Did I miss the boat...

monet_gApril 25, 2011

Did I miss the boat... again?

I thought I read that Foliar-Pro and Pro-Tekt created negligible salt build up, but the rim of some of my pots are covered with the residue and the some of the plants are having problems. Interestingly, the plants in trouble, are specific cultivars, from a a certain hybridizer.

They're in the "Gritty Mix". I was using ES and did use gypsum. (I've quit using the ES due to these problems.) Is flushing the only solution?



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If you grow all synthetic nute then here is a priceless tip. Add H2o2 35% to your water an hour before adding your nutes.

To keep it simple I say get yourself a good 3-part nute. General Hydroponics makes a good 3-part. In the long run you will have more productivity in the garden using this.

For your case let your soil dry untill the pots are light. Then flush with the h2o2. Keep it simple good potting soil+3-part and a cleaner like h202. H202 prevents mold salt build up and gives air to roots. Use the right amount though i think 1 ts per gal shld b safe.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 8:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Can you give more details, Gail? How much gypsum to start with, and how much ES were you adding/how often? How much fertilizer at each application?

Flushing is probably a good idea if you're getting salt build-up, but something is amiss. I've had plantings I fertilized for many years using soluble fertilizers w/no salt build-up.

Hydrogen peroxide isn't going to help you with salt build-up, BTW.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 8:17PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

What kind of water are you using? My tap water is very hard. We have major lime build up in our pipes and appliances if we don't use a water softener. But I use unsoftened water on my plants. Even when I use it without any added fertilizer, I see a salt build up over time, especially in clay pots. Based on advice from others on this forum, I add vinegar to my water to improve the pH, but I don't know if that would remove the minerals in my water. I've only started using gritty mix and foliage pro in the last couple months, and haven't seen any salt build up.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:52PM
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tapla- i know it does not dissolve salts when did i say that? I stated to "flush with H202". chelates flush salts.

How is hydrogen peroxide used in hydroponics?
Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) is made up of oxygen and water. When it breaks down a single atom of oxygen is released along with a single water molecule. It leaves no residue or waste behind. The single atom of oxygen is what makes it so useful.

Hydrogen Peroxide has two main uses in hydroponics: disease fighting and aeration. It can be added regularly to nutrient solutionin order to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in solution. It can also be added to help fight root rot. At higher concentrations it can be used to sterilize growing medium, gardening tools and plastic hydoponic trays and pots.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:32PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Robin - the acid in the vinegar neutralizes the alkalinity in your tap water and helps keep dissolved solids in solution at higher concentrations so that when you water freely you are flushing the pot more effectively/efficiently.

FWIW - I wrote & posted this about using H2O2 in containers a number of years ago and several times since.

H2O2 has an extra O atom (compared to H2O) in an unstable arrangement. It's the extra atom that makes it useful in horticultural applications. Generally, we're not concerned with aerobic forms of bacteria normally occurring in container media or on roots. Since H2O2 is an unstable molecule, it breaks down easily. When it does, a single O- atom and a molecule of water is released. This O- atom is extremely reactive and will quickly attach itself to either another O- atom forming stable O2, or attack the nearest organic molecule.

Reduced O levels and high temperatures encourage both anaerobic bacteria and fungi. Many disease causing organisms and spores are killed by O, and the free O- H2O2 releases is very effective at this. Additionally, when plants growing in water-retentive media are treated with H2O2 it will break down and release O into the area around the roots. This helps stop the O from being depleted in the water filled air soil air spaces until air can get back into them. High O levels at the roots will encourage rapid healthy root growth and discourage unwanted bacteria/fungi.

I know H2O2 comes in several different strengths, the most common of which are 3% and 35% solutions. Least expensive is the 35% product (what I use) which you dilute (to an approximate 3% solution) by mixing 1:11 with water. I have used the 3% solution at 1 to 2 tbsp per gallon as a cutting dip/soak, and have mixed it into irrigation water for plants in extremely water retentive soils at up to 3 tbsp per gallon, both with good results and nothing adverse apparent.

H2O2 in high concentration is a powerful oxidant and quickly oxidizes almost anything it contacts, so be careful with it if you use it. A solution that is too strong can destroy any organic molecule it contacts.

I've seen this chart posted several times as suggested strength solutions for use in watering plants. You may wish to start at a lower concentration , such as I've used, and experiment.


1 cup, add 1-1/2 teaspoons � 35% - 7 to 10 drops
1 quart, add 2 tablespoons � 35% - 1/2 teaspoon
1 gallon, add 1/2 cup � 35% - 2 teaspoons
5 gallons, add 2-1/2 cups � 35% - 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon
10 gallons, add 5 cups � 35% - 6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons
20 gallons, add 10 cups � 35% - 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon


    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 10:31AM
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Thank you for the responses and discussions.

Al, I planted these plants in the GM about a year ago. I included gypsum (Epsoma pellets) at a rate of 1 T. per gallon of mix. With each watering I included -
~1/8 t. Epsom Salts
1 T. vinegar

I did use the FP and PT at manufacture's recommendation at each watering - full dose about once a week. (Plants were on heat and under lights during the winter.)

One thing that does come to mind is that I did use some pots that had been used before. I always scrub them before reuse, but often there are residual salt stains from the fert that I used before FP. Could this be salt that was embedded in the clay and found it's way out? Maybe, I'm answering my own question here. Again, the salt build up is only on some pots. Others show little or no evidence of a build up.

Due to the condition, I have stopped using ES, vinegar, have decreased the FP to 5 drops per gallon of water and only occasionally use the PT.

Thank you for you input.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 12:15PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Is the salt build-up ON the pots? If so, that's salt you don't need to worry about because it's not in the soil solution. Carbonate deposits on the outside of the pot or in the clay don't really migrate back into the soil because the water moves from the soil into and through the pot where it evaporates on the outside surface & leaves the carbonate deposits behind.

You said the only plants that were struggling were specific cultivars from a single source? What kind of plants?

I use 15 drops of 9-3-6 per gallon of water at every watering, + vinegar. I do flush the soil at each watering, and I'm not getting any residual build-up - even in the MANY terra-cotta pots I'm using.

I would flush the pots thoroughly next time you water. Beyond that, I guess I'd have to hope that something I said would 'turn on a light'. How old are the plants that are struggling? Are they root-bound?


    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 12:56AM
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Yes, the salt build up is ON the pots. See... I've been gardening all of my life and thought that salt build up on the pot indicated salt in the medium. Still learning here. Thanks, Al.

The plants are Clivias that came from Dave Conway's collection several years after he passed away. The plants had been neglected. However, they have been in my care for over 18 months and, although they are doing better, they are not in great shape. Plus, they seem "sensitive" as opposed to my many other clivia plants.

Clivias put out two type of offsets. One out from the mother. The other close to the meristem. The second type indicates stress on the mother. I am getting a lot of these stress offsets.

Now, I do know that the Asian clivias do not tolerate fert or light the same as the others. Maybe, it's the same with these even thought their genetic make-up should be closer to the non-Asian plants. I'm trying to figure out "what it is" that's needed to make these plants thrive.

In general, they are mature plants. They are somewhat root-bound because the "theory" is that a pot full of roots will push out the flower umbel.

Thanks again, this discussion has helped think through a couple of possibilities. It took me quite a while to determine the needs of the Asian plants. Hopefully, it's just a matter of time with these.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 10:49AM
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This may be taking the discussion in a different direction, but I've heard so often that this or that plant likes to be potbound, and this or that plant type will bloom when potbound, or should be potbound in order to make it bloom, etc.

I do believe, though, the truth of the matter is that no plant likes to be restricted in its growth, and the only reason they bloom when potbound is that they are being put under stress, which causes them to instinctively try for reproduction pending interpreted demise... as in blooming to produce seeds, or producing offsets, etc. It's more of a forced bloom.

I think that with enough root room to comfortably grow, and the proper care... including proper moisture, nutrition, light, and other factors that maintain root and plant health... the plants will absolutely bloom as their natural cycles indicate.

The abridged version being... allowing plants to become potbound puts undue stress upon them and only forces bloom. They'll naturally bloom as they should if conditions are kept favorable for healthy growth.

I try not to allow my plants to become so potbound that they're stressed. I try to let them bloom as their natural cycles allow.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 10:46AM
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newgen(9 Central California)

Al: when do you add the vinegar, everytime you fertilize? And how much vinegar?


    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 3:52PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I tend to agree with Jodi about the tight roots. The stress of being pot bound does can make plants bloom more prolifically, but that doesn't mean the plants like it. It's kind of a balancing act, I suppose - a little stress to encourage a few more blooms isn't a problem, but stress that significantly inhibits growth also inhibits vitality.

You sound experienced, but I have to ask if you've inspected the roots for rot lately? I know that can be a particular problem.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 3:53PM
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Thanks, yes, root rot can be a huge problem with Clivias.

I knew I should check the them, but wanted to hold off because I really didn't want to disturb the plant(s). However, using the gritty mix, I doubted that this was really the problem.

Crying "Uncle", I un-potted the one that showed the most distress just now because of your posts. Roots look good - circling the outside of the clay pot, (white and firm) but haven't filled the interior.

I'm stumped.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 6:34PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Borer evidence? thrips? nematodes? ..... just throwing stuff at the wall to see what might stick ..... Try removing as much of the old soil as possible & repot in a larger pot?


    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 10:04PM
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Thanks again. I do use a preventative systemic a couple of times a year specifically to ward off mealybugs. I'll have to research what else it affects. I see no evidence of attack, but it may have given me a false sense of comfort.

I just heard from a friend that I sent one of the these plants too. He said his is thriving, so it makes me think it's environmental or something that I am, or not, doing.

I appreciate your responses. I'll keep working on it.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 8:36AM
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Hi Gail!

I am so happy to see that you are still growing clivia. Are they not such a beatiful plant in and out of bloom? So easy to store somewhere until the spring comes back too!

I personlly have noticed that mine bloom whether root bound or with room to grow.

What I did notice was that the plants that are not with tight roots are all around better looking and more robust than that of the others, which also encourages bigger bloom!

I also noticed that inner roots and those roots rubbing up/or surrounded and or strangled by others tend to rot away, even in an open mix when very tight.
That is why I don't like letting them get too tight/root bound. The outer roots always seem to be the ones that thrive while teh inner ones can easily fall away in this setup. many times I loose some roots that tend to push themselves out of the soil and sit on top.

I just stuck them all outside since they can take very cold temps in our very much appreciated open mixes.

It is a myth that they don't like their roots disturbed, or that they have to be root bound to perform well in my case. Just watch for earwigs that set up shop in their crows deep within the leaves.

Newgen: I use vinegar at every watering when I think of it. There are some that I know do just fine without being on the acidic side like Clivia and Fragran Osmanthus, along with Hoya which love lime. I would check out your plants needs and find out what range of pH they thrive in.

Al: As always great advice since I have learned from the best!:-0)))) Al, is there a great pesticide to use that will prevent erawigs and other critters from crawling into the deep crevice leaf joints near the crown? Thank you

I heard that 'Seven' and or 'Diatomaceous' sprinkled into the deep leaf crevices that are attacked to the main trunk works wonders. Please, what is your take?


Have a happy day everyone!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 9:31AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Give it a month or 2 w/o Epsom salts & the ProTeKt. I might not have been clear enough in my posts that adding Epsom salts each time you fertilize was taking for granted that who I was talking to would be fertilizing every couple of weeks. If you're fertilizing every time you water, just a small pinch per gallon would be more appropriate. I'd flush the soil thoroughly a few times over the next few weeks & then fertilize when they need water, just in case an excess of Mg is interfering with uptake of Ca, K and possibly other nutrients. I hope you get things straightened out. I don't know a lot about this plant - do you know if it has any difficulty with N from nitrate sources, ass opposed to urea/ammoniacal N?


    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 9:40AM
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Al, Al, Al...
I think you hit the nail on the head. I mentioned my friend's plant that is thriving. I know for a fact that he is NOT using ES! A big THANK YOU! (...and thanks for holding my hand.)

Hi, Mike. Yes, I do love these plants.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 9:54AM
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If the roots are circling the exterior area of the soil ball, but not colonizing the center, it makes me think the middle of the soil ball is not conducive to good growth. Either there's not enough oxygen getting to that area, or that area is allowed to remain too damp. It could be that the medium in the center is broken down to a state that needs replacing, or it could possibly be that the medium is not being adequately flushed of salts.

I grow a plethora of Hippeastrum bulbs and other Amaryllids, plus a few Clivia, and I noticed the same growth patterns, with regards to the roots, a few years ago... when I was also having issues with rot.

When I un-potted the bulbs to get them into a better medium, I noticed that where ever the medium was too fine, holding too much moisture, not aerated enough all the way through, or in a rather high state of decomposition, the roots behaved exactly as you describe. The live roots were growing either in an upward pattern, or circling the exterior of the soil ball. Any roots that were within the center area were dead.

They seem to be doing a lot better in a well screened gritty mix... and I use the wooden skewer method to make certain the center of the medium is drying out enough before I water again. I also flush with clear water more often than I used to. The Clivia really love the gritty medium, too, and I've made sure they have even less smaller particles than my other Amaryllids.

I don't know if it would make that much of a difference, but I grow most everything in unglazed clay, so there's even more of a chance for any salts or mineral buildup to escape, and even more oxygen getting to the roots.

Don't know if that's helpful, at all... just a few of my observations from my own plants and how they behave.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 11:42AM
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Hi Jodik:-------))))))

Jodik: In fact very helpful to at least me! You are the one that I realize grows beautiful Amyrillis and Clivia

I too have most mine in clay and it does make a difference.

I too might add Gail, that I don't use ES on mine either and they do very well. Some of my clay pots do get a bit white due to my hard municiple water, but has no effects on any of my plants. I remember when I first learned of this white build up too and the relief I got at the hands of the same person whom took you by the hands too.

Thank you Al!

Hoping you much success!


    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 12:15PM
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Thanks, Jodi and Mike,
The roots on clivas grow out from the side of the meristem. As they get older they move into the center area because the new ones are now growing out of the side of the meristem and pushing the older ones inward.

They're epiphites and really want to creep out horizontially, however, they're constrained to stop when they hit side of the pot. Thus, the interior will hold less roots. (Unless, you have a big honking plant. :-))

I think I'm okay with the roots because they're in good shape and still toward the outside. It will probably be another year or so before I need a repot. The gritty mix it's in is about a year old and doesn't seem to have broken down.

Thanks for your interest and inputs. I use unglazed clay, too. :-)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 1:53PM
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