Producing ornamental plants more efficiently with reduced water usage is the aim of the floriculture industry, as water becomes scarcer in arid and semiarid regions across the globe.
Chiara Cirillo and members of an Italian research team coordinated by Professor Stefania De Pascale, say that understanding flowering plants' response to water management is critical for optimizing the production of high-quality potted ornamentals. "Water-saving irrigation management strategies are among the options available to horticultural growers to reduce water consumption and improve water use efficiency (WUE)," explained Youssef Rouphael, another member of the research team.
Deficit irrigation, which involves application of water at a rate and volume lower than the evapotranspiration rate throughout the whole growth period, can improve the quality of potted ornamentals. The authors added that the level and duration of water stress imposed in each species and/or cultivar are also critical. "Determining which varieties of ornamental plants have the ability to withstand soil water deficits is essential for sustainable production in this industry," they noted.
"Our results also indicated that the agronomical traits and water use efficiency of Bougainvillea appear to be strongly influenced by genetic factors and shape, suggesting that specific cultivars (e.g., B. glabra var. Sanderiana and B. ×buttiana 'Rosenka') and shapes could be selected as interesting genotypes and training system for ornamental and landscaping purposes under moderate and severe water deficit conditions."