Impact of a High Phosphorus Fertilizer and Timing of Termination of Fertilization on Flowering of a Hybrid Moth Orchid

in HortScience
Author: Yin-Tung Wang1
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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 2415 East Highway 83, Weslaco, TX 78596-8399

An experiment was initiated to determine the effect of a low N, high P and K fertilizer applied during the flowering season on a hybrid moth orchid (Phalaenopsis TAM Butterfly Blume.). On 1 Sept., plants of flowering size receiving N, P, and K at 100, 44, and 83 mg·L–1, respectively, from a 20N–8.8P–16.6K soluble fertilizer were given N, P, and K, at 30, 398, and 506 mg·L–1 (high P), respectively, at each or every fourth irrigation. Control plants continued to receive the 20N–8.8P–16.6K fertilizer. The high P treatments, regardless of the frequency of application, had no effect on the date of emergence of the flowering stem (spiking), anthesis, or flower size. All plants treated with the high P fertilizer had fewer flowers (15 to 19) than the controls (24 flowers). Continuous application of adequate N appears to be more important than low N and increased P for optimal flowering. In a separate experiment using the same hybrid orchid, terminating fertilization completely on 1 Sept., 29 Sept., or 27 Oct. or when the flowering stems were emerging (1 Oct.) reduced flower count (≤19 vs. 24). Flower longevity was reduced by 12 d when fertilization was terminated on 1 Sept. Flower size was unaffected by any treatment in either experiment. Discontinuing fertilization prior to late November reduced flower count. Withholding fertilization for extended periods resulted in red leaves, loss of the lower leaves, and limited production of new leaves.

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