THE EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT GROWING MEDIA ON THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF WHITE ASTERS (SYMPHYOTRICHUM ERICOIDES L.)
All good potting media should meet the needs of plant’s root for air, water, nutrients and support. Satisfactory growth of annual transplants and nursery crops can occur in soilless media made up of a wide range of components. White asters are important flowering plants usually grown in gardens, as potted plants and bedding plants. The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of different growing media on the growth and development of white asters. The different treatments combinations used included: garden soil; soil + sand (1:1); sand + kraal manure (1:1); soil + sand + compost (1:1:1), and soil + sand + shredded bark (1:1:3). The treatments were arranged in a Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD). White asters grown in soil/sand/shredded bark mixture had the highest number of leaves (32.0), plant height (23.2 cm), leaf area (30.9 cm2), leaf area index (0.35), number of flowers (18.8), flower diameter (4.8 cm), shoot fresh mass (27.3 g), shoot dry mass (5.8 g), root fresh mass (3.6 g), root dry mass (0.6 g), and root length (13.2 cm). Plants grown in soil/sand/shredded bark mixture had twice the shoot dry mass of those grown in soil/sand/ compost medium. The roots dry mass of plants grown in soil/sand/shredded bark mixture was more than double that of plants grown in soil/sand/compost mixture. Plants grown in soil/sand/compost mixture had the lowest number of leaves (17.3), plant height (18.5 cm), leaf area (17.2 cm), leaf area index (0.19), number of flowers (11.5), flower diameter (4.2 cm), shoot fresh mass (13.6 g), shoot dry mass (2.9 g), root fresh mass (1.3 g), and root dry mass (0.3 g). Therefore, it can be recommended that farmers or florists who want to grow white asters may use soil/sand/shredded bark mixture for optimum growth and development of the plants.