Accelerate rooting of bedding plants with the right LED light solution

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Bordine’s is the largest family-owned grower and retail garden center operation in Michigan. The original Bordine’s location, which opened in 1939 in Rochester Hills, is one of the nation’s busiest garden centers. In the company’s 75-year history, Bordine’s has expanded to four locations including the 100-acre Bordine’s Farm in Grand Blanc, which was purchased in 1999.

Every year, 10 million seedlings are propagated on Bordine’s Farm. With more than one million square feet of greenhouse growing space, Bordine’s Farm grows 95% of their own annuals and perennials, and the farm alone employs more than 250 people during their peak season.

The challenge

Like other growers located in northern climates, propagation at Bordine’s takes place during the winter months when sunlight is at its lowest levels. Because the farm propagates the majority of their own annuals and perennials, Bordine’s is always striving to improve transplant rates and reduce rooting time to ensure plants are ready for scheduled openings in early April of Bordine’s garden centers.

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Recognizing and understanding the importance of spectrum in greenhouses, Dave Redoutey, the Propagation Grower at Bordine’s Farm, expressed an interest in testing the propagation of Bordine’s most popular annuals and perennials including Begonias, Petunias, Geranium, Vinca, Dianthus, and Lavender under Philips LED toplighting. Redoutey planned to compare trial results to historical data of growing under their current lighting situation—high pressure sodium fixtures and natural sunlight.

The solution

The first step in Bordine’s LED toplighting trial installation involved a visit to their greenhouse operations by a Philips Plant Specialist. Dr. Abhay Thosar conducted a detailed analysis of the existing light levels within the greenhouse where the trial was to be conducted. Based on Dr. Thosar’s light measurements and calculations and incorporating his knowledge of the annuals being propagated, Thosar set up the toplighting trial with a light spectrum of DR/B MB.

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The LED-based toplighting solution from Philips opens up new opportunities to improve winter production for greenhouse growers of not only perennials but also bedding plants, potted roses, and ornamentals as well as high-wire tomatoes and peppers, and leafy greens including lettuce and herbs.

Philips GreenPower LED toplighting module

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Benefits

With rooting being the slowest part of the process, the results of the four-week trial were as, Redoutey said, “amazing when compared to growing under our HID (high intensity discharge) lights.” Comparing the results of the trial, Redoutey noted the following with the LED lit plants:

  • More compact growth when examining and measuring to the height of the apical point
  • Increased basal, vegetative bud development without the use of PGRs
  • Faster root development allowing for earlier transplanting
  • Prominent pigmentation particularly in geranium leaves
  • Leaves were sturdier and tougher to the touch indicating healthier growth

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Redoutey is more than satisfied with the results of the trial and he also added, “I also feel like I’m doing something good for the environment because the Philips LEDs use significantly less energy.”

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The success experienced by Bordine’s Farm with the Phillips LED toplighting module demonstrates the benefits that the right light solution can offer greenhouse growers in their propagation and production phases. Redoutey said, “Just about everything about the results surprised me. I’m now a big believer in the Philips LEDs.”

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