Two studies were undertaken to quantify the amount of water used by two container-grown bedding plant crops. Petunia × hybrida cv. Welby Blue and Pelargonium × hortorum cv Red Satisfaction plants were grown in 11-cm pots in a commercial greenhouse in Denver, Colo. In Expt. 1, rooted geranium cuttings and petunia seedlings were planted in Fafard #2, a growing medium containing peat, perlite, and vermiculite. Half of the plants were grown with the substrate covered. Each pot was weighed just prior to, and again 24 h, after watering. Measured amounts of water were applied to the pots. Geraniums in uncovered pots lost an average of 1.7 kg/pot over 59 days. Geraniums in covered pots lost an average of 1.6 kg/pot. Petunias, over 23 days, lost 730 g per uncovered pot and 623 g per covered pot. Experiment 2 compared water loss in growing medium amended with five different hydrophilic gels, and a control with no gel added. With geraniums, no differences were found among treatments in total water loss, initial or final plant height, or fresh or dry plant weight. With petunias, no differences occurred in initial or final height, or fresh or dry weight. There was a difference between two of the gel treatments in total amount of weight lost.
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