Low-To-No-Heat hanging Baskets

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2010: $14,681.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Judson Reid
Cornell Vegetable Program

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: ornamentals


  • Crop Production: fertigation, intercropping
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Energy: energy use
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, risk management
  • Pest Management: biological control, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:

    The production of ornamental spring bedding plants is an important sector in New York with more than $107,400,000 in gross sales spread among some 800 growers . Many direct market vegetable growers use bedding plants as an early season ‘lead-in’ to produce sales. However, the production of flowers for the peak market season of May and June requires extensive heat inputs, often with propane, fuel oil or other non-renewable energy sources. Growers are challenged by escalating fuel costs. There is also increasing consumer demand for products grown with less non-renewable resources. Unheated ‘high tunnel’ greenhouses have become popular with vegetable growers for the harvest of early season produce without non-renewable heat inputs. Can these two systems be integrated? Hanging baskets of petunias may represent an opportunity to increase the profitability of unheated greenhouses (high tunnels) used for vegetable production. In this project the PI and farmer will implement a trial of ornamental hanging baskets grown above an in-the-soil crop of determinate tomatoes. Multiple combinations of petunias and other cold tolerant flower species will be evaluated for economic performance. These baskets will be hung in blocks of different densities to measure yield impact on the understory crop.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Data to be collected includes:

    •Photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) under the different blocks of baskets
    •Economics of low-to-no heat hanging baskets based on farm gate value of petunias and tomatoes.
    •Tomato yield under different basket densities (including a no-basket treatment)
    •Any pest/disease interactions between the crops

    This project will contribute to farm sustainability by:

    •Potentially increasing profits by maximizing space (light) utilization
    •Diversify farm product line
    •Produce ornamentals with low-to-no heat, thus reducing fuel inputs

    We will communicate our findings:

    •Via industry groups such as New York Flower Industries
    •CCE Webpage
    •Farmer meetings
    •Winter educational workshops

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.