I bought three bags of "Hyponex Potting Soil" by Scotts. When I got it home and opened it, it looked and felt like gray gumbo mud, the kind you can't stomp off your boots. Really, it was a sticky, gummy, gray mess.
Has anyone else seen this?
Yup, it's crap. Pure crap. Even Colorado State University is warning people away from using it.
It is basically sedge peat with some rocks, sticks and almost comically a handful of perlite as if the perlite is going to magically make it better.
I've heared lots of non-complimentary things about this "soil", so I never bought it.
I don't believe plants would have survived in it. Honestly, it doesn't even look like potting soil. You could have made mud balls with it and had a fight. Just like it came out of the bag. I lost my receipt, so I guess I'll just scatter it over my garden.
I have a dear friend whose wife uses hyponex in containers with no drain holes. Her plants are limited to marigolds and petunias.
As hard as it may be to believe, they do survive the season. They are tiny, stunted, sickly things and I have to bite my tongue every time I see them, but somehow they do manage to survive.
Anyway, I am glad you have chosen not to use it. Unlike my friend's wife I can't imagine you would have been happy with the results.
The two best bagged mixes I've used are MiracleGro and Schultz's potting mixes... I stay away from generic or store brands, or mixes I'm not familiar with. Sunshine is another brand that works well, although I've not seen it available in anything smaller than large bales, usually used by commercial greenhouses.
You can probably still return those bags... they should have a UPC seal on the bag that can be scanned!
I bought a bag once and thought it must have been mixed for bog gardens. I thought it would be OK because of the Scotts name, not so. Al
So if you happen to be "smart" enough to have 6 bags that you won't use, what would you do with it?
Well, I guess I am the exception to the rule. I used this exact brand of potting soil last year, and had fine results. In previous years, I have used other off brands that were half the price of the the name brands, and have had great results. In fact, I was a little irritated at the Big Orange Store for not carrying the cheaper, off brands this year. I went to Wally World to get my soil this year. Maybe I got lucky, but I will let you know how it turns out.
I have found cannas grow fine in hyponex soil as well.
If I had 6 bags I would maybe put them in a big compost pile or forget about the bags for several years in a hidden corner of the yard.
I had a bag that was sitting out for several years and I used it this year, the dirt that was inside looked and felt amazing. It didn't clump together and there was no debris, I used it to pot up some things and everything looks fine so far. Maybe that soil has potential but the manufacturer just rushes to get it sold.
Maybe there is some value to this stuff. I've put it where it will dry out. I've got a few plants that I've not set out yet. I'll use a couple of them for guinea pigs and do a comparison test.
Anyhow, the guy that runs the grocery where I bought them did go to the trouble to find salt mackeral for me when no one else would, so I won't take them back.
Thanks, everyone. If anyone else has had any success with this stuff, I'd like to hear from them.
I have found cannas grow well in clay sub soil put into a container with no drain hole and flooded with water. In other words there are things so tolerant of high water/low oxygen conditions that hyponex can work, but most of those plants would be considered marginal plants (live at the margins of water bodies).
Here is a link where a soil study was done using Hyponex potting soil
Wayne Schmidt's Potting Soil Comparison Page
Hyponex By far the heaviest of the mixes, either dry or wet. It's a very dark mix containing both medium and fine particles with a very few bits of tiny perlite. The top of the mix in the bag was damp and wetted easily. The bottom was drier and repelled water a little. An extremely rich-looking mix when wet. Very little shrinkage.
The Hyponex, fourth from the left, was by far the heaviest and as can be seen retained the most water.
Hyponex and Supersoil had the highest germination rates at 87-percent each.
I prefer watering potted plants by placing them in a container that's slightly larger than them and filling it with water so that it seeps into the potting soil very gently from the bottom. . . . Hyponex was third and barely satisfactory.
Interesting comparison, Jethro. Since the comparison found Supersoil to be the best of those tested I had to find out what was in it.
"Ground and aged fir, pine, and redwood bark, and high-quality compost". Didn't find anything about the ratio of bark to compost and have never seen the product to guesstimate.
Still, it's interesting that the bark based mix, even with compost added, outperformed the rest.
Has anyone seen/used this stuff who could guesstimate how much bark versus how much compost in it?
After re reading the link several times, I feel that I should add something about my container setup that is using the Hyponex potting soil. I have at least one piece of felt hanging out of the bottom of the containers, to help prevent a perched water table (Thanks to tapla for his many posts on this phenomenon). I agree with the observations about the soil have high water retention, and it is heavy potting soil. However, I think having a wick out of the bottom of my container has helped prevent any watering problems associated with this potting mix.
And the wick does seem to work well. We have had many large thunderstorms through our area since Friday evening. Having been out of town all weekend, I did not check my containers until this evening. Sure enough, there was a slow drip of water coming out of the bottom of each of the containers. I will check them again in the morning, to see if they have stopped dripping. Again, I think this is keeping me from have any excessive watering problems.
Here is a photo of an 18 gallon container, showing the felt (wick) along the bottom, and hanging out the bottom:
Here are a few more photos of the containers, with some tomato plants and pepper plants, again using the Hyponex potting soil (you can even see an open bag in one of the photos)
Again, I will keep you updated, to see if I have any problems as the spring and summer moves on.
I'm going to use the stuff. I looked at a handful I'd put out in the sun, and it looks somewhat better. I think I'll try tomatoes and some flowers in it.
I had a bag left over from last year, and when I opened it after being in the elements since last summer, I saw exactly what you saw: gray gumbo mud, the kind you can't stomp off your boots. What I did was use it to fill in some bare spots in the yard. Not that I could not use it in the container, just did not want to use it when it was that saturated with water. After I spread it out, it dried out, and it looked fine.
Good luck with your veggies and flowers this year!
Wanted to post an update to using Hyponex Potting soil in a container.
We have had a wet spring here so far (1.3 inches above normal over the last month). I point this out due to the soil seems to be fine and hold lots of moisture, as well as some of the above discussion. First off, the tomatoes are showing some signs of stress, but only on the lower leaves. The new growth on the top seems to look healthy.
Next are the peppers. Again, lower leaves are showing some stress, but the new growth looks good.
Here are some pole beans that I planted a week ago from seed (2 seed in each position). They are all looking healthy so far. I am going to thin them out to 1 plant per position, leaving 8 plants in each container. From the looks of it, it looks like I got 100% germination rate, backing up what the previous study found.
And finally, I have some okra. So far, only one plant has shown any sighs of stress, with one yellow leaf. These were planted with only two leaves each, so all have some new growth on them.
The only amendment to the soil was about 1/2 cup of pelletized dolomite lime, for calcium and magnesium, in each container. I have not watered or fertilizer either.
Any comments, diagnosis, etc. is appreciated. I am not sure if the stress is water related, but I am not too worried about either the peppers or the tomatoes at this point. They all seem to be adding new growth, and it has been cooler and wetter than usual. The forecast for this week is calling for high 70's, low 80's, with only two days with a possible chance of a shower. This should give the containers a chance to dry out a little.
I haven't been following this thread, but I can say that I bought a bag of Hyponex soil to use in talks to illustrate how some soils have extremely high PWTs right from the bag. The bag I use supports nearly 6 inches of perched water. Though I use a wick to illustrate how to help drain perched water from soils, the wick will not entirely remove the water in the PWT.
I'm coming late to the thread, and I didn't review your previous posts, JJ. I think you have some compaction and/or water retention/over-watering issues going on, if you're certain you have not over-fertilized.
This was stacked outside at the store where I bought it, and we've had a lot of rain. I've got it where it should dry and I'll give it a try.
Thanks for weighing in on the subject, and thanks for the info on the PWT of the Hyponex soil.
Knowing the properties of this soil, and having reviewed your potting mix recipe, I was wondering if you had a suggestion for amending the Hyponex potting soil to help with the high water retention property of this soil? From looking at your mix, my "educated" guess would be to add some pine bark fine.
My plan would be to temporarily remove the pepper and tomato plants, amend the soil, and then replant the pepper and tomatoes. At this point, due to the large number of okra and pole bean plants, I am not going to try this. If the soil is retaining too much water, perhaps I can put a plastic mulch cover to prevent any more rain water from entering the containers. I still have the lids, and could drill some holes for the plants to grow through (I have done this in the past).
Thanks again for any help you can offer!
It seems like if you drill holes in the lids for the plants, the rain will still accumulate on the lids & run through the holes - no? How much perlite does it take to amend pudding so it drains well? That is kind of the situation you face with this highly water retentive soil. IMO - I think it would be wise to treat the Hyponex soil as the peat component in another mix & use something like:
5 pine bark fines
If you reuse the plants you have:
I would trim the bottom leaves from the tomatoes & lay them on their sides when I plant so only the top cluster of leaves is above the soil. For the peppers, I would plant them as deep as possible as well, removing bottom leaves if necessary.
Pine bark is inexpensive, so you should be able to afford to fill your containers a little fuller, unless weight is an issue?
It seems like if you drill holes in the lids for the plants, the rain will still accumulate on the lids & run through the holes - no?
Yes, and no. :o) For the tomatoes, because the holes would be on one side, I prop up the side with the holes, so the water drains off the other side. With the rest where there are holes on both side, the water does pool on the top and then drain into the lowest holes. I have done this in the past, and have not seen excess water problems like I am seeing now. So at least from an experience point of view, it has kept some water out of the container, but not all.
I already have the pine bark fines. It is made by Timberline, and they call it Soil Conditioner, but the ingredient list calls it "aged pine bark fines". I am assuming this is going to be ok. Perlite I may need to get; my wife may have some, but going to need to get more.
Understand on transplanting the peppers and tomatoes. I have done this in the past.
Weight is not an issue. I try not to move them very much once I get the soil in them. They can get heavy.
Thanks as always for your time and knowledge. BTW, do you have a link/photo of what your potting soil mix looks like once it is done? It might help know what it should look like when I get done.
The first pic down-thread in the link I give shows the soil, dry - in the center, surrounded by various pine bark products, all from different bags.
Here is a link that might be useful: Click me & then scroll down to see the pic he was talking about. ;o)
It took a little while, but I replaced all the soil in the containers with a blended version of the Hyponex potting soil. The mixture had:
5 gallon of soil conditioner (aged pine bark fines)
5 gallon of Hyponic potting soil.
~1-1/2 to 2 quarts of perlite (not an exact measure; eyeballed it).
Not exactly the mixture you suggested, but it does appear to be a much better mixture. Here is a photo of the original Hyponex potting soil (right) and the amended mixture (left):
While I would have liked to keep the original plants, I ended up replacing the tomato plants, and the pepper plants. The okra still looked ok, and I just thinned/transplanted the pole beans.
Another observation: When I was digging to the bottom of the container filled with the Hyponex potting soil, it smelled like a swamp. Anaerobic digestion would be my guess, meaning that there was little/no oxygen getting to the bottom of the containers, even with the air holes drilled in the bottom.
Ok, so you live, you learn! I have learned that not all potting soils are created equal, and that some potting soils can be fixed.
Al, again, thanks very much for helping out on this. I am sure I am not the only one who learned something from this experience.
Hyponex could be good soil if only sand was mixed in. Mixing regular beach sand would improve drainage. Mixing perlite would help too. But beach sand would keep the soil from clumping up and would improve drainage. I wouldn't use this right out of the bag because whatever plant or tree you want to grow will most likely die from root rot. I would not throw soil in yard or garden but amend with sand until clumping has been reduced.
ummmm...uhhh...I checked out the ingredients of Hyponex Potting Soil at the grocery yesterday because it was on sale for 10 bags/$10 (small bag), and what did I find?? SAND...the reason why I did not buy it.
seed starting mix and perlite will not do the job. So just compost bag of soil outdoors for a couple of weeks and maybe the contents may break down and moisture will evaporate. Maybe this soil should be taken off the market.
In case anyone is still following this thread, I have to say to Herbavore - that I'm sorry, but I think your advice is misguiding. First, 'sand' covers a lot of territory. It could be anything from near powder to something BB size. Fine sand, builders sand, anything smaller than around 1/16 inch is not going to be helpful. In addition, sand that has a mix of particle sizes, as well as fine sand, destroys all-important aeration.
Someone early on mentioned Supersoil but had not used it. It is available in this area and I was given a left over bag a few years ago. It contained a surprising amount of "forest products" bark in sizes from small to very large. No noticeable sand, perlite, or volcanic rock. I used it and my biggest complaint was the extreme shrinkage of the mix over a very few months in the pots. Al
yep...what Al said
By far the best potting mix I have found is Miracle-Gro potting mix. It is a wonderful blend of peat moss, perlite
some bark, etc. I mix it with finely ground pine bark mulch
for planting rhododendrons, other shrubs and perennials. There is no problem with gumminess or anything like that.
I mix it with finely ground pine bark mulch ...
You can make your own. MG , as you mentioned, is just peat moss and perlite. Then they ad some Time Release Fertilizer.
I make some version of 5-1-1 it costs under $3 per cubic foot. But then you have to find the right kind of pine bark ($2 per cubic foot) , buy perlite ( I buy it for $16.90 for 2 cubic foot), add some dolomitic lime, some Shake n Feed slow release fert., some peat moss. You are set. You can save some dough but it is not as easy as using the bagged stuff.
I'm coming in very late on this thread, but from what I have read from other GW members and read from online sources this Hyponex soil is very low quality. I know some local retailers carry it and it is very inexpensive, but from what I have seen I don't think I'd use it for any kind of container gardening.
Last year I saw a few open bags of Hyponex soil at a local retailer and the soil felt very sticky and wet. I don't know what's in it but I don't think it would drain well enough to use in a container.
Just my opinion.
I've used it mixed with pine/firbark fines at various ratios depending on the plant. I generally use "top soil" as it is cheaper and the quality is as consistant.. I don't use perlite as it tends to migrate for me.. Have used it for aquarium plants subsoil got good results there but needed to add iron within a year. I grow Cannas in a mix of top soil /oil dri. but they are in standing water.
I generally find that all potting soils fall short ,so mix my own . Name brands are ridiculously expensive while cheaper are very inconsistant. gary
While at a local KMart store I found a stack of this Hyponex potting soil. One bag was ripped open and the the soil felt like clay or adobe. It was very dense and had no pine bark, perlite, or any such additives that I could see. Just sort of a grayish-black mass.
Compared to the various MG soils is was much less expensive, however I cannot imagine how plant roots could get any air in this Hyponex soil unless it was mixed heavily with pine bark or perlite.
I think I'd avoid this completely or only use this as a "last resort" for container gardening. I just think this type of soil defeats the purpose of trying to grow healthy plants in containers.
It works great as a muck for my container pond. I've found it useless for anything else.
I would agree with you. Might also work well for filling holes or low areas in a yard or something like that, but since it's so sticky I don't think I'd try to grow anything in it.
"grey gumbo mud" definitely does *not* describe the EarthGro/HYPONeX sold by the local MallWart (as well as big orange and the other big-box) - more like plain 'ol peat with a little bark mixed in... guess we have a better grade of cheap-waste here in the great northwet... Makes a good cheap base mix to blend with perlite, compost, and bark fines for a custom mix when I can't get SuperSoil
Interesting observation DrTszap. I have not looked at any Hyponex soil recently but what you describe here sounds totally different than what I saw earlier this year. Perhaps they have changed soil formulas or else the soil components are regional. Next time I see an open bag I'll have a look.
Thanks for the info.
At this point in time, I don't recommend the use of any pre-bagged potting soils sold retail. I am a proponent of mixing my own mediums using ingredients that foster healthy root growth through sharp drainage and excellent aeration.
It's amazing what I have learned since this and other threads were started. I originally came here looking for information because my bulbs were rotting in their pots. What I found changed my entire outlook on container growing... and now, I mix my own mediums and am a much more knowledgeable grower with healthy plants!
The thread titled "Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XX" changed my entire thought process on growing for the better!
Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XX
I agree with Jodi on this. The more you know about soil the better soil mixes you can buy or make yourself. Once you begin to understand the basics of drainage, moisture, oxygen (they are all related) then the better soil you can use and the better plants you can grow.
This Hyponex soil seems to be the literal "bottom of the barrel" in terms of quality. Although a few people seem to be able to produce healthy plants in it, I personally would avoid it if at all possible.
There's a marked difference between a plant that survives... and one that thrives! There's a marked difference between growing something, and growing it to its full potential!
Some people are satisfied with mediocre... I'm not one of those people. I'm not willing to sacrifice the health of my plants for convenience or anything else.
Without healthy roots, a plant can't be healthy above the soil surface... and though it sometimes takes time for a plant to show above that soil the havoc wreaked below it, it will eventually succumb.
Growing an annual that gets tossed at the end of the season isn't quite such a critical candidate for what we're talking about... unless you want optimum growth, that is. But when a plant is something we expect to live for years and years, like an orchid or some other houseplant or perennial, and we do want that optimum growth and health, there are some things we need to know.
A 'green thumb' isn't luck or good fortune... it's applied knowledge. All it takes is learning a little, and applying it.