Water Stress and Growth of Native and Introduced Shrub Species as Influenced by Irrigation Regime

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  • 1 University of Florida, Environmental Horticulture, Apopka, FL, 32703

Native plants are often promoted as an approach for water conservation in urban landscapes. However, information regarding plant water needs is based primarily upon anecdotal observations of plant performance. Direct comparisons between native and introduced species using physiological measures of plant water stress are unavailable to support or refute such recommendations. Ligustrum japonicum and Myrica cerifera, representing an introduced and native species, respectively, were transplanted into a fine sand soil to evaluate establishment rates and growth characteristics under two irrigation regimes. Each species was irrigated either daily or every 3 days and received 1.3 cm of irrigation per event for 8 months after transplant. Predawn, midday, and dusk water potentials were recorded on three consecutive days monthly, with cumulative stress intervals calculated. Height, growth indices, shoot dry mass, root dry mass and leaf area were also recorded. Water potential was significantly influenced by day of water stress level. On days without irrigation, water stress was generally greater and affected growth. Myrica irrigated daily had the greatest growth, yet plants receiving irrigation every 3 days had the least growth and greater leaf drop. In contrast, for Ligustrum there were no differences between irrigation regimes in growth responses except for growth index.

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