Did I make a big mistake in buying Ace Hardware potting soil?

kat616May 1, 2007

This weekend I bought some 20 lb. bags of Ace Hardware potting soil to use in two new 3-tiered planters (16", 14", and 12" coconut-lined). This soil was basically the substance of mud when I planted my annuals, but I went ahead and used it. Now I'm kicking myself, wondering if I should have waited and bought something better. What do you think?

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I also looked at Ace Hardware potting soil a couple weeks ago but I saw a hole in a bag and the soil inside looked really packed and muddy, like you say. I opted not to get it...

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 7:46PM
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jnscole(z8 GA)

This weekend I was at Wal-Mart and in a hurry, so I grabbed some unfamiliar potting soil. It was called Hyponix, and it's very similar in consistency to what you described. It feels like clay...when I pack it in my hand, it stays packed, doesn't crumble. I potted a couple of new plants with it and am really worried about whether I should have used it, so I'm curious to see more answers to your question.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 8:08PM
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I have a friend whose wife grows plants in the muddy stuff. Last year I finally convinced her to add drainage holes in her pots that lacked them.

This year I will be working on gently easing her away from the mud soils sold as suitable for containers when they aren't.

The good news is you can grow things in the stuff, you just have to be careful about watering and don't expect plants to be as large or vigorous as they could be. Consider using a wick per Al's instructions in the water movement in container soils threads.

It's among the worst stuff out there for containers, but it *can* work OK if you are careful to avoid frequent overwatering and stick to fast growing plants that will fill the container with roots rapidly.

Nothing says you can't gently repot now though ;-)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 8:30PM
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hitexplanter(8 a)

First clue not to use material of this nature (even when it says potting soil:( is that it is by weight in most cases this is a very poor choice for containers. At my garden center I tell folks this and tell them that every retail nursery has it because people seem to demand it be available for them to buy. I always recommend that if you don't want to mix your own material (like many of us on this forum suggest:) than at least buy a media that is measured in quarts or by the cubic foot AKA by volume not by weight. Read on this forum the countless posts on mixing your own and you will find it will in the end be close to the price paid for this cheap junk(although you will pay more up front for the quanity needed to make a good mix. The cubic foot price will in almost every case be cheaper and grow better plants. I offer the 20 and 40 pound potting soil but readily ask people to look and feel it and I suggest it for raised beds or to fill or add to the garden or a berm but please don't use it in containers!!!! If then they choose to I have done all I can to help them to not make this mistake and I move on to the next customer. I have plenty of mixes for planting in containers or will help people to make their own mix. I want people to have beautiful plants that they bought from my garden center and I will do all I can to help them toward that goal.
Please both of you consider repotting your containers now before the plants suffer too much and you are disappointed with your results. We here can and will help. Ask, read and learn from the proven ideas expressed on this forum, There is some very savy plant and container folks here willing to help.
Happy Growing A Garden Center Manager David

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 8:54PM
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Dear justaguy2 and hitexplanter: Thanks so much for your feedback. I haven't had much experience with gardening, so I'm definitely still learning. I think that I will just go ahead and try to repot. What are your suggestions in doing this safely? Thanks again for your help.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 11:03AM
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I wouldn't dump out all the Ace potting mix. Just get better/looser ones from a nursery and mix (maybe 2 new to 1 old) the two together. Maybe add some perlite too for drainage.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 11:14AM
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What are your suggestions in doing this safely?

Just be gentle ;-)

Chances are if you just planted a few days ago there hasn't been much new root development so you can probably just gently dig/lift them out without too much root tearing.

Even with a small amount of root loss most plants will be fine.

I would suggest doing this in the evening after the heat of day has passed if possible. Going out and watering them a few hours in advance would also be good if the soil is not well moistened right now.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 11:34AM
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Do it now. There is a full moon. I just replanted a bunch of seedlings last nite into larger containers and left them to get the full benefit of the full moon.

If you have the room, start a compost pile. When I go to Menards I usually stop by the 25%off torn bags section and buy one or two bags of manure or potting soil. I mix this in with the finished compost bin or in the fall in the bin that is cooking. Mix it well and after adding a small amount of clean sand, I use it for containers. You can use a wheelbarrow or a tarp on the ground and mix what you have with regular dirt from an area of the yard and make a mix that should be ok. If you are container gardening you will be adding some nutrients later anyway.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 2:36AM
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i am new to gardening and i was just curious,what is the relation between a full moon and repotting.i am sure its a stupid question,but i just had to ask.
thank you

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 2:02PM
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