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  • Author or Editor: M. Kate Lee x
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As a result of the decreasing availability of high-quality irrigation water, salinity tolerance of greenhouse crops is of increasing importance. Saline irrigation water can have many negative effects on plants, but also has the potential to act as a growth regulator because of its ability to reduce plant height. To determine the effects of NaCl in the irrigation water on the growth, physiology, and nutrient uptake of chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum ×morifolium Ramat.), plants were watered with solutions with different NaCl concentrations (0, 1, 3, 6, or 9 g·L−1). Plants receiving 9 g·L−1 NaCl had a 76% reduction in shoot dry weight, a 90% reduction in stomatal conductance (g S), and a 4-day delay in flowering compared with control plants. Chrysanthemums receiving 1 g·L−1 NaCl had a 4-cm reduction in height with only a small reduction in shoot dry weight. Stomatal conductance and transpiration were reduced by more than 60% by NaCl concentrations of 1 g·L−1 as compared with control plants. The combination of a small reduction in dry weight and a large decrease in transpiration resulted in increased water use efficiency when plants received 1 g·L−1 NaCl. Concentrations of 3 g·L−1 NaCl or higher resulted in poor-quality plants either as a result of wilting of the leaves (3 g·L−1) or severely stunted plants (6 and 9 g·L−1). Our findings indicate that chrysanthemums can be grown successfully with 1 g·L−1 NaCl in the irrigation water without negative impacts on plant quality. This has important implications for the greenhouse industry as the availability of nonsaline water decreases. Saline water may be more readily available and can have the added benefit of reduced plant height, which is an important quality characteristic for floriculture crops.

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