The University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS) Florida Friendly Landscaping™ Program (FFL) provides general N fertilizer recommendations for ornamental landscape plants that range from 0 to 6 lb/1000 ft2 of N annually depending on desired maintenance level (FFL, 2009). However, the current FFL-recommended rates are applied broadly overall plant types or species. Previous research suggested that N fertilizer needs of ornamental plants in Florida landscapes vary by plant type and species (Shober et al., 2013; Shurberg et al., 2012a,b). The authors suggested that application of N fertilizer at a rate of 4 to 6 lb/1000 ft2 per year was adequate to produce acceptable quality warm and cool season annuals in the landscape (Shurberg et al., 2012b), whereas acceptable quality herbaceous perennials (Shurberg et al., 2012a) and woody shrubs (Shober et al., 2013) could be maintained with annual N applications of 2 to 4 lb/1000 ft2.
It is uncertain whether landscape-grown vines and groundcovers will require N fertilizer inputs as common annuals, perennials, or shrubs. Most research evaluating vine or groundcover response to N fertilizer rate was conducted in a nursery production (Berberich et al., 2006; Dumroese, 2003; Holcomb et al., 1992) or fruit crop production setting (Santos and Gilreath, 2006; Utsunomiya et al., 1998). Research supporting recommendations for the fertilizer needs of landscape-grown vines and groundcovers is lacking. The few N fertilizer recommendations for vines and groundcovers reported in the literature are often very general and variable. For example, Park-Brown and Knox (2010) noted that most vine species can benefit from N fertilization during establishment, but many species require little to no N fertilizer once established. Henley and Black (2003) recommended application of N at an annual rate of 2 to 3 lb/1200 ft2 for english ivy (Hedera helix) grown outdoor in Florida to maintain “moderate vigor.” The objectives of our study were to (1) evaluate the quality response of selected vine and groundcover species to N fertilization at five rates and (2) validate the recommended N fertilizer rates (from the initial evaluation) by monitoring quality of additional landscape-grown vine and groundcover species.
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