UK: Plantasia grows colorful flowers with autopots

One was shocked at the dramatic color at Plantasia, Oxfordshire, this summer. At every turn, the eye was met by mountainous ranges of dahlias, chrysanthemums, osteospermums, zinnias, rudbeckias, echinacea, and cleome spider flowers – to name just a select few. To keep growing conditions optimal, they use Autopots. 

Take dahlias for example. In a system, you will be needing an ultra-free-draining substrate, something with 50% minimum of perlite or similar. It must not get soggy and it must not dry out. The roots want deep watering on a regular basis, to the extent that hand watering may prove ineffective, but they do not want water to excess, or else the tubers, which are delicate in their sprouting infancy, will rot. On top of which you have got to be very careful with water anywhere near the stalks or foliage, especially once the plant is in bloom. 

"In these respects, the 1Pot XL and Auto3 XL modules, as used by Plantasia, proved ideal in that they provide the roots with ready, on-demand access to water and nutrient solution from the module tray below. At 25 L/6.6 gal, the pot is a sufficiently large container in which to grow such expansive plants. With the module meeting all the plants' basic needs, it was just down the team at Plantasia to tweak feeds and conditions. In the past, we’ve found that dahlias prosper with an EC of 1.8-2.2 and a pH of 6.3-6.5. A close eye has to be kept on humidity which can be a critical factor; beyond 45-50%, the plants really start to struggle," the team with Autopot says. 

Keeping ‘mums can be a similarly high wire act. Although they are a little more adaptable to a variety of substrates, chrysanthemums also appreciate a free-draining mix. Equal moisture throughout the substrate is important, as is space. Despite their unassuming size when planted, chrysanthemums will want to spread out plenty as they grow. "Being modular, the easy2grow, 1Pot XL, and Auto8 systems Plantasia used for these plants could easily have a pot, or a complete module, removed or repositioned with ease. Layouts can be adjusted with zero disturbance to the rest of the system, because AutoPots do not recirculate or require drainage plumbing."

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