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Investigating Asexual Propagation, Container Production, Drought Tolerance, and Marketing Strategies of Five Native Texas Groundcovers
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Awareness of potential water quantity and quality problems has risen with recent drought conditions throughout the U.S. In 2011, Texas experienced the most intense year of drought on record and mandatory water restrictions were enacted. Residential landscapes are a primary target of such restrictions. Selection of drought tolerant native Texas groundcovers began in College Station, TX in 2009. Species included Borrichia frutescens (L.) DC., Erigeron procumbens (Houst. ex Mill.) G.L. Nesom., Mimosa strigillosa Torr. & A. Gray, Oenothera drummondii Hook. and Phyla nodiflora (L.) Greene var. nodiflora. A suite of studies was designed to investigate potential commercial viability, propagation and production in conventional systems, and relative drought tolerances of the species. A market study was conducted to assess if consumers’ horticultural purchasing behaviors influenced their behaviors and attitudes regarding water conservation. Effects of propagation seasons (warm and cool), bottom heat regimes (none, 26.7, and 35.0°C), and K-IBA concentrations (ranging from 0 to 9000 mg∙L^-1) on cuttings were investigated. Viability of conventional production of the natives was studied by testing effects of seven substrates (pine bark, perlite, peat moss, and mixtures thereof) and three controlled release fertilizer levels (low, medium, and high) on growth and biomass. Mimosa strigillosa was omitted from the propagation and production experiments while all other species were propagated and produced effectively using conventional methods. Acute and chronic drought experiments tested the tolerance of distinct provenances of native species along with commercially popular exotic species. Native species were divided into use-groups such that E. procumbens, M. strigillosa, O. drummondii, and P. nodiflora were studied as groundcovers and B. frutescens was studied as a shrub. Strong tolerances to water deficits were displayed by B. frutescens, M. strigillosa, and O. drummondii. Market study research was conducted by surveying participants in Michigan and Texas. Participants provided their recent horticultural purchasing history and attitudes and behaviors toward water conservation. Eight segments were found based on plant purchases including “avid plant purchasers”, “tree purchasers”, “intermediate plant purchasers”, “culinary plant purchasers”, “indoor plant purchasers”, “flowering perennial purchasers”, “herb plant purchasers” and “non-plant purchasers”. Few differences among water conservation attitudes were detected.
King, Andrew (2015). Investigating Asexual Propagation, Container Production, Drought Tolerance, and Marketing Strategies of Five Native Texas Groundcovers. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from