Growing media are materials that plants grow in. Growing media is specifically designed to support plant growth and can either be a solid or a liquid. Different components are blended to create homemade and commercial growing media. Different types of growing media are used to cultivate various plants.
Growing media may also be known as grow media, culture medium, or substrate.
Growing media have three major functions:
- Physically support plant growth
- Allow for maximum root growth
- Supply roots with necessities such as water, air, and nutrients
In native plant nurseries growing media is composed of native soil, but such a soil is often referred to as artificial soil when it contains other materials such as compost (e.g., bark, green waste), coco coir, wood fibers, or peat moss. Mineral components such as vermiculite, clay, pumice, and perlite are also used to make growing media. However, the composition of a growing medium is greatly influenced by the particular plants being grown.
Roots develop in pore spaces between the individual particles of the growing media. Water and air move through the pore spaces. Air is responsible for the health of soil microorganisms and is needed for root growth while water is needed to fuel plant growth. Microorganisms in the growing media help supply plants with nutrients necessary for their growth.