`Celebrate 2' Poinsettias were grown for 8 weeks in a controlled-environment growth room until first signs of bract coloration. In growth stage I (GSI; weeks 1 through 4) low, medium, and high N rates (25, 75, and 125 mg N/liter, respectively) were applied by subirrigation (no leaching). Following floral induction [growth stage II (GSII), weeks 5 to 8], there were nine treatments: all possible combinations of the three N rates in GSI plus three rates (75, 125, and 175 mg N/liter) in GSII. Although >80% of shoot dry weight and >90% of total leaf area developed during growth GSII, reaching an acceptable plant size by week 8 depended on receiving adequate fertilization in growth GSI. In contrast, leaf chlorosis, noted in plants receiving the lowest rate in GSI, was rapidly reversed by increasing the N rate in GSII. Quadratic regression equations fitted to shoot dry weight and leaf area data predicted that using 125 mg N/liter in both growth stages gave maximum responses at week 8. However, using 75 mg N/liter in GSI and 125 mg N/liter in GSII also produced acceptable growth in poinsettias. Our results suggest that some growth restriction imposed by N availability during the first 4 weeks of growth may be acceptable and perhaps desirable to reduce growth regulator use and the environmental impact of overfertilization.
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