Growing Media used In A Nursery

In this article, you are going to learn huge growing media in a nursery. Also, you are about to know the importance of horticulture nursery around the global market.


Table of Contents:

  1. Importance of Nurseries
  2. Growing Media In A Nursery
  3. Different types of Propagation Media:
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • Leaf mold
  • Sphagnum moss  
  • Vermiculite
  • Sawdust
  • Water
  • Perlite
  • Compost
  • Soil mixture
  • Cocopeat
  • Rockwool
  • Polystyrene foam
  • Rice hulls
  • Calcined clays
  • Bagasse

Importance of nurseries


In horticulture, nursery is a place where the plant material like seedling saplings of tree shrubs and plants are grown, developed and maintained before permanent placement sale or used as a stock plant for propagation program.

Importance of horticultural nursery:

  1. With the globalization of market shrinking land and climate, the nursery of high valve crop has emerged as the single most important technology for ensuring: High productivity, Improved quality, Profitable returns
  2. The nursery planting material is available at the beginning plant season this saves time, money, and effect of the farmers to raise the seedling
  3. Mostly the plant propagation of fruit crop grown through the vegetative means, so the nursery establishment help in the horticulture development
  4. They are important source supplying the seedling for meeting the fruit, pulp and paper, fuelwood, timber and other demands of the industries
  5. In Maharashtra, the SAUs/ ICAR institutes are 42 which maintain the position of horticultural nurseries and its development in the horticulture sector
  6. At present 30-40% demand for planting material is being met by the existing infrastructure
  7. In Maharashtra, the demand for fruit crop such as mango is more than any other stage of India especially – Alphanso, Totapuri
  8. As per the state of Indian agriculture 2011-2012 reported the increase per capita availability of fruit (from 115g to 172g per day) and vegetable (from 236gm to 312  gm per day)
  9. It assures the production of genetically improved quality planting material.
  10. They are an important source supplying the seedling for the meeting the fruit, pulp and paper, fuelwood, timber and other demand of the industry
  11. Examples of tree grown in nursery Indica Acacia Vachellia nilotica, Azadirachta.

Scope Of Horticulture Nursery:

  1. There is a wide scope of horticulture nurseries in the MH.
  2. The government of the MH initiative to encourage the adaptation of horticultural crop so the horticulture nursery has great scope in Maharashtra.
  3. The production of genetically pure nursery stock in the MH especially for drought heat land such as Vidarbha, Marathwada.
  4. MH soil topography and climate show a definite potential and scope for various horticulture crops.
  5. Fruit and vegetable can make high-value addition to agriculture and become a supportive activity to enhance incomes from horticulture.
  6. The government of Maharashtra has initiated two major schemes such as (a) The capital subsidy scheme (CSS) in 1981-1982 (b) EGS linked horticultural development scheme. As these schemes are beneficial and provide half cost to the nurserymen.
  7. There is a huge demand for skilled professionals for grafting, budding, cuttings, potting and repotting and other nursery operations it is the simplest way to provide employment.
  8. Nursery has scope to increase flower production as it is demanded in the urban areas.
  9. Due to the nursery, the one can get off-season plants by controlling temperature partially.

Growing Media In A Nursery


The medium used for germination of seeds or rooting of cutting & layers is called the propagations media. Several media and mixtures of different media used in the propagation of plants. All such media have several properties.

Properties of ideal propagation media:-

  1. The medium must be sufficiently firm and dense to hold the seeds or cuttings or layers in the right position during seed germination or root formation.
  2. Its volume must be fairly constant when wet or dry.
  3. It should be sufficiently porous so that the excess water can drain out easily. It also permits adequate aeration.
  4. The medium must be free from seed of weeds, nematodes and pathogens which may adversely affect the seed germination or rooting the cuttings.
  5. It should be free from a high level of salts.
  6. The medium should provide an adequate amount of nutrients to the seedlings or cuttings.
  7. It should have the ability to retain and supply an ample amount of moisture to the seeds or cuttings or layers.
  8. It must be capable of being pasteurized with chemicals or steam without any harmful effects.


Before the use of the medium for propagation, certain criteria should be kept in mind. These criteria are as follows :

Always select and use the propagation media from locally available materials.

  • Check the medium before use.
  • The medium should be porous and the pH should be 5.-6.5.
  • It should easily mix with other mediums.

Following are the propagation media:

  1. Soil
  2. Sand
  3. Leaf mold
  4. Sphagnum moss
  5. Vermiculite
  6. Sawdust
  7. Water
  8. Perlite
  9. Compost
  10. Soil mixture
  11. Cocopeat
  12. Rockwool
  13. Polystyrene foam
  14. Rice hulls
  15. Calcined clays
  16. Bagasse
  1. Soil:

Soil is composed of a material in solid, liquid and gaseous state for satisfactory plant growth this material must exist in the proper proportion. The solid portion of soil is composed of organic and inorganic forms. The later derived from parent rock after decomposition due to chemical and physical processes of weathering. Such inorganic components vary in the size particles serve as supporting framework clay particles served as a storehouse of material that may be absorbed by plants.


  • Good performance but slower growth than in inert medium like perlite.
  • High-level moisture retention in the medium.
  • Extra weight makes pots more stable.


  • It can be more expensive than perlite.
  •  Often difficult to get hold of suitable quality. Although growth technology provides suitable additives.
  • Much hard to flush than perlite.
  • It can be heavy when wet.

2. Sand:

Consist of small rocks grains 0.05 to 2.0 mm dia, quartz sand is generally used for propagation purposes consisting of chiefly silica complex. The type used in plastering is the grade ordinarily the most satisfactory for rooting cutting e.g cactus.


  • The land warms up earlier in the spring & maintains a higher temp than heavy soils.
  • Fertilizers act more quickly.
  • Tillage may begin earlier in the spring & continue later in the fall.
  • The root crops are smoother, better formed & have fewer fibrous roots.

3. LeafMolds:

  • It is prepared by placing layers of leaves and soil to which a small amount of nitrogenous compound i.e ammonium sulfate is added.
  • The mixture is watered to maintain decomposition action.
  • The leaf mold compost is ready in 12-18 months.

4. Sphagnum Moss:

  • Commercial the dehydrated remains of acid bog plants (Sphagnumpapillosm).
  • This is light sterile and having very high water holding capacity. Being able to absorb 10-20 times its weight of water by cells of stem & leaves.
  • It contains a specific fungistatic substance which accounts for its ability to inhibit damping-off of seedling
  • This sp. moss is generally used for propagation of plants by air layering pH 3.5.


  • Its moisture-holding capacity.
  • Absorbs 20 times its weight in water.
  • Used by florists to keep plant roots moist.


  • Alternative to sphagnum mosses.
  • Water absorption.
  • Environmental concerns.

5) Vermiculite:

  • This is a micaceous mineral that expands when heated 1092⁰ C.
  • Chemically it is hydrated magnesium aluminum silicate.
  • When expanded, it is very light in weight, neutral in reaction with good buffering properties and insoluble in water absorbs 481.5-641.6 liter/cubic meter.

6) Sawdust:

  • These materials are a byproduct of timber mills.
  • They can be very well used in soil mixture serving much purpose in propagation.
  • Nitrogen is added in a sufficient amount for the decomposition of sawdust, an additional amount of N used by plants.

7) Peat:

  • Peat consists of remains of a marsh, aquatic, bog or swamp vegetation.
  • Its composition depends upon vegetation from which it originated, state of decomposition, mineral content and degree of acidity.
  • Peat can be classified into following different types viz. Moss peat, reed sedge and peat humus.

A) Moss peat:

  • It is commonly called peat moss.
  • Moss peat is the least decomposed organic residue that is produced from sphagnum, hypnum or other mosses.
  • Moss peat is acidic and has high water holding capacity.

B)Reed sedge: 

  • It contains the remains of grasses, sedges, reeds and other swam vegetation.
  • Reed sedge varies in color and composition.
  • The color ranges from reddish-brown to black.
  • The pH is 4.0 – 7.5.
  • It has a high moisture-holding capacity.

C)Peat humus:

  • Peat humus is a decomposed material of sphagnum moss or reed sedge peat.
  • It is brown to black.
  • It has very poor water holding capacity.
  • It must be sterilized before use as it may be a source of weed seeds, insect – pests and pathogens.

Among different types of peat, moss peat is the most useful and popular propagation medium for the nurserymen, because of the following reasons:-

  • Moss peat is a uniform product.
  • It is usually free from weed seeds, diseases and insect pests.
  • It can be easily mixed with other media like sand, saw-dust, vermiculite or perlite, etc

8) Perlite:

  • Perlite is grey-white material produced from the lava flow.
  • It is prepared by heating the glassy lava furnace at the temperature of 760°c.
  • Perlite is a sterile medium with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0. perlite can hold water 3-4 times by its weight.
  • It does not contain mineral nutrients but is useful in increasing the aeration.
  • Perlite has also different grades but the grade with the particle size of 1.6-3 mm in diameter is mostly use for nursery work.
  • It is an ideal medium for rooting of cuttings, when used in combination with peat moss.

9) Compost:

  • Compost is a mass of rotted organic matter produced from the waste materials.
  • It is produced by the decomposition of organic waste materials like leaves, garden or farm refuses, weed and paddy straw, etc.
  • The mass should be allowed for complete decomposition, which will take about 12-18 months.
  • Compost is a rich source of minerals nutrients besides having good water holding capacity.
  • It can be used as a medium by mixing with soil.
  • Different microorganisms like fungi, bacteria and nematodes and insects like cutworms, termites and beetles are found in the compost. Therefore the compost should be sterilized before use.

10) Soil mixture:

  • Different types of soil mixture are used as a medium for propagation in the nursery.
  • It is prepared by mixing sand, loam soil and leaf mold in different proportions.
  • The ideal soil mixture should be porous and have good water holding capacity.
  • It is used for seed germination, rooting of cuttings and for growing potted plants.

11) Cocopeat:

  • It is a byproduct of coconut husk. After grinding the husk the cocopeat is ready.
  • It is commercially used in the pot cultivation of vegetables in poly houses.
  • After soaking in water it swells up to 15-18 times more than that of its original weight.
  • It provides good aeration, drainage, and nutrients.

12) Rockwool:

  • Rockwool is produced by burning a mixture of coal, basalt, limestone and possibly slog from iron production.
  • The actual composition of Rockwool is 60% basalt, 20% limestone, and 20% coke.
  • Although slightly alkaline, it is not buffered and has negligible CEC.

13) Polystyrene Foam:

  • It helps in bringing improved aeration and lightweight to the root substrate.
  • It is neutral and thus does not affect root substrate pH levels and highly resistant to decomposition.

14) Rice hulls:

  • These are the by-product of the rice milling industry.
  • It is extremely lightweight and very effective in improving drainage.
  • N depletion is not much serious problem in the media amendment with rice hulls.

15) Calcined clays:

  • Calcined clay is formed by heating monomorrillonitic clay minerals to approximately 6900C.
  • They have relatively high cation exchange capacity as well as water holding capacity.

16) Bagasse:

  • It is a waste by-product of the sugar industry to produce a material that can increase the aeration and drainage properties of container media.
  • This decreases the durability and longevity of bagasse and influences nitrogen levels.