The incorporation of a hydrophilic polymer into annual landscape beds was found to buffer temperature changes by as much as 3C (37F) during daylight hours. Under dry conditions, hydrophilic polymer incorporation increased the growth and flowering of petunias by as much as 64% and 75%, respectively. Vinca and marigold flowering did not increase with polymer incorporation. However, in the case of marigolds, the medium rate of polymer incorporation resulted in an average of 40% higher dry weights compared to control plants. Under nonlimiting water conditions, the advantage of using polymers were less pronounced than under dry conditions. In addition, plant growth and flowering were not affected. The findings suggest that drought-sensitive plants such as petunia may benefit from the addition of a hydrophilic polymer in areas receiving little or sporadic rainfall in addition to elevated temperatures.

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Author notes

2Graduate Students.

3Assistant Professor, El Paso Research Station.

4Associate Professor.