Influence of Fertilizer Placement on Plant Quality, Root Distribution, and Weed Growth in Container-grown Tropical Ornamental Plants

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  • 1 University of Florida, Dept. of Environmental Horticulture, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314.

In two experiments, chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), areca palm (Dypsis lutescens), fishtail palm (Caryota mitis), macarthur palm (Ptychosperma macarthurii), shooting star (Pseuderanthemum laxiflorum), downy jasmine (Jasminum multiflorum), plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae), and foxtail palm (Wodyetia bifurcata) were transplanted into 6.2-L (2-gal) containers. They were fertilized with Osmocote Plus 15N-3.9P-10K (12-to14-month formulation) (Expt. 1) or Nutricote Total 18N-2.6P-6.7K (type 360) (Expt. 2) applied by either top dressing, substrate incorporation, or layering the fertilizer just below the transplanted root ball. Shoot dry weight, plant color, root dry weights in the upper and lower halves of the root ball, and weed shoot dry weight were determined when each species reached marketable size. Optimal fertilizer placement method varied among the species tested. With the exception of areca palm, none of the species tested grew best with incorporated fertilizer. Root dry weights in the lower half of the root ball for chinese hibiscus, bamboo palm, and downy jasmine were greatest when the fertilizer was layered and root dry weights in the upper half of the root ball were greatest for top-dressed chinese hibiscus. Weed growth was lower in pots receiving layered fertilizer for four of the six palm species tested.

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