SOME PROBLEMS IN CONTAINER GROWING IN NURSERY STOCK

G.A.L. Mehlquist
Because of the obvious advantages of container grown nursery stock to retail outlets this phase of nursery production has increased rapidly in recent years. In fact, the increase has been so rapid that many of the advantages as well as the disadvantages have been overlooked or taken for granted.

Perhaps the greatest advantage inherent in container production is the ease with which mechanization and other labour saving methods can be utilized and also the fact that, within limits, the operator has more control over water and nutrients. Of course changing from the conventional methods to container growing has not been as easy as it might seem and, in a way, the conversion from the conventional nursery methods to container growing is a little like the transition from the horse and buggy era to that of the automobile. There were many during this transistion who were convinced that the automobile would never make it and there were times when the critics were almost right but, just as the automobile has become an integral part of modern life, container growing of nursery stock and garden plants in general undoubtedly is here to stay.

The prospective container grower soon learned that because of the confined conditions of the container as contrasted to field conditions, more attention must be paid to the medium in which the plants are grown. I say medium because some of the mixtures that have been tried, and successfully too, have had so little in common with ordinary nursery soils that one might have predicted they would not work but they often did.

It was soon realized however that the choice of a suitable medium was in fact a compromise between that which would grow the best plants and that which would give the greatest return on the investment.

From the bedding plant industry it had been learned that a relatively light weight medium has many advantages. In addition, the medium must have high water retention combined with good aeration. Experience from retail outlets soon made it evident that good retainability of nutrients is also highly desirable.

The innumerable mixtures that have been more or less successfully tried have had but one common ingredient - peat of one type or another, and this common ingredient may soon at least in some areas be replaced by some form of bark. The peat combines high water and nutrient retention with relatively low weight. The other components have ranged from sand through perlite and vermiculite to ordinary loam depending on availability, cost, and requirements of the plants. The relatively small amount of medium per plant and the fact that most of the components are

Mehlquist, G.A.L. (1969). SOME PROBLEMS IN CONTAINER GROWING IN NURSERY STOCK. Acta Hortic. 15, 77-88
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1969.15.16
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1969.15.16