Salt tolerance of landscape plants is important to ornamental growers as well as residents and landscapers in coastal communities. Damage to ornamental plants from salt spray can be prevented by evaluating and selecting plants that exhibit tolerance to aerosol salts. Ornamental grasses are frequently recommended for low-maintenance landscape situations and may be candidates for coastal plantings once they are evaluated for their salt spray tolerance. The objective of this study was to determine the salt spray tolerance of Miscanthus sinensis `Gracillimus' and Pennisetum setaceum `Hamelin'. The experiment was conducted for 90 days from 7 July to 5 Oct. 2005 in a polyethylene greenhouse in Gainesville, Fla. Plants were subjected to four treatments (100% seawater, 50% seawater, 25% seawater, or 100% deionized water) applied by spraying each plant to runoff three times per week. Plant heights, flower number, and aesthetic ratings were recorded biweekly for the duration of the experiment. Root and shoot dry weights were determined at the initiation and completion of the study. Significant growth rate differences were found between treatments. Growth rates of plants treated with 100% seawater were significantly lower than the control and other seawater concentrations. Root and shoot dry weights of the plants treated with 100% seawater were significantly lower than the other treatments. In addition, significant differences were found between the 100% seawater treatment, the 25% seawater treatment, and the control in the aesthetic ratings of plants at the end of the study.
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