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Impact of fertiliser level on plant growth, plant shape, and physiological leaf damage in two cultivars of Aechmea characterised by crassulacean acid metabolism

Londers, Elsje, Ceusters, Johan, Godts, Christof, De Proft, Maurice P.
Journal of horticultural science & biotechnology 2009 v.84 no.5 pp. 526-530
Aechmea, Crassulacean acid metabolism, biotechnology, cultivars, fertigation, fertilizer rates, growers, horticulture, leaves, plant growth, risk, turgor
The efficacy of different fertiliser levels was evaluated in terms of plant growth, plant shape, and leaf quality. Experiments were conducted on two cultivars of Aechmea of known sensitivity (high and low, respectively) to physiological leaf damage. Plants were grown under two fertiliser levels (a fertigation solution of 1.2 mS cm-1, or a fertigation solution of 2.4 mS cm-1) over a 9-month treatment period. In general, the lower level of fertiliser resulted in more desirable, compact plants, with leaf length as the major parameter determining plant shape. The higher level of fertiliser improved the growth rate significantly, but also increased the risk of leaf quality problems. The extent of this effect was strongly cultivar-dependent. In practice, growers will have to compromise between plant shape and leaf quality on the one hand, and growth rate on the other. Based on this work, either of two plant-related parameters can be used to evaluate the risk of leaf quality problems when changing fertiliser levels: (i) chlorenchymal cell dimensions at the leaf anatomical level, or (ii) turgor pressure at the leaf physiological level.