Physical Properties of Container Media and Relation to Severity of Phytophthora Root Rot of Rhododendron

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

One-year-old Rhododendron L. `Nova Zembla' were grown in four container media infested with Phytophthora cinnamomi Rands. The media (all v/v) were pine bark, 3 pine bark:1 sand, 3 pine bark:1 peat, and 1 peat: 1 sand: 1 soil. After 20 weeks, plants were evaluated for root rot symptoms and the total porosity, air space, moisture-holding capacity, and bulk density were determined for all media. All media provided adequate moisture-holding capacity for container production of rhododendron in noninfested media. Shoot fresh weight in noninfested media was positively correlated with bulk density and water (percent by volume) held in the 1.0- to 5.0-kPa matric tension range and negatively correlated with total porosity and air space. Root rot severity was greatest in peat: sand: soil, intermediate in pine bark: peat, and least in pine bark and pine bark: sand. Root rot severity was negatively correlated with total porosity and air space and positively correlated with bulk density and water (percent by volume) held in the 5.0- to 10.0-kPa matric tension range.

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