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  • Author or Editor: Kathryn M. Santos x
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Nutrient uptake during adventitious root formation is not clearly understood, resulting in variable fertilization strategies in propagation and increased potential for nutrient deficiency or nutrient runoff. The objective was to quantify rooting response to fertility treatments and tissue nutrient concentration changes in response to basal or apical nutrient supply during three rooting phases in propagation of Petunia ×hybrida ‘Supertunia Royal Velvet’ and ‘Supertunia Priscilla’ stem tip cuttings. One of two treatments [a complete fertilizer solution (in mg·L−1) 56 NO3-N, 19 NH4-N, 13 phosphorus, 88 potassium, 39 calcium, 28 magnesium, 20 sulfur, 11 sodium, 1.1 iron, 0.5 manganese, 0.5 zinc, 0.25 copper, 0.29 boron, 0.1 molybdenum, and 0.01 aluminum] or clear tap water was applied to the cuttings. Tissue N–P–K concentrations declined as plant development increased from Stage 0 to 3 regardless of fertilizer treatment or location applied. Foliar application of N–P–K during propagation maintained tissue nutrient concentration at higher levels before Stage 2 (initial root emergence) compared with plants that received clear water only; however, overall, a decline in concentration was measured from Stage 1 to Stage 3. Measurable N–P–K uptake occurred during root development from the foliar and basal portions of the cuttings. Basal fertilizer applications resulted in increased root length and root number compared with plants treated with clear water. These results emphasize that nutrient uptake occurs from both the stem and foliar portion of Petunia cuttings, and nutrient availability at the stem base at root emergence improves root development.

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The objective of this study was to quantify water volume and nutrient content leached during propagation of herbaceous cuttings in commercial greenhouses. Nutrient concentrations in the fertigation solution, substrate, tissue, and leachate were measured between Jan. and Mar. 2006 at eight greenhouse locations in Michigan, Colorado, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Grower management of the timing and concentration of nutrients applied to vegetatively grown calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ×hybrida) or petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) liner trays varied among the eight locations, ranging from 0.5 to 80 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N) in week 1 and from 64 to 158 mg·L−1 N in week 4. Over a 4-week crop period, applied nutrients averaged 4.9 g·m−2 N, 0.8 g·m−2 phosphorus (P), and 5.8 g·m−2 potassium (K), and leached nutrients averaged 1.1 g·m−2 N, 0.3 g·m−2 P, and 1.6 g·m−2 K. Leaching of nutrients and irrigation water was highly variable among locations. Leached water volumes ranged from 4.5 to 46.1 L·m−2 over 4 weeks and contained 0.29 to 1.81 g·m−2 N, 0.11 to 0.45 g·m−2 P, and 0.76 to 2.86 g·m−2 K. The broad range in current commercial fertigation practices, including timing of nutrient supply, concentration of applied fertilizer, and leaching volume, indicate considerable potential to improve efficiency of water and fertilization resources during propagation and reduce runoff.

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The objective was to quantify the effect of the timing of macronutrient applications on nutrient uptake, growth, and development of Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr. ‘Supertunia Royal Velvet’ during vegetative propagation. Starting with unrooted cuttings (Day 0), fertigation was applied continuously at three time intervals (Day 0 to 7, Day 8 to 14, or Day 15 to 21) using either a “complete” (C) water-soluble fertilizer containing (in mg·L−1) 75 NO3-N, 25 NH4-N, 12 phosphorus (P), 83 potassium (K), 20 calcium (Ca), 10 magnesium (Mg), 1.4 sulfur (S), 2 iron (Fe), 1 manganese (Mn), 1 zinc (Zn), 0.5 copper (Cu), 0.5 boron (B), and 0.2 molybdenum (Mo) or a micronutrient fertilizer (M) containing (in mg·L−1) 1.4 S, 2 Fe, 1 Mn, 1 Zn, 0.5 Cu, 0.5 B, and 0.2 Mo in a complete factorial arrangement. With constant fertigation using the C fertilizer, plant dry weight (DW) doubled from Day 0 (sticking of unrooted cuttings) to Day 7 (0.020 g to 0.047 g), root emergence was observed by Day 4, and by Day 7, the average length of primary roots was 2.6 cm. During any week that the M fertilizer was substituted for the C fertilizer, tissue N–P–K concentrations decreased compared with plants receiving the C fertilizer. For example, plants receiving the M fertilizer between Day 0 and 7 had 20% lower tissue-N concentration at Day 7 compared with those receiving the C fertilizer. Although both shoot DW and leaf count increased once macronutrient fertilization was resumed after Day 7, final shoot DW and leaf count were lower than plants receiving C fertilizer from Day 0 to 21. Time to first root emergence was unaffected by fertigation. Constant application of C resulted in a higher shoot-to-root ratio at Day 21 than all other treatments. Results emphasize the importance of early fertigation on petunia, a fast-rooting species, to maintain tissue nutrient levels within recommended ranges.

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