Criteria signaling reapplication of controlled-release fertilizer for maximum growth of Ilex crenata Thunb. 'Helleri'

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Virginia Tech

Medium solution N and electrical conductivity (EC), and foliar N levels were measured to determine criteria which signal the need for reapplication of a controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) in order to maximize growth of container-grown Ilex crenata Thunb. ‘Helleri’. Rooted cuttings of ‘Helleri’ holly were initially fertilized (7 Mar. 1991) with 8-9 month (18N-2.6P-9.9K) or 12-14 month (17N-3.1P-9.9K) Osmocote. A subset of 12 plants received a CRF reapplication (half rate) of the respective Osmocote formulation on 19 July, 2 Aug., or 16 Aug. In addition to reapplication treatments, 12 plants received a liquid fertilizer (LF) solution with each irrigation starting on 19 July. Canopy widths of plants receiving LF or CRF reapplication on 19 July and 2 Aug. were greater than those plants without supplemental fertilizer (control). At the time of the second reapplication date (2 Aug.), medium solution N and EC, and foliar N levels of control plants were = 40 mg liter⁻¹, 0.4 d m⁻¹ and 2.3%, respectively. Since growth of control plants was less than those of LF, CRF 19 July and 2 Aug. reapplications, medium solution N and EC, and foliar N values at the time of the second reapplication (2 Aug.) signaled the need for CRF reapplication or LF supplementation. There was a strong relationship between medium solution EC and N (NO₃ + NH₄) (r² = 0.91, P = 0.05), indicating that growers could use EC measurements to predict medium solution N concentration, as well as to assess the adequacy of the fertilizer regime.