Growth of Two Subtropical Ornamentals Using Coir (Coconut Mesocarp Pith) as a Peat Substitute

in HortScience
Author: Alan W. Meerow1
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  • 1 Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 3205 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314

Growth of Pentas lanecolata (Forssk.) Deflers `Starburst Pink' and Ixora coccinea L. `Maui' was compared in container media using sphagnum peat, sedge peat, or coir dust as their peat components. Growth index and top and root dry weights of both crops were significantly better in coir-based medium than sedge peat-based medium. Pentas grew equally well in coir- and sphagnum peat-based medium. Growth index and top dry weight of Ixora were significantly lower in the coir-based than the sphagnum peat-based medium, although root dry weights were equal. This difference was not apparent and may have been caused by N drawdown in the coir-based mix. The sedge peat-based medium had the highest air porosity and the lowest water-holding capacity of the three media at the initiation of the trials, but at the termination of the study, it showed a reversal of these characteristics. The coir-based medium showed the least change in these attributes over time. Coir dust seems to be an acceptable substitute for sphagnum or sedge peat in soilless container media, although nutritional regimes may need to be adjusted on a crop-by-crop basis.

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