Influence of Substrate and Fertilizer Analysis and Rate on Growth and Quality of Five Species of Bedding Plants

in HortTechnology

Salvia (Salvia splendens) `Red Vista' or `Purple Vista,' french marigold (Tagetes patula) `Little Hero Orange,' bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) `Better Bell,' impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) `Accent White,' and wax begonia (Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum) `Cocktail Vodka' were grown in 0.95-L (1-qt) containers using a 5 pine bark: 4 sedge peat: 1 sand substrate (Expts. 1 and 2) or Pro Mix BX (Expt. 2 only). They were fertilized weekly with 50 mL (1.7 fl oz) of a solution containing 100, 200, or 300 mg·L-1 (ppm) of nitrogen derived from 15N-6.5P-12.5K (1N-1P2O5-1K2O ratio) or 21N-3P-11.7K (3N-1P2O5-2K2O ratio) uncoated prills used in the manufacture of controlled-release fertilizers. Plants grown with Pro Mix BX were generally larger and produced more flowers or fruit than those grown with the pine bark mix. With few exceptions, plant color, root and shoot dry weights, and number of flowers or fruit were highly correlated with fertilization rate, but not with prill type. There appears to be little reason for using the more expensive 1-1-1 ratio prills, since they generally did not improve plant quality and may increase phosphorous runoff from bedding plant nurseries.

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