Little taxa-specific information is available regarding the nutrition needs of container-grown herbaceous perennials. The goal was to determine optimum fertilizer concentrations and corresponding substrate testing values for greenhouse production of 10 taxa. Astilbe chinensis (Maxim.) Franch. & Savat.`Purpurkerze', Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Deep Blue Clips', Coreopsis verticillata L.`Golden Gain', Gaura lindheimeri Engelm. & Gray, `Siskiyou Pink', Heucherasanguinea Engelm. `Mt St. Helens', Lamium maculatum L. `White Nancy', Penstemon ×hybridus Hort. `Sour Grapes', Perovskia atriplicifolia Benth. `Longin', Salvia nemerosa L. `Blue Hill', and Veronica × Hort. `Goodness Grows' were grown for 10 weeks with 15N–7P–14K at four rates (50, 150, 250, and 350 mg·L–1 N) of constant liquid feed. Substrate pH and soluble salts levels were measured weekly using the pour-through extraction method. In analysis of all taxa, most effects [quality, shoot dry weight, pH and electrical conductivity (EC)] varied by rate × taxa. Though higher levels of fertilizer produced the largest plants in some cases, satisfactory quality was also attained with a lower rate. Quality and pH were negatively correlated for a few genera but most showed no relationship. Results of this study indicate not all taxa tolerate increased fertilizer levels and that the herbaceous perennials studied could be grouped by nutritional needs. Furthermore, target ranges for EC can be developed based on dry mass and quality ratings.
Holly L. Scoggins
University gardens have a rather unique set of stakeholders, internal and external, compared with non-academic public gardens. Undergraduate students spend a significant amount of time learning in, as well as assisting with, the garden. These students ideally become active alumni with continuing interests in the garden. Landscape and nursery industry professionals, many of whom are graduates, parents of graduates, or employ graduates from the program, are in a position to assist with in-kind donations of plant material, equipment, and expertise. Community stakeholders exist on two levels: The campus community is comprised of faculty, staff, and students who come to the garden to relax and reflect. The greater civic or regional community views the garden and staff as a source of creative inspiration, expertise, and education. The campus and civic community value the garden and in turn contribute by volunteering their time as well as fiscal support by attending garden workshops, seminars, and special events. Garden directors and staff should make every effort to strengthen these connections and bring to university administrators' attention the importance of active support from these stakeholders groups.
Holly L. Scoggins and Marc W. van Iersel
Growing medium electrical conductivity (EC) is used in laboratory analysis and greenhouse production as a measure of the nutrient content of the growing medium. Fast, accurate ways to measure growing medium EC will make it easier to determine EC and maintain it within a suitable range for a particular crop. Several probes have been developed that can be inserted directly into the growing medium of container-grown crops for measurement of EC. We tested the sensitivity of four in situ EC probes (Field Scout, HI 76305, WET sensor, and SigmaProbe) at a range of temperatures, substrate volumetric water contents (VWC), and fertilizer concentrations. The HI 76305 probe was highly sensitive to temperature, while the WET sensor was temperature-sensitive at high ECs above its normal operating range. The probes responded differently to increasing VWC. The SigmaProbe and WET sensor measure the EC of the pore water specifically and show a decrease in EC with increasing water content, as the fertilizer ions in the pore water become more diluted as VWC increases. EC readings of the HI 76305 and Field Scout probes, which measure the EC of the bulk substrate (growing medium, water, and air combined) increased with increasing water content as the added water helps conduct the current of these meters. At a VWC above 35%, there was little effect of VWC on EC readings of all probes. The EC measured with the various in situ probes differed slightly among the probes but was highly and positively correlated with all three of the standard solution extraction methods [pour-through, 1:2 dilution, and saturated media extract (SME)] over the range of fertilizer concentrations at a given temperature and VWC. These results make it possible to convert substrate EC guidelines that have been established for any of the three standard methods for use with the in situ probes, though our results indicate the substrate VWC must be above 35% for the interpretation to be valid. The in situ probes are a viable alternative for measurements of substrate EC and eliminate the step of substrate solution extraction, thus simplifying data collection.
Erin E. Gamrod and Holly L. Scoggins
Grown as an annual in most of the United States, Strobilanthes dyerianus Mast. has become increasingly popular in summer landscapes partially due to its superior performance in hot and humid conditions. At present, there is no published research on the nutritional requirements of S. dyerianus. Our study examined growth and foliar elemental response to different levels of fertilizer. Rooted cuttings were transplanted and grown with 0, 100, 200, 300, and 400 mg·L–1 N from 5N–2.2 P–12.4 K fertilizer as constant liquid feed. Plants were irrigated whenever the volumetric water content of the substrate was <20% as determined with a Theta Probe moisture meter. Weekly pH and electrical conductivity (EC) were monitored using the pour through method. Eight weeks after initiation of treatment, dry weight and leaf area was measured. Recently mature leaf tissue was analyzed for total N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Fe, Mn, B, Cu, Zn, and Mo. There were no significant differences in plant quality under the 100, 200, 300, or 400 mg·L–1 N treatments. The largest plants, based on leaf area and shoot dry weight, were produced with 200 mg·L–1 N. Compared to recommended EC levels for bedding plants, the treatments receiving 300 and 400 mg·L–1 N had excessively high levels of substrate soluble salts though overall plant quality was not reduced. The increase in fertilizer concentration yielded a linear increase in tissue concentration of N, P, and K and a linear decrease in tissue concentration of Ca and Mg.
Holly L. Scoggins* and Joyce G. Latimer
Increasing fertilizer levels may reduce production time but can lead to excessive growth of herbaceous perennials, requiring the application of plant growth regulators (PGRs). This study investigated the effects of ascending fertilizer rates in conjunction with two rates of uniconazole and a control. Rooted liners of Artemisia arborescens L. `Powis Castle', Artemisia vulgaris L. `Oriental Limelight, Astilbe chinensis (Maxim.) Franch. `Pumila', Filipendula rubra (Hill) Robinson `Venusta' and Perovskia atriplicifolia Benth. were potted with controlled-release fertilizer (15N-3.9P-10K) incorporated at 2.4, 4.72, and 7.11 kg·m-3. A single foliar spray application of uniconazole was applied two weeks after transplanting at a volume of 210 mL·m-3 and two rates from 15 to 60 mg·L-1 plus a control (species-dependent). Plant height and width were measured at 2,4,6, and 8 weeks after treatment (WAT). No interactions between fertilizer rate and uniconazole were observed. Main effects varied by species. The application of uniconazole controlled height and width of Artemisia `Oriental Limelight' and Astilbe for the duration of the experiment. Height, width, and dry weight of Artemisia `Oriental Limelight' increased with ascending fertilizer rates while Astilbe was not affected. Growth of Filipendula and Artemisia `Powis Castle' was unresponsive to uniconazole, though dry weight was reduced for both at the lowest fertilizer rate. Uniconazole provided height control of Perovskia, but the effect did not persist beyond 6 WAT. Ascending fertilizer rates increased Perovskia dry weight but not height.
Holly L. Scoggins-Mantero and Harry A. Mills
`Freedom' poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Kl.) were grown to flowering in solution culture for 11 weeks. Treatments consisted of five ammonium: nitrate nitrogen ratios: 1:0, 3:1, 1:1, 1:3, and 0:1 with a total N concentration of 150 mg N/liter. The balance of essential nutrients was supplied with a modified Hoagland's solution. Fresh weight, dry weight, and macro- and micronutrient content of bracts, leaves, petioles, stems, and roots were determined at the end of the study. Leaf and bract area also was measured. Maximum bract size was achieved with 100% nitrate (0:1) treatment. Leaves were largest with the 1:3 ratio. Plants receiving ammonium as the sole N source exhibited severe ammonium toxicity symptoms: stunted growth, foliar chlorosis and necrosis, premature leaf abscission, stunted and clubby roots, and delayed or nonexistent bract coloring. Dry weights for bracts, leaves, stems, and roots increased as the ratio of nitrate increased. Elemental uptake was monitored weekly. Nitrogen-form effect on the uptake, concentration, and partitioning of other nutrients also was evaluated.
Holly L. Scoggins and Marc W. van Iersel
Several probes have been been recently developed that can be inserted directly into the growing medium of container-grown crops to get electrical conductivity (EC) or pH measurements. However, for many floriculture and greenhouse crops, EC interpretation ranges are based on substrate solution extraction methods such as the 1:2 v/v dilution, saturated media extract (SME), and more recently, the pour-through. We tested the sensitivity and accuracy of four in situ EC probes at a range of substrate moisture content and fertilizer concentrations. We also compared results from in situ probes with currently used methods of EC measurement. Concerning the effects of substrate volumetric water content (VWC) on the in situ probes, our results indicate little differences exist among probes when VWC exceeds 0.50, though drier substrates yielded differences depending on the measurement method. The SigmaProbe and W.E.T Probe measure the EC of the pore water specifically and show a decrease in EC with increasing water content, as the fertilizer ions in the pore water becomes more diluted as VWC increases. Results with the Hanna and FieldScout probes increased with increasing water content as the added water helps conduct the current of these meters. The EC measured with the various in situ probes differed slightly among the probes, but was highly and positively correlated with all three of the solution extraction methods over the range of fertilizer concentrations. It would be possible to convert substrate EC guidelines that have been established for any of the laboratory methods for use with the in situ probes, though our results indicate the substrate VMC must be above 0.35 for the interpretation to be valid.
Holly L. Scoggins-Mantero and Harry A. Mills
Nutritional levels of mature vs. young leaves of Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum Linden.) cultivars were determined over a seven year period. Nutritional levels for essential nutrients tested (B, Ca++, Cu++, Fe++, K+, Mg++, Mn++, Mo-, P, and Zn++) were determined with inductively coupled plasma emission spectrometry. Kjeldahl N was determined with a flow injection analyzer. The young leaf, 90% mature, was determined to be the most accurate predictor of the nutritional status of anthuriums. These values were established for the cultivars `Kozohara', `Nitta Orange', `Kaumana', and `Ozaki'.
Holly L. Scoggins and Harry A. Mills
Crop-specific tailoring of fertilizer composition and timing of application reduces expense and runoff pollution. We examined the effects N forms and ratios have on growth, development, and utilization of nutrients in poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. Ex Klotz.). Rooted cuttings of poinsettia `Freedom' were grown to flowering (10 weeks) in aerated solution culture under greenhouse conditions. Treatments consisted of five N ratios (percent ammonium: percent nitrate) of 100:0, 75:25, 50:50, 25:75, and 0:100 with a total N concentration of 150 mg·L–1. Dry mass for all plant parts and height increased as the ratio of NO–
3 increased. Leaf and bract areas were greatest with ratios of 25:75 and 50:50, respectively. Plants receiving 100%
Jeb S. Fields, James S. Owen Jr., and Holly L. Scoggins
Many soilless substrates are inefficient with regard to water (i.e., high porosity and low water holding capacity), which provides an excellent opportunity to increase water efficiency in containerized production. We suggest that increasing hydraulic conductivity in the dry range of substrate moisture content occurring during production can increase water availability, reduce irrigation volume, and produce high quality, marketable crops. Three substrates were engineered using screened pine bark (PB) and amending with either Sphagnum peatmoss or coir to have higher unsaturated hydraulic conductivity between water potentials of −100 and −300 hPa. There was no correlation between substrate unsaturated hydraulic conductivity and saturated hydraulic conductivity (r = 0.04, P = 0.8985). Established Hydrangea arborescens (L.) ‘Annabelle’ plants were grown in the three engineered and a conventional (control) PB substrates exposed to suboptimal irrigation levels (i.e., held at substrate water potentials between −100 and −300 hPa) for 32 days. The plants in the engineered substrates outperformed the control in every growth and morphological metric measured, as well as exhibiting fewer (or no) physiological drought stress indicators (i.e., vigor, growth, plant development, etc.) compared with the control. We observed increased vigor measures in plants grown in substrates with higher unsaturated hydraulic conductivity, as well as greater plant water uptake. The coir increased unsaturated hydraulic conductivity and provided an increased air space when incorporated into coarse bark vs. if peat was incorporated into bark at the same ratio by volume. Increasing PB hydraulic conductivity, through screening bark or amending bark with fibrous materials, in concert with low irrigations can produce marketable, vigorous crops while reducing water consumed and minimizing water wasted in ornamental container production.