Peat is commonly used as a component in soilless culture because of its favorable agronomic characteristics (Boldrin et al., 2010; Fernandez-Hernandez et al., 2014; Zhang et al., 2013a). However, the decreasing availability and increasing price of peat has resulted in the need for inexpensive organic alternatives as the growing media (Eksi et al., 2015; Jayasinghe et al., 2010a, 2010b). Researchers have previously considered the use of compost as a substitute for peat in the media used to produce potted, ornamental plants (De Lucia et al., 2013; Jayasinghe, 2012b; Zhang et al., 2014, 2013b). However, compost frequently has undesirable qualities including poor physical structure, low availability of nutrients, high pH, and high salt content (Cesaro et al., 2015; Ronga et al., 2016). There is substantial interest in using various organic amendments to improve the quality of compost product because such amendments may be effective and are readily available and inexpensive (Ahmad et al., 2012; Jayasinghe et al., 2009, 2010c).
CF is a plant-derived and readily available organic waste material that is obtained from the mesocarp (husk) of coconut; CF is one of the hardest plant fibers known (Aggarwal and Nirmala, 2012). CF also is hydrophilic, and because it is highly porous, it absorbs and retains both water and air (Koch and Barthlott, 2009). Although water-absorbing polymers are frequently added to peat-based media to increase the absorption of water that is applied to the dry media, these wetting agents are unnecessary in media that contain the appropriate amount of CF (Aggarwal and Nirmala, 2012). The relatively abundant and large pores on the surface of CF particles may explain why addition of CF increases water uptake, drainage, and gas exchange in soilless media (Carlile et al., 2015). Moreover, CF contains high concentrations of nutrients such as magnesium (Mg) and potassium (K), that may allow a reduction in the base fertilization of these elements in growing media (Hongpakdee and Ruamrungsri, 2015). Because of its high porosity, CF can also reduce nutrient loss from growing media and thereby increase the uptake of nutrients by potted plants (Koch and Barthlott, 2009). In addition, the amendment of media with CF has been reported to increase the flower quality and shelf life of potted french marigold (Tagetes patula) and celosia (Celosia cristata) (Awang and Ismail, 1997).
BV is a reddish-brown transparent liquid produced as a by-product during the pyrolysis of bamboo charcoal; it has more than 200 chemical components but acetic acid is the dominant component, representing about 60% of the liquid (Mu et al., 2004). The high concentration of organic acids in BV results in high antimicrobial activity; because of this property of BV, it has been used as an insecticide or bactericide in ornamental horticulture media (Mun and Ku, 2010). BV can also promote plant growth because of its high contents of various organic acids and its effects on the pH of growing media (Chen et al., 2010). Moreover, BV has a high level of macro- and micronutrients, vitamins, and enzymes that could increase the initial nutrient content of growing media (Rattanawut, 2014). BV has also been used as an environmentally safe substance to accelerate seed germination and stimulate plant growth (Mu et al., 2004; Mun and Ku, 2010).
Although research has indicated that CF or BV improve growing media properties and plant growth, the combined effects of CF and BV addition on the growth of the potted ornamental plant peacock arrowroot in CGW have not been reported. In China, peacock arrowroot is a popular ornamental plant that is produced in pots in greenhouses (Zhang et al., 2014). Peacock arrowroot belongs to the Marantaceae or arrowroot family and is a perennial evergreen herb (Tran et al., 2013). Greenhouse production of peacock arrowroot and other ornamental plants requires a suitable growing medium, and peacock arrowroot grows best in an acidic growing medium or humic soil. It also requires a growing medium that has high porosity, that is well drained but retains sufficient water, and that is rich in nutrients (Zhang et al., 2013a).
The objective of current study was to determine the effects of adding various quantities of CF and/or BV on the physical, chemical, microbiological, and nutritional properties of CGW and on the growth parameters and nutrient contents of the ornamental plant peacock arrowroot.
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