Growth of pothos cuttings affected by nitrogen fertilization of stock plants
R.T. Poole and A.R. Chase1 iC o7 o
University of Florida, IFAS
Central Florida Research and Education Center Apopka 0 994
CFREC Apopka Research Report RH-91-12 1 '-e 9
Published nitrogen (N) fertilization rates for production of good quality acclimatized
Epipremnum aureum (Golden Pothos) plants recommend 16 g/N ft2/yr, which is a moderate
amount of nitrogen (3). The current light level recommendations for production of acclimatized
golden pothos are 1500 to 3000 ft-c. Light and nitrogen rate recommendations for golden pothos
stock plant production and maintenance, 3500 to 4500 ft-c and 14 g/N ft/yr (2), respectively,
were published based on research performed when most stock plants were still maintained in
Production and maintenance of stock plants have changed since these recommendations
were published, with most stock plants now grown in containers, where leaching of nutrients
from the medium is more rapid and root systems smaller. Propagation studies (1) showed a
drastic drop in golden pothos stock plant yield when shade levels were increased from 40 to
80%. Other research (4, 5) showed leaf color at various light levels was affected by N levels,
with higher N levels needed to prevent N deficiency symptoms developing as the higher light
levels were used.
Many environmental plant growers obtain cuttings from their foliage plants in the early
to middle stages of production, thus eliminating the expense of stock plant maintenance. This
pruning causes lateral buds to develop, thereby creating a fuller more attractive final product.
The following experiments were conducted to better determine the optimum fertilization rate of
golden pothos for the production of healthy cuttings and acclimatized container plants at a light
level between 1500 and 2600 ft-c.
Materials and Methods
Experiment 1, a 4 x 4 factorial test with 10 replications, was initiated 4 October 1989.
Rooted cuttings of golden pothos in 3 inch pots were transplanted into 6 inch standard plastic
pots using Vergro Container Mix A without superphosphate (Verlite Co., Tampa, FL 33680),
amended with 1 lb Micromax (Grace/Sierra Co., Milpitas, CA 95035) and 7 lbs dolomite/yd2.
Plants were grown in a greenhouse where temperatures ranged from 70 to 90F and maximum
light intensity was 1500 ft-c. Overhead irrigation was applied two times per week. Plants were
fertilized once per week with a 50 ml solution (about 2 oz) of H20, NH4NO3 and KC1 in various
amounts according to treatment number. Nitrogen rates tested were 14, 28, 42 and 56 mg N/6
'Professor, Plant Physiology and Professor, Plant Pathology, respectively. Central Florida
Research and Education Center Apopka, 2807 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.
inch pot/week. Potassium application rates tested were U (no K applied), 9, 18 and 27 mg K/b
inch pot/week. The plants also received phosphorous at the rate of 7 mg P/6 inch pot/week
Experiment 1 was terminated on 27 November 1989 and the total number of leaves, vines
and bad leaves (dead and dying, or discolored foliage) per plant were recorded. Electrical
conductivity (pmhos/cm) of the leachate collected from growing media was also determined on
27 November using the pour-through nutrient extraction method (6).
Experiment 2 tested 5 levels of nitrogen fertilization using 10 replications per treatment.
Research began on 30 January 1990, when rooted golden pothos cuttings in 3 inch pots were
planted into 6 inch standard plastic containers, utilizing the same growing medium and
amendments as in experiment 1. Plants were grown in a greenhouse, where temperatures ranged
from 70 to 90F, and were irrigated two times per week. Light level was higher than in
experiment 1, with plants receiving a maximum of 2600 ft-c. Plants were fertilized once per
week with a 50 ml solution made up of H20, 21 mg K, 7 mg P and 14, 28, 42, 56 or 70 mg
N according to treatment number.
Foliage of stock plants grown in experiment 2 was graded on 19 March 1990 on a scale
of 1 = poor quality vines, not much good quality cutting material available, 3 = fair quality
foliage, adequate cutting material and 5 = excellent quality vines, many good cuttings
obtainable. Number of vines and leaves per plant was determined on 20 March 1990. Number
of bad leaves per plant and level of chlorosis (using a scale of 1 = mostly chlorotic foliage, 3
= approximately half of foliage chlorotic, 5 = healthy foliage, no chlorosis) were recorded on
11 April 1990.
Foliage was cut back to the edges of the pots on 12 April 1990. Harvested vines were
weighed and cut into single node units. Cuttings harvested on 12 April were rooted, 10 per 6
inch standard pot, using Vergro Container Mix A, on a bench receiving 1400 ft-c, where
temperatures varied from 70 to 90F. Osmocote 19-6-12 (Grace/Sierra Co., Milpitas, CA
95035) was surface applied to cuttings on 8 May 1990 at a rate of 6 g/6 inch pot. Cuttings were
allowed to grow until 6 June 1990, when experiment 2 was terminated following a determination
of the final cutting grade of the crop, based on a scale of 1 = poor growth, 3 = fair growth and
5 = excellent growth.
Results and Discussion
s from experiment 2, with plants grown under 2600 ft-c, show best quality foliage
with 47 and SA ma N/6 inch not/week although 28 and 70 mg/N 6 inch not/week
also produced good plants (Table 2). Foliage weight was greatest when plants received 70 mg
N/6 inch pot/week. Number of bad leaves per plant increased as N rate increased but level of
chlorosis, a symptom of N deficiency, decreased as the level of N fertilization rose. Best quality
cuttings were obtained from plants fertilized with 70 mg N/6 inch pot/week, the highest N rate
Results of these tests indicate the need for different N application rates for potted plant
production and stock plants for cutting production. Producers relying on cuttings obtained from
crops under production rather than on stock plants could apply a higher N rate to golden pothos
in the early stages of production, then cut back on N application rate after cuttings have been
harvested. Plants must receive the lower N rate for a significant part of the production process
in order to be fully acclimatized. Manipulation of N rates could theoretically save producers
the cost of stock plant maintenance.
1. Conover, C.A. and R.T. Poole. 1972. Influence of shade and nutritional levels on
growth and yield of Scindapsus aureus, Cordyline terminalis 'Baby Doll' and
Dieffenbachia exotica. Proc. Trop. Reg. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 16:277-281.
h of Epipremnum aureum fertilized with various levels of nitrogen from
h- r.. mnf-1 17 L Tirmhmr 10 0
N/6" Number of Number of Number of Bad Conductivityz
'week Leaves/Plant Vines/Plant Leaves/Plant (umhos/cm)
14 24 3.3 0.6 820
28 25 3.4 1.4 725
42 27 3.5 2.2 1168
56 27 3.6 3.3 1713
r ** ** **
ratic ns ns ns *
rical conductivity (Amhos/cm) of the leachate from pots containing Epipremnum aureum
ized with various levels of nitrogen. Leachate collected 27 November 1989.
, ** = Nonsignificant, significant at P = 0.05 and significant at P = 0.01, respectively.
Table 2. Growth and quality of Epipremnum aureum stock plants fertilized with vari
12 April 1990. Cuttings from Epipremnum aureum pots were propagate
19 MAR 20 MAR 11 APR
mg N/6 Number of Number of Bad Ch
pot/week Top Gradez Leaves Vines Leaves G
14 3.4 30 3.8 0.3
28 4.0 29 3.4 3.0
42 4.2 28 3.5 2.8
56 4.2 30 3.6 4.6
70 4.0 30 3.2 6.1
linear ** ns ns **
quadratic ** ns ns ns
zFoliage was graded on a scale of 1 = poor quality, 3 = fair quality and 5 = excellent
yFoliage received a chlorosis grade determined using a scale of 1 = mostly chlorotic
areas, 5 = healthy leaves with no chlorotic areas.
xPlants grown from cuttings were graded on 6 June 1990 based on a scale of 1 =
salable and 5 = excellent quality plant material.
"ns, *, ** = Results nonsignificant, significant at P = 0.05 and P = 0.01, respectively