Help with House Plants: Repot? Pot-Up?

thesss(NorCa9)March 29, 2011

Hi, I have a few (uhm, maybe many) questions about my house plants...

A few photos of my house plants that might need repotting or potting-up: (link also at the bottom of this posting).

Any advice would help. If I do need to repot, I'm planning to use AL's gritty mix on my next round of repots/pot-ups.

These plants are situated next to a SW-facing window: a rubber plant(a sad one), 2 peace lilies, and a croton(Codiaeum)...

The rubber plant is over seven years old. I made a mistake of bringing the plant outdoors and several of its stems died. I'm guessing from either sun-shock, it was too cold, or the black squirrel who kept visiting us then. I was able to keep only one stem, and resurrect another one a year later. However, if you noticed, there are only two skinny stems on one side of the pot :( -- one of them I pruned last week. The roots are pretty thick and have circled the pot. The last time I repot the plant was 3 years ago (could be more than). The taller stem stands 3ft, the shorter is 2ft tall. There is a 1ft new growth at the bottom of the 2ft stem and a newer and shorter growth at the bottom of the 3ft stem. I'm afraid to repot the plant because I feel like I might just kill it if I touch the roots. Any thoughts?

The peace lilies (about five years old, first purchased in 3-in pots) seem to be doing fine although I have noticed leaf burn lately. I've read in one of the threads that it was probably because the the salt in water. I have recently started using purified/distilled water. I think both are crowding the pots. Last time they were moved was 2 years ago when I potted up from slightly smaller pots to 9-in ones. One is a little over 3ft, the other about 2.5ft. The stems are skinny, leaves are fairly big. I think they are standard types. If I want to maintain the same-sized pots, should I split or just repot?

The croton is about a year old and was just repotted about a month ago but I think it's getting quite crowded again. There are two main stems. I'm not sure if I should split it in smaller or same-sized pots?

A variegated schefflera and dieffenbachia are situated next to the staircase, with minimal light from the SW windows:

The VarSchefflera is five years old and I brought it in from the office when it started getting pretty big. There is a new stem (about a foot tall) and I'm wondering if I should move it to a different pot?

I fertilize house plants usually every 2 weeks or a month with MG Liquid Houseplant Food (8-7-6).

Good? Bad? Keep? Change?

Would appreciate your thoughts and advice on these q's.

p.s. not sure how to check height correctly but I measured from when it sprouts out of the soil

Here is a link that might be useful: House Plants

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Forgot to post my zone. Northern CA 9/9b.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 7:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lots of thoughts on the rubber tree, but how about if you read this first - then ask your specific questions? It will be helpful - promise. ;o)

Peace lilies - split AND repot into a fast draining soil. Let me know if you're up for that.

Nothing looks too bad at all Thesss. The rubber tree is a little lanky, but we can prune it and repot it this summer. Tip prune NOW, if you want.

Divide & pinch the croton or keep both plants in the same pot.

Treat the scheff like the rubber tree & repot in the summer.

We can talk about these all individually in detail if you want ......

Fertilizer isn't terrible, but it DOES have way more N than you need. If you don't mind the $, Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 will do a very good job for a lot of reasons (hundreds of discussions on this forum if you do a search) It has all the essential nutrients in a very favorable ratio - even Ca and Mg, which yours lacks. Also (important) for low light plants - it gets most of its N from Nitrate sources, helps to keep plants bushy & compact.

Your turn. ;o)


    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 7:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your plants look very healthy and I wouldn't change much about what you are doing. It appears your Rubber Tree looks like it is planted too deep. Could just be the photo. These plants do get lanky over time and can be pruned back. The leaves look healthy.

I don't see any evidence of fertilizer burn or terribly stressed plants. I would repot in spring and leave well enough alone.

Great growing, very nice plants!


    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 8:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Al!!! Started reading my homework. I will post again as soon as I am done and have listed my new q's.

Jane, thanks!!! I think you are right about the rubber tree. I'll need help with where to prune as pruning skills are pretty bad. As mentioned to Al, I'll be posting more q's after I read my homework :).

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 5:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'll be looking forward to it. TTYS


    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 5:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ok, phew! I think I have my notes organized now. I'm sorry it takes a while for me to gather everything.

I really enjoyed reading the whole Ficus thread :) here goes...

Rubber Tree:

  • I haven't really thought about seasonal repotting/potting up until after I read the Ficus thread. So with RTs, are they typically done during summer? And, does it apply to most Ficus?

  • I'd like to tip prune the RT, if that would help. How much should I take off from each?
    -I think I need to change the pot as well. The tree is in an ikea pot where there is no drain (gasp!) and has that orange tube for watering, which I don't use. I should still wait till the summer, right?

  • You talked about root pruning, and as you can tell, I am a bit scared but I am willing to give it a go. I know that the roots have gotten thick and woodsy-ish, and circle the pot. Is there a particular tool that I need to root prune since the roots have gotten big? I have a "BrassCraft Close Cut Quarter Hacksaw Pipe Cutter" which I use to trim an outdoor tree's branches (perhaps we can talk about that later).

Peace Lilies:

  • Better light = Smaller leaves: Does it apply to the other house plants (like Peace Lilies)?

  • Split & repot now? Definitely up for that :). No need to wait for spring/summer? I need to grab the grit-gredients (hehe!) this weekend. I called the turface and granite supplier. I just need to find Fir/Pine bark. I know you mentioned in one of the threads that you have a friend who lives in Fremont. Do you know where s/he gets fir/pine bark? Would you mind emailing me the info? ...I found some from the granite supplier's website. Would these work? Lyngso Garden Fir Bark

  • Would you know why some PLs don't flower anymore? Mine haven't for quite some time. I've tried to look for answers and the solutions have all been so random (more light, hide in a dark area to trick it's a dormant time, use a bloom booster).


  • My apologies, I have a silly question, but what do you mean by pinch?

  • I haven't decided whether I want them in the same pot or not. I have the same plant in the office and it's starting to crowd as well. Hmmm, dividing them sounds like a better plan. Can we do that once I have the grit-gredients or should I wait?

  • Office Croton:


  • Ok, will do (and repot in the summer). No need to separate the small new growth?


  • 3:1:2 ratio, right? I have a "Vigoro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food 24-8-16" that I use for outdoor plants. Can I use that until it runs out? Should I be using that for outdoor plants?

  • Here's what I have sitting in the cabinet:

    • MG Liquid Houseplant Food 8-7-6 - been using on indoor house plants

    • Vigoro Tomato & Vegetable Plant Food 12-10-5 (Slow release) - recently purchased after reading somewhere that tomato plant food might be good for house plants

    • MG Shake 'n Feed Continuous Release Citrus, Avocado, Mango Plant Food 13-7-13...

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 6:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm expecting my grown kids soon, so I prolly wont get all the way through your questions, but I'll try to pick up tomo if I don't make it.

Rubber tree: Almost all tropicals & tropicals, including houseplants are best repotted in the month before their most robust growth period. That ensures the least stress, that the plant will/should be at peak vitality, fastest recovery and less chance of insects/disease due to a weak/stressed tree.

You can tip prune now by removing the growing tip & the last leaf to have emerged. This will reduce auxin (growth regulator/hormone) flow downward & make cytokinin (another growth regulator) dominate, which will start the tree thinking about activating axillary buds in leaf axils (crotches). You can pot up now with no problems, but wait to do a full repot. You should flush the soil thoroughly & get the drain thing right. No drain = certainty that salts are accumulating and of course, makes for much greater potential to over-water.

We'll talk about root pruning later, but you'll need a saw that you can cut the bottom 1/3 of the roots off with, and something sharp to prune roots. Other things will be helpful, but we'll talk more .....

Peace Lily: Brighter light = smaller leaves & shorter internodes, so a bushier and more compact plant. The nitrate in FP also contributes to this effect, where urea tends to make plants lanky & produce larger leaves.

You can split the peace lily now if you want to. Because it's a heavy feeder & grows fast, the 5:1:1 mix or equal is a good choice.

I think she gets her bark from OSH, but Josh lives in NOCAL, so maybe he'll have some input that will help more.

Rather than try to guess at why they aren't flowering and what's wrong - put that in the past and concentrate on getting everything RIGHT, and they'll bloom. Something is stressing the plants & energy is low. Get them in a good soil and get your watering down - bright light, and they'll bloom for you. Overcrowded?

Croton: Pinch is to 'pinch' out (or off) the apical meristem. It pretty much means the same as tip-prune. Pinching FORCES the branch you pinched to break back - to break new buds behind the pinch. I use it to control where & how (directional pinching) the plant grows and to control it's fullness and shape. I really wish I could do a pruning demo for anyone that wanted to better understand how to apply it to plants other than those in the landscape. More later - I'll start a thread on that soon.

It could be divided now if want, but I would wait & bare-root. I'd put it in the gritty mix if you're planning on making it - if not, the 5:1:1 mix is good. Lots of chatter about the Fafard mixes lately too. There's nothing wrong with them - they're very close to the 5:1:1 mix - bark-based & well-aerated. Remember it's the CONCEPT, not the recipe.

Scheff: What does "no need to separate the small new growth?" mean?

Fertilizer: I use 3:1:2 ratios for virtually every plant I grow. I...

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just want to say that I have a Peace Lily in my office. The poor plant has grown in a terribly lit room (almost no light) for 4 years. Its leaves are dark green (too little light, it hasn't been repotted in 4 years and is neglected. I think it got a touch of fertilizer once in a year.

I am not recommending this, but I want to point out that this plant flowers continuously. It is never without flowers. It makes flowers instead of leaves.

In this bad photo, it is the plant on the floor in front of a file cabinet. The window is North, no direct light. The poor PL is against the cabinet, totally shaded. If you look closely, you will see a flower on the left of the plant.

Photo was taken in February. Usually it has 4 or 5 flowers. I'm thinking, stress might be the answer to get them to flower...but I might be wrong. Just odd.

Your plant looks so healthy and happy. Maybe its putting all its energy into growth and is not thinking about flowers!


    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 11:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Al & Jane!

Jane, your plants look really healthy too. I'm going to follow Al's advice and stop thinking about flowering and get things right first. The plant on the right of the photo looks lovely. What kind is it?

Al, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all my questions. And, your advice is definitely taken to heart.

So, based on your message, here are my action plans:

First, the fertilizers except for the 24-8-16 are going down the drain (or trash). I'll try to get Foliage Pro today as I also want to get a new pot for the rubber tree. Hopefully I'll be able to sneak out during my lunch break.

I will tip prune the RT and pot-up this weekend. When I pot-up, do I use the same type of soil or use something else instead?

For the PLs, I'll divide this weekend. You mentioned the 5:1:1 mix and that would be 5 parts bark & 1 part of each turface & gran-i-grit right?

Bark: I'm closer to Fremont & I think Josh might be further up north. But I did check the thread with listings of supplies per state/area and Lyngsogarden was listed, as well as the Half Moon Bay nurserymen. I take it the Lyngso option is not a good choice? If so, I'll drive down HMB tomorrow.

Croton: Will be getting pinched this weekend as well. I'll wait for it to bare root before dividing and using the gritty mix. I'll do that for both the house and office plants.

Pothos: Will add the Foliage Pro drop once I have it and will set to change the water to every wk. I'll probably wait until it gets a little longer and just snip and root from that. When I do that, do I use perlite or the gritty mix?

China Doll: Thanks so much for letting me know of the name of the plant. I would like to trim it down short but don't know where to start. I looked at the link you sent and that was a great demo. You're right, pretty radical for most people but I don't mind doing that, especially when it helps the plant. I do like how it looked after you trimmed it and eventually grew. With my plant, the first prune I did was at the 1ft mark. A new stem grew from the side which curves slightly. Then about halfway up, that's where it splits (3rd photo). In your opinion, where would be a good point to trim the plant? There are hardly any leaves in the first 2ft so I'm not sure what to do. If I would like to stem cut and grow new ones from there, should I use perlite? Should I get rid of the branches because they are pretty long?

Scheff: Will repot same time as the RT. I meant that it has a new stem growing from the roots. Do I need to split them or keep them together when I repot?

I just called Ewing again and I'm definitely headed down there in a couple of hours.

Grown kids? Wow, I would've thought you were younger :)

Root Pruning: Yes, I would love to discuss when I do need to start working on the RT.

A demo and thread on tip-pruning/pinching would be really helpful!!! Would love to see that when you get a chance to start the...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 12:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just got back with the new RT pot and 2 bags of Turface. The guy at Ewing was wondering what I was going to do with it and when I told him he said that I was the second one who came in who'll be doing that.

I grabbed a couple of pots for the PLs as well.

I found some gypsum...I remember seeing this as part of the recipe but can't recall how much I need?

I couldn't find the Foliage Pro (Home Depot doesn't carry it) so I'll check OSH and Lowes later.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 4:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Foliage pro can be a little tricky to find locally. Most order it from online. Here's a link, that you can see if they carry it in your area. Just click on your state.

Here is a link that might be useful: Finding it locally.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 5:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Well, I'm glad you're taking things to heart. I promise I won't steer you wrong. I'm actually more careful about not suggesting anything too risky - especially compared to how I often go at things.

When I pot-up (the RT), do I use the same type of soil or use something else instead? I know you'll be happier if you get the plants ion a good mix, but until you do a full repot, don't stray too far from what you have it in now. We'll depend on tricks to help the soil drain until the repot. You're going to be moving your plants outdoors as soon as temps allow?

For the PLs, I'll divide this weekend. You mentioned the 5:1:1 mix and that would be 5 parts bark & 1 part of each turface & gran-i-grit right? The basic recipe is 5:1:1 pine bark fines:peat:perlite, but you can sub Turface for the perlite fraction if you want. That will increase water retention w/o much impact on aeration or ht of the PWT. Save the granite for the gritty mix if you decide to use it.

Pathos: Will add the Foliage Pro drop once I have it and will set to change the water to every wk. I'll probably wait until it gets a little longer and just snip and root from that. When I do that, do I use perlite or the gritty mix? I'd use the gritty if you're making it. It's long life will be a big plus. Also - much easier to do repots and the plant will love the added aeration.

China Doll Needs more light if you can manage it. I would wait & repot before I cut it back. A couple of weeks after you repot, you can cut it back & wait for branches to 'pop' below your first cut. Let them grow a while & finish cutting back to a new low branch when it comes - sort of like the plant I linked to, except I already had low branches.

You can use the gritty mix or perlite to try to start your cuttings. Best luck will be in the summer when the plant is phat, so use your prunings from when you cut it back. I'll help you set it up with a milk jug as a mini-greenhouse.

Scheff: Will repot same time as the RT. I meant that it has a new stem growing from the roots. Do I need to split them or keep them together when I repot? Prolly can split it if you do it right. Depends on how the roots are growing & what you have attached to the stems. Even if roots are fused, you can still cut them apart. Maybe we can look at the roots same day you do the repot & I can guide you?

"Grown kids? Wow, I would've thought you were younger" :)

I WAS younger. I'll be 60 in May. Have 3 grown kids that are happy/well adjusted and healthy in mind/body/spirit, so have a lot to be grateful for. There isn't a day that passes w/o me giving thanks for all I've been blessed with. BTW - my younger brother is my partner & I get asked a LOT if he's my dad. Ohhh that kills me! Lolol

"Al, thanks so much for being patient in answering my questions. I get so excited reading replies and new threads that I feel like a kid in a candy store."

You're very kind, thank you, and I love your enthusiasm. I try to...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, ya'll! ;-)

Yeah, I am further north by a good shot...about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento....
I attended a sweet Highland Games down in Fremont many years ago. A buddy and I put
on a short shield and rapier swordplay exposition. It was great fun :-)

Thesss, the E.B. Stone company has several bark products that can be used:
Orchid Bark (fine grade), as well as Greenall Micro Bark (which is much cheaper).
We're lucky to live in California where Douglas Fir is readily available.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 11:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jojo: Thanks so much for the link. OSH didn't have them either. I'll order online if none of the nurseries I visit tomorrow carry Foliage Pro. How is your avocado pit doing? Are you posting photos soon? Mine's only a week old and still hasn't fully cracked using the water-suspension method. I have a couple more in a ziploc baggie hiding inside my bathroom cabinet & I'm thinking of moving one of them to the gritty mix.

Al: Thanks :). I do try to plan ahead whenever I can. I thank and blame my mom for 'training' me well on that hee-hee.

And, thank you, I know you'll steer me in the right direction. I am really excited, tbh. I went to OSH and found some orchid fir bark. But I'm still checking other nurseries tomorrow because I only got about 2 cu.ft.'s worth. I also just need to get the Dessert Gold Gran-it-grit and I would be good to go!!!

RT: I have some MG Moisture Control left and will use that for now. I was thinking of adding more perlite but I'm not sure it'll make a difference?

Since I'm pruning the RT this weekend, post repot, can I use the cuttings to propagate?

You're going to be moving your plants outdoors as soon as temps allow?
I'd like to keep most of them inside. I'll feel lonely when indoors if I move them all outside. The RT, 2 PLs, and Croton will stay inside but the PL new divisions will be going outside. The Scheff is also going outside but I'm hoping to get some cuttings when I repot so I can maybe have smaller versions too.

Scheff: Maybe we can look at the roots same day you do the repot & I can guide you?
Yes, please. Webcam?

5:1:1: Writing the combo down. I got some pine bark fines today too but I don't have peat. Will get some tomorrow.

Pothos cuttings: Gritty Mix...check.

China Doll: Got it. Will repot before pruning. Looking forward to the mini-greenhouse :D.

Perhaps around May we can also start talking about my outdoor plants? I can start a new thread for that. Any threads you think I should read regarding outdoor plants? I have some lilies (calla, mango, ranunculus, and a couple more I can't remember the names), citrus plants, succulents, and a few others. I'm already set that I will be repotting (if not potting up) all of them. My main problem is space...the backyard is soooo tiny I can't call it a backyard. Anyhoo, will save that discussion for later.

60??? You are still young :). I just thought you'd be in your 40s for some reason. I'm guessing your kids are probably around my age. I almost choked on my drink when I read "nerd alert". Too funny...but hey, nerds rock! If it weren't for that commonality (nerds helping nerds), we won't be learning much :)

Speaking of, I'm going to start reading more about turface & granit-grit so I know of what alternatives

I might find in case they are not available. Any suggestions for alternatives as well? I'm going to stick to the original recipe (which I found and printed) but would like to know what my options are if I...

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 1:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When you pot up the RT, if you are using any significant amt of the MGMC soil, I would add perlite to reduce water retention. You prolly have more than enough of that going on already.

How much are you pruning off? It's unlikely the short cuttings you'll take when tip-pruning would root - especially in the spring, but you could finish up your pruning in Jul by taking internodal cuttings that have several leaves, & be pretty sure they will strike. I would use screened perlite, screened Turface, a mix of moth, or the gritty mix to start cuttings.

"I'll feel lonely when indoors if I move them all outside." OK - here's the deal. You need more plants. You need enough so that when you take a few outdoors to gain strength for an upcoming operation, you still have plenty indoors to keep you company. I'm teasing a little, but partly serious, too. No pressure, just that the plants will do much, much better outdoors. They'll build energy reserves and produce a LOT more current photosynthate to aid in their recovery if out in the elements. If you have lots of sun indoors (sunny spot) it won't matter quite as much. I know this is review for you - sorry.

Webcam: Just a peek at what you're dealing with in a digital photo will be good. If you can plan your repots for when I'll be around, you can send photos with questions ......

Essentially, your indoor & outdoor plants will get treated the same. There are no indoor plants ..... only outdoor plants that tolerate indoor conditions to varying degrees. ;-)

Nerds: It's amazing how many non-nerd types come flocking around for advice or on the pretense they want to 'learn' how to make their own potting soil ..... when they really want me to sell them some or give them what they need ...... or help them fix their plant. They (strangers) often just 'show up' in my driveway with a houseplant or bonsai that means something to them and they haven't a clue what to do with. I've never been 'too busy' to help - it's fun. Lol - at least I'm trying hard to be a 'useful and productive nerd'. ;-)

The rest seemed ok - nothing much to comment on other than I would move the avocado into the gritty mix as soon as it sprouts. That's it til next time.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 2:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oooh, info on peace lilies that might actually be _right_! Yay!

Finding consistent info on peace lilies online has been... difficult. Mine isn't... unhappy, but neither is it actually blooming with the bud it had when I purchased it a few weeks ago. I suspect it may need more light, and shall move it closer to the window.

So thank you original poster for asking, and Al for the info!

So much info on these forums. So much! I can't decide if I'm excited or overwhelmed. I think it varies by the day. :)


    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 4:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Well, Suzanne - the neat part is, if you DO feel overwhelmed, there's no need to be bashful about asking questions. Most of the people here are upbeat and positive, and very patient about answering questions and offering guidance.

How long has it been since you last repotted? Are you fertilizing? Is the foliage looking spiffy? ;o)


    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, that was an interesting weekend...halfway through repotting my PLs, a swarm of bees from my neighbor's backyard just started buzzing around so I had to run inside for a while.

Anyhoo, Lyngso had everything! I grabbed 2 half-bags of the 1.8 Dessert Gold. I found some fir bark -- similar to the coarse one you have here:

Here's what I have for the gritty mix (1 part Dessert Gold granit-grit, 1 part Turface, 1 part small Fir bark):

I got too excited and didn't get to mix it well before I took a photo. Sorry about that. It's a little difficult to tell the turface & granit-grit apart because the colors are similar. I'll post a better photo next time. Oh, I also used leftover window screens to sift the materials (separately). The turface had quite a bit of dust. I had to reread the Soil Discussion thread just to be sure I don't mess up.

So, I started with the Rubber Tree. Unfortunately, I feel like I have almost if not already killed this plant. I was struggling with getting it out of the pot. The root area was pretty much near the top that 2/3rds of the bottom soil was pretty useless and soggy. The soil that was around the root was pretty bad too; most of it just fell off. I ended up washing the roots. Potted the plant with 50% MGMC, 50% Perlite into a larger container but only used about half, keeping a 2in distance from the circular root and the pot's wall. I cut a tiny bit of the roots and made sure there was no rotting. Decided to use stakes to hold the lanky trunks.

I watered it until it came out of the drain. I really hope I didn't kill it.

Next, I split the two Peace Lilies. I thought I would only have divided both plants in half but I found more clusters. I ended up with 3 from each pot. Could have been more but they would be really skinny. I carefully untangled the roots as much I can. I also removed cut about 1/3 of the roots because there was quite a bit. One of the peace lilies was a little root bound as well so I had to cut the bottom first (circle-cut) before washing out the soil.

I understand that most plants undergo 'shock' when they are repotted/potted-up. The peace lilies seem to be going through that right now. I didn't add any fertilizer to the 5:1:1 or water. Do I need to fertilize them?



    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Suzanne,
Sorry I missed your post...but Al is right :)
So far I've been lucky to run into really positive and helpful people.

If you don't mind posting pictures as well, I'm sure that would help find solutions.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 6:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just found out that the small white flowers are Snow Crystals.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 8:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

HI thesss,
The dolomite is used in the 5-1-1. Gypsum is used in the gritty mix.

I'm not sure of the amount, would need to double check that, but I think it's 1 t. per gallon.

My avocado seed shriveled up. lol.. so i'll get a few more and try again. ;-)
Thanks for asking..
I hope yours is doing good!


    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 10:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Thesss - sorry about the bees! One of our other friends and valued contributors also had a run-in with a wasp this week - right, JJ? ;-)

I'll sort of read down your long post above & comment as I come across questions or think I can help.

First, the bark in the gritty mix is very large. It will still work, but keep your eyes peeled for something in the 1/8-1/4" size range so it won't tend to separate.

Question - why not use the gritty mix for the rubber tree?

Hold off on fertilizing the peace lilies until they regain turgidity, raising humidity will help. Then use a 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer at 1/4 - 1/2 doses as needed. We can talk more about fertilizer later, but do you have a 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer in the works? I forgot if we talked about that.

Lol! I'm sorry - falling asleep here - a really long day for me & I can't concentrate. I'll pick up where I left off tomo. Thanks for being patient.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 11:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jojo! What do you mean your Avacado has shriveld up? Do you mean to tell me I am in the race by myself? Now it gets I have yet to see what mine is doing covered up under a paper towel..Yikes.:-)
How is your bee sting anyway?

Al, while you were graciously helping out here, I was asleep for hours

Great info here and thank you as always!


    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 8:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Jojo! Thanks, I will check the other threads too unless Al gets to post more info :). Sorry to hear about your Cado. I'm not exactly sure how mine is working out. I have 3 and 2 have semi-cracks. I'll post photos on the other thread :). I hope you're doing ok, was that you who got stung?

Hi Al, sorry about the long post. I'll wait for your replies, but on your q's:

RT: I didn't have the gritty ready when I was replanting the rubber tree so I used the MGMC soil. It seems to be doing ok, slight wilting on one of the stems but hopefully it'll be ok by this weekend

Fertilizer: I got rid of the other ones except for the 24-8-16 (water soluble). My Foliage 9-3-6 is on its way and should arrive by tomorrow. I'd appreciate info on fertilizer -- I'll reread the fertilizer thread but I'm a bit confused. Should I also get pellets I can mix in the gritty? I added gypsum and have been watering with epsom salt every other watering (so far every day for the PLs to flush them out).

PLs: Will hold off on the fert. They are doing slightly better. I moved them to the bathroom and kept the light open during the day for a few days and most of them have perked up a bit. Last night I dreamt that some of them started to bloom. Weird @.@

Hi Mike, Thanks for stopping by :)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

OK - back & rested. ;-)

I remember our fertilizer conversation now (post immediately above). You don't really need to get any CRF fertilizer unless you want to. Unless you think you won't be diligent about fertilizing, I'd just stick with the MG 24-8-16 or eventually FP 9-3-6. Some people like including it just as a cush, in case they forget or are a little unsure about what their plants are telling them. I like the control offered when you fertilize with solubles either on a combination schedule/as needed basis.

What you're doing with the PLs sounds great.

Back up to the loooooong post now:

Wait on the rubber tree now until summer - June. We'll reassess the plant & look for pruning opportunities when it's full of energy; that way, when you cut it back it will back-bud aggressively and you'll end up with something you can work with. Shoot for 3 or 5 main stems of varying ht. The thickest trunk should be the tallest (as in nature) so it looks more natural.

Sure - read up on what you can bring in to keep you company - that way you can have many of your plants humming along outdoors where they'll be happiest - especially those in recovery.

Your plants don't need to be rootbound to be repotted or split (PLs) - why wait until they're stressed? ;o) They'll recover faster if you repot BEFORE the roots get so congested you need to check the yellow pages under "Bunyan, Paul" to get help dividing. You can also take some leeway in how close you need to adhere to the idea "only pot up one size". That sort of goes out the window as you start using more open soils ... that's 'leeway' with the 5:1:1 mix, but you can totally ignore it if using a properly made gritty mix - one of the bennies. I'd stick with the gritty for the succulents. 100% Turface holds a LOT of water. If you decide to use it anyway, make sure it's screened. Glad you like the Portulacaria in the acorn. I do it often & it always gets a lot of attention. ;o)

I can't help you much with suggestions on what to get (plants) to keep you company. ;o) Maybe others will offer some suggestion's as to what their favs are for your zone. Just branch out & see what you like. When the weather changes, get back with me & I'll send you a few plants (succulents) I know you'll enjoy growing because I can tell you how to manipulate them into changing their growth habit.

I don't worry about mature/not mature - every plant is a journey. Some plants I only grow for a certain length of time before chopping back or starting over from cuttings. It's all fun - find out what you like and you'll have even MORE fun.

As I scroll down through the rest of the thread, I get a little daunted by the number of questions. Not many people know (until now) that I type everything using only 1 finger - Mmhmm - true. I think you...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 8:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Al, sorry about that. Setting up a call sounds good. I'll repot what I can this weekend and write down my q's. Would you mind emailing me your phone number & your preferred day/time next week?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 11:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Done. ;-)


    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Al: Sorry, I have trouble remembering to check posts I've commented on!

It's true that I can ask questions if I'm overwhelmed, but part of why I'm overwhelmed is that I'm taking in info about as far as I can process it, and am not yet to the point of knowing what to ask. :) It's not _bad_, just, y'know, lots of info!

I had only purchased the peace lily within the last month or so, and noticed that it was sufficiently root bound that I had trouble telling if it needed water by touch. So I did repot it into a slightly larger pot sometime in the last couple of weeks.

Probably not the best picture, since it's cloudy out and I didn't want to make the light weird:

It doesn't look bad to me, just not blooming.



    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your Peace Lily looks great Suzanne! My PLs haven't bloomed in a while too. I haven't figured out why either so I'm hoping that since now they're in a fast-draining soil mix, they'll be able to bloom.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

thesss: thanks for the confirmation! I thought it was fine, just was confused by the lack of actually blooming, considering it has a bud. :)


    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 4:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think I finally found better-sized fir bark. Here's a photo of what I have:

Clockwise: 1/4" Red Lava Rock, 1/4" Quartz Pebbles, 1/4" Minus Fir Bark, 1/4-3/8" Mini Fir Bark, Turface MVP, 1/8" Dessert Gold Granite-Grit

That's a quarter in the middle.

I've been using the 1/4-3/8" Mini Fir Bark, Turface, & Dessert Gold. Haven't tried the Minus Fir Bark. For some reason the Minus FB looks smaller than the Mini FB. I'll probably save the Lava Rock & Quartz as 'top accents'.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 3:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Excellent ingredients, Thesss!
So nice to see them all together there!


    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 7:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Josh! Now I am itching to repot but the NorCA weather has been unpredictable (more than expected) lately.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 7:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Folks, just a quick update. My apologies for not following up. (Al, if you're reading this: I did get my wish and we have moved :) ).

The peace lilies are thriving, and the rubber plant has gotten taller and bushier. I have also repotted ALL of my calla lilies, gladiolas...well pretty much ALL my backyard plants using tapla/Al's gritty mix. They are all doing much much better. Will post pictures when I get a chance or when i find my camera (still unpacking).

Happy new year to everyone!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 3:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Happy New Year and welcome back!


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 3:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hello thesss , will be waiting those photos of the PL an RT in the gritty mix : )

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 3:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Strong work, Thesss! That's great news!

Congratulations on the new diggs, too!


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 4:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have some questions on same topic if I may;
new to this forum, I spent last 4 days reading Al's extremely interesting/educational posts on container growing/soil/water retention etc. I will ask questions about 1 plant at the time (it may take forever since I have about 58 right now inside & they all need help). I just realized that I have tortured my potted plants & am very grateful that so many have survived for so long. I have 2 olive trees, do not have name since they were given to me (1.5yr ago)potted in 6"pots by friend who just divided/chopped off shoots from their original olive (brought abt.45yrs ago from Italy!). they keep it potted in regular potting soil&only advise I got is "do not water too often". I would think that they would do much better in Al's mixes-not sure if 511 or gritty. Do not know anything about olives.(They may be candidates for bonsai? I do not know anything about bonsai). They are growing in spite of present conditions(heavy soil). Planted in 7&8"pots respectively, 53&55"tall.(Don't know how to post pics). If Al or anyone else can give suggestions, will greatly appreciate. I am in Toronto & they are overwintering inside(warm&sunny-65-70*,south window-during day, abt.55*nights). Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 6:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
deburn(6 - Boston MA)

Al, I too would appreciate a thread on pruning, if you haven't already started one that is - coming to the Container Forum after a long time!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Re my post about 2 olive trees: Just realized that I have a baby olive too - a shoot that broke off just at root ball & had just about 1/8th of inch broken root. Was put in soil & it survived (I think I used little rooting powder).
Hope link to photos works. Feb 2012/


    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 7:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When repotting a plant that is flowering does it help to deadhead all flowers so the energy goes into the plant growing. Also after rotadendrem bloom is it best to deadhead the flower stem so energy does not go into the seeds.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 1:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Yes - removing blooms, spent blooms, and fruit, force the plant to channel energy toward roots & vegetative growth.

Yes - it's best to trim spent blooms from rhodies so seeds don't use energy that might better have been spent on growth.

When I repot rhodies in spring before blooming, I always debud them prior to the repot.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 3:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

You might want to ask your question on the rhododendron and azalea forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhododendron and azalea forum

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 4:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rexedwardfairy(Zone 11)

HI, i'm here to see if it's doable for me to pot up my calla lily bulbs (i'm zone 11, australia) into al's 511? I see above that a poster has potted hers up in al's gritty mix, but the ingredients for that are hard to source in australia (turface being the prob. I realise there are okay-substitutes, but i've also just found ONE australian importer of turface, so i'm keen to follow that lead up, but it's gonna take a while and i wanna repot these calla's now).

I think i'll go ahead and give them a go in al's 511. will report back...

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 10:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you're still watching the thread:

Because they need annual repotting (as opposed to potting up) to be at their best, I have callas in the 5:1:1 mix right now and they are doing very well.

Best luck.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 5:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rexedwardfairy(Zone 11)

Oh wow - a message from ACTUAL AL!!! (do you know how famous you are Al?). Wonderful, wonderful to get a reply from you personally - i really hadnt anticipated that, i dont know why not! Thanks for taking the time. Great, well I have gone ahead and potted the calla bulbs into your 5.1.1, so i'm expecting they'll cheer up some now. I've just potted a very unhappy rose into 5.1.1 today also (this is actually why i'm chasing turface in australia - so i can repot my 14 roses into your gritty mix, but in the interim, i'm going to experiment by putting a few of my least happy roses into the 5.1.1 - I'm secretly hoping it'll open up a whole new world (of success!) for we brave few subtropical rose growers!). I wont hijack the this thread though, i'll start a new one if it turns out my unhappy roses start smiling in the 5.1.1. (i've got a feeling they will! everything else i've planted in it adores it). Thanks Al - for getting back to me and also for your seriously generous contribution to container gardening.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 3:09AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Growing Dahlia and Sweet Pea in same container? (advice)
I have a few very large planters, and while I do love...
Transplanting between containers
I'm looking for a rule of thumb for proper transplanting,...
cakbu z9 CA
anything you wanted to talk about vii - prolly mostly ot
I guess I didn't realize the last thread was about...
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)
Miniature rose plant..
Got this from nursery yesterday .. But something is...
Sponsored Products
Ivory Herringbone Jute Rug
$29.99 | zulily
Crosley Butcher Block Top Kitchen Island with 24 in. Upholstered Saddle Stools -
$789.00 | Hayneedle
Seaside Stripe Red 7 1/2" Wide Brushed Steel Mini Pendant
$99.99 | Lamps Plus
Hugo Rug 10' x 14' - KHAKI
$3,399.00 | Horchow
Anderson Chair - Cordova Picante Orange
Joybird Furniture
San Luca Outdoor Sofa Cover
$104.50 | FRONTGATE
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™