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  • Author or Editor: Christine Wiese x
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Irrigation for establishing landscape plants is restricted to the first 60 days after planting by most water management districts in Florida, yet woody plants may require between 6 and 12 months to become established. Survival and growth of shrubs planted into landscapes depend on adequate irrigation until shrubs develop a root system capable of compensating for evapotranspiration losses. This study examined the effect of irrigation frequency on survival, quality, and growth of Ilex cornuta Lindl. & Paxt. ‘Burfordii Nana’ and Pittosporum tobira [Dryand] ‘Variegata’ planted in north (Citra, FL; USDA hardiness zone 8b) and central (Balm, FL; USDA hardiness zone 9b) Florida. Shrubs were planted into the landscape from 11.4-L (#3) containers at 3-month intervals for a total of eight planting dates over 2 years and irrigated every 2, 4, or 8 days with 3 L of water at each irrigation event. Scheduled irrigation was discontinued once roots grew to the canopy edge [12 to 22 weeks after planting (WAP)] and survival, quality, and growth were evaluated from that point through 104 WAP. Ilex cornuta ‘Burfordii Nana’ irrigated every 2 days had greater canopy growth index (52 through 88 WAP), canopy dry mass (52 and 104 WAP), and maximum root spread (20 through 64 and 88 WAP) when compared with shrubs irrigated every 8d in hardiness zone 8b. Pittosporum tobira ‘Variegata’ irrigated every 2 days had greater canopy growth index (12 through 104 WAP), maximum root spread (20 through 28 and 64 through 88 WAP), and canopy dry mass (52 and 104 WAP) when compared with shrubs irrigated every 8 days in hardiness zone 8b. However, there were no differences in shoot or root growth resulting from irrigation frequency for these shrubs planted in hardiness zone 9a. Irrigation frequency did not affect shrub survival or aesthetic quality at either location. Although more frequent irrigation (every 2 days) resulted in greater plant growth in zone 8b, the two shrub species tested survived and grew after planting in hardiness zones 8b and 9a on natural rainfall alone provided they were irrigated during establishment with 3 L every 4 to 8 days until roots reached the canopy edge. Subsequent supplemental irrigation was only needed in the following 18 months when plants showed visible signs of drought stress, which occurred when there was no measurable rainfall for 30 consecutive days.

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The survival and quality of shrubs planted in the landscape from containers is dependent on irrigation to ensure the development of a healthy root system. This study determined the effect of irrigation frequency on survival, quality, canopy growth index, root to canopy spread ratio, and dry root and shoot biomass of Viburnum odoratissimum Ker-Gawl. (sweet viburnum) planted in Florida in USDA hardiness Zones 8b (Citra, FL), 9a (Balm, FL), and 10b (Ft. Lauderdale, FL). Sweet viburnum shrubs were planted into the landscape from 11.4-L (#3) containers and irrigated with 3 L every 2, 4, or 8 days. Shrubs were planted on eight dates over a 2-year period (2004 to 2006). Irrigation frequency during the 12- to 22-week irrigation period had no significant effect on sweet viburnum survival or aesthetic quality at any location. In addition, there was no irrigation effect on root spread, root to shoot biomass ratio, or root biomass for shrubs planted in Zones 8b or 9a. However, sweet viburnum irrigated every 2 days had greater canopy growth index at 28 and 104 weeks after planting than shrubs irrigated every 4 or 8 days in Zone 8b and every 8 days in Zone 9a. When planted in Zone 10b, sweet viburnum irrigated every 2 days exhibited greater growth index, shoot biomass, and root biomass than plant receiving irrigation every 4 days. Although more frequent irrigation (every 2 days) resulted in more plant growth in Zones 8b and 10b, sweet viburnum survived and grew after planting under natural rainfall conditions provided they were irrigated with 3 L of water every 8 days during establishment until roots reached the canopy edge in hardiness Zones 8b and 9a and every 4 days in hardiness Zone 10b. Subsequent supplemental irrigation (hand-watering) was only needed after irrigation was ended when plants exhibited visible signs of drought stress and there was no measurable rainfall for 30 consecutive days.

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Recent concerns over the environmental impact of peat harvesting have led to restrictions on the production of peat in Florida and other areas. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the use of composted dairy manure solids as a substitute for sphagnum or reed-sedge peat in container substrates on the growth of Solenostemon scutellarioides L. Codd ‘Wizard Velvet’, Tagetes patula L. ‘Safari Queen’, and Begonia ×hybrida ‘Dragon Wing Red’ and to examine the nutrient content in leachate from pots. Plants were grown for 5 weeks in a greenhouse in 15-cm plastic pots with seven substrates containing various proportions of sphagnum peat (S) or reed-sedge peat (R) and composted dairy manure solids (C), each with 20% vermiculite and 20% perlite. Substrate composition had no effect on plant quality ratings, number of flowers, or root dry mass for any of the plant species evaluated. Substrate composition did not affect the growth index (GI) or shoot dry mass of S. scutellarioides ‘Wizard Velvet’ or the GI of T. patula ‘Safari Queen’. However, growth of B. ×hybrida ‘Dragon Wing Red’ (GI and shoot dry mass) and T. patula ‘Safari Queen’ (shoot dry mass only) was highest in the 3S:0R:0C substrate. The substrates containing sphagnum peat and/or composted dairy manure solids (3S:0R:0C, 2S:0R:1C and 1S:0R:2C) had the highest NH4-N losses through the first 7 d of production. The 0S:3R:0C substrate had the highest initial leachate NO3+NO2-N losses and this trend persisted throughout most of the production cycle. Significantly more dissolved reactive phosphorus was leached from substrate mixes containing composted dairy manure solids than mixes containing only sphagnum or reed-sedge peat materials through 19 d after planting. All substrates tested as part of this study appeared to be commercially acceptable for production of container-grown bedding plant species based on plant growth and quality. However, nutrient losses from the containers differed depending on the peat or peat substitute used to formulate the substrates.

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The urban soil environment is usually not conducive to healthy root growth and function, leading to problems with plant establishment, growth, and aesthetic quality. The objective of this study was to determine if the addition of compost with or without the application of shallow tillage or aeration will improve soil physical and chemical properties and plant growth compared with an unamended control in simulated new residential landscapes. Twenty-four mixed landscape plots were established in a randomized complete block design to simulate new residential landscapes. Each plot was constructed using 10 cm of subsoil fill material over a compacted field soil and planted with Stenotaphrum secundatum and mixed ornamental plant species. Composted dairy manure solids were applied as an organic soil amendment at a depth of 5 cm (≈256 Mg·ha−1) in combination with two mechanical soil treatments (tillage to 15 cm and plug aeration) for a total of five soil management treatments plus an untreated control. Soil physical and chemical properties, plant growth, and quality and plant tissue nutrient concentrations were assessed periodically to determine the effect of soil treatment on soil and plant quality. Applications of compost to soils significantly reduced soil bulk density and pH and increased soil organic matter, electrical conductivity, and Mehlich-1 phosphorus and potassium concentrations. All ornamental plant species, with the exception of Raphiolepis indica (L.) Lindl. ex Ker Gawl., exhibited more growth when grown in soils amended with composted dairy manure solids. In most instances, plant tissue nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations were higher for plants grown in soils receiving compost. Results of our study suggested that the addition of composted dairy manure solids to soils can improve soil properties and enhance plant growth in residential landscapes when sandy fill soils are used. In contrast, shallow tillage and aeration had little effect on soil properties or plant growth.

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