I am about to plant some coconut pots with vining annuals in 5-1-1. Is 5-1-1 good for this application or would a more retentive soil be better?
Why should the pot material dictate which medium you use? Go for it.
I assume you mean hanging coconut coir baskets?
You can use 5:1:1, but personally I would increase the amount of peat or use a finer portion of pine bark fines. This may not be true in your location, but here hanging baskets dry out incredibly fast in the summer heat, and 5:1:1 that I use for everything else is simply not water retentive enough. I have no problem watering a basket once a day, but anything more than that becomes unsustainable.
Yes...the baskets. Now I am concerned. I have already planted and they are not the cheap, flat plants. Maybe I should re-plant?
Personally, I wouldn't bother - just use this summer as a learning experience. If they need multiple waterings a day by the middle of summer, you'll know what to change for next year.
I can tell you from experience that your pots will dry out as soon as the hot weather moves in and the roots have filled those baskets, a lot more...
That kind of mix encourages rapid root growth and those roots will fill that pot as soon as you can blink with all the air allowed..
Why not use plastic hanging pots or more water retentive mix if using coco liners?
Plastic pots look like cheap plastic pots and we already have too many of them. The area where they are being used is like our living room during the spring, summer, and fall and requires a much better appearance.
I guess I'll just re-plant because I am not always around to water. I am getting discouraged with 5-1-1 and all of the exceptions that it seems to have.
It's best to not think of 5-1-1 as an ideal mix, but a starting point to work with the principles of container gardening media. What mix is ideal will always depend on your plant, your needs, your abilities and your conditions.
It is true that, all other things equal, you will have to water 5-1-1 more often than a more water retentive/poorly aerated mix. That's the price you pay for overall better performance.
Thanks for your response. I am doing my best to figure out what is the best medium for me. In response to: "That's the price you pay for overall better performance" is it better overall performance when used for annuals in cold weather zones outdoors? As in my case, the plants are dead at hard freeze in the fall and then the soil gets removed and replaced and then the pots are re-planted in the spring anyway. Generally speaking, I've had good results with MG's potting soil mixture, which appears to be sphagnum and Perlite. But I don't know the science of it all, which I am a sucker for. It all makes such good sense, but then it doesn't fit my application...
So what about:
5 parts pine mulch
3 parts sphagnum peat
1 part Perlite?
I have been using 5-1-1 for flowering annuals in those pots for three years in a climate very much like yours, near Dayton, Ohio. It works great. I like it a lot better than Promix or Metromix, which I've used before. Yes, you do need to water a lot, but I don't usually have to water more often than every other day, about the same as I do with my vegetables in large containers of 5-1-1.
Each year on Mothers Day I get gifts of one or two preplanted large baskets of mixed annuals from my family. At the same time, I plant up to a dozen of my own baskets in 5-1-1. Over the summer, my own plants do better and are less likely to die from drying out. One tip I've learned is to line the inside bottom part of the basket with a piece of plastic with a few small holes in it to slow down drainage. I also use the largest baskets I can find of 16 to 18 inches.
I think people who haven't used 5-1-1 much or at all get a little hysterical about it. It really isn't that different from good quality potting mixes, except it doesn't turn to peat pudding in a rainy spell, and you can better control how much fertilizer you start with and maintain a proper pH. Some plants, like million bells, prefer a more acidic medium, for example, so I cut back a bit on the lime.
@Ohiofem: this is why I wonder about these kinds of forums. Seems like I often get diametrically opposed opinions. After having seen all of your posts and the help you've offered in the recent past, I feel comfortable with your advice. Thanks!!!!
I will pull the plants, line the baskets, and re-pot. About the lime...I have not found lime I trust yet, so I have omitted it from my potting medium. Can it be added in a mix along with a water soluble fertilizer? And if I can be a further burden, how do you handle added other minerals for your flowering annuals? Hope I'm not wearing you out!
I add Espoma Garden Lime at the rate of 1/2 tablespoon per gallon to my mix for flowering annuals:
I also added 1 T per gallon of Osmocote Plus 15-9-12 controlled release fertilizer, which used to have all the trace minerals plus calcium and magnesium, but the new formula doesn't include calcium, so I've switched to Dynamite Select All Purpose 15-5-9 with a similar range of trace minerals. During the season, I fertilized every two weeks or more with a soluble fertilizer that also includes trace minerals, either MIracle Gro all purpose 24-8-16 or Foliage Pro 9-3-6. These plants need a LOT of food to stay beautiful.
Here are some of my flowering baskets from the past couple years:
Petunias, calibrachoa and angelonia
Petunias, calibrachoa and Bacopa
Dragon Wing Begonia
Cuphea and Scaevola
Petunia and Bacopa
Again, thank you for efforts on my behalf! Dag...I feel much better now with regard to using 5-1-1 and am not so unsure of everything as I was yesterday. We certainly have similar taste in flowering plants and I am growing almost all of the same ones you pictured this year. You do way more creative mixes than I do, though!!!
Does your lime dissolve in water? I've got a lot of MG water soluble left.
I only add the lime to the mix in a dry form when I'm making it. It takes a week or two for the lime to start reacting with the mix to bring the pH up and provide calcium, so the ideal is to make your mix in advance. But many of us are too impatient to follow the ideal, and you will be OK if you don't.
It is not appropriate to try to dissolve lime in water and add to a finished mix with plants already in it. I think it might hurt your plants if you do that, but I am not an expert on working with lime. If you already have the mix in the pots with plants, you could mix the dry lime with some potting mix and gently scratch it into the top inch or two, being careful not to come in contact with the stem of the plant. The reason for the lime is to provide calcium and magnesium and also to make up for the low pH of bark and peat. Without any lime at all, your mix could have a pH as low as 5-5.5. Only things like blueberries and azaleas can thrive in that pH.
I'll do what I can on a remedial basis. Again, thanks for taking a load off my mind. I have been very impressed with the science of the 5-1-1 mix and really wanted to see it help grow the plants.