Fertilizer Concentration Affects Growth and Foliar Elemental Concentration of Strobilanthes dyerianus

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0327

Grown as an annual in most of the United States, Strobilanthes dyerianus Mast. has become increasingly popular in summer landscapes partially due to its superior performance in hot and humid conditions. At present, there is no published research on the nutritional requirements of S. dyerianus. Our study examined growth and foliar elemental response to different levels of fertilizer. Rooted cuttings were transplanted and grown with 0, 100, 200, 300, and 400 mg·L–1 N from 5N–2.2 P–12.4 K fertilizer as constant liquid feed. Plants were irrigated whenever the volumetric water content of the substrate was <20% as determined with a Theta Probe moisture meter. Weekly pH and electrical conductivity (EC) were monitored using the pour through method. Eight weeks after initiation of treatment, dry weight and leaf area was measured. Recently mature leaf tissue was analyzed for total N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Fe, Mn, B, Cu, Zn, and Mo. There were no significant differences in plant quality under the 100, 200, 300, or 400 mg·L–1 N treatments. The largest plants, based on leaf area and shoot dry weight, were produced with 200 mg·L–1 N. Compared to recommended EC levels for bedding plants, the treatments receiving 300 and 400 mg·L–1 N had excessively high levels of substrate soluble salts though overall plant quality was not reduced. The increase in fertilizer concentration yielded a linear increase in tissue concentration of N, P, and K and a linear decrease in tissue concentration of Ca and Mg.

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