Effects of Phosphorous and Phosphoric Acids on Growth and Phosphorus Concentrations in Container-grown Tropical Ornamental Plants

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  • 1 University of Florida, Department of Environmental Horticulture, Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314.

Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-chinensis), shooting star (Pseuderanthemum laxiflorum), downy jasmine (Jasminum multiflorum), areca palm (Dypsis lutescens), and `Jetty' spathiphyllum (Spathiphyllum) were grown in containers using Osmocote Plus 15-9-12 (15N-3.9P-10K), which provided phosphorus (two experiments), or resin-coated urea plus sulfur-coated potassium sulfate, which provided no phosphorus (one experiment). Plants were treated with water drenches (controls), drenches with metalaxyl fungicide only, drenches with phosphoric acid (PO4-P), drenches with metalaxyl plus phosphorus from phosphoric acid, drenches with PhytoFos 4-28-10 [4N-12.2P-8.3K, a fertilizer containing phosphorous acid (PO3-P), a known fungicidal compound], or a foliar spray with PhytoFos 4-28-10. Plants receiving soil drenches with equivalent amounts of P from PhytoFos 4-28-10, PO4-P, or PO4-P+metalaxyl generally had the greatest shoot and root dry weights and foliar PO4-P concentrations. There were no differences between the control and metalaxyl-treated plants, indicating that root rot diseases were not a factor. Therefore, responses from PhytoFos 4-28-10 were believed to be due to its nutrient content, rather than its fungicidal properties. Foliar-applied PhytoFos 4-29-10 produced plants that were generally similar in size to control plants or those receiving metalaxyl only drenches. Fertilizers containing PO3-P appear to be about as effective as PO4-P sources when applied to the soil, but are relatively ineffective as a P source when applied as a foliar spray. A distinct positive synergistic response for shoot and root dry weights and foliar PO4-P concentrations was observed for the PO4-P+metalaxyl treatment when no P was applied except as a treatment.

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