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Importancia de los sustratos en el cultivo de vegetales y jardinería - Hortyjardín

Importance of substrates in the cultivation of vegetables and gardening

What are substrates?

In vegetable growing or gardening, the substrate is the material used to grow plants in pots or planters. It may consist of a mixture of earth, sand, perlite and other components that provide nutrients and proper structure for plant root growth.

Functions that the Substrate fulfills in plants

  • Nutrient replacement
  • Physical support and anchoring
  • Water storage
  • Oxygen replacement for the growth of roots and the entire plant

Some examples of organic and inorganic substrates


Peat is a moss that is formed from the remains of aquatic vegetation of marshes, swamps or swamps, preserved underwater in partial decomposition. You can find black and blonde peats, extracted mainly from the countries of northern Europe. These two classes are differentiated by their degree of decomposition. The black ones are found deeper and are more decomposed, hence their dark color. They are used in seedbeds, since they allow constant humidity, very beneficial for seed germination . The blonde peats are located at a lower depth and are used in the production of pots, since they retain moisture well.


Matter of volcanic origin from lava spills, with properties analogous to sand. It is very useful for retaining moisture and absorbing nutrients , which it subsequently provides gradually. It is also characterized by its low weight, excellent aeration and drainage.


A sustainable and renewable substrate, obtained from coconut shells. It is rich in nutrients, retains water and provides excellent aeration for root growth.


Tree bark is a substrate that provides adequate moisture retention, drainage and aeration for plants. However, it is important to supplement it with additional nutrients and monitor its breakdown over time.


It is a micaceous mineral formed by hydrated silicate of iron, magnesium and aluminum. It is characterized by its high capacity for absorbing water and nutritional substances.


Among the characteristics of compost we can mention its variable levels of organic matter , variable levels of microorganisms useful for the processes carried out in the mixture, supply of nutritional elements for long periods of time, moderate nutrient retention capacity, good aeration and good sewer system.


It is a byproduct from the exploitation of wood. It is characterized by its high moisture retention capacity , nutrient retention, high decomposition rate, high carbon-nitrogen ratio.


It is obtained by subjecting a type of clay to 1200ºC. These clays are capable of absorbing up to 50% of their own weight, which allows them to retain optimal humidity for the plant. On the other hand, they also lighten and oxygenate the substrate.


It is a plastic material derived from industrial processes. It is used with the purpose of breaking up the substrate . It is characterized by its sterility or hygiene as it is an inert material, it does not rot, decompose or mold.


It is characterized by its good aeration, good drainage, low nutrient retention capacity, and high weight . It is recommended to use it in combination with organic compounds and choose sand from rivers and never from mines.


Volcanic stone is a widely used substrate due to its drainage capacity, moisture retention, soil aeration, stability and durability. However, it is important to complement it with other elements to provide the nutrients necessary for healthy plant growth.


Substrate mixtures can be used in pots for garden plants, in plant propagation for seed germination, rooting of cuttings and layers, and multiplication from specialized vegetative propagation structures.

The substrates are mixed to combine specific characteristics and properties required by the different plant species . You can mix soils such as heather, you can mix peat with sand, Humus with sand, Compost with sand, among many other combinations. Always previously evaluating the physical and chemical properties of each substrate that makes up the mixture, in favor of the specific requirements of each plant.


It results in an acidic soil, poor in nutrients, with great porosity that gives it good drainage. Its mixture contains three quarters of acidic soil, which makes it highly advisable for growing azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons, among others.


It is composed of a significant part of peat and another of coarse sand or perlite, with an acidic reaction. It results in a mixture poor in nutrients, which must be watered properly. It is mainly used in seedbeds


It is a very balanced mixture of nutrients making it ideal for a wide range of plants. There are garden centers where you can find ready-made soil mixtures that are generally made up of one-third regular garden soil, one-third sand, and one-third peat.

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