Some Popular Foliage Plants are Ethylene Sensitive

Introduction: People working at home during the pandemic rediscovered the benefits of adding foliage plants to enhance their work environments. Sales of these long lasting plants surged dramatically during 2020 and 2021.  During this period and in the past, suppliers had noticed some problems with leaf drop and leaf edge burn—symptoms that are associated with drying out, exposure to temperature extremes, and importantly, ethylene damage.

Most foliage plants are grown in the warm climates of Florida, Texas and California and shipped throughout the U.S. for sale at garden centers, big box stores and supermarkets.  Plants may be exposed to long periods of darkness, temperature extremes and vibration during transport and storage, some of which may trigger internal ethylene production in the plants.  Storage in supermarket distribution centers may also expose plants to high ethylene concentrations from motor exhaust and/or ripening produce. 

Although long recognized for its damaging effect on flowers, ethylene has not been considered a serious problem on foliage plants, but some plants are particularly sensitive, and require treatment to prevent damage.  Research at the University of Florida evaluated the ethylene sensitivity of 20 popular foliage plants and demonstrated the value of Ethylbloc™ treatment to prevent symptoms of ethylene damage.

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