Gritty Mix Questions

ashley05(MI 6a)April 5, 2013

Hi all!
I'm new to both this forum and container gardening. I've had house plants through the years and killed them all, including plants that are supposed to be impossible kill. Three years ago, I started gardening perennials outside and they've flourished. When my MIL passed away in February, I got a beautiful peace lily and thought I'd try again. Since then, I aquired a phalaenopsis orchid and two guzmania bromelads. I've been researching the best soils to keep my plants in and came across the gritty mix.

I read Al's orignial post, as well as a bunch of others on this forum and I'm seriously thinking of trying it. Looking back, I think my biggest problem was overwatering and soil drainage, so I this will help me. I think I have a handle on how to make it and how it works, although I do plan to go back and reread everything. I do have some other questions before I start.

1. Has anyone had success with peace lilies, or with phalaenopsis orchids, or with guzmania bromeliads? How about the recommended Foliage Pro fertilizer?

2. Previous posters recommended spreading roots and removing the old soil. How do I do that? Just soak the plant in water?

3. After repotting, how long to I wait to fertilize?

4. I've never repotted anything before. If I find instructions for repotting with peat soil, is it the same with the gritty mix?

5. I saw that I can use bigger containers since I don't have to worry about the soil staying evenly moist. How do I know what size to use?

6. Do you have more success with clay or plastic containers?

7. How do I store anything left after I mix it? How long can I store it?

8. For plants that like a lot of humidity (like my orchid), do I still use a humidity tray?

9. I saw that the mix will usually hold up up for about three years. How do I know when it's time to chnge it?

10. It is recommended to keep plants out of the sun for a few weeks and gradually put them back into light. My plants are in medium to low, but not direct, light. Should I keep them in light a bit dimmer or not worry about it since they're not in direct sunlight anyway?

11. Is late June okay for replanting (assuming no one is flowering)?

I think that is everything for now. I'm sure I'll think of more questions. My poor husband just wanted me to keep the peace lily alive and add a few plants to improve the air quality in our house. He has no idea what he'd gotten into.

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Hi Ashley,

After days and days of reading, I, too, switched to gritty mix just a couple of months ago, and switched over almost all of my houseplants. All but one are doing wonderfully -- and that one hated me anyway and intent on committing suicide.

So I will answer what I can.

1. Someone else who has planted these can address, :-)
2. Depends on the plant and condition of the roots. For the majority, in all repotting (regardless of mix), I untangle the roots and give it a trim. I'm pretty ruthless about it unless I've grown it from seed. If the rootball is a madhouse with tangled roots, then I chop off the bottom 1/3 or so and THEN untangle with my fingers, shake off as much soil as I can and dunk in water to get remainder. (Repotting into regular potting soil, I didn't do the last part.) objective is to remove as much soil as is possible before getting into GM, and trigger roots to grow faster.
3. I waited 2 weeks to begin a very mild fertilizing solution.
4. Yes and no -- see #2. :-)
5. You CAN, which isn't the same as you should or must. By the time you root prune, you may even be able to use a smaller pot. As a general guideline, I'd recommend keeping it in a similarly sized pot or one step up in the new mix. Making a lot of GM to fill a large pot when not necessary is...unnecessary, lol.
6. I use both and indoors, it makes no difference, it seems. Go with what you like. Outdoors, I like clay pots but solely because it doesn't get as hot and "breathes" but I have plenty of plastic out there, too.
7. Some people wet the mix before planting to soak the Turface and especially the bark. If so -- I'd leave it in an open container until dried to the bottom. If not wet, I'd put it into a Tupperware type of bin -- size depending on how much you have left.
8. Yes. What humidity the plant needs to thrive doesn't change on account of the mix. Just think of it as "provided that the plant gets all it needs, GM is the ideal medium in which to grow". This would definitely include humidity, light, etc.
9. Can't comment on that.....
10. Any repotted plant needs some TLC -- more frequent watering, less stress. If you already have dim light, *I* would not be too worried about it. I mean, for most plants, it is neither necessary or warranted to put it in a dark room to recover.
11. Depends on entirely on the plant and when its best time is. Ideally, you want to do all this when the plant is most robust and growing -- like doing surgery on a healthy vs. not so healthy person. But me, personally, I repot whenever I feel like it, haha. The plants make it, but it's not what is recommended and if you are new to containers -- then doing it when the plant is strongest and busting out new growth in your zone is probably best. That said, while I don't know about your orchids -- you do want to make sure you won't kill your peace lily between now and then by overwatering!

Hope that helps. Someone with much more knowledge about this mix will surely come along to give you more advice! :-) Have fun repotting!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 2:00PM
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