Extending shelf life of indoor potted plants by evaluating novel water reservoirs

E.-L. Louw, D. Smit, C. Coetzee, E.W. Hoffman
Potted plants have grown in popularity as residential properties are becoming smaller and more people are living in apartments. Plants bought from chain store outlets serve as gifts and to beautify living spaces. Consumers consider containerised plants to last longer when compared to cut flowers. Containerised plants can be sold throughout the year, regardless of climatic conditions, as plants are often produced in greenhouses. However, desiccation in store is the primary cause of reduced quality as these plants require regular irrigation because of restricted root volumes. Water loss commences after the last irrigation is supplied by the grower. The rate of water loss is affected by temperature, light, relative humidity and air movement, during transport and instore. An interaction of these factors can seriously affect the water requirements of potted plants, especially during warm summers as is characteristic of the South African climate. The aim of this study is to extend the retail or postproduction (shelf) life of potted plants by evaluating novel watering methods to improve potted plants' accessibility to water in store and during the customer phase. Hydrangea macrophylla, Rosa 'Honora' and Spathiphyllum 'Sweet Rocco' with a current guarantee shelf life of 8, 10 and 21 days respectively were used. Four treatments (WaterWick, Aquastick, Aqua Pad and Gel4Pots) and a control were evaluated (n=6). Plants were scored for quality and weighed daily up to day 8 of vase life, where after weights and scores were recorded every alternative day. The best shelf life was recorded in plants subjected to the WaterWick and Aquastick treatments where an adequate and continuous water supply allowed the shelf life to extend far beyond that of the current retail period. The commercial potential for both these applications should be explored further for the South African ornamental market, especially the Aquastick, as it is currently less expensive than the WaterWick.
Louw, E.-L., Smit, D., Coetzee, C. and Hoffman, E.W. (2018). Extending shelf life of indoor potted plants by evaluating novel water reservoirs. Acta Hortic. 1201, 627-634
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1201.84
Aqua Pad, Aquastick, containerised plants, Gel4Pots, Hydrangea, potted roses, Rosa, Spathiphyllum, WaterWick

Acta Horticulturae