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Evaluation of New Container Media for Aglaonema Production

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Mandated processing of waste by-products in the United States has inspired national interest in addressing the effectiveness of using composted biosolids and yard trimmings to grow containerized plants. Diamond bay Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema 'Diamond Bay') was transplanted in containers filled with one of eight formulated media (components added by volume). Medium 1 was a standard mix commonly used in Aglaonema production (5:2:3 peat-vermiculite-perlite); medium 2 was formulated on site to contain peat-bark-stalite-rice hulls-coir (2:2:3:1:2); media 3 and 4 contained 40% biosolid-yard waste compost instead of peat and with or without 20% stalite, respectively; and media 5, 6, 7, and 8 were commercially formulated to contain peat-bark-perlite-rice hulls-coir (4:1.5:2.5:1:1, 4:1.5:2.5:1:1, 4:2:2:1:1, and 3.0:2.5:2:1:1.5, respectively). Physical and chemical properties of the eight media were in ranges 50-65% container water-holding capacity, 2.9-7.8% air-filled porosity, 55-80% moisture (w/w), 0.11-0.37 g·cm3 bulk density, 0.34-0.96 g·cm3 particle density, 4.2-7.2 pH, 0.12-4.4 dS·m-1 electrical conductivity (EC), 27.3-54.5 meg/100 g cation exchange capacity (CEC), 17.9-39.0% carbon (C), and 0.22-1.7% nitrogen (N). Medium 4 (40% compost) had 5.5 times more ammoniacal N (NH4-N) and 1.7 times more nitrate N (NO3-N) than that of the standard commercial mix. At week 8, plants grown in media 2 and 5 were 8.9% to 9.5% taller than plants grown in medium 1 (commercial standard). At week 16, there were no significant differences in plant heights or growth indices among media. At week 24, there were no significant differences in plant height, growth index, visual quality, shoot dry weight, and root dry weight among media. However, cumulative phosphorus (P) leaching from media 1, 4, and 5 was significantly more than leaching from media 2 and 8. This study suggests that compost may serve as a horticulturally suitable and cost-effective alternative to peat-based media for Aglaonema production.

Keywords: Aeration; Chinese evergreen; biosolids; compost; foliage plants; phosphorus leaching

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00103620903173749

Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Fort Pierce, Florida, USA 2: Department of Soil and Water Science, University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Fort Pierce, Florida, USA 3: EARTH University, San Jose, Costa Rica 4: Department of Horticulture, University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Fort Pierce, Florida, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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