Leonardite Influences Zinnia and Marigold Growth

in HortScience

The addition of leonardite may increase, or at least maintain, production quality of ornamental plants and permit reductions in fertilizer inputs. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of a Utah-mined leonardite on early stages of zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq. `Small World Pink') and marigold (Tagetes patula L. `Janie Yellow') growth. The Utah leonardite was characterized by comparing it to the International Humic Substances Society's leonardite standard. Zinnia and marigold seedlings and transplants were grown in sand and 1 sand: 1 peat media (by volume) with leonardite additions of 0%, 3.125%, 6.25%, and 12.5%. Both species showed positive growth responses to 3.125% leonardite in each medium compared to fertilizer alone. Plant responses to increased leonardite additions were generally quadratic, and optimal leonardite levels were estimated. For growing zinnias, optimal conditions were determined to be 7.5% leonardite in a sand medium for seedlings and 8% in a sand-peat mixture for transplants. A sand-peat medium containing 7% leonardite was determined to be optimal for growing marigold seedlings and transplants. Addition of leonardite to growing medium offers promise for reducing fertilizer use during production of some ornamental plants.

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