The Effects of Root Zone Temperature and Limestone on pH and Electrical Conductivity on New Guinea Impatiens `Celebration Orange'

in HortScience
Authors:
Melanie L. WellesColorado State University, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1173

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David E. HartleyColorado State University, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1173

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Steven E. NewmanColorado State University, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1173

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The purpose of this experiment was to examine the effects of various root-zone temperatures and pH on Impatiens ×hybrida, New Guinea impatiens `Celebration Orange.' Greenhouse growers need to be cognizant of the root-zone medium pH, as New Guinea impatiens are sensitive to nutrient toxicities at low pH. It is thought that limestone at low root-zone medium temperatures is not quickly activated, leading to toxicities. The objectives of this project were to determine: the effect of root-zone medium pH on foliar symptoms of iron and manganese toxicity; and the effective rates and grind size of limestone on root-zone medium pH. Various rates of limestone and different grind sizes were incorporated into a sphagnum peat moss-based medium at a range of temperatures. This experiment used a two-way thermogradient plate to maintain varying, but stable root-zone medium temperatures, ranging from 12 to 42 °C. Plant growth as well as root-zone medium pH was monitored. Changes in root-zone medium pH were monitored over time. Results indicated that the addition of moderate or high rates of limestone, 6 or 3 kg·m-3, provided stable root-zone media pH over the course of time. Both limestone grind sizes at 325 and 100–200 mesh provided satisfactory starting and ending pH values for healthy New Guinea impatiens growth, especially between the root-zone temperatures of 30 and 18 °C. Higher and lower temperature extremes inhibited root growth, resulting in lower quality plants.

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