Balancing Act: Effects of Fertilizer and Uniconazole on Growth of Herbaceous Perennials

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  • 1 Virginia Tech, Dept. of Horticulture, Blacksburg, VA 24061
  • | 2 Virginia Tech, Dept. of Horticulture, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Increasing fertilizer levels may reduce production time but can lead to excessive growth of herbaceous perennials, requiring the application of plant growth regulators (PGRs). This study investigated the effects of ascending fertilizer rates in conjunction with two rates of uniconazole and a control. Rooted liners of Artemisia arborescens L. `Powis Castle', Artemisia vulgaris L. `Oriental Limelight, Astilbe chinensis (Maxim.) Franch. `Pumila', Filipendula rubra (Hill) Robinson `Venusta' and Perovskia atriplicifolia Benth. were potted with controlled-release fertilizer (15N-3.9P-10K) incorporated at 2.4, 4.72, and 7.11 kg·m-3. A single foliar spray application of uniconazole was applied two weeks after transplanting at a volume of 210 mL·m-3 and two rates from 15 to 60 mg·L-1 plus a control (species-dependent). Plant height and width were measured at 2,4,6, and 8 weeks after treatment (WAT). No interactions between fertilizer rate and uniconazole were observed. Main effects varied by species. The application of uniconazole controlled height and width of Artemisia `Oriental Limelight' and Astilbe for the duration of the experiment. Height, width, and dry weight of Artemisia `Oriental Limelight' increased with ascending fertilizer rates while Astilbe was not affected. Growth of Filipendula and Artemisia `Powis Castle' was unresponsive to uniconazole, though dry weight was reduced for both at the lowest fertilizer rate. Uniconazole provided height control of Perovskia, but the effect did not persist beyond 6 WAT. Ascending fertilizer rates increased Perovskia dry weight but not height.

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