Scheduling Bedding Plants to be at their Peak each Week
Roberto G. Lopez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor & Floriculture Extension Specialist, Purdue University and Christopher J. Currey, PhD student, Purdue University
Properly scheduling your bedding plant crops can have a 4-fold impact on your business by reducing shrink (loss of profits), fuel consumption, and labor, while increasing plant quality for repeated sales. When a grower plans correctly, a new batch of flowering plants will be at peak quality each week to present to his or her customers. For example, this grower has three different planting dates to fulfill customer demand for petunias throughout the season (Figure 1). There is nothing worse than having a crop full of spent flower that should have been sold weeks ago due to improper or no scheduling!
If you want to sell your plants with color on them, knowing how your crops respond to photoperiod (day length), temperature, and light intensity will help you get the crop flowering by your target sales date (for information on flowering of bedding plant visit Purdue Extension Publication HO-249-W, Flower Induction of Annuals (pdf file)). For example, if you are trying to bulk plant ups to fill in a container, you don’t want to grow them under photoperiods that result in flowering right after planting. Take a seed-propagated petunia crop in cell trays (Figure 2). Since most petunia flower in response to long days, you’ll want to keep plants under short days for a few weeks after transplanting to promote vegetative growth and not flowering. After plants have reached a certain size, they can be placed under long day conditions to promote flowering for sales.
Scheduling plants is easy but can take some time. However, taking time during the slow winter months to schedule your plants will allow you to take advantage of reduced shrink, fuel consumption, and labor as well as increased plant quality and customer satisfaction.
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Figure 1. An example of a well-scheduled petunia crop, with three different plantings to fulfill customer demand throughout the season.
Figure 2. An example of a petunia crop that is prematurely flowering in the cell pack.