The effect of clay has been underestimated in the past due to automatic watering systems in commercial horticulture. However, now the substrate aggregate is experiencing a comeback. The reason for this is the change in the climate – summers are becoming dryer and warmer. “Substrates with a mix of peat and clay are ideally suited for this,” says Hans-Jürgen Luck, Director Specialist Advice Soils and Substrates at HAWITA.
The company has been producing Fruhstorfer soil, named after the famous horticultural engineer, for decades. In horticulture and particularly in the non-professional/amateur gardening sector, demand for soils containing clay has increased considerably as it stores the aggregate water well and this serves as a buffer for nutrients. Hereby it keeps the salt content in the soil solution as low as possible.
Peat and clay - the perfect mixture
Fruhstorfer soil comprises particularly of high quality white sod peat and triple-layered clay and retains the nutrients from water and added fertiliser significantly longer than a substrate without clay. “Similar to a buffer, the nutrients are stored in the layers of the clay and supplied to the plant when needed,” explains Luck.
Demand for substrates containing clay in the non-professional/amateur gardening sector has increased in past years. “Amateur gardeners don’t want to have to water their plants every day,” says Luck. Particularly also as this is no longer possible in some areas – in several areas of France, for example, there were watering bans for a while last summer. Clay stores the water for longer and helps plants survive longer periods of dryness. And those who plant their geraniums etc in balcony troughs with water storage now no longer need worry about extreme dryness in the summer.
Gardeners save water
Substrates containing clay are also becoming more popular in horticultural businesses particularly amongst perennial specialists and nurseries. Employees don’t have to spend so much time watering outdoors on hot days and, at the same time, gardeners also save water. Furthermore, less fertiliser is needed as the clay also acts as a buffer fur nutrients and less leaching ends up in the ground water.
Professor Anton Fruhstorfer who was the first to recognise the effect of clay in substrates, knew that only especially high quality, triple-layered clay has these positive properties. It must be lime-free, low in salt and stone-free. Fruhstorfer therefore only used so-called Montmorillonite clay from select deposits. Industrial or brick clay is also only partly suited as it does not have this buffering property, emphasises Luck.
Clay content up to 35 per cent
The clay content of a substrate varies depending on the area of use and is usually between 2 and 35 per cent. Primroses, violas, hydrangeas and chrysanthemums as well as many bedding and balcony plants like clay. Luck recommends amateur gardeners use a clay content of 15 per cent.
Many gardeners have waited for this, says Jörg Naffin from HAWITA technoplant. The company is now manufacturing plant pots with a diameter of 9 centimetres for the first time and, in doing, completes its product range. Up until now, technoplant manufactured plant pots with a diameter of 10.5, 10.5 vol. 11, 12 and 13 centimetres.
All pots are made using the injection moulding method. As they are fluted they require less plastic enabling the manufacturer to be more resource-friendly, something which, according to Naffin, is also reflected in the low price.
Many colours available
The 9 cm pot is also available in many colours from terracotta and black to yellow-green, blue and red. Upon request, technoplant is also able to print images or texts in up to six colours on the pots or stick adhesives on them.
With all their individuality, the technoplant pots have been conceived for professional gardening. This means they are precisely finished, stable and, at the same time, constructed for optimum plant growth. The holed base comprising of four different levels is ideal for ebb and flow watering as the watering and drainage can be optimally controlled depending on plant type.
Ready for potting machines
In addition, the technoplant product developers headed by Jens Berkensträter also ensured that the new plant pots can be used with all standard potting machines. Nothing is more annoying in potting than continuously having to check whether pot replenishment works. To ensure that this runs smoothly, helpful batch spacing has been taken into consideration. Pots have been designed with a sturdy upper edge which enables easy handling in soil culture for example when moving and displaying potted plants.
Plant containers made of plastic have become true decoration items. Example: the Hawita/Technoplant Lugano plant tub. In spring and summer customers prefer them in bright colours such as yellow-green, magenta or purple. During the Christmas period, Lugano is available in the colours ruby red, bronze, silver, and gold.
Garden centres or DIY stores frequently don’t offer Lugano merely as a “naked” container, but also in an attractive, already potted and decorated form, Jörg Naffin from Hawita/Technoplant reports. A bronze-coloured pot with Erica carnea and helleborus, hebe and boxberry, with its bright red fruits, is particularly attractive at the point of sale, and as such also ideally suited for being sold as an arrangement. Those creative shoppers who rather prefer to do their own potting can simply pick them from the shelves or sales display on half or whole Euro-pallet dimensions.
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