Optimization of Soilless Substrates Composition in Anthurium Cut Flower Production

Document Type : Full Paper


1 Department of Horticulture, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Jiroft, Jiroft, Iran.

2 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture Sciences, University of Guilan, Rasht, Iran

3 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Agricultural and Natural Resources College, Guilan University, Rasht, Iran.

4 Department of Horticulture, College of Aburaihan, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Anthurium is commonly cultivated through soilless culture in greenhouses, owing to its specific thermal and nutritional requirements. However, the high costs associated with conventional substrates necessitate the use of available, domestic, and inexpensive alternatives. In this study, light expanded clay aggregates (LECA) and its mixture with locally available materials such as rice husk, tea waste, and charcoal were utilized as substrates. The experiment was conducted using a completely randomized design with three replications. After four months of cultivation, various morphological traits, including plant height, flower stem length and number, flowering time, flower stem fresh weight, leaf length and number, spadix length and diameter, spathe length and diameter, as well as physical traits such as bulk and particle density, humidity, water retention capacity, and porosity, were evaluated. Additionally, biochemical properties such as pH, EC, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, and calcium of the substrates were assessed. The results indicated that the substrate containing a mixture of tea waste and LECA yielded the maximum plant height (35.5 cm), flower stem length (22 cm), number of flower stems (3.9), and number of leaves (15). Furthermore, this substrate exhibited the most appropriate physical properties, including the highest bulk (0.81 g/cm3), particle density (1.54 g/cm3), and humidity (66%). Conversely, the mixed substrate of LECA with rice husk demonstrated the maximum values of electrical conductivity (9.2 μS/cm), nitrogen (1.1%), and potassium (0.21%). Overall, the substrate composed of a mixture of tea waste and LECA not only reduces the costs associated with soilless systems but also enhances the quality and quantity of Anthurium cut flowers in greenhouses.


Main Subjects

Extended Abstract


   Due to its impressive long-lasting inflorescence and extended vase life, Anthurium is widely regarded as a fundamental ornamental plant across the globe. This plant is cultivated in a greenhouse using soilless culture methods, necessitated by its unique temperature and nutritional requirements. The substrate used plays a critical role in the growth, physiological, and biochemical responses of the plant. Given the high costs associated with imported substrates, it is imperative to utilize cost-effective and readily available domestic substrates.



Materials and methods

    For the purpose of this study, the utilization of light expanded clay aggregates (LECA) in combination with organic materials such as rice husk, tea waste, and charcoal were employed as growing substrates for Anthurium 'Terra'. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse with a completely randomized design and three replicates. After four months from the cultivation time, various morphological traits of the plants such as plant height, flower stem length and number, flowering time, flower stem fresh weight, leaf length and number, spadix length and diameter, and spathe length and diameter were evaluated. Additionally, physical properties such as bulk and particle density, humidity, water retention capacity, and porosity, as well as biochemical properties including pH, EC, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, and calcium of the substrates were also analyzed.


Results and Discussion

   The findings of the study indicate that a combination of tea waste and lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA) resulted in a significant increase in plant height (35.5 cm), length of flower stem (22 cm), number of flowers (3.9), and leaves (15) compared to other substrates. However, the earliest flowering time (117 days) was observed in plants grown in a mixture of LECA and charcoal substrate. The physical properties of the tea waste and LECA substrate were found to be superior to other substrates, with the highest bulk (0.81 g/cm3) and particle density (1.54 g/cm3), substrate humidity (66%), and water retention capacity (194%). The LECA substrate exhibited the highest percentage of porosity (70%), followed by the LECA and charcoal substrate (69%). In terms of chemical properties, the LECA and tea waste substrate had the highest magnesium (0.4%) and calcium (11.9%) content, while the LECA and rice husk substrate had the highest electrical conductivity (9.2 μS/cm), nitrogen (1.1%), and potassium (0.21%) content. The study also found a significant correlation between flower length and water retention capacity and calcium content of substrates. Furthermore, plant height was positively correlated with substrate characteristics such as bulk and particle density, humidity, and nitrogen content.



   The findings of this study have revealed that the utilization of LECA+ tea waste substrate has a significant impact on enhancing the quality attributes of Anthurium cut flowers, as well as promoting growth parameters. As such, this substrate is deemed a viable and economical option for soilless cultivation of Anthurium in greenhouse settings.

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