495 PB 175 PHOSPHORUS SUPPLY CONTROL OF BEDDING PLANT SEEDLING ROOT/SHOOT RATIO

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

It is desirable to have a large root mass and compact shoot in the final stage of plug seedling production. Marigold `Discovery Orange' was grown for six weeks from sowing in a hydroponic system. Hoagland's all nitrate solution was used at 0.25X for the first three weeks and 0.5X for the final three weeks. P was applied continuously in the control and was eliminated for the first one or three weeks in the two stress treatments. Weekly mot and shoot dry weights indicated: a.) P stress caused an increase in root/shoot ratio with roots larger than in the control plants and b.) restoration of P after a P stress resulted in a rapid shift of root/shoot ratio back to the control level with final root and shoot weights less than in the control plants. A continuous marginal P stress or a stress near the end of seedling production is suggested. Tomato `Marglobe' was grown for five weeks and impatiens `Super Elfin White' for six weeks in a 3 sphagnum peat moss: 1 perlite substrate in 288 cell plug trays. Fertilizer was applied at every third watering at a zero leaching percentage. The control nutrient ratio (mM) was 5.4 NH4+ NO3: 0.5 PO4: 1.6 K while the low P treatments contained 0.15, 0.1, and 0.05 mM PO4 throughout the experiment. The root/shoot dry weight ratios increased in the low P treatments. Tomato plants at 0.15 and 0.1 mM P and impatiens plants at 0.15 mM P had larger roots than the control plants. A continuous stress at 0.15 mM PO4 appears promising.

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