Ornamental grasses have been increasing in popularity for a number of years. These grasses originate from a wide range of habitats (Davidson and Gobin, 1998; Greenlee, 1992). The growth of grasses may be influenced greatly by the addition of water, and grasses such as gulf hairawn muhly or maiden grass need little or no supplemental irrigation once they are established (Thetford et al., 2009). Kochsiek et al. (2006) investigated the ecophysiological responses of little bluestem to both water and nitrogen in sandy soils of the Great Plains and concluded that little bluestem would likely respond positively to fertilization under moderate drought stress. They also concluded that little bluestem would also likely be able to take advantage of increases in precipitation but a concurrent increase in fertilization would probably not provide any competitive advantage to this species. The challenge for the landscape manager is the need to strike a balance between adequate irrigation and fertility without over or under application. Although grasses may respond to supplemental irrigation and fertility with increased vigor and size, an excess of water and nutrients may produce weak foliage and inflorescences that will lodge (M. Thetford, unpublished). Information is needed to better understand the landscape performance of ornamental grasses under a variety of landscape management levels using both irrigation and organic and synthetic fertilizers.
The objectives of this work were to evaluate effects of supplemental irrigation and fertilization on the landscape performance of nine ornamental grasses and to determine if fertilizer formulation (organic vs. synthetic) affected plant growth.
Ercoli, L., Mariotti, M., Masoni, A. & Bonari, E. 1999 Effect of irrigation and nitrogen fertilization on biomass yield and efficiency of energy use in crop production of Miscanthus Field Crops Res. 63 1 3 11
Gann, G.D., Abdo, M.E., Gann, J.W., Gann G.D. Sr, Woodmansee, S.W., Bradley, K.A., Verdon, E. & Hines, K.N. 2008 Natives for Your Neighborhood; Eragrostis elliottii 17 June 2010. <http://www.regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/plantdetail.asp?tx=Eragelli>
Greenlee, J. 1992 The encyclopedia of ornamental grasses: How to grow and use over 250 beautiful and versatile plants Michael Friedman Publishing Group New York
Henson, J.F. & Fenchel, G.A. 2007 Plant guide: Eastern gamagrass Tripsacum dactyloides L U.S. Dept. Agr., Natural Resource Conservation Serv., Natl. Plant Data Ctr. Baton Rouge, LA
Kirk, S. & Belt, S. 2010 Plant fact sheet for hairawn muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris). U.S. Dept. Agr., Natural Resource Conservation Serv Norman A Berg Natl. Plant Materials Ctr. Beltstville, MD
Knox G.W., Broschat T. & Black R. 2002 Fertilizer Recommendations for Landscape Plants Univ. Florida., Inst. Food Agr. Sci. Fact Sheet ENH858. 10 June 2010. <http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep114>
Kochsiek, A., Ciganda, V., Bryan, N., Hite, L. & Awada, T. 2006 Ecophysiological responses of Schizachyrium scoparium to water and nitrogen manipulations Great Plains Res. 16 1 29 36
Madakadze, I.C., Stewart, K.A., Peterson, R.R., Coulman, B.E. & Smith, D.L. 1999 Cutting frequency and nitrogen fertilization effects on yield and nitrogen concentration of switchgrass in a short season area Crop Sci. 39 2 552 557
Muir, J.P., Sanderson, M.A., Ocumpaugh, W.R., Jones, R.M. & Reed, R.L. 2001 Biomass production of ‘Alamo’ switchgrass in response to nitrogen, phosphorus, and row spacing Agron. J. 93 4 896 901
Proctor, C.L. 2006 Effect of fertilizer nitrogen rate and timing on growth and performance of six herbaceous perennials and soil solution nitrogen concentration in a simulated landscape North Carolina State Univ. Raleigh MS Thesis
Robinson, M.L. & Schultz, U.E. 1994 New introductions of drought tolerant plant materials for parking lots and highway medians Proc. Florida State Hort. Soc. 107 194 196
Thetford, M., Norcini, J.G., Ballard, B. & Aldrich, J.H. 2009 Ornamental landscape performance of native and nonnative grasses under low-input conditions HortTechnology 19 267 285
Wilson, S.B. & Knox, G.W. 2006 Landscape performance, flowering, and seed viability of 15 japanese silver grass cultivars grown in northern and southern Florida HortTechnology 16 1 8
Wilson, S.B. & Knox, G.W. 2009 Landscape performance of green fountain grass alternatives grown in northern and southern Florida HortTechnology 19 471 476