Research Matters - Estimating daily petunia water use

It has always been important for growers to use water efficiently but it is especially important now that there are concerns about the extraction of water for use on crops.

The experiments reported here measured daily water use by petunias grown in containers in a glasshouse.

Seedlings of 'Single Dreams Pink' and 'Prostrate Easy Wave Pink' were transplanted into plastic containers holding 420, 767, and 1,320ml of a soil-less substrate. Irrigation was controlled via capacitance sensors placed in each size of container with each cultivar. When the average water content in a treatment dropped below 0.4cu m per cubic metre, solenoids opened and 2.4ml of water was delivered to each container.

The daily water use could then be calculated from the number of irrigations per day. Various mathematical models were tested for their ability to predict the daily water use of petunia. 'Days after planting' proved to be a simple and accurate estimate of the influence of plant size.

This could be further refined by including a term for container size.

The influence of the environment was adequately described by monitoring the daily light integral, humidity, and temperature.

The best model accurately predicted the observed fluctuations in daily water use and so could be used to control the irrigation of petunia.

Dr Ken Cockshull, Associate Fellow, Warwick Crop Centre, University of Warwick

Estimating Daily Water Use of Two Petunia Cultivars based on Plant and Environmental Factors by Kim, van Iersel and Burnett (2011). HortScience 46 (9): 1287-1293. Members of the International Society for Horticultural Science can view HortScience from the website

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next



The range of colours and flowering times makes for cheerful and economic displays, Miranda Kimberley reports.

Pitches - seeds and consumables

Pitches - seeds and consumables

The right seeding and inputs are essential for keeping grass in top condition and ensuring that pitches look and perform at their best, says Sally Drury.



Customers do not often know about the different leaf colours and shapes offered by hollies, Miranda Kimberley reports.

Opinion... Standardisation good for the trade

Opinion... Standardisation good for the trade

Horticulture could benefit from streamlining in the supply chain.

Opinion... Get rid of plastics in Horticulture

Opinion... Get rid of plastics in Horticulture

Blue Planet II eloquently showed the rich tapestry of life in the oceans. It also focused public awareness on plastic pollution damaging wildlife.

Opinion... Gardening needs better promotion

Opinion... Gardening needs better promotion

British horticultural firms and organisations have not been the best at working together to promote our industry.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 60 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive ranking of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover. 

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

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.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles