ASHS Press Releases

American Society for Horticultural Science

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Planting Improves Heart Rate, Stress Levels of Mentally Challenged Adults

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Autonomic nervous system, cortisol response influenced by horticultural activities

A study examined how horticultural activities affect stress relief for patients who are mentally challenged. Two experiments conducted at a rehabilitation center and a residential home in South Korea measured heart rate variation and cortisol levels of mentally challenged adults. The researcher concluded that indoor horticultural activities have an effect on the subjects’ stress relief. Participation in planting activities resulted in the greatest positive influence on subjects’ autonomic nervous system responses.

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Twin-head Cucumber System Reduces Start-up Costs

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New technology proves more cost-effective than traditional single-head system

A technique for raising twin-head transplants and a twin-head ‘‘V’’ high-wire cucumber system was developed to address the issue of high start-up costs for greenhouse operations. The twin-head system achieved plant growth and fruit yield similar to a conventional single-head system on two long English seedless cucumber cultivars and two breeding lines. Use of the twin-head system resulted in significant decreases in start-up costs compared to the conventional high-wire system.

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Biodegradable Mulches Successfully Control Weeds in Container-grown Arborvitae

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Non-chemical method matches herbicides for managing weeds

Scientists in Italy evaluated the effectiveness of biodegradable mulches for weed control in container-grown giant arborvitae and measured the effects of the mulches on weed control, water consumption, evaporation, and substrate temperature. Results showed that mulches limited weed growth to the same extent as the chemical control. Container water content was unaffected by mulching materials in two experiments. Results demonstrated that transpiration was the main component of water loss from the container-grown plants.

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Modified Switchgrass Promising for Use as Nursery Substrate

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Alternative to pine bark proves effective when amended with compost, sphagnum moss

Switchgrass, a perennial grass being developed for its biofuel potential, was tested for effectiveness as a raw material for use as a nursery container substrate. Researchers evaluated the influence of elemental sulfur, sphagnum moss, and municipal solid waste compost as amendments for reducing switchgrass pH. Sphagnum moss and MSC together at 20% and 10%, respectively, were effective at reducing substrate pH and buffering against change while improving the physical properties of switchgrass substrates.

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Service Projects Increase Learning, Social Impact for Undergrads

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Horticulture alumni say benefits of service activities extend beyond graduation

Researchers integrated service-learning techniques into a university-level horticulture course and measured the impact on students’ perceptions of community involvement, perceptions of social impact, and how they felt they learned the course material. Findings showed participation in service learning improved students’ views toward community involvement and increased their understanding of course material, especially as alumni. The study determined that service learning can help horticulture students understand their career purpose, civic obligation, and meaning in life.

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Adolescents Underserved at American Public Gardens

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Study identifies challenges, recommends strategies for increasing services

Seven benefits, seven challenges, and seven strategies were identified in a recent study of adolescent programming at public horticulture institutions. A key finding of the study was that the adolescent audience is served less than any other audience, indicating opportunities for program expansion. The study recommends programming, staffing, and evaluation strategies that can help inspire public horticulture institutions to make positive impacts on the lives of adolescents.

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