Hydrophilic Polymer Amendment in Field Soil to Improve Establishment of Perennial Wildflowers at Transplanting

in HortScience
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  • 1 1-87 Agriculture Building, University of Columbia—Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211

Perennial wildflowers, once established, are a low-maintenance alternative in a flowerbed. However, water stress and poor root development in field soil can be detrimental to young plants at the time of transplanting. A fully expanded hydrogel, HydroSource, was incorporated to replace 0% (control), 7.5%, 15% (recommended rate), and 30% of the volume of a clayey field soil to determine its effect on plant water status. Addition of hydrogel reduced water stress in Asclepias incarnata and Gaillardia grandiflora plants. Plants growing in hydrogel amended soil had: 1) significantly lower stomatal resistance (P < 0.01); and 2) significantly higher leaf water potential (P < 0.01). Gaillardia grandiflora control plants showed considerable wilting (reflected in high stomatal resistance and low water potential readings) on the 3rd day of the drought period while those with 15% and 30% hydrogel were turgid even on the 5th day. Hydrogel-amended soil appeared less compacted, and root growth in Asclepias incarnata increased with the increasing rate of hydrogel added to the soil.

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