228 Considerations for the Nursery Production of the Ornamental Grass Hakonechloa macra `Aureola'

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

Studies conducted in 1998 and 1999 analyzed the influence of division size, nutrition, and potting medium pH on the growth rate of Hakonechloa macra `Aureola' in nursery-container production. For each study, divisions were made from container-grown nursery stock in late March, then established in 325-mL pots in a greenhouse prior to being transplanted to 3.7-L nursery containers in late May. Grass plants were grown outdoors, under 30% shade density cloth, with drip irrigation from June through September, and, excluding plants in the nutrition study, received top-dressed 17-6-10 slow-release fertilizer containing micronutrients. To determine the optimum division size for production, divisions of four sizes were made (based on one to two, four to six, eight to 10, or 12 to 15 buds per plant). There was a significant division size effect on bud count, leaf area, plant weight, width, and shoot count only when comparing the two lowest division sizes with the two highest. Treatment effects were insignificant among divisions containing one to two and four to six buds, or between eight to 10 and 12-15 buds. Both the larger two sizes produced marketable plants; therefore, divisions with eight to 10 buds are recommended for a schedule aimed at producing salable Hakonechloa over one growing season. The smallest division class is believed to be the more efficient size when one merely wishes to increase plant stock. In a separate study, a factorial trial testing ppm fertilizer (28, 56, 112, 224, and 448 ppm N) and N-P-K formulation (1-1-1, 2-1-2 and 4-1-4) did not generate significant differences between formulations. Plants were fertigated once a week, and EC levels were monitored bi-weekly from leachate collected in drainage saucers. Plant responses to N rates suggest that electrical conductivity levels be kept around 2.5 mS·cm-1 from a 112 ppm N fertilizer (EC can go as high as 4.0 mS·cm-1 with 224 ppm N). It was evident H. macra `Aureola' prefers acidic soil in production. When lime was not included in the potting mixture (a control treatment equating to a pH of about 4.5), leaf area, bud count, and shoot number doubled relative to the three lime treatments (2, 6, and 16 g lime/L of media, or 3.4, 10.1, and 26.9 lb/yard3).

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