First time using Al's Gritty Mix... in an emergency
As a newby who just recently joined Garden Web, I would like to share my experience using what I have learned from Al's Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention threads to address an "emergency." I have a beautiful 8-year-old Clivia miniata "Victorian Peach" that has bloomed three times. Here is a photo of it in the summer of 2008.
When it began to flower last summer during hot and humid days, the scape never elongated and the bloom got "stuck" in the base of the plant. A few days ago, I noticed that there was crown rot developing at the site of the aborted bloom between the leaves at the base of the plant. I carefully cut off the leaves and the top part of the crown to remove all rot. I treated the cut surface of the crown with a fungicide. The plant has produced five offsets, one of which is three years old and ready to produce blooms of its own. I had promised a friend that when the time was right this spring, I would divide the plant and send him the mature offset. When I realized that the plant was in danger, I decided that I needed to move fast if I was going to be able to save it. Here's a photo of the plant after I cleaned out all the rot.
Here's a photo of the roots once I removed it from its pot. Note that clivia roots are similar to orchid roots, but very susceptible to rot
Yesterday I went shopping for the ingredients for Al's gritty mix. From left to right, I purchased 24 quarts of Repti-bark fir bark for $18.99; 24 quarts of NAPA Floor Dry #8822 for $7.99; and 50 pounds of Gran-i-grit grower grit for $7.99. (The bag of grit looks about the same size as the other two bags, so I am guessing it's about 24 quarts.) I also purchased 2.5 pounds of gypsum for $8.95.
Here are the ingredients before mixing (granite at 6 o'clock):
I had to use a kitchen colander to screen the Floor Dry. I just rinsed the granite. The fir bark seems a little large, with no fines, so I just used it out of the bag. Here is the final mix:
I divided the plant with a sharp, sterilized knife to remove the mature offset to send to my friend and removed as much old soil as I could. I also remived any dead roots, but there were only a few. I repotted the crown with its four offsets into a one gallon pot of damp gritty mix. I allowed the roots to rise above the mix a little so I could keep an eye on their health. If any problems develop, I should be able to tell because the roots will start to show rot. This is an idea I got from my clivia "mentor" and it has worked for me in the past. It may not be necessary with gritty mix. Here's how the plant looks now:
I now have about 17 gallons (2+ cubic feet) of gritty mix left over for my next project, plus two pounds of gypsum. The total cost for this project was about $37, or just over $2 per gallon. It would be much cheaper to use pine bark fines, but none of the garden centers are selling it during winter.