Need Help with Al's gritty mix Concerned

sherri-anne(5)April 24, 2012

I have been lurking around the forums for weeks and spending many hours of reading on Al's gritty mix.

I have spent many days tracking down the ingredients. Since I could not find turface I used NAPA 8822 floor dry.

For my house plants I Used this formula

4 parts pine bark fines sifted

5 Granite (gran I grit) sifted

3 parts floor dry sifted

I used a 1 gallon Ice cream container to measure my parts so this was a big batch

I also added 1 tablespoon per gallon of mix gypsum

I used this formula because the floor dry holds more water than turface.

I had a few plants that have had severe reactions.

I have a peace lily from my fathers funeral in bloom from 5 years ago- been in the same pot for ever-and the mineral salt build up on the side of the container was obvious.Yeah I messed with the roots quit a bit getting it out of its old soil but was pretty careful as this plant has sentimental value. The plant was not outgrowing the pot and the roots were not that vigorous so I bleached and cleaned the same pot and put it back in.

After planting this in the gritty mix- it immediately fell over. I was not concerned because these plants wilt frequently when dry so I figured it would perk up. It has been about four days now and it is still laying on its and the leaves look worse and worse some yellowing. I got some foliage pro and mixed that at a quarter strength to try and perk it up- that did not work either.

I also got a couple plants from the nursery a lantanna and a fuchsia and transplanted them and the plants shriveled up with crispy leaves over night. I have other plants that seam to be doing okay Clivia (thank goodness), aloe, christmas cactus, spider plants, coleus

I am not new to gardening, but I am new to gritty mix and never had such severe reactions from plants. I feel like something is off.

One concern I have is since I mixed such a big batch maybe the gypsum was not mixed thoroughly enough. I know my particulate size is right I spent many hours studying the pictures in the threads.

I am not sure what else to try Epsom salts, more gypsum. I am thinking maybe a ph shock in certain plants.

I am really concerned because I went gung ho and put 1-1-1 mix in my coconut lined window boxes- now I am afraid that when I do get plants for them they wont thrive either as lantanna and fuchsia were my main picks for them.

does anyone have any suggestions or experience with certain plants not doing well with gritty mix, anything I can do to insure success

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I just made a post before you (very short while ago) with similar concerns and it also includes Peace Lily in it.

Link to it:

Hopefully, we can both get some answers.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 2:47AM
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I believe Peace Lily prefers to be mildly acidic in pH range of 5.5 to 7. Turface comes in at ph of 6.2 (from some posts here) and Floor Dry at ph of 7.

I had a Peace Lily yellow on me after I attempted to clean and bare-root the round-bound thing! I cleaned it so well with my hands and water that a lot of the roots detached. Using your hand to untangle the roots is likely going to rip many roots off.

I believe some leaves will yellow off and die from lack of roots to support it. From then on, I don't try to completely bareroot it by hand --- Instead, I try and flush out the old soil with a fire hose and leave alone the soil or moss that won't come out. Usually, it's the moss or very light fiber mediums that won't come out when surrounded by roots. When I'm done, the roots are usually a bit untangled by the force of the water, but doesn't rip them off. Use your judgement on the pressure of the water, try it with small jet and slowly increasing it.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 3:05AM
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Thanks for following up Jala. So I am wondering if I should do something to amend the PH, If so What?

It is kind of too late now, I have put this soil everywhere.

I guess I am going to have to do some more reading not sure gypsum, lyme, Vinegar, aluminum sulfate, Epsom salts?

I really thought I had this thing down pact and was looking forward to gorgeous plants

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:08AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

After re-potting, did you keep the mix moist, particularly in the root-zone of the container?
Did you make sure not to put the plants in direct sunlight for several days to several weeks?
After two weeks, did you resume normal fertilization?

Peace Lilies often react negatively to re-potting, in general, and they must be kept moist
from the start.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Yes I did keep it moist. Worked in it in my kitchen sink in water threw the whole process. The plant always lives in the dark house with only 2 or 3 hours of filtered light through a door window 7 feet away- same spot it has always been in.

My concern is that several plants had a reaction. It has only been 6 days since I re potted at this point it looks almost unsalvageable I am not given up yet. Although I have never seen a plant give up the ghost this quickly.

I did give it foliage pro 3 days after repotting because it looked so pathetic

I am concerned because I had a potting festival, and I wondering if some of the other plants may have a slower negative reaction.

I think the key may be in the PH but I am not sure what is the most practical thing to do to adjust it at this point.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 11:32AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Have you kept the plantings moist after the actual potting, I meant to say.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 2:32PM
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yes, my peace lily looked thirsty. So I watered daily- then slacked off thinking too wet.

I know there is something I should be adding to lower ph. But I am not sure what

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Sherri-Anne: I would not add anything more except water to your newly transplanted lily now. Most of the feeder roots were probably broken off during the transplant so there is no point, and you might burn any that start to form. Please be patient and make sure the heart of the rootball stays moist. If you can increase humidity, that might help. It is likely that the root pruning you did caused the problems, not the gritty mix. Its usually better to transplant when the plant is making new growth, which is early summer.

I transplanted more than 50 house plants into gritty mix for the first time last June. Most did very well and some were amazing. A few did not do well, and I think it was because I was vetoo aggressive with root pruning. I had an avocado tree that was more than 20 years old and hadn't been transplanted in at least five years. Its soil was compacted and its roots were a tangled mess. I got overconfident and cut too much of them off. I also pruned the top, which I later learned was a big mistake. The poor thing never recovered. But peace lilies are survivors. I' ve rooted them in plain water.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:04PM
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Just recently I tried using gritty mix for my peace lilly. I cut 1" of roots off the bottom, divided it in half, removed the soil. Poor plant, I decided it would be a learning tool! My first non-citrus in gritty mix, my first root pruning...

I planted my ( now 2) lillies in separate planters, watered them, and they floated to the top and fell over! My mix is modified to be lighter weight... Tried again. The roots are pretty thick, this time I tried to be certain there were no air pockets around them. Next day they were wilted, I watered them every day for 3 days, lost a few leaves around the outer circumference, but now on day 5 they look very happy (fingers crossed). I use Foliage Pro, but because I do, I haven't been adding gypsum...I don't suppose it would make much difference, maybe someone else knows the answer to that one...

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 12:02PM
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Like I said in my earlier post, the Peace Lily might die back if you prune too many roots. I personally use a fire hose with moderate pressure and slowly "blast" out the old soil before moving it into a gritty mix. This way, the roots stay intact and then I plant it slowly into a gritty mix using a pair of chopsticks to push in the gritty mix in-between the roots. I did this with my peace lily and it never drooped after the planting.

The only time you want to prune or clean roots by hand is if you see black roots (make sure it's not the soil color on it). They are rotted and should be tossed -- generally they come loose off the plant easily. After barerooting with a jet of water, the roots of my peace lily are nice and white! As for rootbound ones where you have a bunch of moss or whatever comes from the store inside the middle of the rootball, I just leave it alone if it doesn't come out from the water cleaning. Because in order to take it out, you would have to untangle the roots, cut it, or accidentally remove many roots if you tried.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Do not get me wrong I was not complaining about Al's gritty mix. I have seen, and heard thousands of testimonials, and I know it works- I was, and still am, worried that I missed some key ingredient that I was missing. With that said, for the time being I ordered some ph paper, and I will play with that thought once I get it.

Ohiofem I have a couple questions for you because I have seen some of your posts in the Clivia forums. I bought some clivia plants off of ebay recently, after I had made my big batch of gritty mix. Some of my leaves are slowly yellowing- I know the plants were in duress because of being shipped bareroot. Besides gritty mix and foliage pro are you adding any other amendments, and in your mix are you using floor dry or turface?

mandarin1- if my lily comes back, I think it will be a long time from now. It is completely laying on its side with about 15 out 20 leaves being yellow. However I still have hope- the rhinezome ( can't spell) looking roots on the top of the soil are real green. Hopefully it will bounce back when I gets warm and it go to it' annual outside summer vacation. I am glad your lilies are coming back

Jala4260 I think you have a point. I have always manhandled new plants, I usually use a razor knife and cut an x Like pattern on the bottom of the roots to free them from their previous square or circular pattern from being root bound. But With Al's gritty mix it is the first time I have tried to remove all soil from starter plants. Plus what is up with that foam circular or square piece that now seams to be attached to the root base of all new starter plants.

Anyways I have 4 large hayrack window boxes. I replace the liners and soil every 2-3 years. Last time around I had spagnum moss and all the plant roots dig in to it when I pull them out a large part of liner when with it so I went to the coconut liner this go around. I have filled them all with 1-1-1 gritty mix hoping to longevity and gorgeous flowers. Here is my question. Is it necessary to completely bare root starter plants for these window boxes. As I said earlier- I had pretty bad luck bare rooting and re potting a fuchsia and lantana- they dropped every leaf and half their stems- they look like potted sticks now, lol. I thought that maybe leaving some soil will help them slowly adjust to the gritty mix. What do you guys think or do in this situation?

I want to thank all of you for responding to my questions, and pleas for help- it is a really friendly atmosphere

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 7:45PM
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