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Response of Schefflera to Variations in Irrigation Procedure
R. T. Poole and C. A. Cppy-.e-- RAR-
T MAuE LIBRARY
University of Florida, IFAS
Agricultural Research and Educ tion Gqnjter ,Aogapka
AREC-A Research Repor RH-85-7
..St -Univ. of Florid
Potted plants with limited soil volume are some ties-suscepti e to
wilting during marketing. The development of growing methods that reduce
the necessity of frequent irrigation under retail conditions would reduce
the resultant poor quality of desiccated plants. Hydrophilic soil amend-
ments have been tested for the purpose of increasing water-holding capacity
of the growth medium without reducing soil aeration and plant growth
(1,2,3). Hydrosoil (Ureafoam) added to an organic medium caused an
increase in water retention when determined by weight, but not by volume
(3). This material increased days to wilt of plants watered weekly or 2
times during 3 weeks, but plant quality was poor. Viterra 2 Hydrogel soil
amendment increased the water-holding capacity of the growing medium (1,2).
This experiment was conducted to determine whether Viterra 20 would
benefit growth and wilt resistance of Brassaia actinophylla (schefflera)
under an interior environment.
A 2x2x4 factorial experiment was initiated September 20, 197. Plants
were grown with and without Viterra 20 incorporated at 0.2 Ibs/ft 200 or
300 ml of water was applied at frequencies'of 1,2,4 or 6 times/2 weeks.
There were 6 replications and the experimental unit consisted of three
schefflera seedlings/6 inch pot. Plants were grown in a glasshouse shaded
to provide 1,200 ft-c maximum light intensity and maintained at 650F minimum
and 95 F maximum. Potting medium was Florida sedge peat:builder's sand (3:1
by volume) amended with 1 pounds dolomite and 2 pounds Perk, a micro-
nutrient blend, per yard Six grams of Osmocote 14-14-14, equivalent to
450 pounds of N/acre was applied per pot at experiment initiation. Pots
were weighed immediately prior to watering and 4 hours after watering at
monthly intervals. Plant grade and height were determined February 7, 1979.
All pots were last watered February 15, 1979 when plants were placed in an
interior environment and days to severe wilt recorded. When plants were
wilted, weight of the above ground portion of the plant was determined.
Viterra 2 had no effect on plant response (Table 1), but both quantity
of water applied and frequency of irrigation affected height and grade.
Increasing irrigation level improved plant quality and produced larger
Professor, Plant Physiology and Professor and Center Director, Agricultural
Research and Education Center, 2807 Binion Road, Apopka, Fl 32703,
Similar interactions occurred for both plant grade (Table 2) and plant
height. When 200 ml of water was applied, there was a large increase in
grade, from 2.9 to 4.2, between 4 and 6 irrigations/2 weeks, but when 300 ml
of water was applied at each irrigation, there was only a difference of 4.5
to 4.6, indicating that 1,200 ml of water applied every two weeks was as
good as 1,800 ml. A large break between acceptable quality and unacceptable
quality occurred between 600 and 800 ml water/6 inch pot-2 weeks. Another
interesting aspect of the interaction showed that a total of 600 ml water
every 2 weeks when applied as 300 ml once a week produces better plants than
800 ml water every 2 weeks when applied as 200 ml twice a week, indicating
that thorough irrigation of the soil medium is important. No treatment
influenced days to wilt. The average time to wilt was 30.5 days.
The ability of the soil mix to retain water was influenced by all
treatments. Pots with Viterra 2 or pots that received the most water
contained the most water. Watering practices were apparently more important
than Viterra 2@ content for water retention (Table 1). When pots were re-
watered with or without Viterra 2, pots retained the same amount of water.
Viterra 2 containing medium held only 6% more water. Pots containing
Viterra 2 also contained more moisture at plant wilt, but had no affect on
Results from this experiment show that Viterra 2 does increase
moisture in the potting medium, but does not improve plant growth or
increase days to wilt. Viterra 2 does not appear to be beneficial if
proper irrigation practices are followed and a mix with good water-holding
capacity is utilized.
1. Conover, C. A. and R. T. Poole. 1979. Influence of pH on activity of
Viterra 2@ and effects on growth and shelf life of Maranta and Pilea.
Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 92:332-333.
2. Poole, R. T. and C. A. Conover. 1983. Storage of Ficus benjamin as
affected by Viterra and temperature. ARC-A Research Report RH-83-16.
3. ben-Jaacov, J., R. T. Poole and C. A. Conover. 1984. Ureafoam as an
amendment for container media of croton. HortScience 19(4):491-492.
Table 1. Response of Schefflera to Viterra 2 incorporation and Variations in irrigation
Difference in weight (g) Pot wt (g)
a Plant Plant before and after irrigation before Pot wt (g)
Viterra gradey ht (cm) % % % % watering day of
Ibs/ft3 2/7/79 2/7/79 10/23/78 ret. 11/20/78 ret. 12/26/78 ret. 1/15/79 ret. 1/15/79 wilt
ZNonsignificant (NS) and significant at the 5% (.05) or 1% (.01) level.
yl = poor, 5 = excellent quality.
XPercent moisture retained.
Table 2. Influence of irrigation on plant grade of Schefflera
Applied/ No. Irrigations/2 weeks
Irrigation 1 2 4 6
200 2.2 2.8 2.9 4.2
300 2.6 3.8 4.5 4.6
Z1 = poor, 3 = acceptable, 5 = excellent quality