Surveys of visitor and grower perception of live potted plant quality were conducted in various locations in a large public display garden. Canna lily, Canna × generalis L.H.Bailey, was used to examine effects of defoliation by Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica Newman, on public perception. Chrysanthemums, Chrysanthemum × morifolium Ramat., were used to identify visitor and grower tolerance to flower distortion caused by western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), on single and multiple flowered plants. On average, the maximum amount of defoliation or flower distortion tolerated by any respondent was low (≤10% for canna and ≤25% for chrysanthemum). The level of acceptable injury was influenced by factors intrinsic to both the respondents and the plants themselves. Tolerance to injury was negatively associated with the risk aversion of the respondents. Visitors were less tolerant of injury on plants they considered for purchase than those that they would view at the garden. Similarly, grower tolerance was lower than that of visitors because producing substandard plants could put their professional reputation at risk. Factors that distracted visitor attention (e.g., presence of flowers and higher levels of background injury) increased their tolerance to plant injury. Visitors tolerated greater levels of flower distortion on multiple flowering chrysanthemum than on those with single flowers. We suggest that tolerance to insect pests can be increased by designing plantings that distract viewers from injured plant parts.
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Vol. 95 • No. 2