Most of the environment factors that influence the growth of plants and their productivity can be controlled (roots’ medium, fertilization, light, temperature, humidity, etc.). Substrate is one of the factors that truly influence the growth of plants and their development, productivity, since it determines the quality of the roots system.
When preparing soil or substrate for growing, it is important to consider their needs and the use. Most often for flowers, easily aerating and water permeable mix of different soils with different reactions is prepared. Substrates for roots of plants must provide as good as possible aeration conditions for the uptake of nutrient.
Peat mixes, in which one of the compounds is zeolite, are widely used. The use of bentonite in the production of substrates is also being investigated. In April to June of 2011 in the Botanical Garden of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Šiauliai University, an investigation with the purpose to establish the optimal substrates for annual flowers and some vegetables growing was carried out. For the investigation purposes, the substrates produced by Rėkyva AB No. 1 (Remix-D), where one of the ingredients was 30 kg of clay. Substrate No. 2 (Reky Grow) contained 4.5 kg bentonite and 4.5 kg zeolite, and the control mix of soils were chosen.
For the most popular in Lithuania annual pot flowers fit for home decoration growing the substrate No. 2 (Reky Grow), which contains bentonite and zeolite, is appropriate. For growing of tomatoes and pepper plants in greenhouses, the best is substrate Reky Grow (No 2). If growing annual flowers, tomatoes and pepper plants in the substrate No 2 (Remix –D) and No 1 (Remix –D) the root system of the plants develops evenly and is strong. When growing plants in substrate No 1 an extra fertilizing, or transplantation into the substrate No 1 (Remix-D), is needed.
The investigations were performed on the impact of the substrate and its volume on growth and productivity of decorative plants: cotton, kiwi plants. Efficient and profitable growing of annual flowers and vegetables is important not just for industrial farms but also for those fostering their homes and beautifying their surroundings. For this purpose in many countries, investigations on substrates are going on as well as their monitoring.
This is especially important when growing annual flowers for the decoration of environment purposes. Such flowers are expected to be beautiful, sound and decorative. For plants, the light, the warmth and substrate are very important. In Lithuania, the number of growers interested not just in ecological but also in intensive growth technologies, is increasing. But it is becoming more and more difficult to combine low production costs and improve the quality of the product.
When preparing soil or substrate for planting, it is important to consider the needs of plants and the use. In most cases a mix, easily aerated and water permeable of specific reaction, is produced for flowers. Flowers grow better in properly prepared mixes of soil, but in many cases, especially growing in pots or small containers, it is better to use substitutes of soil.
Various substrates, the origin of which may be both natural and synthetic, have been tested and used. Physical, chemical, biological properties of substrates differ. It is important substrates provide as good as possible aeration conditions for the roots of plants, allowing them to uptake the nutrient.
The requirements set for peat substrates are tough. They may contain no herbicides and other hazardous substances, provocatives of diseases, pests, weed seeds, radioactive elements, pathologic micro-organisms. In the production of peat substrates, zeolite and bentonite are important. Investigations performed on the use of zeolite, as a substrate, and its mixes with peat established that, when using zeolite, less nutritive are lost and the efficiency of mineral fertilizes increased. Adding it into peat substrates causes no negative effects on the quality of vegetables and fruit. Many investigations on bentonite were performed under field conditions, assessing its influence on the growth of some fodder plants, drug plants and decorative plants.
The investigation was performed from April to June 2011 in the botanical garden of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Šiauliai University. Substrates developed by Rėkyva AB were used. In the substrate No 1 (Remix-D) one of components was 30 kg of clay, and the substrate No 2 (Reky Grow) contained 4.5 kg bentonite and 4.5 kg zeolite. Besides, the substrates contained a special component, a balanced quantity of fertilizers and of a micro-element easily uptake by plants.
The material, which improves water absorption and impedes its evaporation, was additionally added into the substrates. The substrates did not require any extra preparation, only watering before use. Besides, a control soil sample mix, consisting of compost and sod peat and sand was prepared. The most popular today in Lithuania decorative annual flowers (blueminks and zinnia) were chosen, 30 sprouts of each. All sprouts were grown in the Botanical Garden of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Šiauliai University, in the same seedbed.
In April, all sprouts were pricked off into the substrates under investigation (Picture 1). The exuberance of plants (1- poor, 2- exuberant, 3- very exuberant), the rate of growth (1- poor, 2- good, 3- very good) and decorativeness of annual flowers were monitored and registered. The chemical analysis of substrates was performed in the laboratory of Rėkyva AB. Extra fertilization was applied once for the blueminks, having previously performed the chemical analysis of the substrate.
Monitoring of annual flowers (blueminks and zinnias) growth showed that the rate of growth and the color of sprouts within the first 15 days did not differ in all substrates under investigation and in the control sample area. Maybe, during the first seven days in the control sample box, they grew even better. The rate of growth was given 3 points; the exuberance was also given 3 points.
Later, in 1 (Remix-D) and 2 (Reky Grow) substrates the sprouts of blueminks turned brighter in color and in the control sample substrate they remained green. Having performed the laboratory investigations of the substrates, lack of fertilizers was established; therefore blueminks in substrates were once fertilized with complex fertilizers. After fertilization, the growth of blueminks recovered.
After 25 days the observation showed that the best growth of sprouts of annual flowers and vegetables was in the substrate No 2 (Reky Grow). The rate of plants growth and the exuberance in 1 (Remix-D) substrate was given 2 points, in No 2 (Reky Grow) substrate the growth and exuberance were given 3 points, and in the control sample substrate (No 3) the growth of plants was slower, the sprouts were weaker (the growth and the exuberance were given 1 point) (See Picture 2) .
In June, 45 days after transplantation, the differences among growing annual flowers remained (See Picture 3). In substrate No 2 (Reky Grow) the rate of zinnias and blueminks growth was given 3 points, and the exuberance was given 2 points. Thus, the plants did not differ in terms of size, but they were more anemic and had fewer leaves (see Picture 3, 1 and 2). The sprouts growing in the control soil were smaller, the rate of growth was given just 1 point, the plants were more anaemic, the blossoms were smaller ( see 3 picture 1)
The tomatoes and the pepper after transplantation into substrates No 1 (Remix-D) and No 2 (Reky Grow) and in the control sample soil (No 3) demonstrated different rate of growth and exuberance. The advantages of the growth and development in substrate Reky Grow (3 points) were established. The exuberance of plants in the substrate No 1 (Remix-D) was given 2 points, in the control sample – 1 point. After 40 days the vegetables sprouts were transplanted into bigger pots into respective substrates. Their growth continued analogically.
After 60 days the plants in the control substrate grew the most slowly, thinned and turned feeble. And in the substrate No 1 (Remix-D) light color of leaves was observed and the rate of growth fell down (2 points). Though in the substrate No 1 the tomatoes produced fewer fruit, but the fruits were bigger in size. In the substrate 2 the plants remain exuberant, produce the most fruit; they were given 3 points. (See picture 4).
Having assessed the root system of both, annual flowers (zinnias, blueminks) and of tomatoes and pepper plants it was noticed that in both substrates the root systems are strong and abundant; it is weaker in the control group (picture 5). No difference was established between substrates No 1(Remix-D) and No 2 (Reky Grow).
1. Substrate No. 2 (Reky Grow) containing bentonite and zeolite, is good for growing of the most popular in Lithuania annual pot flowers suitable for home beautifying.
2. For growing of tomatoes and pepper plants in greenhouses, the best is Reki Grow (No 2), or, if planting into substrate No 1 (Remix-D), additional fertilization is needed.
3. Growing annual flowers in substrate No 1 (Remix-D), additional fertilization once per month, or transplantation into the substrate No 1 (Remix –D), is needed.
4. Growing annual flowers, tomatoes and pepper plants in the substrate No 2 (Reki Grow) and No 1 (Remix-D) the root systems of plants develop the same and are strong.