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Traci Armstrong, Matthew W. Kent, and David Wm. Reed

With the rising concern for the environment and an increase in governmental regulation, greenhouse growers must find alternative methods for irrigation that will avoid ground and surface water contamination. Subirrigation is one of these alternatives, but subirrigation is more sensitive to water quality than traditional systems and many growers are faced with poor water quality. This experiment tested seven different water sources from across the state of Texas. Each source was replicated twice using New Guinea impatiens `Illusion'. Leaf count, plant height, and plant width were measured at 2-week intervals. Plants were harvested at 8 weeks and measured for shoot fresh weight, shoot dry weight, and overall quality. Electrical conductivity of the upper, middle, and bottom layers of the container medium was measured. Compared to the reverse osmosis control, fresh weight was reduced by 12% to 30%, average leaf number by –7% to 56%, quality evaluation by –8% to 61%, average width by –5% to 27%, and the average height by 8% to 34%. The results will be explained based on differences in analysis of the various water and media samples.

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Traci Armstrong, J.E. Wolfe III, J.C. Bradley, and J.M. Zajicek

Ornamental grasses are currently growing in popularity and are being used in parks, public plantings, and commercial landscapes. This study was developed to determine the esthetic appeal of 12 ornamental grasses and evaluate public attitude toward the use of these grasses in low-maintenance landscapes. Grasses were selected for this evaluation using the following criteria: recommendations of experts in the ornamental grass field; material used in the nursery trade; and recommendations in popular literature. Two field sites were prepared and planted in the Spring 1991 and 1992. Both sites were maintained and irrigated to enhance the survivability of the grasses. The survey was conducted on several dates in the Fall 1992. Participants responded to questions regarding ornamental grass use, and the need for research on water conservation in landscapes. In addition, participants were asked to rank the individual grass species as to their accept-ability for landscape use. The results of the survey indicate that visual aesthetics are a major factor in public acceptance of landscape materials. In addition, the majority of ornamental grasses tested in this study were acceptable alternatives for low-maintenance landscapes with native and introduced species equal in performance.