feeding plants newly repotted in gritty mix

mrtulinJanuary 20, 2011

Hello All,

I'm sure this question has been answered, so if you can provide me with the link I'd be glad to read there.There are only a 173 posts when I searched "miracle grow 1-1-1)

I have been told if I use MG I need to add some trace elements. I can't get the recommended hydroponic fert. for a while, so may I....

fert. with 1/4 strength MG at every watering?

and yes that means when the soil is actually dry, not when I'm afraid it may be dry. Chopstick and index finger are at the ready

Or water no fert. till I get the hydo.fert.

I know myself and it is likely weeks till I get myself in gear to drive an 3/4 hour to buy pro fert.

I am not offering to get CA and adjust mixture. Half my kitchen is taken up by indoor gardening right now.



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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Ida - there is no reason you cannot fertilize using MG at 1/8-1/4 recommended strength at every watering if you are watering copiously enough to flush the soil whenever you water. I've been doing it for years, and everyone has always been impressed by the pictures of the plantings I've posted. Fertilizing in this manner ensures that the level of nutrients and soluble salts combined will always remain at a very low level. There is NO such guarantee when using heavy soils, even if you stop fertilizing completely for the entire winter season. The reason is because the solubles in irrigation water accumulate and add to the o/a level of solubles in heavy soils you cannot regularly flush.

You can take control of your fertilizer supplementation program and approach it from a rational, reasoned perspective, or simply withhold fertilizers and hope for the best.

So no one can intentionally confuse this issue - you CANNOT effectively fertilize in this manner if you are using heavy, water-retentive soils that you cannot regularly flush w/o risking root rot.

BTW - there is no NEED to fertilize at every watering. I do so because I don't have to keep track of what I fertilized and when. Tying the amount of fertilizer supplied to the amount of water used is a good strategy. When plants are growing less and using less water, you'
re fertilizing less frequently, so the water/fertilizer relationship becomes self-regulating.

Tom Ericsson is an associate professor and senior lecturer whose field of expertise is mineral nutrition of plants.

Plant structure and functioning are the main topics covered in his teaching.

He writes: My main focus is on whole plant physiology, i.e. how plants interact with the growth environment and what happens if factors such as light, temperature, water and nutrients are in short supply. The realisation that the morphology of roots stem and particularly of leaves mirrors the preferred growing conditions of most plants is of great importance for my student's future success. I am convinced that basic knowledge in plant structure and growth is a prerequisite in order to understand the detailed mechanisms behind them. My pedagogic is applied on students belonging to the following SLU programmes; agronomy, landscape architecture, engineering and natural resources. Besides the SLU programmes I also participate in the education of gardeners and green keepers.

My own research is focused on plant nutrition. The optimal balance between the essential mineral nutrients in a fertilizer and consequences of nutrient shortage/excess on plant growth and development are topics of major interest."

From an interview:

"Tom Ericsson has showed in his research that different plants� need for nutrients isn�t all that specific as the fertilizer producer will have us believe. The truth is that specialty fertilizers are unnecessary and that fertilizing correctly is pretty simple.

If you choose a well-balanced fertilizer it will .... work equally well for pelargoniums, citrus, bedding plants, rhododendron, roses and all other plants � even orchids and cacti. They all want the same nutrients served in the same proportions at an even rate. The only difference is the amount they want, or rather how fast the rate of delivery should be. Fast growing plants need more nutrients than slow growing ones, but still at the same proportions.

All you need to think of is the dosage and the regularity. For container grown plants Tom Ericsson has a recipe that will solve the problems all at once.

Choose a liquid, well balanced fertilizer containing all the nutrients the plants need. Add 1 ml to 1 quart of water (4ml/gallon), and use it for all your plants. It makes a weak nutrient solution that you will use year round, each time you water.

That different plants have different needs for nutrients doesn�t matter using this method. It suits them all. Because the nutrients are added with the water it is a self regulating system. Fast growing plants that need more fertilizer will also need more water. When more water is supplied, so is more fertilizer.

"The method works equally well for plants with low nutrient needs", says Tom Ericsson, who himself is an enthusiastic grower of many slow growing species, such as cacti, orchids and tillandsia. They all need very little water, getting small amounts of fertilizer. Cacti and orchids are grown in fast draining substrates, and some of the water and fertilizer will drain out right away.

If you grow plants completely without substrate, in the case of tillandsia and some species of orchids, you can submerge them in a bucket of water with the same nutrient solution a couple of times per week. 1ml/quart of water is so weak that all roots will tolerate it. One argument for using specialty orchid food is that regular plant food is too concentrated. This is a peculiar argument to Tom Ericsson.

"The concentration depends on the dosage. The dose I recommend is not too strong for any plant"

Tom Ericsson recommends applying the same dosage both summer and winter because plants need nutrients not only for growth, but also for maintaining already existing plant parts. As plants need less water during the winter months � due to less light, lower temperatures and the resulting reduced growth � the fertilizer applied will be diminishing. Even in winter the method is self regulating.

We grow plants indoors during the winter during sometimes extreme conditions. When plants are placed above heating ducts the evaporation rate from both soil and plants becomes very high. The need for water increases, but not because the plant is in active growth. In such conditions, it�s better to reduce the fertilizer dose by half [this is due to increased evaporation, and you'll note the suggestion is to DECREASE, not discontinue].
"One ml of fertilizer per quart of water [low doses] will work for most situations, but it is not a holy grail", says Tom Ericsson. Each person needs to experiment a little to find the right dosage for his or her specific conditions.

Using 1 ml of concentrated fertilizer per quart of water will deliver about 50mg of nitrogen in the nutrient solution, assuming the ratio of N is 5g/100ml. However, liquid fertilizer ingredients vary quite a bit, and the dosage may need to be adjusted for this reason.

Fertilizing the garden follows the same principles as fertilizing containers. All nutrients that plants require should be applied at the same proportions as they are found in plant tissue. [Sounds familiar] Nutrients should reach the soil at an even rate. Sudden, large applications of nutrients cannot be absorbed by plants and the surplus is leached out to groundwater and waterways.

Watering in the fertilizer makes nutrients immediately available to roots. It�s a good method to induce growth in plants that have slowed down or stopped growing.

� The purpose of fertilizing is to increase the fertility of the soil. It can be achieved by fertilizing more frequently and in smaller doses. It reduces the risk of unnecessary leakage of nutrients. The gardener also needs to recognize whether plants really need extra fertilizer.

In nature nutrients do not suddenly appear in large amounts, nor do nutrient levels change quickly. Organic material is constantly being decomposed, adding a continuous supply of nutrients to soil moisture.

Regular applications of fertilizer is of paramount importance. In the cases of nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur; plants can function well regardless of plentiful or sparser availability, as long as supply is continuous. This is the reason that plants growing in lean soils in nature do not show any deficiencies, in spite of poor access to nitrogen. Slow growth will be the only indicator. When access to nutrients change, as in the case of fertilizing seldom but with high rates of fertilizer, deficiency symptoms will occur when nutrient levels diminish. Deficiency symptoms will also occur at low levels of other nutrients than nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur.

If nutrient access is unbalanced, i.e. plants are getting more than they need of certain elements, but less than they need of others, the substance they need the most is the one that is going to limit growth. Whatever nutrients are available in excess, will be absorbed by the plant to a certain point. In come cases, this may lead to toxicity. Too much nitrogen will lead to excessive foliage production and less flowering. Too much potassium or phosphorus will not lead to ill effects. There will be no toxic symptoms and the gardener may not realize that the soil contains five times more phosphorus and twice as much potassium as needed.

We need to find a fertilizer that contains all 13 nutrients, in the approximate proportions [used by plants]. This will allow for some luxury uptake by the plants. According to Tom Ericsson plants need a fertilizer with the ratio 10:1.5:7. (NPK)

Tom Ericsson and his students have looked at the market of fertilizers offered to consumers. They have checked whether all 13 nutrients that plants need are included, and at what the ratio is. Some of the most extreme nutrient ratios were found in orchid fertilizers. Other specialty fertilizers lacked minor nutrients or did not contain any information about them. Some specialty fertilizers are formulated with ratios not suitable for any kind of plants.

After studying the findings of Tom Ericsson, one might ask what the producers of fertilizers are basing their products on. In many cases they do not reflect what we today know of plants� needs. His students interviewed some of the major producers of fertilizers in Sweden, asking among other things about whether they conduct their own research on how to prepare an optimal fertilizer. They found that no such research is done and that producers "only make the products the market is asking for". End interview.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 5:14PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Marie!
I hope you're enjoying your adventures in gritty mixing!

I assume you made your Gritty Mix to spec, including the Gypsum.
Al recommends the addition of Epsom Salts to the fertilizer solution,
which (if I recall) keeps the Magnesium and Calcium in a favorable ratio.
(Correct me if wrong on that, Al).

As you know, wait approximately 2 weeks to begin/resume fertilizing at a low dose.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 6:00PM
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Thanks for info. Yes, ratio of mix is correct. No, no mag other.
This may sound like an odd ratio, but my most functional watering can holds 1.5 quarts. So, I figured at 1/4 strenght of MG, I'd use a "heaping" quarter teaspoon per watering can of h20. If I went to 1/8 strength, halve that.

Ideally, I'd fert. very weakly everytime I watered b/c that is easier than remembering when exactly I last fertilized. Knowing myself, I'm betting that over time that my plants will get fertilized once every 2 or 3 weeks.

Al, I'll try to read what you sent me. While I appreciate your intention and the background, it is way too much to absorb. I'm a bright person and intellectually curious, but that amount of informaton in response to a pretty simple question is overwhelming. However, I know I can read it at my leisure and that some people will it read it completely. As a non-scientist, I am happy to rely on people like you to summarize the scientific reasoning and evidence for me.
I want to be perfectly clear that I appreciate your intention and your supposition that I'm smart enough to read it all and understand it!
Thanks, all.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 6:56PM
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Al::::::::::FANTASTIC information and such a different perspective that is so easily understod. WOW, is more than I can say. Thank you Thank you Thank you!
If I have anyone come to ask me about fertilizing in winter, I am just going to print this article out, if I may, with your permission and let them come to their senses.
Many just can't get over the fact I fertilize everytime I water,every plant, all winter long.
The only time they don't question me, or beleive me is when they see my plants first hand and when I show them yours,Josh's and others growing in am ix that allows us the ability to do so!

The whole time I was reading this, just as Josh, I was wondering if you Marie, added gypsum too since you will be using MG that has absolutely no Ca. in it?
If not, not to fear, since I will be taking a ride to get more FP and I can always pick some up for you.
FP has the Ca you need.
So far after over a year, it seems my plants are thriving without gypsum in my mixes in which I use FP.

Marie: I just took pics today of a few plants in which I have been scolded from local nurseries and encouraged not to fertilize this time of year due to a much more lack of light and a few of my plants natural response to want to rest and yet they are thriving.
Whether they are resting, in dormnat stage, or activley growing, it dosn't matter, I still fertilize regularly because the mix I use allows me to which in turn makes my plants thrive every day of the year.

As Josh pointed out, no need to fertilize within a couple of weeks while your plants adjust and by then, I just might be able to grab some FP for you.

I will e-mail you later to come by my home:-)

THANK YOU Al and Josh for always coming through to quickly to help so many everytime! That is how I remember starting out here! You have never disappointed me or my happy plants! You have never disappointed these forums!


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 7:11PM
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Marie, let's get together for a cup of tea, and I will go over things with you, once you have done your homework though..lol

It is really quite simple, yet a lot to digest at once. You just need to take a little bite here and there and let it digest slowly and enjoyably..
If you just focus, eat one morsel, or one train of thought at a time, it will feel good, just like making your mix.
Wait until the desert comes!

No need to understand everything all at once right away, to rush things, relax, because believe me, it will hit you like a ton of bricks and then you will be say' Sheesh, I see the light"..lol
we are all proud of you and the work you have put forth thus far for your little best friends.

One of the biggest baby steps you have already taken, and now just keep walking forward. We will be here to help you up along the way if you should fall.:-)

Many here care for you and to your success Marie.

We will chat later. Don't forget you owe me a visit.
You will believe that coming to this forum is the best thing you could of done, since I owe all of what I know to my friends here.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 7:23PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Marie - I'm sorry if what I said seems overly complicated to you at the moment. Lately, whenever I offer advice or suggestions, it seems I too often have to go way beyond what could normally be a more simplified explanation, to try to guard against what has become the habit of twisting my words and meanings to support baseless contentions, leaving your (and other's) questions dangling because the subject has been not so artfully changed.

There are a very large number of growers who actually HAVE experience using fast-draining and highly aerated mixes like the gritty mix and the 5:1:1 mix, and you can almost always trust their observations and suggestions, because they usually learned the science before they took the leap. Having made your own choice to move some of your plants into the gritty mix, you are on the right track insofar as your description(s) of your intended fertilizer supplementation program is/are concerned.

If you have questions or meet with obstacles, I or someone else with experience using these soils, and with what fertilizing approaches are appropriate will always be willing to help with a positive approach to solutions.

I posted the information from/about Professor Ericsson because it so closely (almost exactly) agrees with the information I've been sharing on this and other forums for many years, and adds considerably to the credibility of the offerings I've made. Hopefully, it will help others using the soils being discussed in this thread to see that what I've been offering is scientifically and horticulturally sound information, as well as being well-reasoned and able to stand against any specious arguments that might be mounted.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 8:54PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

HI Everyone!

It is great to see everything coming together for you!

As far as the info Al has posted. Like others have said, just read it a little here and there, and it will come together. ;-)
Save it in your clippings for later. That's what I do. :-)

Great info! I love this post, it really says alot.

Have a great evening everyone!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 9:20PM
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A brief Google brings up only one listing of this person -

Tom Ericsson is a teacher at the Department of Urban Development in Sweden.

Why is he quoted? The article has to do with golf courses and urban landscapes. I see no mention of indoor house plants.

One does not need to travel to Sweden for teachers. The USA has many experts on this topic. A list of America's experts, from top Universities, were kindly listed in this post by Farkee:


Many studies and findings have been done showing that there is no reason to fertilize unless a plant is in active growth. Now, if a person has good light, either naturally or supplemented, as Al has in his basement, fertilizing would continue.

Most of our plants have slowed down, they also have reserves of nutrients which carry them over the low-light periods. Plants need fertilizer when they start growing again.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 10:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you saw no mention of houseplants, you didn't read the right article or the direct quote above. I copy/pasted word for word. Comparing his credentials with anyone's on this forum, I think I'd have to come down on the side of Tom being the more knowledgeable. That seems logical to me. It may be a surprise to you, but it doesn't surprise me that our thinking is parallel. I've been studying plant related sciences for years, and have probably picked up a little along the way. ;o)
I never needed Mr Ericsson or anyone else to make my case. A sound understanding of plant physiology, soil science, and an ability to reason has always been sufficient to reach all but one or two people who are simply intent on disagreeing no matter how convincing the case presented. Ericsson was just a little icing on the cake.

People who have a thorough understanding of any topic understand that to make certain statements w/o qualifying them is to commit credibility suicide - like that thing about "gasoline always being the most important factor in ensuring you reach your destination on time", which is an extremely illogical manner of thinking. From both a scientific and a logical perspective, the statements that "Light is always king"; "Light can always trump all other potentially limiting factors"; and "You should never fertilize in the winter", are unsupportable. Plants don't just stop using nutrients in winter because Gertrude can't SEE them grow. If you don't water a plant - light isn't going to save it.

No one has (or should have) a problem with "Light is SOMETIMES king"; or "Under certain circumstances you should not fertilize some plantings during winter - especially plantings in heavy soils"; but there is serious logical error in the thinking that "light can trump ANY potentially limiting factor", let alone the statement that light can ALWAYS trump ANY potentially limiting factor". In addition to the error in logic, neither statement can be supported by science.

Just repeating something over and over w/o offering anything convincing or logical in the way of proof doesn't make something true. That's just how life is. If you want people to believe the things you say, you need to somehow convince them. All you need to do is accept the fact there has to be qualifications made to cover broadly sweeping statements, because they cannot stand as true as they are .... and all will be well. It doesn't even matter if you accept that fact - just accept the fact that almost everyone else does and let it go so we can have some peace.

I know some people with a few pretty crappy looking plants that are in light about as perfect as you'll find - how in the world might that be explained if light trumps all and is always king? How Plant Growth is Limited

I made a LOT of well-reasoned points (dozens of times), in my own words and from my own understanding, all solidly supported by facts and practical experience, and grounded in science, that you're willing to ignore and leave unanswered except for the standard unbacked assertion or two that has wrecked yet another thread.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 12:39AM
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Jane: Are we talking about a lighting question here or are we addressing and talking about a fertilizing question ?
I read it as a fertilizing question/ subject. Again and not a subject where someone is asking for or requiring information regarding lighting.
If you wish by all means feel free to start the subject or topic where some who want can read or ask about LIGHTING and receive information for there consideration with the use of a different topic or thread.

Al :NOT from you but yes I too pick out certain inconsistencies with in the lighting remarks. My questions to you are, Do you also grow crystal balls, or just count lucky stars? How is it you saw a distraction coming ?

Marie: It was/is once mentioned that you made a decision to use a free draining soil for your containerized plants. After that and during a brief meet and chat with you I said almost what Al is/was trying to say now when I said.
You've made a decision that will allow your plants to grow and provide you with great results and that I think it's ill mannered when someone else attempts to distract you from your your decisions.
That was soil and now it's a distraction for fertilizers while watering and ( as my small distraction) sips of tea with Mike.

Aside from the Tea that you'll enjoy, your question(s) regarding fertilizer while watering is well received with very reasonable responses that will allow your plants to grow and give you great results.

However,I still stand firm on my opinion of people who provide un-asked for distraction(s)even though the off topic concerns need not be un-noticed, It's just rude to give a off subject response to a question that isn't being asked.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 6:42AM
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Al, thanks AGAIN!

Marie, my brain seems to work like yours. If there is a lot of information it just seems overwhelming and it was just that when I began reading Al's teachings. However, I took my time and read and re-read and I think I grasp a good portion of it now. I became a convert about a year ago, use the gritty mix and FP (and PT) and I'm very pleased with the performance in all of my plants.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:39AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Mr. Like - It's very easy to predict that the subject of 'light' will rear its head in nearly any thread that discusses the gritty mix, the 5:1:1 mix, or almost any other thread that discusses anything other than growing in heavy soils. IOW - if you have a harmonious thread where the discussion centers even remotely around soils, the issue of light will be pressed into service as a disrupting element, even though light never was a part of the conversation and was never intended to be.

It's not that people don't acknowledge the importance of of light's role in plant growth/health - it's the fact that it's unsupportable when the offering is made that "Light is always king" and that it can "Always trump other potentially limiting factors". I 'think' she's trying to make the point you can grow in mud if you have good light, but she's never been clear about why she continues in this vein, so we may never know. Imagining that good light can negate the effects of over/under-watering, high/low pH, freeze injury, herbicide injury ....... cannot even pass the sniff test, let alone be considered as a candidate to be examined under the 'reasonable man standard'.

These constant disruptions of productive discussions aren't meant to help or educate anyone. They simple plant the seeds of discord in thread after thread, many of which I started, but it has recently spread to the threads of others as well.

Jane has been begged and pleaded with repeatedly to collect her thoughts on light and winter fertilizing and put them in thread form where they can be help up to the same scrutiny she only seems to offer on the threads of others. If you look carefully, she doesn't use her knowledge to scrutinize the contentions of others or even to support her own contentions. She simply offers them over and over, then plays the victim when she's disagreed with.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:50AM
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The long and short of it is, people are more apt to listen to someone who can offer validation for the statements they make... and I'm guessing that most people who come here looking for information, whether they post or not, are intelligent enough to sort the grains of truth from the chaff.

When the same statements are made time and again, and no validation to support them is ever forthcoming, my guess is that most people will recognize them for what they are and move on, in search of the factual growing information they're looking for.

Al has earned his reputation by offering sound advice and statements complete with substantiation. This is why so many people consider him to be the resident go-to guy for growing knowledge, why he garners so much attention, and why so many people hold him in such high regard.

I've never understood why anyone would want to frequent a message board with only one point in mind... to cause disruption... but I'm also fairly certain that such behavior is transparent to everyone reading.

I had thought I'd posted earlier to add my own easy fertilization method, but it seems to have either disappeared... or my memory is playing tricks on me again!

In any event, what I do coincides with Al's fertilization methods... at the moment, all I have to work with is Miracle Gro all-purpose liquid plant food, 12-4-8. I use it at a rate of 1/8 to 1/4 of the recommended strength, and I use it almost every time I water.

I'll weakly fertilize for about 3 waterings... then on the 4th, I'll use plain water. This ensures that my plants are being adequately flushed, or leached, of any excess salt accumulation. I do this all year 'round, through winter, summer, spring, and fall. The results? Happy plants!

Marie, it all CAN seem overwhelming... but once you're familiar with the "why" and "how" of the grittier mediums, and everything comes together for you, I think you'll be very pleased with the results. This many people converting and singing praises can't be coincidence! :-)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 12:29PM
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Jodik writes...."When the same statements are made time and again, and no validation to support them is ever forthcoming, my guess is that most people will recognize them for what they are and move on, in search of the factual growing information they're looking for."

I guess you missed the link. This is from, Texas A&M University, Master Gardner Handbook. "...Light is probably the most essential factor for house plant growth."

There are other studies linked on Farkees post "Jodiks Questions on Winter Fertilization."

Let me know if you require more,

Have a good day


Here is a link that might be useful: Texas A&M University

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 2:43PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Key word is "PROBABLY"!

Here's the definition taken from my computer dictionary.


prob�a�bly [ pr�bbəblee ]


as is likely: as is likely or to be expected
I'll probably come tonight.
That does not make Light the only one, or the most important!
Does not make it "King"... or top priority.

There were alot of "and, if's and or's" in those links.

I am guilty of owning a few of the plants that Al referred to up thread.

""I know some people with a few pretty crappy looking plants that are in light about as perfect as you'll find - how in the world might that be explained if light trumps all and is always king? How Plant Growth is Limited ""

Perfect light here in sunny Arizona, but they don't take too kindly to being forgotten.. there for light can never be the "king"!

Al had every right to post what he did. What makes what Farkee posted any more important? Just because it is in the country doesn't make it any better!

I'm sad to see this post has gotten so off coarse, but that seems to be the norm around here lately, as i'm sure your figuring out.

As it has been pointed out by others, this thread is for feeding plants, and light has no place here.

It needs to be taken to it's own thread.

I hope it doesn't discourage you that one person seems determined to disrupt threads, and make it difficult for others to learn what they come here for.
I hope you know that others will still be here to help you, and will offer good sound advice!

I read about your shopping spree and day out with Mike. ;-)
Awsome! I'm glad you had a good time and are on your way.

I am using MG with great results and many others here.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 3:37PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Idabean...

I just wanted to say that I understand where you are coming from!!!

We and others are trying to "choose" which type of medium we want to offer to our plants/trees etc...although I find all of this information very interesting and very informative...it takes awhile to digest!!!

I will take the steps with you as you and I learn the reasoning and the scientific backing that is so readily available for us...

"We" make the decision to use the mixes that "we" are inquiring about...I am very thankful and impressed with the amount of kind and knowledabe people here on this forum...

Like Mike said...small bites!!! So just slowly "bite" and chew throughly and all will come together...then comes the "just desserts!!"

AL...thank you for all the information provided!!! : )

Jodick... As always...your kindness is always noticed!!

Marie....."I'm hungry...lets go have a bite!!! LOL..."

Take care everyone!!!

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 10:45PM
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Jodik writes:....."I'm sad to see this post has gotten so off coarse, but that seems to be the norm around here lately, as i'm sure your figuring out.
As it has been pointed out by others, this thread is for feeding plants, and light has no place here."
It needs to be taken to it's own thread.


You have missed some important points. I never brought light into this thread - Al did with this statement

.....He writes (Swedish expert): My main focus is on whole plant physiology, i.e. how plants interact with the 'growth environment' and what happens if factors such as light, temperature, water and nutrients are in short supply.... "

You will notice, the 'expert' lists light as the first factor, nutrients are listed last. He states--How Plants Interact In The Growth Environment"-- I agree with this. He is talking about growth. It backs up my belief that fertilizing should only take place when a plant is growing. In our zone, light is the short supply he mentions.

See Jodik, Al and I are actually on the same page!

Al, I am offering my opinions, same as you. It is not my intent to disrupt a thread. You and your pals disrupt the threads by constantly focusing on me. Why do you feel threatened by my posts? I'm just a person joining in a thread. You and your pals are the only people arguing. Do me a big favor and ignore me. Pretend I'm not here. Lets just move along. Life is too short for all these long threads.

Marie you are in zone-5, if you supplement light or have sunlight like Mike has, then growth may be continuing. It also depends on the type of plant. Some of my orchids have not shown any sign of growth yet. They do not get fed. I have some which are growing and flowering, they get a small amount. My tropicals are showing no growth. I leave them alone until I see some leaf growth. It depends on the plant and the amount of light it requires. This time of the year is tough on indoor plants. I'm sure you realize this as you are not new to plants. Its common sense.

I'm sorry if it appears I am imposing on your thread. I didn't see any reason for starting another. I find it is always helpful to have various viewpoints.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 3:01AM
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Context and comprehension... two very important ideas to hold close when reading and responding within the confines of a message board.

First, the important word to keep in mind within your first quote, Jane, is "probably", which takes a blanket statement and gives the author an out. He or she can easily answer any queries with, "well, I said probably... which doesn't equate with certainly."

I agree with JoJo... there are a lot of ifs and probablys within those links. The fact that they've been written by a university doesn't give them supreme credibility. As I see it, they're writing from a commercial perspective, and not necessarily one of scientific logic.

Second, if you'll go back and reread the above posts, you'll see that you've misquoted me horribly. You are attributing statements to me that I never made.

Third, and most important, this thread is not about light. It's about fertilization. Therefore, the mention of light is completely extraneous to this conversation. See above posts.

Though it shouldn't be necessary, Marie, allow me to apologize for the negligible additions to your thread. It is, unfortunately, an all too common occurrence among public message boards. The important thing is that we're taking away the factual, important information to utilize in our growing... and if we stick with Al's instruction, we can't go wrong!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:40AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

First off Jane,
You've gotten us "Jodi's" mixed up! It was me that you quoted not Jodik..Please go back and read it again. If your going to quote, make sure you have it right. If you re read you will notice I sign mine, "jojo" .. Jodik doesn't.

Just because the quote listed light first in a group of factors does not make it priority! It's in a group!! And that doesn't make it so Al brought light into this thread!!

You did. You took what Al quoted as a chance to jump and throw in your "light" and insisted we re read what Farkee had posted. Which was mostly about light.
And had alot of holes in it.

The way I see it, is if a plant can take up water, fertilizer should be available.

In the mixes we use, as it has been stated many times, there is no harm in providing it with each watering.

Yet you show up in thread after thread and insist to stop in the winter.

For the way you grow and the soils you use, that has been pointed out as probably a good thing to do. But it does not apply to the soils we use, and it's hard to sit back and watch/let you lead a grower down a bad path.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 12:03PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's a terrible misrepresentation to blame me for the introduction of light into this thread. My post was well-presented with nothing in the way of confrontation in it. I offered a direct quote from an interview with a true scientist who teaches and researches the intricacies of plant physiology and soil sciences. The entire article was about his research and findings as they relate to fertilizing plants all year long at low doses, and was entirely on topic. Because there was, IN PASSING, use of the word 'light' in the quote from the article is certainly not any indication I was steering the conversation toward light. That is a completely ridiculous position, and I resent the implication that I'm somehow to blame for introducing the same worn hot-button issues into every thread on this forum that has good harmony. It also doesn't go unnoticed that it's only the threads that I, or a couple of others are the threads that receive ALL the negative attention.

You are, (and have been for a long time) changing the topics of threads to offer opinions that have been discussed to death in dozens of threads, and that have destroyed the harmony of those threads, then hiding behind your right to express an opinion and claiming to be the victim; and blaming that on me or others is, as I said, ridiculous.

If your argument hinges on the statement you keep making that 'someone' at Tex A&M made: "Light is probably the most essential factor for house plant growth." Guess what? No one disagrees with that. I freely allow that's true. BUT! That 'probably' is troubling and the entire statement lends no support your repeated statements that "Light is always king" and "light trumps all other potential limiting factors"; and it lends no support to the idea that you can't fertilize all winter long at reduced rates when using a soil that supports the practice. That statement flies in the face of not only science, but reality - because forum pages are filled with accounts of people who are doing it with spectacular results. Reference Mike's thread Pics of plants fertilized every time I water, even in winter. While at that thread - notice another blatant attempt where you moved the thread off topic to light, again. This particular thread illustrates the habit that many have been calling attention to, very clearly.

You seem to feel that because you choose to grow in a certain way, that everyone has the same problems, issues, and limitations that you do, but these discussions don't center around your problems. They center around a group of people genuinely trying to help others with their problems, and to offer advice in a positive way - advice that CAN be relied on to be accurate because it is not only well-tested, but it is backed by science. IOW, it's scientifically sound and backed (in volumes) by the practical application of others. This thread had 7 positive posts, most VERY positive, until we came to one filled with negativity.

If the people whom others are trying to help were somehow victims of misinformation or were being fed a line, I would applaud your efforts to make corrections. But the information others are receiving is always qualified to the nth degree because everyone knows that if there is the smallest chink in anything anyone says, another thread goes down the drain.

BTW - every plant I own isn't in the basement under lights. I have several dish gardens & individual plantings in various places throughout the house, and I fertilize them ALL the same way I fertilize the plants under lights. The plants under lights grow better and need more water because of that fact - since the fertilizer is mixed in the water they get more fertilizer than the plants upstairs in reduced light, which get less water because they grow more slowly, which means they also get less fertilizer. It all really does work slick, but I do understand how, having never tried the soil or the method being discussed, it might be difficult to get any kind of feel for it's efficacy.

It's hard to believe that with 20 years of practical experience at growing in this manner, and the volumes of pictures of beautiful plants I've provided, along with the volumes of other people doing the same thing, most of whom have praised the improvement in their plants to the rafters, that a lone voice could still be crying that it can't/won't work, or that you shouldn't try it because a 'how to grow houseplants' book or a net link says you shouldn't.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 12:27PM
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Al, thank you so much for the detailed posts. I love the length, detail and supporting information. Your approach is based on science and fact and I respect that. I am hungry to learn and you continually provide the knowledge that helps me grow as a container gardener. Keep the long posts coming! (even if many of these threads seem to get hijacked).

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I am really grateful for the compliments, Kernul, Thank you; but I'm even happier that others are beginning to note and voice opinion about the pattern that continually hampers me and many others from offering the help and positive interaction we're capable of offering (and WANT to offer).

Look at the threads I and others created simply out of boredom - threads posted just to give people a place where they could go to be 'friends' and laugh (sometimes cry) together. THAT's the kind of forum so many of us want to be a part of. Does that sound like the acts of those bent on stirring up trouble? It should be more like a party and less like an arena. At least an arena has a referee that makes you fight fair.

I'm willing to discuss/debate these issues with anyone. They're so simple and straightforward - so uncomplicated and easy to understand, that anyone with even a fair understanding of horticulture will recognize them as completely viable methods/options, and actually, there would be no debate.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:53PM
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I stand firmly with kernul, and I repeat his request for more scientifically validated information, Al! I, too, have grown tremendously as a gardener, both container and otherwise, under your expert tutelage! Your attention to detail and fact, and the way you have of making it all seem so elementary, so easy to understand and digest, is something I've spent decades searching for! I'm so glad to have found it, and the added bonus of your friendship is like extra whipped cream on a pumpkin pie! ;-)

But seriously... it's not a wonder that I, and so many others, hold you and your opinions and teachings in such high esteem. It's no wonder people look to you, and give you full attention. You have earned it all... the respect, the regard, the attention of rapt students, the friendships.

It's my opinion that the majority of folks who come here in hopes of learning, will do so regardless of the hijacked threads, regardless of misinformation, and regardless of any disruptions. It's not that difficult to pick through the offerings and see who is serious and knowledgeable, and who is not. And at the end of the day, it's really knowledge that is king... knowledge that brings us success... and knowledge that makes our thumbs a little bit greener. Knowledge is the fertilizer that keeps us growing as gardeners, and Al is the grower that keeps piling on the fertilizer... in perfectly measured increments... or, as needed!

And there's no need to offer thanks for compliments well deserved. You've earned every single one! :-)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:54PM
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Here is my feelings on this.

"We" are kings and queens!

The "knowledge" we chose/not choose to take in is another "limiting factor" to the success of our plants or their eventual demise.
It would be a major "limiting factor" if I did not come to this forum and thank God I did, years ago! :-)

We have the power to control the way our plants grow, their destiny, if they succeed, thrive, survive and ect.

I couldn't agree more about Al.
I thank God for this forum and for the fact that they completely know that it is people like him that keep these forums alive accurate, and our plants healthy.
I can't even imagine how much anyone would have to pay a "plant police" to monitor these forums to make sure that false , unreliable, unproven and bad information is dispensed to the eventual decline of our containerized plants. I am truly grateful for this.

I have tried for YEARS to no avail, to get anyone knowledgable enough to help my plants thrive, let alone survive.

There are many more people in my midst just waiting on the wings of to free their plants, bound by all the false narrow minded information, mis conceptions, commercialism, of thousands of hurtful ferlizers, crappy mixes, constant attack by pests, suffocation by salt and toxins, the bagged soils,greedy money making racketed plant industry and so on.

The plant industry has no hold on me or many others at my expense to keep me replacing more and more.

I am ever so grateful for anyone to whom takes the time to show me how to make good even better!

Here are my two top teachers: Al and Rhizzo, since I take great respect in educated teachers, if one would take the time to read their profiles, in the plant/pest world of science very seriously.
Then I follow, appreciate all my friends that support my decision based on science, positive feed back, results, and great ideas that I see work, to make my plants thrive to their best potential..

Marie: I am proud of you for staying focused on the issue at hand, and it is that of what concerns you most on this thread, "feeding your plants in the gritty mix"!

All those that grow in this mix will be right here to help you and give you whatever you need to be successful at it.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 3:02PM
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I ponder, why is it that lighting and it's importance would rear it's ugly head now ?
Wasn't it two weeks ago when Jane was more proactive toward the IMPORTANCE OF BAGGED SOIL being the better material?
Letting the saga continue as we then read that there is a " CLOSET gritty mix " user with in our very forum.
Yet the importance of light is perhaps more true than even they would know.
Congratulations Jane you have SEEN THE LIGHT while hiding your gritty mix in the closet.
Now that your free from the bagged mud sludge's of the poorer broken bags one last word of IMPORTANCE.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 4:31PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi kernul1,
It's good to see you here. I must say you have summed things up very nicely!
I too am hungry to learn, and appreciate the time Al gives here to share the knowledge that he has, so we can all have healthy, strong, beautiful plants!

I've never known such a generous and patient person, and so willing to share!

I spent 4 months at GW reading old posts before I ever posted in any forum.
I didn't choose Al's way of growing simply because so many others did, I chose it for the sound advice he gave, and from seeing the thousands of pictures of plants grown from applying his teachings.

I'm sure many others can say the same.

It goes along with what Jodik said ~
"people are more apt to listen to someone who can offer validation for the statements they make"

Jodik says.."added bonus of your friendship is like extra whipped cream on a pumpkin pie! ;-) ""
Couldn't agree with you more! But I must add a handful of others to the list too. ;-)

Yes Al, keep the long posts coming! If I run out of room to add them to clippings I can always print them. ;-)

Mrlike2u, Mike, Laura, Good to see you too!

Marie, I hope all is well for you. I am using MG the same as Jodik, and with good results.

Al~ do have a question....
Is there any harm if we use the Epsom Salts added to the MG on the 5-1-1 soil.
If I get in a hurry and have a blond moment or 2 (yep, it's been known to happen ;-) lol) will it affect the plants?


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 9:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The only time you'd want to do that (add Epsom salts - MgSO4) is if you didn't use dolomitic (garden) lime in the 5:1:1, and intentionally wanted to keep the medium pH low. Then, you would also need to add gypsum (CaSO4) along with the MgSO4 (Epsom salts) as your Ca/Mg sources (neither Ca or Mg) are included in your MG fertilizer). Honestly, it's easier to add the lime, & if you need to tend a particular plant that has low pH requirements, do it by adjusting the pH of your irrigation/fertigation water with white vinegar or citric acid.

WE just went through a big (similar) 'discussion' about this on the houseplants forum. Skip the pH and moisture meters, unless you need something to poke holes in the soil to let more air in. ;o) There's more good information that backs what I said at houseplants in that link from the C&S forum you sent me. I saved it to my favorites if you want me to link to it; and we already talked about how to manage the pH of your irrigation water. You're good on that score - right?


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:16PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Al~
I'm good on that score. ;-) and have the info from C&S saved. :-)

I had more in mind of if I accidentally used water I had mixed for the gritty on the 5-1-1..
(alot going on here, and maybe didn't word it right;-) )

Would I have to flush it, or would it be O.K. and just be super careful and watch where I use the water with the E. salt in the future. ;-)

I do put the lime in the 5-1-1


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:41PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I don't think a little mistake here or there isn't going to make much difference, JJ. The doses of MgSO4 you'd be using are very low, so they won't contribute much to the EC/TDS (overall level of solubles in the soil solution) and there wouldn't be enough Mg in an application or two to cause an antagonistic deficiency of Ca.

Just a word of warning: those that tell you to apply Epsom salts to your fertilizer on a regular basis because Mg is a critical factor in the photosynthetic process and it 'greens up' your plants are probably not doing you a favor. The only time applying Epsom salts to your containerized plants is of benefit is when there is an actual deficiency of Mg (or S, which rarely occurs), or when the Mg is required to balance the ratio between Ca:Mg to prevent an antagonistic deficiency. Any element supplied in excess is harmful to the plant. It may not be so harmful that you jump back, clasp your hands to your cheeks, and say "OMG! What did I Do!!??", but it is harmful in the sense that it diminishes your plants' potential.

In Jodi's case, the result of adding the Epsom salts when not needed does two things. It contributes unnecessarily to the level of solubles in the soil, which makes it more difficult for plants to take up water and the nutrients dissolved in water, and it can make it more difficult for the plant to take up other important elements - particularly Ca. The amount she would be adding would be so minor the effects wouldn't be noticed, but that doesn't mean they would not occur.

I've seen people regularly advise others to add a tablespoon (Epsom salts) to a gallon of water and apply it to their plants every two weeks. From a horticultural perspective, that's horrible advice. You might as well tell people to mix a tablespoon of table salt into a gallon of water and apply it to their plants at the same interval.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 11:32AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

HI Al~
I'll try and make sure to keep the water on the right mixes to be on the safe side. ;-) It's good to know that no real harm will come from a slip up though.

I have both mixes in use all over the yard and indoors and sometimes get in a little hurry when watering. :-)

The only other use for Epsom salt i've heard is to add it to tomato's when their setting buds. And it was meant for in ground growing.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 12:15PM
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