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Joshua D. Butcher, Charles P. Laubscher, and Johannes C. Coetzee

Pelargonium tomentosum Jacq.; the peppermint-scented pelargonium, is an herbaceous groundcover indigenous to the Western Cape of South Africa. Volatile oils are produced by this plant, which are used in the fragrance industry. Studies on other Pelargonium species have shown chlorophyll content may affect the yield of essential oils. This study was carried out to investigate the viability of growing P. tomentosum in deep water culture (DWC) hydroponics and how best to aerate/oxygenate the nutrient solution to increase the chlorophyll content within leaves. The experiment was conducted over a period of 74 days, 16 different methods of oxygenation were applied to 9 replicates. The control had passive aeration; the treatments were made up of air-pumps, vortex oxygenators, and the application of hydrogen peroxide at various frequency intervals; these were combined with each other and run as separate oxygenation methods. The measurement of the chlorophyll content of plant leaves has been established to be an accurate way of establishing vigor, health, and levels of stress. It was found that the combination of high-frequency application (every third day) of hydrogen peroxide, vortex oxygenation, and air-pump injection (both operational for 24 hours/day) which formed treatment 11 (APVHa), yielded the highest production of chlorophyll within all the replicates differing significantly (P ≤ 0.001) from the control and other treatments.