Light Intensity and Fertilizer Rate Affect Growth of Syngonium podophyllum 'Pink Allusion'

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University of Florida, IFAS
Central Florida Research and Education Center - Apopka
CFREC - Apopka Research Report, RH-91-17

R.T. Poole and C.A. Conover*

Syngonium podophyllum Schott. (nephthytis) is a popular indoor foliage plant produced in a wide range of container sizes. Small nephthytis plants, grown in 3 inch pots, are included in dish gardens and terrariums, while bigger plants, grown in larger pots or hanging baskets, are used in groupings, or alone as accent plants. Cultivars available today include 'White Butterfly', 'Lemon Lime', 'Emerald Green' and 'Pixie'. A new cultivar, 'Pink Allusion', closely resembles 'White Butterfly' in growth habit and general size and appearance. Both 'Pink Allusion' and 'White Butterfly' have upright growth habits with self heading stems, which produce thick bushy plants. Leaves of both cultivars are mostly white, gradually becoming light green toward leaf edges, with slim irregular dark green borders; however, 'Pink Allusion' leaves have pink veins in leaf centers which do not fade as leaves mature.

In a recent test, 'White Butterfly' were grown under 1000 ft-c or 3500 ft-c with a wide range of fertilizer levels, 4.9 to 19.50 g 19-6-12/6 inch pots/3 months. Good quality plants were produced with 3500 ft-c and all fertilizer rates except 4.9 g/6 inch pot, the lowest rate tested. Interactions between light and fertilizer did not occur. Current light intensity, 1500-3000 ft-c, and fertilizer rate recommendations, 4.2 g/ 19-6-12 6 inch pot/3 months (1500 lb N/A/yr), for production of good quality acclimatized Syngonium podophyllum, are based on research with cultivars other than 'Pink Allusion'. The following experiment was conducted to determine an optimum light intensity and fertilizer rate for production of good quality acclimatized 'Pink Allusion' nephthytis.

Materials and Methods

A 3 x 3 factorial experiment, with 5 replications per treatment, was initiated on 5 July 1991 at CFREC - Apopka. Good quality 'Pink Allusion' nephthytis liners, obtained from a local grower, were transplanted into 6 inch standard containers using Vergro Container Mix (Verlite Co., Tampa, FL 33680). Plants were placed in a shadehouse on benches under 45, 60 or 75 % shade so that the maximum light intensities plants received were 4500 to 5500 ft-c, 2500 to 3500 ft-c or 1000 to 1500 ft-c, respectively. Temperatures in the shadehouse ranged from 70 to 95F during the time this experiment was conducted. Plants were watered overhead 3 times a week. On 15 July 1991 plants were top-dressed with 19-6-12 Osmocote (Grace/Sierra Co., Milpitas, CA 95035) at rates of 4, 8 or 12 g/6 inch pot/3 months.

On 11 September, after plants had reached salable size, plant height and grade were determined. Height was measured in inches from surface of the potting medium to top of upright stems. Plant grade was judged based on a scale of 1 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair quality, salable and 5 = excellent quality plants.

Results and Discussion

Height of 'Pink Allusion' nephthytis was unaffected by light intensity or fertilizer rate (Table 1). However, plant quality, as determined by plant grades, increased as light intensity decreased, with the best quality plants receiving the lowest light intensity tested, 1000 to 1500 ft-c. Plant quality was also affected by fertilizer rate and increased as fertilization level rose, with best quality plants grown with 12 g/6 inch pot/3 months, the highest fertilizer level tested. However, there was not a great difference in plant quality between plants receiving different fertilizer rates, and quality of all plants tested was adequate to ensure salability. There were no interactions between light intensity and fertilizer rate for plant height or plant grade.

Results of this test show best quality 'Pink Allusion' received light levels within the lower part of the range (1500-3000 ft-c) previously recommended for good quality nephthytis production. Fertilizer rates producing the highest quality plants were 8 to 12 g 19-6-12/6 inch pot/3 months, higher than the 4.2 g/6 inch pot rate currently recommended for good quality nephthytis production.

Many factors, including time of year, product cost, the effects of fertilization levels on plant longevity indoors and environmental contamination from excess fertilizer in irrigation runoff, must be weighed before producers can choose the best fertilization schedule for a particular crop. In this instance, even though the best quality plants were fertilized with 12 g/6 inch pot/3 months, the best 19-6-12 3 month fertilizer application rate for production of 'Pink Allusion', taking into consideration the factors influencing production regimes mentioned above, would probably be 8 g/6 inch pot during hot weather. Optimum fertilization rate would probably be slightly lower in cooler weather when plant growth is slower.

*Professor of Physiology, and Center Director and Professor of Environmental Horticulture (retired 7/96), respectively, Central Florida Research and Education Center - Apopka, 2807 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703-8504.

Further Reading

  1. 1. Chase, A.R. and R.T. Poole. 1987. Effect of fertilizer, temperature, and light level on growth of Syngonium podophyllum 'White Butterfly'. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 112(2):296-300.

    2. Conover, C.A. and R.T. Poole. 1978. Selection of shade levels for foliage plant production as influenced by fertilizer and temperature. The Fla. Nurseryman 23(10):74-75.

    3. Conover, C.A. and R.T. Poole. 1990. Light and fertilizer recommendations for production of acclimatized potted foliage plants. Nursery Digest 24(10):34-36, 58-59.

    4. Poole, R.T. and C.A. Conover. 1977. Nutritional studies of three foliage plants. SNA Nursery Res. J. 1(2):17-26.

    5. Poole, R.T. and C.A. Conover. 1986. Growth of Cissus, Dracaena and Syngonium at different fertilizer, irrigation and soil temperatures. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 99:268-269.

  1. Table 1. Height (cm) and plant grade of Syngonium podophyllum 'Pink Allusion' grown with various light intensities and fertilizer rates from 5 July until 11 September 1991.
Intensity (ft-c)
4500 - 5500 7.7 3.4
2500 - 3500 8.0 4.0
1000 - 1500 7.8 4.2
linear ns **
quadratic ns ns
g/6 inch pot
4 7.8 3.6
8 7.8 3.9
12 8.0 4.1
linear ns *
quadratic ns ns
  1. ZHeight (inches) measured from top of medium to top of tallest upright stem.
    YPlant grade based on a scale of 1 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair quality, salable and 5 = excellent quality plants.
    Xns, *, **; Results nonsignificant, significant at P = 0.05 and P = 0.01, respectively.