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Fogging, misting systems may protect ornamental plants from cold

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By TOM NORDLIE
IFAS News
Florida winters are mild by human standards, but don’t tell that to an aglaonema, sometimes called Chinese evergreen.
The Sunshine State produces two-thirds of the nation’s ornamental foliage plants, many of them — such as aglaonema — tropical and subtropical species that suffer damage when the temperature drops below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The annual wholesale value of ornamental foliage crops grown in the U.S. is about $400 million.
Florida growers often produce these plants in shade houses, walk-in structures covered by loosely woven fabric that lets in some sunlight. When cold snaps hit, growers usually rely on conventional heaters to warm the plants, but fuel is expensive.
Now, a three-year study by University of Florida researchers suggests it would be more cost-effective to heat shade houses with water, using devices called foggers and misters that emit clouds of tiny airborne droplets.
The results were published in the current issue of the journal HortScience.


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