Phosphorus Concentration Affects New Guinea Impatiens and Vinca in Recirculating Subirrigation

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2133

The objective of this study was to quantify the optimum rates of water-soluble phosphorus (P) under constant nitrogen and potassium on the growth of new guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri Bull.) `Paradise Violet' and vinca Catharanthus roseus `Pacifica Red' in soilless media in a recirculating subirrigation system. The experiment was designed so that only phosphate varied between treatments while all other nutrients remained constant. The ammoniacal N to nitrate N ratio was varied to counter balance increases in phosphate. Sodium was used as a counter ion to phosphate at higher concentrations of phosphate; sodium proved to be toxic at concentrations above 6 mm. In the new guinea impatiens experiment, there was a small increase in K due to the use of dibasic K phosphate to buffer pH. All growth parameters measured (height, leaf number, flower number, and shoot fresh and dry weight) showed significant differences with increasing P rate. Depending on the growth parameter measured, quadratic–linear models revealed an optimum P rate of 0.1 to 0.96 mm for new guinea impatiens `Paradise Violet' and 0.45 to 1.25 mm P for vinca `Pacifica Red'. For dry shoot weight, a common measure of optimum plant growth, the optimum P rate was 0.75 mm P for new guinea impatiens `Paradise Violet' and 0.67 mm P for vinca `Pacifica Red'. For flower number, a common measure of floral quality, the optimal P rate was 0.96 mm P for new guinea impatiens `Paradise Violet' and 1.25 mm P for vinca `Pacifica Red'. Electrical conductivity (EC) of the growing media increased significantly with increasing rate of P. At all rates, EC was significantly greater in the top layer than in the bottom and middle layers. The pH of the growing medium did not vary in relation to P concentration.

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