Use of biochar as peat substitute for growing substrates of Euphorbia × lomi potted plants

Vincenzo Dispenza, Claudio De Pasquale, Giancarlo Fascella, Michele M. Mammano, Giuseppe Alonzo


Biochar from conifers wood was used in soilless culture as growing substrate alternative to peat for ornamental crops. Potted plants of Euphorbia × lomi Rauh cv. ‘Ilaria’ were grown with different mixtures (v:v) of brown peat and biochar in order to evaluate main physical and chemical characteristics of this biomaterial as well as its effect on plant growth, ornamental characteristics and nutrients uptake. Biochar addition to peat increased pH, EC and K content of the growing substrates, as well as air content and bulk density. Biochar content of substrates significantly affected plant growth and biomass partitioning: higher number of shoots and leaves, leaf area and leaf dry weight were recorded in plants grown in 40% peat-60% biochar, with respect to plants grown in 100% peat and secondarily in 100% biochar. Leaf chlorophyll content was higher in plants grown in 60% and 80% biochar, while biomass water use efficiency was higher with 60% biochar. Plant uptake of K and Ca increased as biochar content of the substrates increased. Hence, a growing substrate containing 40% brown peat and 60% conifers wood biochar was identified as the more suitable mixture allowing to have a high-quality production of Euphorbia × lomi potted plants.


charcoal; growing media; ornamentals; peat reduction; plant growth; soilless culture

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2016144-9082