(62) Salinity and Growing Medium Affected Growth and Morphology of Gaillardia aristata

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  • 1 Texas A&M Univ., AREC-El Paso, Dept. of Horticultural Sciences, El Paso, TX, 79927

Gaillardia aristata Foug. is a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial found throughout much of the United States. Little information exists on the salt tolerance of this plant when grown in various growing media. A study was conducted to characterize the response of G. aristata to three salinity levels (0.8, 2.0, or 4.0 dS/m) and four growing media: 1) 100% perlite; 2) 1 perlite: 1 Sunshine mix No. 4 (v/v); 3) 100% Sunshine mix No. 4; or 4) 1 Sunshine mix No. 4: 1 composted mulch (v/v). The type of medium influenced the dry weight of roots but not shoots, while salinity significantly influenced the dry weight of both shoots and roots. The dry weight of shoots was higher in plants irrigated with tap water (0.8 dS/m) compared to those irrigated with saline solution at 2.0 or 4.0 dS/m except for those grown in 100% Sunshine mix. The ratio of root to shoot dry weight was not influenced by salinity, but was highest in the plants grown in 100% perlite. Both medium and salinity affected plant height. Elevated salinity reduced plant height. Plants were taller when grown in 100% perlite and in 1 Sunshine mix: 1 composted mulch. However, plants had fewer lateral shoots when grown in 100% perlite or 1 Sunshine mix: 1 composted mulch. Some of the flower buds aborted when grown in 100% Sunshine mix or 1 perlite: 1 Sunshine mix compared to none in plants grown in 100% perlite or 1 Sunshine mix: 1 composted mulch. These results indicate that growth and morphology of G. aristata were affected by not only salinity, but also the type of medium.

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