Investigations of exogenous applications of carbohydrates on the growth and vitality of live oaks Academic Article uri icon


  • Some practitioners within the green industry have lauded the application of sugar-containing products to the soil around trees as a method to improve plant health. A research study was initiated to evaluate the effects of exogenous applications of glucose and starch on the growth and vitality of healthy live oaks (Quercus virginiana P. Miller). Glucose, starch, or a 50:50 mixture of both carbohydrates were applied as soil drenches around 60 young live oaks growing at a field nursery. Carbohydrates were dissolved in water and applied at concentrations of 0, 40, 80, and 120 g L-1 within 0.5 m from the trunk. Solutions were applied using 10 L per application every four months during an 18-month period. Trunk diameter, root and canopy growth, and carbohydrate content of twigs and roots were measured every four months, and net photosynthetic rate, chlorophyll fluorescence, and soil respiration were measured every six months. Tissue samples from twigs and roots were collected after 16 months to measure carbon isotope composition (13C) as an indicator of carbohydrate uptake. Chlorophyll fluorescence varied throughout the experiment but did not demonstrate a clear trend. Higher carbohydrate applications did influence the concentration of glucose in twigs although the results did not clearly indicate that this effect was caused by an uptake of glucose from roots. 13C signatures did not provide any evidence about potential carbohydrate uptake. Even though there was a significant increase in soil respiration after being treated with starch, no significant increase in growth or vitality was detected on healthy live oaks. 2008 Elsevier GmbH.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Martinez-Trinidad, T., Watson, W. T., Arnold, M. A., & Lombardini, L.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Martinez-Trinidad, Tomas||Watson, W Todd||Arnold, Michael A||Lombardini, Leonardo

publication date

  • January 2009