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  • Author or Editor: L. R. Nelms x
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Water stress resulting from inadequate soil water retention following transplanting is a major cause of container-grown transplant failure. The relatively small water supply contained in the soil containers used in nursery and bedding plant production is reduced further by enhanced drainage following transplanting. This drainage phenomenon, which has received little previous attention, was investigated under controlled laboratory conditions. Samples of 2 suitable container soils were embedded in simulated ground bed soil and retained in a container; water retention of the embedded soil, surrounding ground bed soil, and contained soil was monitored simultaneously to determine if the embedded soil (analogous to a container-grown transplant’s soil) retained less water than the contained soil. The embedded soils lost 30% to 85% of their estimated available water within a few hours, whereas contained soils lost the same quantity only after 3 or 4 days of surface evaporation. A simultaneous increase in water content in the surrounding ground bed soil indicated that the rapid water loss from the embedded soil was due to water movement into the surrounding soil. A similar water loss following subsequent irrigation of the embedded and ground bed soils indicated that this embedded soil water loss is primarily a drainage phenomenon. This effect was concluded to be a potentially significant factor affecting transplant survival.

Open Access