Does Nitrogen Nutrition in the Nursery Affect Plant Establishment and Performance in the Landscape?

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  • 1 Dept. of Plant Science, Cook College, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, NJ 08903

Ilex opaca and Lagerstroemia indica plants were grown over 9 months using complete nutrient solutions differing in N concentration [(N)A: 15, 30, 60, 120, 210 and 300 mg·L–1]. Biomass production increased as (N)A were raised from 15 to 60 mg·L–1, but was depressed by higher concentrations. Increases in (N)A produced higher shoot: root ratios. Maximum leaf N concentration was observed at 60 mg·L–1, with similar values at higher (N)A. Plant survival, establishment and performance was evaluated over 15 weeks following transplant (15 WAT) to a landscape with minimum management conditions. Despite the initial significant differences in growth, shoot: root ratios and plant N status, plant establishment was not affected following transplant. Plant characteristics changed significantly over time, and by 15 WAT, all of the measured variables were statistically the same across all treatments. Flowering was, however, delayed over several weeks for Lagerstroemia indica plants grown at the higher (N)A. Analysis of these results indicate that plant production under relatively low N levels in the nursery maximizes N fertilizer use efficiency without affecting landscape establishment and performance.

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