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Ex situ conservation is an essential tool in rare cycad conservation, and horticulture is the foundation of ex situ conservation. Appropriate container media conditions, especially excellent aeration, are crucial to successful cultivation of most cycads. Typical cycad media include substantial portions of organic materials that will decompose over time, reducing aeration. At Montgomery Botanical Center, novel inorganic media have improved the survival and growth of several very rare and horticulturally challenging Zamia species, suggesting the need for a rigorous evaluation of different inorganic container media. This paper provides a brief review of current knowledge on the use of inorganic container media in horticulture and presents results of a recent experiment evaluating the effectiveness of nine different container media on growth of rare Zamia spp., suggesting that coarse silica sand is an especially good growth medium.
Keywords: Zamiaceae, Zamia, container growth media, container substrate, cycad
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