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PLOS ONE  2013 

Composted Green Waste as a Substitute for Peat in Growth Media: Effects on Growth and Nutrition of Calathea insignis

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078121

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Abstract:

Peat mined from endangered wetland ecosystems is generally used as a component in soilless potting media in horticulture but is a costly and non-renewable natural resource. The objective of this work was to study the feasibility of replacing peat with different percentages (0, 10, 30, 50, 70, 90, and 100%) of composted green waste (CGW) as growth media for the production of the ornamental plant Calathea insignis. Compared with 100% peat media, media containing CGW had improved physical and chemical characteristics to achieve the acceptable ranges. Moreover, CGW addition had increased the stability (i.e., reduced the decomposition rates) of growth media mixtures, as indicated by comparison of particle-size distribution at the start and end of a 7-month greenhouse experiment. Addition of CGW also supported increased plant growth (biomass production, root morphology, nutrient contents, and photosynthetic pigment contents). The physical and chemical characteristics of growth media and plant growth were best with a medium containing 70% CGW and were better in a medium with 100% CGW than in one with 100% peat media. These results indicate that CGW is a viable alternative to peat for the cultivation of Calathea insignis.

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