Effects of different potting growing media for Petunia grandiflora and Nicotiana alata Link & Otto on photosynthetic capacity, leaf area, and flowering potential
Petunia grandiflora Juss. and Nicotiana alata Link & Otto are two of the most widely spread plants on the market for annual potted ornamental plants. In order to identify the most adequate substrate formula we analyzed the effects of different potting growing media used for P. hybrida grandiflora ’Bravo’ and N. alata ’Dinamo’ on their photosynthetic capacity, leaf area, and flowering potential. Optimization of growing media formula for petunia and ornamental tobacco was performed by preparing four growing media mixing fallow soil (FS), Biolan peat (BP), acid peat (AP), leaf compost (C), and perlite (P) in different proportions. The physiological potential of petunia and ornamental tobacco was investigated by photosynthesis and respiration rate and chlorophyll pigments in leaves, while the vegetative and flowering phenological stages were evaluated by number of leaves per plant, leaf area, number of flowers per plant and leaf area/flowers ratio. These measurements were significantly influenced by the different potting growing media used in this study. In the flowering stage, the highest photosynthesis rates (8.612 μmol CO2 m-2 s-1) as well as leaf area (1.766 dm²) of petunias were obtained on growing media with 60% biolan peat, 30% acid peat and 10% perlite (BP60-AP30-P10). Flowering responses to growing conditions vary greatly among plants and the biggest number of ornamental tobacco flowers (22 flowers plant-1) was registered as an effect of BP60-AP30-P10 media. Growing media with the BP60-AP30-P10 formula seem to be the most adequate growth substrate to develop profitable crops for petunias and ornamental tobacco with high decorative value.