Effect of Potassium Concentration on a Hybrid Phalaenopsis Grown in a Bark Mix or Sphagnum Moss

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  • 1 1Texas A&M University, Horticultural Sciences, Weslaco, TX, 78596
  • | 2 2Texas A&M University, Dept. of Horticultural Sciences, College Station, TX, 77843

Vegetatively propagated plants (15-cm in leaf spread) of a white-flowered Phalaenopsis Taisuco Kaaladian clone were imported bare-root in late May and planted in a mix consisting of three parts of medium-grade fir bark and one part each of perlite and coarse Canadian peat (by volume) or in Chilean sphagnum moss. All plants were given 200 mg·L-1 each of N and P, 100 mg·L-1 Ca, and 50 mg·L-1 Mg. K concentrations were 0, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 mg·L-1. After 7 months, plants grown in moss produced an average of two more leaves than those in the bark mix (4 to 5 vs. 2 to 3 leaves), regardless of K rates. In any given medium, K rate did not alter the rate of leaf production. The K rate did not affect the size of the top leaves when grown in the bark mix. However, plants grown in moss had increasingly longer and wider top leaves as K rate increased. The lower leaves on plants in the bark mix receiving no K showed deficiency symptoms of purple tinting, yellowing, necrosis, and even death. Yellowing and necrosis started from the leaf tip and progressed basipetally. The K at 50 mg·L-1 reduced and 100 mg·L-1 completely alleviated the symptoms of K deficiency. Plants grown in moss and receiving no K showed limited signs of K deficiency. Flowering stems started to emerge (spiking) from plants in the bark mix up to 4 weeks earlier than those planted in sphagnum moss. For plants receiving no K, all plants in the bark mix bloomed, whereas none planted in sphagnum moss produced flowering stems. Overall, at least 200 mg·L-1 K (∼250 mg·L-1 K2O) is recommended to produce quality plants with maximum leaf growth and early spiking.