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Buffered phosphorus fertilizer improves growth and drought tolerance of woody landscape plants

Authors:

Zhang, Y.J.; Kuhns, L.; Lynch, J.P.; Brown, K.M.

Source:

Journal of Environmental Horticulture, Horticultural Research Institute, Volume 20, Issue 4, USA, p.214-219 (2002)

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Abstract:

The effects of alumina-buffered phosphorus (Al-P) were evaluated on growth and drought tolerance of woody plants and on seedling establishment of several tree species grown in containers with soilless media. Al-P reduced phosphorus leaching in all species. Vegetative growth of rhododendron ( Rhododendron catawbiense cv. 'English Roseum'), forsythia ( Forsythia intermedia cv. 'Spring Glory'), Ohio buckeye ( Aesculus glabra ), and bur oak ( Quercus macrocarpa ), measured as plant height, stem caliper, or biomass, was as fast or faster with Al-P as with Osmocote (17-6-10) or monoammonium phosphate fertilizer. Imposition of summer drought during the first growth season slightly reduced growth of rhododendron, with a stronger effect in the second year, while forsythia was more affected in the first season. Rhododendron plants fertilized with Al-P wilted more slowly than controls fertilized with Osmocote. Al-P fertilized forsythia plants grew faster than controls whether drought was imposed or not. Rhododendron plants produced more flower buds in the first year when fertilized with Al-P than with conventional phosphorus fertilizers. At the lower desorbing concentration, drought caused no reduction in percent of plants producing flower buds. A recharging treatment was tested at the beginning of the second season to replace P lost from the Al-P. Recharged Al-P reduced branching and flowering of rhododendron at the end of the second season, possibly as a result of damage from the recharging treatment.