A new study evaluated the feasibility of simplified hydroponics for the growth of rooted cuttings of geranium (Pelargonium zonale) for commercial purposes in local farms in Northern Italy.
Tested systems included a control where soilless system on substrate (peat) (T-1), usually adopted by local farmers, was compared against an open-cycle drip system on substrate (peat) (T-2), and a Nutrient Film Technique system (T-3). For commercial features, assessed parameters included flowering degree (flowering timing, numbers of inflorescences plant−1, and number of flowers inflorescence−1), numbers of leaves plant−1, number of branches plant−1, final height of plant, and the aesthetic-commercial assessment index. Assessed parameters also included fresh and dry weight, SPAD Index, the water consumption, and the water use efficiency (WUE).
The soilless systems typology significantly affected rooted cuttings growth, commercial features, and WUE. The adoption of an open-cycle drip system (T-2) resulted in a significant improvement of all the crop commercial characteristics as compared with other treatments, making plants more attractive for the market. The water consumption was higher in T-2 as compared with T-1 and T-3, but it allowed for the highest fresh weight, and therefore also the highest WUE.
The results indicate that the typology of soilless system significantly enhances the commercial characteristics of geranium.