Each essential element taken up by a plant serves to fulfill a specific physiological role, and reduced (nutrient deficiency) or excess (nutrient toxicity) levels of that element often result in unique symptomology that may be used for diagnostic purposes. The differences in the specificity of the roles and accompanying nutritional disorders are illustrated with N and Ca deficiencies. An important component of amino acids, proteins, and nucleic acids (Briskin and Bloom, 2010), N is able to be translocated to actively growing regions under N-deficient conditions, and symptomology typically manifests in the lower leaves. On the other hand, Ca, an important component of cell walls, is much more immobile; thus, symptoms will typically appear in the upper foliage (Gibson et al., 2007). While it is true that across the spectrum of plant species many similarities exist in how each nutrient is used, not all species will develop symptomology, and some crops may actually manifest unique symptomology (Nelson, 2012). For example, Reuther and Labanauskas (1973) stated a species-specific approach is required to determine symptoms of Cu deficiency. To evaluate crops for the unique symptoms of species-specific disorders, it was important the plants be grown under nutrient-stress conditions to add this information to the grower’s toolbox of diagnostic criterion. To quickly recognize and diagnose nutrient disorders, growers should have knowledge of symptoms and diagnostic tools. These diagnostic tools include symptomology descriptions, images of the disorders, and reference tissue concentrations.
Mealy-cup sage (Lamiaceae family) is a bedding annual planted by gardeners to provide color during the summer (Armitage, 2001). Few nutrient disorders have been reported for mealy-cup sage. Interveinal chlorosis was reported as a symptom for Mg deficiency (SePRO, 2000). Symptoms described for high electrical conductivity (EC) included necrotic foliage (Armitage et al., 1994) and leaf cupping (SePRO, 2000). Thick veins on young leaves with a gray or brown coloration was due to high salts or ammonium toxicity (Dreistadt, 2001; SePRO, 2000). Cool temperatures with reduced nutrition caused chlorosis (SePRO, 2000).
With the lack of knowledge of other nutritional problems that may occur with mealy-cup sage, growers may face plant loss, increased cost, and wasted time if a nutritional problem arises in the greenhouse. Therefore, the objectives for this research were to determine what nutrient-disorder symptoms occur in mealy-cup sage and to elucidate threshold nutrient levels.
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