Effect of Fertilizer Source on Water Use of St. Augustinegrass and Ornamental Plants

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  • 1 Environmental Horticulture Department, University of Florida, P.O. Box 110675, Gainesville, FL 32611
  • | 2 West Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Jay, FL 32565

Due to increasing consumption of water in landscapes and concern over conservation of water resources, this study was conducted to determine the effect of fertilizer source on water consumption of turf and ornamentals and to compare total water use (WU) of st. augustinegrass and ornamentals. The experiment was performed in a climate-controlled greenhouse at the G.C. Horn Turfgrass Field Laboratory at the University of Florida in Gainesville. `Floratam' st. augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum Walt. Kuntze) was compared to a mix of common Florida ornamentals including canna (Canna generalis L.H. Bailey), nandina (Nandina domestica Thunb.), ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum Thunb.), and allamanda (Allamanda cathartica L.). All plants were grown in 300-L plastic pots in Arredondo fine sand. There were three fertilizer treatments [quick-release fertilizers (QRF) 16–4–8 and 15–0–15, and slow-release fertilizer (SRF) 8–4–12] applied at 4.9 g N/m2 every 60 days. Water was applied as needed to maintain turgor and turfgrass pots were mowed weekly. Experimental design was a randomized complete block design with four replications. Visual quality ratings and time domain reflectometry (TDR) data were collected weekly. Both turf and ornamentals consumed less water and had higher water use efficiency (WUE) when treated with SRF. Ornamentals consumed from 11% to 83% more water than turf, depending on season. These results may have implications in future research on irrigation management to verify WUE between turf and ornamentals in an urban landscape.

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