Master of Science (MS)


Plant, Environmental Management and Soil Sciences

Document Type



Media amendments can be added to pinebark to increase its water holding capacity. Hydrogels are amendments which can hold 20 to1000 times their weight in water. The objective of this study is to determine the effects of media and a hydrogel on the post-harvest quality of ornamentals likely to have poor post-harvest quality in the retail nursery setting. The selected species were Buddleia davidii ‘Nanho Blue’, Salvia leucantha and Verbena x canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’. Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design. It consisted of eight replications of three species, three media treatments and a hydrogel amendment for two planting dates and three retail nursery settings, totaling 576 pots. The three media were 100% pinebark, 9 pinebark:1 peat and 9 pinebark:1 sand. The hydrogel was applied post-harvest, to a portion of the plants grown in 100% pine bark. Once harvested, plants were transferred to three retail nursery settings where they remained for 4 months. There were differences in specie response to the different media. At the end of production, growth for Salvia leucantha was similar except for plants assigned to one retail nursery setting, where pinebark:peat and pinebark:sand had the highest growth indices. Buddleia davidii ‘Nanho Blue’ had the highest growth index in pinebark:peat for plants assigned to two retail nursery settings. Verbena x canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’had the highest growth index in pinebark and pinebark to be amended with hydrogel assigned to one retail nursery setting. The hydrogel increased growth index of Buddleia davidii ‘Nanho Blue’ by 13% at one retail nursery setting and maintained plant quality at another retail nursery setting, where it increased dry shoot weight by 46% and 103.8% for crop 1 and crop 2 respectively. For Salvia leucantha, the hydrogel increased growth index in two retail nursery settings by 5% and 19%, and maintained plant quality in two retail nursery settings. For Verbena x canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’, the hydrogel increased dry shoot weight by 72%, and maintained the best plant quality in one retail nursery setting. Overall plant quality was lowest at the two retail nursery settings where the irrigation water had a higher alkalinity.



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Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Edward Bush