Effects of Media Porosity and Container Size on Overwintering and Growth of Ornamental Grasses

in HortScience

Five ornamental grasses {little bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash], prairie dropseed [Sporobolus heterolepis (A. Gray) A. Gray], feather reedgrass [Calamagrostis ×acutiflora(Schrad.) DC. `Karl Foerster'], flamegrass (Miscanthus Anderss. `Purpurascens'), and variegated Japanese silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensisAnderss. `Variegatus')} were propagated by transplanting plugs or field divisions into 480-mL (10-cm round), 2.7-L (no. 1), and 6.2-L (no. 2) nursery containers with media ratios (v/v) of 0:1, 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 1:0 rice hulls to sand, resulting in aeration porosities in 2.7-L containers of 5%, 12%, 22%, 28%, and 41%, respectively. Planting dates were between 28 Oct and 10 Nov. 1997; 30 Apr. and 7 May 1998; and 23-28 Oct. 1998 and 1-10 May 1999. Plants were covered with plastic and straw from the second week in November until the second week in April. Winter survival was evaluated 6 weeks after uncovering and for finished dates every 2 weeks thereafter. Species had a significant effect on overwintering survival, but container size and media did not. Sporobolus heterolepis and M. sinensis `Variegatus' had significantly lower overwintering survival than the other species. Container size significantly influenced growth; the 6.2-L containers had the highest values for all growth parameters. Growth response to media was a weak (nonsignificant) quadratic response, indicating for these species no clear trend for the best media aeration porosity.

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