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Application of deficit irrigation in Phillyrea angustifolia for landscaping purposes

Álvarez, S., Gómez-Bellot, M.J., Acosta-Motos, J.R., Sánchez-Blanco, M.J.
Agricultural water management 2019 v.218 pp. 193-202
Phillyrea angustifolia, deficit irrigation, drought, land restoration, landscapes, landscaping, leaf water potential, plant height, root shoot ratio, spring, stomatal movement, urban areas, water content, water use efficiency, Mediterranean region
Phillyrea angustifolia is an evergreen shrub of interest for urban landscape design, as well as for use in revegetation projects in Mediterranean areas, which are characterized by an acute scarcity of water. The effect of different levels of water deficit on several physiological, ornamental and morphological parameters of Phillyrea angustifolia plants was studied to evaluate their adaptability to xerogarden and/or landscape conditions. Nursery grown plants were subjected to three irrigation treatments: a control (watered to container capacity) and two deficit irrigation treatments of 60 and 40% of the amount of water supplied in the control treatment (moderate and severe deficit irrigation). After 23 months, plant height was significantly inhibited by both water deficit treatments, although plant compactness (foliar area in relation to plant height) was not affected. Plants under severe deficit irrigation increased their root to shoot ratio and water use efficiency, which are positive aspects for hardening. Plants exposed to both deficit irrigation treatments exhibited slight dehydration throughout the experiment, especially in spring, as indicated by the lower leaf water potential and relative water content. The tolerance of P. angustifolia to drought was mainly related to adjust osmotic and regulated stomatal closure. It is concluded that both deficit irrigation treatments can be used successfully in P. angustifolia plant production to reduce water consumption while maintaining good overall quality. Moderate deficit irrigation is specially recommended for gardening purposes, since this treatment produced plants with of visual quality. Severe deficit irrigation is more suitable for landscaping purposes, as an effective nursery technique to produce plants better adapted to environmental stress during transplanting.