Research matters ... salt tolerance in shrubs

As competition for water supplies increases, growers may soon be obliged to water their ornamental shrubs with saline water.

In the experiments reported here, six-month-old seedlings of 12 different ornamental shrubs were planted in a peat and perlite mixture in 1.2-litre plastic pots.

Each of the shrubs were then watered daily with a dilute salt solution, the strength of which was increased each day until it reached one of three concentrations - 10, 40 or 70 millimolar NaCl. At least 50 per cent excess solution was applied at each watering so as to avoid any accumulation of salt in the substrate.

After four months of treatment, all species had accumulated some salt in their leaves and all had lower relative growth rates than the controls with no added salt. Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, Eugenia myrtifolia, and Leptospermum scoparium appeared to be tolerant of salt as their leaves were not badly damaged and plant growth was not greatly reduced by it.

However, the leaves of Cotoneaster lacteus, Pyracantha 'Harlequin', and Escallonia rubra showed considerably more damage and plant growth rates were significantly reduced. In some species, but not all, the growth reduction could be correlated with the accumulation of either chloride or sodium ions.

The Effects of Sodium Chloride on Ornamental Shrubs by Cassaniti, Leonardi and Flowers (2009). Scientia Horticulturae 122 (4): 586-593. The contents of issues of Scientia Horticulturae and abstracts of papers are provided at www.elsevier.com/locate/scihorti

Dr Ken Cockshull is emeritus fellow at Warwick HRI


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Phygelius

Phygelius

Masses of colourful tubular flowers can give these plants a substantial presence in the border, says Miranda Kimberley.

Tomorrow's tractors

Tomorrow's tractors

These machines have advanced rapidly over recent years but what does the future hold? Sally Drury looks ahead.

Tractors - Maintenance models

Tractors - Maintenance models

The tractors chosen by professionals across the sector reflect the best features, backup and support on offer, says Sally Drury.


Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Landscape Contracts & Tenders

Products & Kit Resources

BALI National Landscape Awards 2016

Read all about the winning projects in the awards, run in association with Horticulture Week.

Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space
 

Read Noel Farrer