Container Planting

Your selected growing medium needs to be amended to provide the necessary physical and chemical properties for optimal plant growth.

To this end, several soilless growing media have been developed to improve the situation.

Peat is primarily formed by the accumulation of plant materials from poorly drained areas. The value of this type of growing medium is largely determined by the type of material and the level of decomposition thereof. Four distinct identifiable categories exist although the composition of different peat deposits may vary widely.

It is important to note that not all peat materials are suitable as growing media. Of the four distinct categories, sphagnum peat moss is the most desirable. The dehydrated remains of acid-bog plants from Sphagnum are light weight with the ability of absorbing up to 20 times of its weight in water. The specific fungistatic substances contained herein enables the inhibiting of damping-off of seedlings.

Wood residue can be a valuable addition to soilless growing media. Although leaf mould are readily available at low cost, it is not extensively used in container production.  It is interesting to note that the wood species used determines the quality and value for the use of Sawdust in growing media.  Certain sawdust may have direct phytotoxic effects and my not be suitable for container production.  On the other hand, however, the properties derived from tree bark are similar to Sphagnum moss and therefore suitable as container media.

A waste bi-product from the sugar industry, bagasse, may be used to increase the aeration and drainage properties of container media.  The particle size and decomposition resistance are almost similar to saw dust and being lightweight can be quite effective in improving drainage.

Sand is the basic component of soil and ranges in particle size.  Medium and course particles provide optimum changes in the growing media texture.  Finer particles may result in reduced aeration and drainage.

The silicous mineral of volcanic origin, perlite, increases the aeration and drainage in growing media. Perlite is moderately priced and are and effective addition to growing media.

Vermiculite has chemical and physical properties that are very desirable for plant production. These particles have a very highwater holding ability which also aids in aeration and drainage.  Vermiculite has fantastic buffering capacities as well as the ability to supply both magnesium and potassium.

Calcinied Clays or as we commonly know these, Light Expanded Clay Aggregate (Leca)  is formed by heating clay minerals to approximately 690°C.  These inorganic soil replacement have quite a high water holding capacity and is a durable alternative.  Leca has excellent water holding, draining and aeration capacity.

About the Author

Michele Fourie is the Seeds for Africa General Manager. Michele loves growing beautiful flowers, chilli plants and is passionate about exceptional customer. service. Michele is also a fundi in the kitchen and loves creating dishes and preserves from fresh produce.