432 Irrigation Frequency Affects Growth and Water Use Efficiency of Two Xeriphytic Landscape Plants

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  • 1 Dept. of Plant Biology, Arizona State Univ., PO Box 871601, Tempe, AZ 85287-1601

Growth and water use efficiency (WUE) of two Southwest landscape plants under various regimes of irrigation frequency was studied in a greenhouse experiment. Red bird of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima L.) and blue palo verde (Cercidium floridum Benth. ex A. Gray) were grown at three levels of irrigation frequency intended to mimic a range of watering practices determined via survey data from the Phoenix, Ariz., metropolitan area. During two irrigation cycles, measurement of mid-day water and osmotic potentials, lysimetric whole-plant transpiration (T), and mid-day shoot gas exchange was made. Irrigation frequency treatments affected Cercidium more than Caesalpinia. Frequent irrigations increased Cercidium shoot length and dry weight. For both species, infrequently irrigated plants showed patterns of osmoregulation in response to drying soil. Transpiration (T) was consistently highest for infrequently irrigated plants. WUE was affected by treatment for Cercidium, but not Caesalpinia. Gas exchange was unrelated to plant growth or T. Instantaneous transpiration efficiency (ITE) was negatively correlated to the ratio of intracellular CO2 to ambient (CICA) in all treatments, suggesting that under well-watered conditions, WUE might be reduced by negative feedback effects of high internal CICA ratios.

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