Rooting Foliage Plant Cuttings in Compost-formulated Substrates

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  • 1 Mid-Florida Research and Education Center and Dept. of Environmental Horticulture, IFAS, University of Florida, 2725 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.
  • 2 Dept. of Environmental Horticulture, IFAS, University of Florida, 1519 Fifield Hall, P.O. Box 110670, Gainesville, FL 32611.
  • 3 Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, IFAS, University of Florida, 2725 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.
  • 4 Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, IFAS, University of Florida, 2725 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.
  • 5 Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, IFAS, University of Florida, 2725 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.

Three composts, derived from municipal solid waste with biosolids, yard trimmings, and yard trimmings with biosolids, were mixed by volume with sphagnum peat and pine bark to formulate 12 substrates. After characterizing physical and chemical properties, the substrates, along with a control, were used for rooting single eye cuttings of pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and terminal cuttings of maranta (Maranta leuconeura) and schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) in enclosed polyethylene tents. All cuttings initiated roots with no significant difference in root numbers per cutting 14 days after sticking, but root lengths 21 days and root-ball coverage ratings 45 days after sticking were significantly affected by substrates. Five of 12 compost-formulated substrates resulted in root lengths of cuttings equal to or longer than the control. In addition to desirable physical properties such as bulk density, total porosity, and air space, common chemical characteristics of the five substrates included low concentration of mineral elements, initial electrical conductivity ≤3.0 dS·m-1 based on the pour through extraction method, and pH between 3.8 to 5.0. The five substrates were formulated by combining composted municipal solid waste with biosolids or yard trimmings with biosolids volumetrically at 20% or less or composted yard trimmings at 50% or less with equal volumes of sphagnum peat and pine bark.

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