Pest Management Research

Dr. Arthurs speaking under one of the covered shade houses
Pictured: Dr. Arthurs speaks to growers under one of the project's colored shade houses, with more in the background, at the MREC for a May 2012 Field Day.

Effects of Colored Shade Houses on Plants, Pests, and Microclimate

Colored, or photoselective, shade nets are emerging as a production approach for outdoor floricultural crops. The plants are grown under colored netting which performs two important functions; transforming direct light into scattered light and selectively filtering different bands of solar radiation. This results in desirable improvement in plant growth characteristics.  Research at the UF Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (Stamps 2009. HortScience 44: 239-241) has shown that

  • Red and blue nets cause aspidistra to grow more compactly
  • Blue and gray nets cause philodendron to grow taller and
  • Red and gray nets cause pittosporum to have greater growth. 

Recently, 16 shade houses were installed at MFREC with various colored shade cloths (red, blue, pearl, and black).  These structures allow researchers to monitor many environmental conditions independently from each shade house.  Current research includes experimenting with azaleas, hibiscus, mandevilla, and crotons. In 2013, this will be expanded to include other ornamental plants such as hydrangea, rose, and chrysanthemum.

The current project asks three major questions:

  • How do plant top growth indices and flowering vary under colored shadehouses?
  • Do pest infestations differ between standard, dispersive, and photoselective shadehouses?
  • How does microclimate vary under different shadehouses? 

CLCE assistant professor Steven Arthurs is taking the lead on this project. His research will result in a variety of pest management recommendations for producers using these colored shadehouses. 

Results from this study can be expected in 2013.