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Effects of pH and phosphorus concentrations on the cultivation of Salvia chamelaeagnea grown in hydroponics
This study evaluated the effects of different pH levels and supplementary phosphorous concentrations on Salvia chamelaeagnea grown in hydroponics. The treatments consisted of 12 treatments of 4 differing nutrient solutions offering: low concentration of supplementary P (control), balanced concentration of supplementary P, moderate concentration of supplementary P and a high concentration of supplementary P at 3 differing pH levels. Each treatment was replicated 10 times. The objectives of this study were to asses the effect of supplementary phosphorous concentrations and 3 different pH levels on the growth, development and chlorophyll responses of Salvia chamelaeagnea grown hydroponically. Growth and development was recorded by measuring weekly heights, numbers of basal shoots, stem diameters and the number of branches, while root length and wet and dry weights of roots and shoots were measured post harvest. Chlorophyll responses were recorded by measuring weekly SPAD-502 measurements while post harvest DMSO analysis of chlorophyll A, B and total chlorophyll were recorded along with nutrient uptake levels of N, P,K, Ca, Mg, Na, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn and B in the plant leaves. This study has shown that the use of a hydroponic nutrient system offering a moderate concentration of supplementary P at a pH level of 4 significantly influences the growth and development of Salvia chamelaeagnea grown in hydroponics. Plants treated with a pH level of 4 generally produced higher wet and dry shoot weights, root lengths, stem diameters, basal shoot numbers, branch numbers, and plant heights than that of the control and all treatments delivering nutrients at a pH level of 6 and 8. Although no one treatment offering supplementary P produced consistently high results, in most cases all the plants receiving supplementary P at a pH level of 4 outperformed the pH 6 and pH 8 treatments receiving the same amount of supplementary P. This indicates that at a pH level of 4 the mineral nutrient availability of a nutrient solution is at an adequate level for the growth and development of Salvia chamelaeagnea. Furthering studies into the effects of arbuscular mycorrhiza on the uptake of mineral nutrients, root morphology and growth and development are recommended.