How to properly adjust Gritty mix ratio?

maca9April 27, 2013

Hi all

I am relatively new to this forum and like many before me have found the info on the soil mediums for containers from Al to be incredible.

I have moved several of my citrus to 5-1-1 mix and whilst early days they seem to be going well!

I'm keen to now try the true gritty mix but have a problem. I can't get turface or equivalent here for love nor money. Well not that I can find. The closest is attapulgite kitty litter ( far away and VERY expensive shipping) or hydro ponic clay balls (I have some 4mm clay balls in the shed unused currently).

I have though established from many posts that the following ingredients are gritty mix potential. All be it a variation from the true gritty.

-Pine bark (correct size but the upper end of the typical gritty mix bark size range)

I grow potted citrus trees in a relatively temperate climate. Mild winters with reasonably solid rain fall and summers which don't get beyond high 20's Celsius very often.

My question is... based on the above ingredients what ratio would you suggest I mix for a modified gritty mix.

My default will be the 1-1-1 pumice/perlite/bark that greenman used a while ago and did a very helpful post on for his Moro.

I have seen Al tweak the ratio sometimes when products change from the standard so thought I'd check before charging off and making some.

If I was to use perlite/pumice/bark should I stick with 1-1-1?

Thanks in advance for any comments.



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Hi Macca
Don't give up on finding Turface in NZ.
It was eventually found here in Australia - it is used on golf courses. Talk to some golf courses or companies that provide them with landscape materials.

Regarding your proposed pumice/perlite/bark mix - I think it will hold too much water. Replace the perlite with grit if you can get it or the scoria you have on hand.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Ok thanks Alan.

I've tried some of those channels but will keep looking.

That's interesting about replacing perlite with scoria becuase I thought that turface would hold more than perlite so if anything the pumice/perlite/bark mix would hold less than the traditional gritty. Shows I'm still learning!



    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 11:52PM
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I live in Southern California, mild most of the time, windy here on the coast. I figure everyone adjust according to what works for them, trial and error. I grow citrus, herbs, plumeria, fuchsia, natives, ferns, really anything I buy that's goes into a container, I put in equal parts bark, turface and pumice. I water twice a week unless we are having hot dry winds, or more often for first year plantings. My house plants are bark, turface, perlite, but as I re pot I'm going to change to pumice. This works for me and my situation.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:33AM
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Hey Jerry. Thanks for your comments.

I guess my key question is, in the absence of turface should I stick with 1-1-1 relationship?

The way I understand what I've read the following applies to the gritty mix and my ingredients.

- you need 1/3 bark (max organic material)

- turface holds more water than perlite or pumice

- perlite or pumice holds more water than granite

So on this logic (if its correct) then maybe the 1-1-1 with my ingredients (copying Greenmans moro mix) is the most similar to the true gritty in the absence of Turface due to perlite and pumice in combination having similar water retention to turface and granite combined?

Or have I got this wrong and due to not having turface then the perlite/pumice relationship should be different from 1/1.

Very interested to hear comments from those with much more knowledge on the above.



    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 6:20AM
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sutremaine(UK S.Wales 9)

Whatever your final mix is, aim for it to be 60-75% air when dry and equal parts air, water, and solids when saturated and drained off. It's not the specific ingredients in the gritty mix that make it work, it's what those ingredients do for air and moisture retention.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:31PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a


Macca, I think my Moro mix has a larger fraction of screened bark - 4 or 5 parts bark, I'd guess. Sorry for the confusion. Probably about 2 parts of Scoria (which holds less moisture than Turface or Pumice). And at least 1 part coarse Perlite. Let me run out back and snap a quick pic....


    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:45PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I'm back....
here's a pic of my gritty 5-1-1 - screened bark, no fine bark dust. At first, this made for a very fast-draining mix - but now that it has aged, the mix holds moisture better. During the Winter, indoors, I water about once a week - during the Summer, outdoors, I water twice a week.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 2:04PM
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Hey Josh.

Thanks. The picture is very helpful.

I didn't realize your mix was a gritty 5-1-1 as opposed to a different ingredients 1-1-1.

I've got some trees in the traditional 5-1-1 and was hoping to try something as close as possible to the true gritty without the the turface which is unavailable here.

I understand from one of Al's posts that to have a true gritty you need max 1/3 bark or there is too much organic material and therefore not as long term or durable.

I'm gonna try a mix of

1/3 bark
1/3 perlite
1/3 pumice

plus gypsum

And see how that goes.

Whilst it might not be as good as the true gritty I'm sure it will be considerably better than an off the shelf mix and more durable than the 5-1-1.

Im putting a variegated calamondin in the mix.

I'll let you all know how it goes.



    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 3:39AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

4mm clay balls. That's a little bigger than 1/8". That actually sounds pretty close to turface. I think those would work really well. I've never seen them that small. The ones I see are usually more like 15mm which is too big for this purpose.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:21AM
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