A study was conducted to determine the potential for using ground automobile tires as a container medium amendment. Rooted cuttings of chrysanthemum [Dendranthema × grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura] were planted in 1.56-liter pots containing 1 sand:2 sawdust (v/v) or media in which coarsely or finely ground particles of rubber substituted for 33%, 67%, or 100% of the sawdust. Amendment with the coarse material decreased total porosity and container capacity and increased air-filled porosity and bulk density relative to the sawdust control. Amending the medium with the fine material did not appreciably alter total porosity, container capacity, or bulk density, but did increase air-filled porosity. Plant height, fresh weight, dry weight, and number of open flowers were reduced significantly in rubber-amended media compared to sawdust controls. Rubber amendment reduced shoot tissue concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and Cu, but increased Zn as much as 74-fold over control values. There was no accumulation of other heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb) or Na in the tissue due to rubber amendment. This study demonstrates that ground tires might be used as a component of container media in the production of greenhouse chrysanthemums. However, growth reductions and the potential for Zn toxicity may limit the usefulness of ground tires as a substitute for conventional organic amendments.
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