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2007 | 29 | 5 |
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Drought response of two bedding plants

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Bedding plants are an important part of the urban public space and private gardens. However, they are not always properly watered and suffer from drought stress, especially when grown in containers. In this trial a response to water stress of two commonly used species, impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook) and geranium (Pelargonium hortorum L. H. Bailey) were compared. The former is highly herbaceous and prone to wilting whereas the latter has hairy leaves and is better adapted to drought. Plants were grown at three levels of soil water content (SWC): 80% (control), 60% (mild stress) and 30% (severe stress). Drought was maintained during three 10 day cycles, separated by 10 day periods of normal watering. In both species roots were significantly longer in plants grown at 30% SWC as compared to 80% SWC while plant height and flower number were reduced by drought only in impatiens. The initial relative water content (RWC) was lower in geranium and decreased less in response to drought than in impatiens. Ammonium content in leaves of both species increased significantly under stress but the ranges of increase were different in both species. There was a significant increase in the free amino acids content in leaves of impatiens as compared to geranium but this rise was more time than drought dependent. The reduction in the a + b chlorophyll concentration in leaves of impatiens was significantly time and stress dependent while no reaction in geranium was observed. The above results show that changes in leaf RWC merit further attention as a possible indicator of plant response to drought stress in ornamental plants but additional studies are needed before this or other parameters can be used to evaluate new bedding plants for introduction into urban growing conditions, or as selection criteria in breeding for adaptation to demanding growing conditions.
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  • Department of Ornamental Plants, Faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Warsaw Agricultural University, 166 Nowoursynowska Str., 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
  • Department of Ornamental Plants, Faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Warsaw Agricultural University, 166 Nowoursynowska Str., 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
  • Department of Ornamental Plants, Faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Warsaw Agricultural University, 166 Nowoursynowska Str., 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
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