania', others, including Dracaena marginata 'Bicolor', were affected only at the highest concentration and Asplenium nidus and three other pot plants were unaffected at any concentration.

In other experiments, some ethylene-sensitive foliage pot plants were pretreated either with 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) or with EthylBloc(TM) (which releases 1-MCP) before they were exposed to ethylene. Both approaches gave considerable protection against ethylene damage.

Dr Ken Cockshull, Associate Fellow, Warwick Crop Centre, University of Warwick.

Sensitivity of Potted Foliage Plant Genotypes to Ethylene and 1-Methylcyclopropene by Macnish, Leonard and Nell (2011).

HortScience 46 (8): 1127-1131. ISHS members can view HortScience from the website

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next



Showy spikes, lush leaves and sweet scent all help to sell these appealing plants, writes Miranda Kimberley.

Get set for the National Plant Show 2018 - show preview

Get set for the National Plant Show 2018 - show preview

Growers will be aiming to take orders and increase sales by showcasing latest varieties at the National Plant Show. Matthew Appleby looks ahead to the event.

Crop protection: Ornamentals armoury

Crop protection: Ornamentals armoury

What can ornamental plant growers do to meet increasing pressure from the industry and consumers to become more sustainable? Sally Drury investigates the available product options.

Opinion... How to increase UK plant supply

Opinion... How to increase UK plant supply

Why don't UK growers produce more of the plants that the UK market demands?

Opinion... Co-operation is industry's best card

Opinion... Co-operation is industry's best card

What a great trade this is when one of us needs help. "The Container Revolution" co-operative exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a good example.

Opinion... Bridges needed across the sectors

Opinion... Bridges needed across the sectors

Horticulture Week's careers guide (HW, April 2018) is a revealing insight into what constitutes "a horticulturist". Horticulture is a coherent discipline.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 60 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive ranking of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover. 

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles