Fertilizer Concentration and Moisture Tension Affect Growth and Foliar N, P, and K Contents of Two Woody Ornamentals

in HortScience

Crabapple [Malus ×zumi (Rehd.) `Calocarpa'] and maple (Acer ×freemanii E. Murray `Jeffersred') trees were grown in containers from 22 June to 3 Oct. with three fertilizer concentrations (50, 100, and 200 mg·L-1 N) and two levels of moisture tension in the medium [low setpoint (moist) = 5 kPa and high setpoint (dry) = 18 kPa]. Whole-plant growth was enhanced more by minimizing water stress than by increasing fertilizer concentration. Shoot length and whole-plant dry weight were greater (>29% for crabapple and >90% for maple) in low tension treatments (low water stress) but were unaffected by fertilizer concentration. Moisture tension also had a dominant effect on dry-weight allocation to leaves, stems, and roots. In contrast, foliar nutrient concentrations increased with fertilizer concentration but were affected to a lesser degree by moisture tension. Seasonal patterns in biomass allocation were little affected by treatments; the largest proportions of leaf and root biomass accumulated during summer and fall, respectively.

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