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Home Publications National Nursery Proceedings 2008 Growing Media Alternatives for Forest and Native Plant Nurseries

Growing Media Alternatives for Forest and Native Plant Nurseries

Landis, T. D. and Morgan, N. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Sta­tion, Proceedings RMRS-P-58. p26-31. National Pro­ceedings: Forest and Conservation Nursery Association

The choice of growing medium, along with container type, is one of the critical decisions that must be made when starting a nursery. The first growing medium was called “compost” and was developed in the 1930s at the John Innes Horticultural Institute in Great Britain. It consisted of a loam soil that was amended with peat moss, sand, and fertilizers (Bunt 1988). Soil was heavy and variable, however, so it was difficult to achieve consistency from batch to batch. In the 1950s, researchers at the University of California developed the first true artificial growing media using a series of mixtures of fine sand, peat moss, and fertilizers (Matkin and Chandler 1957). The Cornell “Peat-Lite” mixes, the predecessors of modern growing media, were developed at Cornell University in the 1960s using various combinations of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite (Mastalerz 1977). Following the publication of the first comprehensive manual for growing forest tree seedlings, a growing medium of 50% Sphagnum peat moss and 50% coarse vermiculite became the basic standard (Tinus and McDonald 1979). In recent years, a number of factors, including variability in the quality and availability of components, have caused container growers to consider new materials.

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Author(s): Thomas D. Landis, Nancy Morgan

Publication: National Nursery Proceedings - 2008

Event: Western Forest and Conservation Nursery Association
2008 - Missoula, Montana