103 Optimizing the Propagation of the Ornamental Grass Hakonechloa macra `Aureola'

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  • 1 Horticulture Program, Plant Science Dept., University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269

Studies initiated in Spring 1998 analyzed the influence of division size, shade, and temperature on the growth rate of the ornamental grass Hakonechloa macra `Aureola' in nursery-container production. To determine the optimum division size for production, container-grown stock plants were used to make early spring divisions of four sizes (1-2, 4-6, 8-10, and 12-15 buds). Divisions were established in 325-ml pots for 1 month before being transplanted to 3.7-L nursery containers. Plants were grown outdoors and received topdressed 17-6-10 slow-release fertilizer (containing micronutrients) and drip irrigation from June through September. Average leaf area, shoot number and bud count increased linearly as division size increased, but average height remained the same between each treatment. Plants of all division sizes exhibited healthy growth, with 50% of the plants in the 4-6 buds/division treatment growing to marketable size compared to 45%, 35% and 15% in the 8-10, 12-15, and 1-2 buds/division treatments, respectively. Four shade densities (0%, 30%, 50%, and 70%) were tested to determine which promoted optimum growth. As shading increased, average shoot number per plant decreased, average height and shoot length increased and bud count remained the same. To determine the optimum growing temperature for Hakonechloa, divisions were grown in 325-ml pots under four different day/night temperatures (15/10, 21/16, 27/22, and 33/28 °C) for 12 weeks in growth chambers. Plants were fertigated daily with a 5-25-5 liquid fertilizer. Average bud count, leaf area, plant height, plant width, shoot length, and shoot number increased as temperature increased to 27/22 °C, then decreased significantly beyond this temperature optimum.

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