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Seedling geranium response to nitrogen deprivation and subsequent recovery in hydroponic culture

Locke, James C., Altland, James E., Bobak, Deanna M.
Hortscience 2011 v.46 no.12 pp. 1615
Pelargonium hortorum, bedding plants, chlorophyll, floriculture crops, hydroponics, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nutrient deficiencies, plant response, seedling growth, seedlings, soil nutrients, soil-plant interactions
Nitrogen (N) fertilization recommendations to achieve optimum growth are well established for many floriculture crops. Although it has been shown that plant functions can recover from N deficiency in other crops, little research has investigated the threshold beyond which a bedding plant crop is recoverable. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of N deficiency on geranium chlorophyll content and growth and then to document the degree of recovery and recovery time from N deprivation. This was determined in two experiments by monitoring chlorophyll content and growth of seedlings grown in hydroponic culture in which the N source was removed and then restored after differing lengths of time. Summarizing across both experiments, chlorophyll and foliar N levels were shown to rebound quickly after N deprivation; however, growth was reduced after just 4 days compared with plants fed constantly. Geraniums grown without N for 4 to 12 days resulted in smaller, more compact plants with lower shoot–to-root ratios. Although foliar chlorophyll and N concentration recovered from longer periods in N growth solution, geranium growth was reduced and failed to completely recover for any plant receiving more than 2 days of N-free solution.