Effect of arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization and two levels of compost supply on nutrient uptake and flowering of pelargonium plants.
Two challenges frequently encountered in the production of ornamental plants in organic horticulture are: (1) the rate of mineralization of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) from organic fertilizers can be too slow to meet the high nutrient demand of young plants, and (2) the exclusive use of peat as a substrate for pot-based plant culture is discouraged in organic production systems. In this situation, the use of beneficial soil microorganisms in combination with high quality compost substrates can contribute to adequate plant growth and flower development. In this study, we examined possible alternatives to highly soluble fertilizers and pure peat substrates using pelargonium (Pelargonium peltatum L’Her.) as a test plant. Plants were grown on a peat-based substrate with two rates of compost addition and with and without arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Inoculation with three different commercial AM inocula resulted in colonization rates of up to 36% of the total root length, whereas non-inoculated plants remained free of root colonization. Increasing the rate of compost addition increased shoot dry weight and shoot nutrient concentrations, but the supply of compost did not always completely meet plant nutrient demand. Mycorrhizal colonization increased the number of buds and flowers, as well as shoot P and potassium (K) concentrations, but did not significantly affect shoot dry matter or shoot N concentration. We conclude that addition of compost in combination with mycorrhizal inoculation can improve nutrient status and flower development of plants grown on peat-based substrates.
Perner, H.; Schwarz, D.; Bruns, C.; Mäder, P.; George, E. 2007. Effect of arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization and two levels of compost supply on nutrient uptake and flowering of pelargonium plants. Mycorrhiza 17 (5), 469-474.