Ornamental plants are bred and purchased for their aesthetical features such as colorful flowers and leaves, as well as compact and elegant stature. Petunia is one of the most popular bedding plants for urban areas and gardens, therefore, control of its growth and branching is essential. In commercial horticulture, the most common method to control growth dynamics is via growth regulators.
Mechanical stimulation is proposed as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical regulators. In this study, the efficiency of MS was tested on two cultivars of Petunia x atkinsiana. A brushing apparatus was set to stroke apical parts of young plants 40, 60 or 80 times per day between 14 March and 25 April. Several parameters, such as stem length, the number of branches, mature leaf area, the number of open flowers, were measured four times during the whole experiment: three times during the stimulation period, on 20 March, 4 and 25 April, and the last time on 18 May, three weeks after the stimulation stopped.
For biochemical analyses, 1 cm apical stem fragments were collected on 20 March, 25 April and 18 May. The results show that MS affects the growth dynamics in petunia, but the response appears to be cultivar specific. In both cultivars, brushing with 80 strokes per day produced the most spectacular effects in growth reduction. On the last day of brushing the POD and IAA oxidase activities in the strongly reacting cultivar were the highest in plants rubbed 80 x per day. The results indicate that MS can be very effective in controlling stem growth in at least some cultivars of petunia, replacing hormonal treatments.
Jedrzejuk, Agata & Kuźma, Natalia & Nawrot, Kamil & Budzynski, Robert & Orłowski, Arkadiusz. (2020). Mechanical stimulation affects growth dynamics, IAA content and activity of POD and IAA oxidase in Petunia x atkinsiana. Scientia Horticulturae. 274. 109661. 10.1016/j.scienta.2020.109661.