28 Days Later 5-1-1

naikii(9a / 8b)March 4, 2013

Hey all, so as some may remember I recently started a thread to work out what mix to put a variety of plants into ( http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0120561912795.html?72 ), and subsequently ended up potting a bunch of plants into Tapla’s 5-1-1 mix. Now, 28 days later I thought I would post up some initial results and thoughts as well as accompanying photos.
This will be a big wall of text and pictures and is largely to fulfil my obsession with these plants more than anything else, hopefully you will get as much out of this as I did! Anyone who does not like tonnes of writing, escape while you still can!

In summary, the mix has worked well so far. When I repotted in Feb it was the last month of our Australian summer. Since that time we have had a couple of hot days 35oC (95F), generally dry weather punctuated with a few days of heavy rain. We have just gone into Autumn as of last Friday, and as I live in Canberra, the weather has already begun to cool (22o max yesterday, 77F) and it is going to become more and more cold from here on in.
One strange thing I have noticed is that although the mix feels like it does not need water, it actually does. One time after 3 dry hot days I felt the mix, and decided it was cool and damp and so left it without watering. That afternoon I had some leaves start to wilt and curl.

I noticed that the leaf wilt is different to what I have usually experienced with potting mix. With normal mix, the leaves wilt, you water and they perk up again. In the 5-1-1 for whatever reason the very ends of the leaves wilt and curl, and even after watering the wilted parts of the leaves dry up and die, leaving the unwilted part green. This has happened on a couple of my figs and blueberries. I am quite observant, and watered at first sign of wilting, and so only lost 1-2 leaves on the affected plants. Since then I have begun watering about every 2 days, and two of my blueberries that hadn’t done much have really started to wake up since increasing watering.
I have been fertilising with half strength miracle grow every 2-3 waters, and have been adding a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to my blueberries as well as a half tablespoon or so of Epson salts. Everything else has just received MG. In the last week I have begun to add in a little seaweed solution for all plants.
I have now potted about 11 plants total, in 28 days (or 14 in some cases) some have put on a solid amount of growth, some have put on very little or no growth. No plants were lost in the transition to 5-1-1. Here are the photos, and there will be a lot! I will put in the best performers down to the worst.

Blueberry - Blue Rose
This plant I only repotted on the 18th of Feb, and it is very very happy, taking the place for best growth, I am quite amazed at how much growth it has put on in only 2 weeks

Blueberry - " Brightwell
This plant started putting out solid growth days after repotting, and seemed to branch out from all tips, and broke several new buds as well, growing denser by the day. I think I turned this plant at some point, so the angle may not be exactly the same.
5th feb

8th Feb

18th Feb

3rd March

Dwarf Eureka Lemon
This plant has only had 2 weeks since repotting as well, and has put on a nice amount of growth in this time. You can see the height it has put on, from the first to second pic, it was much shorter than its stake in the first pic.
18th Feb

3rd March

Blueberry -" Sunshine Blue
Seems the blueberries love 5-1-1, as long as they get enough water! This one has performed nicely, probably deserves to be above the lemon, however since the lemon has only had 2 weeks it wins the spot!
5th Feb

18th Feb

3rd March

Dwarf Peach
This one is kind of hard to tell from the photos, and me shooting from different angles doesn’t help at all, this tree ahs been thickening up, and has grown a few cms on each of its major branches.
18th Feb

3rd March

Blueberry- Powder Blue
Ok, I’m looking at the pictures now, and if anything this plant looks worse! Looking at it in person though I consider it a good performer. This is one of the plants that I believe suffered from too little water. The soil felt damp and cool to touch and yet some leaves began to curl and died. The 5-1-1 mix for this plant (and Misty) acts differently to my others as well.
I assumed that since the top felt wet that the soil below must have been dry/hydrophobic so I gave it a super soaking, watering it 4-5 times with the hose at 5 minute increments and really let water flow through. I was also considering that salts may have possibly been blocking water uptake although I allow a good amount of water to flow through at each watering. By watering it multiple times and really letting it soak I thought it would flush out and wet at the same time.
What I noticed with this particular pot (and Misty) was the water would sit on top of the soil for a few seconds and then literally bubble through the mix. As in, as the water went through the mix large bubbles would rise out of the soil. At first I took this to mean the soil had been really dry underneath, however even after 4 passes with the hose it continued to do this each time. I am still not sure what it means.
Another difference between this pot and Misty is that because I ran out of mix I filled the pots less than half way. It may be coincidence that it is the two pots with the least soil acting differently, or something else might be afoot.
Anyhow, since flushing/watering heavily about a week ago several buds along the stem have swelled and broken, and I suspect it will grow speedily with my new information on it.
5 Feb

18 feb

3 March

Fig - Black Genoa
This fig has put out about 2-3 new leaves since reporting, and has sprouted a new branch near the bottom. In general however all my figs growth has been slow to date.
5th feb

18th Feb

3rd March

Fig - Brown Turkey
This fig hasn’t done much, and has even lost a leaf or two since repotting. It has recently tried putting out a small fig, which I pinched, and looks like it is finally thinking about putting on some more leaves. It has also decided it really wants to make figs and has started growing a second tiny fig which I have decided to leave on this time, since it is so persistent.
5th Feb

18th Feb

3rd March

Blueberry - Misty
This blueberry is growing slower than the rest, although has started to put off some new growth. This plant had similar watering problems as with Powder Blue as above, and also has had some physical damage when I threw stick for the dog, and managed to directly hit it, taking off a good 4-5 leaves. Oops! Its also my favourite blueberry, so its no wonder its growing slower and has sticks thrown at it!
5th Feb

18th feb

3rd March

Bay tree
This guy has done nothing. Hasn’t declined or grown, just kind of sits there.
5th Feb

18th Feb

3rd March

Fig - White Adriatic
My favourite of all the plants, and the worst performing! This fig has dropped a few leaves, and they have lost some of their vivid greenness, picking up a slight yellow tinge. The buds on this plant have also gone brown. If I could guess I would think it has decided to hibernate early. I don’t think it is on deaths door or anything, but I am severely disappointed with its progress. I am hoping it wakes up a little before the cool weather really hits!
5th Feb

3rd March

And finally, to finish up I planted one more plants into the 5-1-1 this weekend, due to the overall success of the others, a curry plant here is hoping for continued success!

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I wonder whats up? Your mix looks like it was made right to me. Could it be a fertilizer strength problem?

This post was edited by TheMasterGardener1 on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 11:48

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 11:33AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Are you fertilizing your blueberries with Miracle-Gro's Miracid or just regular Miracle-Gro? If it's the latter, then you should probably switch to Miracid or something similar. The issue (as you might already be aware) is that blueberries do better with a fertilizer that has the majority of its nitrogen in the form of ammonium rather than nitrate. Nitrate-heavy fertilizers can cause injury and slow growth.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 11:42AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks for doing this follow-up!

For the most part your plants look really good, given the hot season re-potting. I like the amount of growth I see, too.

With the figs in particular, I'm curious if they are receiving enough fertilizer. Of course, those yellowed haggard leaves could be due to the heat....but I'm not sure. I grow only one fig, and I water and fertilize pretty heavily during the growing season.

As for the leaf-wilt, followed by the dead leaf-tips, I'm going to guess that root-tips dried out and died - as above, so below. During the Summer, I water my containers every 2 - 4 days depending on the weather conditions, but I'd say 4 days would be pushing it in hot Australia.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 4:05PM
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naikii(9a / 8b)

Thanks for the replies.

Im not sure what to make of the figs slow progress, by all accounts they love hot weather, and even if they didn’t the last 2 weeks have been fairly mild in comparison to the first two weeks with temperatures sitting between 25-30oC (77-86F), only getting above 30 once, which should be fairly ideal.

Fertilising may be an issue, although they have been getting their half strength solution quite regularly, sometimes 2x a week. If it isn’t going to hurt them I can give them a full strength measure at their next watering and see if that kicks them into action.

If I could make a guess, I would say it comes down to water, since the plants wilted whilst the soil feels damp to touch (at least in the top few cms) I would say there is possibly patches of dry mix or, as I left some of the original soil mix around the root ball, this may have dried out, or isn’t staying wet. I have been silly and haven’t once checked with a dowel or anything, but believe the soil is probably quite wet now as last week we had a few days solid rain in a row. If this theory is correct then hopefully it should become evident quite quickly as the plants will start putting out growth again (I hope).
This morning, despite being watered last on Saturday, all my pots feel wet, almost soaked, right on the top. After work I will stick a skewer in and see if this is the case through the whole mix.

My other thoughts were that I had been over fertilising and the plants could not take up water, but I just don’t know that a high enough level of salts could have built up in such a small amount of time, especially since at each watering I let a fair bit of water flow out the pots.

@shazaam I am fertilising only with the regular miracle grow for all plants, with some added vinegar and Epson salts for the blueberries. I am not sure what N source is used, but will check and see if it ammonia or nitrate based. I have been searching for a soluble acid loving formula, but although it is on their website I haven’t been able to locate in stores. Perhaps if it is nitrate based I will see if I can find any ammonia based product somewhere. I added some slow release acid loving Osmocote when mixing, which is likely to have an ammonia base, but I am sure someone stocks a soluble somewhere in my city…

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:06PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Very nice plants. Those blueberries should grow like weeds. Just don't let them dry out. You'll probably have to pot them up after a year or so. Mine out grow 5-10 gallon pots so quickly, they end up in 30 gallon pots after a few years. I buy 55 gallon food grade plastic drums and cut them in half.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:20PM
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naikii(9a / 8b)

I'm hoping to migrate everything all into half wine barrels over time, but they are quite expensive at about $70 a pop... I suspect these will be extremely heavy when full and not at all pleasant to move once winter hits

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 7:29PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

If you haven't already, naikii, be sure to take a look at the blueberry yields that fruitnut, a frequent poster in the Fruit and Orchards forum, achieves in pots in the 5 to 15 gallon range. I've had good results in 7-10 gallon containers, and, for the reasons you mentioned above (cost and weight), I've decided that 10 gallons is as big as I'm going to go for the foreseeable future.

Here is a link that might be useful: One and 7 yr blueberry growth with pictures

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 9:31PM
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naikii(9a / 8b)

Well I came home and stuck a wooden skewer into the root ball of the figs, and it felt dry! The blueberries also felt a bit dry, but I must be fairly inexperienced with the dowel methos because I thought it would be clearer to tell than it actually was.

The top of the blueberry soil was still absolutely soaked so it is all a little confusing and wondrous to me right now.

I was at the hardware store today and saw a variety of fig I didnt own yet, and so I had to buy it and ended up mixing another batch of the 5-1-1 today. One thing I noticed is that the pine bark fines are very fine, and actually have a lot of 'dust' in them, really kind of peat moss like. So I cut the peat moss component in half, leaving me with a 5-1-.5 mix, which I hope compensates for the added fine material.

Would this explain my current issues? I would have thought this would make the mix more wet if anything...

In other news, I have successfully rooted some green fig cuttings today, which I am quite proud of and wanted to share.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 3:38AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Congrats on the rooted cuttings! They're ready to be potted :-)

How long did you leave the dowel in the container? It needs to stay in there for quite some time in order to pick up moisture. On my troublesome trees, I leave skewers in the container all the time.

Good call cutting the peat-fraction. The bark fines will function like the peat, but are preferable certainly.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:55AM
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