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Marc van Iersel

Salvia splendens `Top burgundy' was grown in pots of different sizes (5, 50, 150, and 450 mL) to assess the effect of rooting volume on the growth and development of salvia. Seeds were planted in a peat-lite growing medium and plants grown in a greenhouse during the winter and spring of 1996. Plants were spaced far enough apart to minimize mutual shading and interplant light competition. Plants were harvested at weekly intervals and shoot and root dry mass and leaf area were measured. Relative growth rate (RGR) and net assimilation rate were calculated from these data. Differences in plant size became evident at 25 days after seeding. A small pot size (5 mL) decreased root and shoot dry mass, RGR, and NAR, while increasing the root:shoot ratio. Differences between the pot sizes became more apparent during the course of the experiment. The observation that root: shoot ratio decreased with increasing pot volume suggests that the decreased plant size in smaller pots was not the direct effect of reduced root size. Growth most likely was limited by the ability of the roots to supply the shoots with sufficient water and/or nutrients. Pot volume did not only affect the growth, but also the development of the plants. Salvia flowered faster in bigger pots (about 50 days after seeding in 450-mL pots), while the plants in 5-mL cells did not flower during the 9-week period of the experiment.

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Catherine S.M. Ku and David R. Hershey

Geranium `Yours Truly' in 15-cm diameter plastic pots were greenhouse-grown as single pinched plants in a completely randomized design. Plants were irrigated with 300 mg/liter N from 20N-4.4P-16.6K with leaching fractions (LF) of 0, 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4. There were 24 irrigations during the 8-week study. Plants with LF of 0.2 and 0.4 had 46% greater leaf area, 40% greater top fresh weight, and 37% greater top dry weight than plants with LF of 0 and 0.1. By week 5 the leachate electrical conductivity (EC) for LF of 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 had increased from about 3 dS/m initially to 12, 8, and 4 dS/m, respectively. At harvest, medium ECe was 7, 4, 3, and 2 dS/m for LF of 0, 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4, respectively. At harvest, medium pH was the same in the top, middle, and bottom thirds of the pot. At harvest medium ECe with LF of 0.1, 0.2, and 0.4 was 47, 68, and 60% lower in the bottom two-thirds of the pot than in the top third. With a LF of 0 the medium ECe was not lower in the bottom of the pot. Minimizing the LF for potted geraniums substantially reduced plant growth.

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Karim H. Al-Juboory and Jabar H. Al-Niami

Thidiazuron (TDZ) and benzylamino purine stimulated shoot proliferation on shoot tip explants of wild apple (Malus domestica Borkh) when incorporated in Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium at concentrations of 1.0–10 μm. Shoot numbers obtained with TDZ were greater than the number produced when using BA in the medium but the shoots were shorter than with BA. Increasing TDZ levels increased shoot proliferation with 10 μm. Apple shoots were successfully rooted on MS medium with 2.0 mg·L–1 NAA and then transferred to a mixture of 1 peat: 1 perlite: 1 soil and acclimatized for potting.

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John A. Biernbaum, William R. Argo, Brian Weesies, Allen Weesies, and Karen Haack

A series of experiments was conducted to quantify the rate of nutrient loss from a container medium in a 15-cm-wide (1.3-liter) pot with a container capacity (CC) of 0.7 liter/pot under mist propagation and to determine the effectiveness of reapplying fertilizer to medium at 90% of CC with either top watering or subirrigation. Reducing the volume of water applied per day decreased the rate of nutrient leaching. Based on CC leached (CCL), the rate of nutrient loss was similar for all treatments. Differences in the rate of macronutrient removal from the media were measured, but, by 2 CCL, the concentration of all nutrients tested was below acceptable levels for the saturated media extract. With top watering, reapplying water-soluble fertilizer (WSF) at volumes under 0.2 liter/pot did not affect the nutrient concentration in the lower half of the pot at WSF concentrations up to 86 mol N/m3. Applying up to 0.8 liter/pot did increase nutrient concentrations in the lower half of the pot, but the media nutrient concentrations were lower than that of the applied WSF concentration. Applying WSF with subirrigation was limited by the moisture content of the media prior to the irrigation.

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Scott W. Ludwig, Kelli Hoover, and Robert Berghage

In a previous study, three insect growth regulators, diflubenzuron, pyriproxyfen, and fenoxycarb, were shown to reduce the emergence of western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) from potting medium under experimental conditions. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of potting medium applications of fenoxycarb, diflubenzuron, and pyriproxyfen on western flower thrips and fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.) populations in conventionally grown african violets (Saintpaulia ionantha). In two trials conducted at a university greenhouse and one trial at a commercial flower grower's greenhouse, no reductions were observed in western flower thrips populations. In one university trial, all three insect growth regulators resulted in lower fungus gnat populations. In addition to medium treatment, results from the commercial greenhouse indicated that a pesticide application to the soil under the benches may also be needed to provide management of fungus gnats.

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Wendy Britton, E.J. Holcomb, and David J. Beattie

Four rates of two slow-release fertilizers were tested for optimum growth of five hosta cultivars: Hosta sieboldiana `Elegans', Hosta plantaginea `Aphrodite', Hosta `Jade Scepter', Hosta `Hadspen Blue', and Hosta `Francee'. Tissue-cultured hostas from 2.5-cm plugs were planted in 6-inch (15-cm) pots filled with a commercial soilless medium, and the slow-release fertilizer was dibbled into the medium at 0, 3, 6, or 12 g/pot. The plants were maintained for 4 months. Root and shoot fresh and dry weights were recorded at the end of the experiment. In addition, foliar nutrient analysis was conducted on `Aphrodite', `Francee', and `Jade Sceptor'. Overall, hostas grew best when the medium was amended with 3 g of either Osmocote 14N-6P-11.5K or Sierrablen 17N-6P-12K slow-release fertilizer.

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Yin-Tung Wang and Lori L. Gregg

The levels of hydration of several hydrophilic polymers (hydrogels) varied greatly. Starch-based polymers had the fastest rate of hydration (<2 hours), followed by a propenoate-propenamide copolymer. Polyacrylamide materials required 4 to 8 hours to become fully hydrated. Maximum water retention in distilled water varied from 400 to 57 g of water per gram of dry material. All hydrogels retained less water in the presence of metal ions or fertilizers in the soaking solution, with substances releasing Fe+2 being the most detrimental. After exposure to fertilizers and ions, the water-holding capacity of a polyacrylamide with a high degree of cross linkage, but not that of hydrogels of the other structures, was fully recovered by subsequently soaking in distilled water. Pots amended with a polyacrylamide polymer but without Micromax (a micronutrient source) reached maximum water retention after six irrigations, while those with Micromax required 10 irrigations to reach peak water retention. The amounts of water being held in pots decreased after repeated fertilization. Medium volume increased with increasing levels of the polyacrylamide Supersorb C (0, 2, 4, or 6 g/pot). Micromax incorporated in medium amended with Supersorb C caused a depression in volume. Medium bulk density, total water retention, and water retention per unit volume of medium were increased by the incorporation of the hydrogel, regardless of the presence of Micromax. Noncapillary porosity measured at container capacity in medium amended with Micromax progressively decreased as the amount of hydrogel increased, but remained unchanged in medium without Micromax. Repeated drying and dehydration of the medium resulted in reduced water retention and increased noncapillary pore space.

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Robert R. Tripepi

Paper sludge is a fibrous material that may be suitable as a replacement for peat moss in potting media. The goal of this study was to compare the growth of potted `Iridon' mums (Dendranthema × grandiflora Tzvelev.) grown in sludge-amended media against that of plants in two peat-based commercial mixes. Paper sludge from a newsprint mill was composted 6 weeks. Plants were grown in a European pot mum regime with three rooted cuttings planted in square 10-cm pots containing either a commercial mix or a sludge-amended medium [75% sludge: 15% perlite: 10% vermiculite; or 50% sludge: 33% peatmoss: 17% perlite (by volume)]. Plants were grown for 12 weeks and not disbudded before plant growth indices were determined. Mums grown in sludge-amended media appeared similar to those grown in the commercial mixes. Plants grown in either sludge-amended medium were slightly shorter (1.5 cm) and narrower (2.5 cm) than those grown in the commercial mixes. In addition, mums grown in sludge-amended media produced eight fewer flowers and 4 g less shoot dry weight (per pot) compared to plants in commercial mixes. Composted paper sludge appears to be suitable for production of `Iridon' pot mums, even though plants grown in this material grew slightly less than those in commercial media.

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Fahed A. Al-mana and David J. Beattie

A study of applying growth retardants under overhead and subsurface irrigation systems was conducted on bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L. cv. Tifway) grown from rhizomes in 15-cm pots containing sand medium. Paclobutrazol (50%) at 2 mg/pot was used as foliar spray or charged-hydrophilic polymers (Super Sorb C) and either incorporated or put below medium surface. Mefluidide (28%) at 0.01% ml/pot was used only as foliar spray. Before spray treatments, grasses were cut at 2 cm from medium surface, and the second cut was made at the 6th week from treatment. All growth retardant treatments reduced grass height compared to non-treated plants. The lowest grass height was produced by paclobutrazol as foliar spray under overhead irrigation in the 6th and 9th week. By the 9th week, all hormonal treatments under the two irrigation systems had no effect on grass quality, color, and establishment rate. Both paclobutrazol foliar spray and below medium surface charged-polymer treatments under subsurface irrigation had the lowest water loss and dry weight by the 6th and 9th week. The paclobutrazol charged-polymer treatment under subsurface irrigation had also the the lowest root dry weight among all treatments. Although mefluidide foliar spray was less effective on grass height than paclobutrazol, they had similar effect on water loss and shoot dry weight.

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William R. Argo and John A. Biernbaum

Subirrigated Easter lilies were grown in five commercially formulated root media using one water-soluble fertilizer applied independently to each medium based on water-holding capacity and water loss. The number of irrigations ranged from 12 to 20 and the amount of applied water ranged from 5.3 to 6.8 liters for the uncovered media treatments. When the root-medium surface was covered with an evaporation barrier, the average amount of applied water was reduced by 35% compared to the uncovered media. The largest effect on root media pH was between uncovered and covered media due to the reduced amount of water applied. Similar macronutrient concentrations were measured in the five media during the experiment with few exceptions. The greatest differences in nutrient concentrations were found within the pots. The top 2.5 cm (top layer) contained nutrient concentrations up to 10 times higher than those measured in the remaining root medium (root zone) of the same pot. Covering the root-medium surface with an evaporation barrier reduced the stratification of fertilizer salts. Root-zone soluble salt concentrations of plants in the covered pots were similar to those of uncovered plants even though 36% less fertilizer was applied to the covered plants.