A lack of adequate watering reduces the shelf life of many ornamental plants during retail. Our goals were to determine whether sprays or drenches with abscisic acid (ABA) can reduce transpiration and extend the shelf life of hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla). During the first 5 days after treatment, ABA drenches of 125 to 1000 ppm reduced stomatal conductance (gs) by 50 to 80% as compared to water. ABA-induced stomatal closure reduced plant water uptake from the substrate; control plants took up half of the plant-available water during the first 7 days after treatment, while it took 14 days for plants drenched with 1000 ppm to take up half of the available water. Control plants wilted after 12 days and time to wilting of drenched plants increased with increasing ABA concentrations, up to 23 days in the 1000 ppm treatment. Spray treatments had little effect on gs and no detectable effect on water uptake or time to wilting. Some yellowing of older leaves was seen with ABA drenches of 500 or 1000 ppm. Despite this side effect, ABA drenches have potential to extend the shelf life of hydrangeas in retail environments.

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Author notes

We thank the Center for Applied Nursery Research and Valent BioSciences for their financial support of this research, McCorkle Nurseries for donating the plant material, and Conrad Fafard Inc. for donating the substrate.

2Professor. mvanier@uga.edu