Seed of Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey `Freckles' (geranium) and Tagetes patula L. `Bonanza' (marigold) were soaked for 12, 24, or 48 h in solutions containing 0 (deionized water), 5000, 10,000, or 15,000 mg·L-1 humic acid (HA) or nutrient controls (NC) containing similar levels of nutrients prior to planting. Soaking in deionized water (DI) and NC treatments had no significant effect on root fresh weight. However, several of the HA treatments increased root fresh weight of marigold seedlings, and all increased geranium root fresh weight. Percentage of germination and shoot fresh weight were not significantly affected by treatment. Seed of Cucumis sativus L. `Salad Bush' (cucumber), Cucurbita pepo L. `Golden Summer Crookneck' (squash), `Freckles' geranium and `Bonanza' marigold were sown into 15-cell plug trays (5 mL volume), and the substrate was drenched with DI, 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 HA, or 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 NC. DI and NC treatments did not affect root fresh weight. However, cucumber, squash, and marigold seedlings germinated in substrate drenched with 2500 and 5000 mg·L-1 HA and geranium seedlings germinated in substrate drenched with 2500 mg·L-1 HA had significantly higher root fresh weight than did seedlings from all other treatments. Percentage of germination and shoot fresh weight were not significantly affected by treatment. `Salad Bush' cucumber and `Golden Summer Crookneck' squash seedlings germinated on germination towels soaked with 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 HA, had significantly higher root fresh weight than did seedlings germinated on towels soaked with DI or NC solutions. Treatment with HA did not affect shoot fresh weight or the number of lateral roots. However, HA treatment increased the total length of lateral roots. The increase in lateral root growth occurred primarily in lateral roots developing from the lower hypocotyl.
To whom requests for reprints should be addressed.