Kumquat re-pot a total failure

jenn(SoCal 9/19)June 12, 2011

We repotted the dwarf Nagami Kumquat last weekend into a mix similar (or so I thought) to the 5-1-1 mix. I used Orchid bark (small pieces) because that's what I could find, with 1 part peat and 1 part perlite. The pot has several drainage holes around the bottom which my husband covered with 2 sheets of newspaper to prevent the soil mix from leaking (but to allow water to drain -- or so we thought). We moistened the mix and bare-rooted the kumquat (which was easier than I expected because the old root ball was very dry. :-( Then we watered well, and set the pot in the shade to recover for a week.

Today we tried to move the pot into a sunnier spot. When we tilted it on the dolly, water poured out of the top. The perched water level was at the top!!!!

We dumped out all the stinky smelly mix into a sunny spot to dry out, and put the root ball back into the pot in a little damp mix just for protection until we can repot it.

Should we not have added peat to the (small) orchid bark? I do/did not have time to drive around looking for bark fines, then screen it. I KNOW that's ideal but I have a lot going on including an arm injury (which isn't healing), a full-time job (5am - 5pm), and other obligations. So, I did what I thought came close, figuring if the Kumquat was relatively happy in pure commercial potting mix for the past several years, then it should be even happier in this.

So -- can we reuse the mix but with more perlite or pumice? Should we make a new mix using just the orchid bark and perlite/pumice?

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Did you punch holes in the newspaper?
Was the newspaper still intact?

The mix sounds like it would make a good 5-1-1.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:11PM
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Jenn. I have a question?

Do you think that maybe the newspaper at the bottom could of caused a drainage problem?

Once the paper is saturated, it will not allow water to escape but quite the opposite, it will back the water up in your container..
Even if you used that mix, it should not of accumulated water at the top. If anything, that kind of mix would of drained too fast .

Sorry to hear of this.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:16PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Jenn,
I'm thinking the same as Josh. It may have been the newspaper.

I've used it in the past for starting seeds, and it held in way too much water. Coffee filters work a little better, but insect screen is what's best.

I've made the 5-1-1 a number of different ways, and it's all been O.K. for me.

How small was the bark?


    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:25PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thanks everyone. I think it was the newspaper; it was saturated. However, when we initially watered the pot last weekend, we saw water draining through the bottom. What's more, today my husband put the EMPTY pot on the back lawn to hose it out (to get rid of the stinky soil smell), and he noticed the water didn't drain well through the bottom, even WITHOUT the newspaper at the bottom.

Prior to being re-potted, the Kumquat was in this same pot in a good commercial potting mix. However, the ONLY other variable I can think of is that the pot sat on top of bricks around the perimeter, raising it off the ground. Since the drainage holes are almost level with the bottom of the pot, I think there may not be enough space for water to drain out when the pot sits flat on the ground. Does that make sense?

The new Meyer lemon was also re-potted last weekend, but into a smaller pot, in the same mix and also with newspaper at the bottom. My husband said the water didn't spill out when the pot was tilted --- however, there may be some perched water closer to the bottom.

I'm at my wit's end. I'm not allowed to garden (or do pretty much everything else I enjoy) at the current time due to an arm injury that isn't healing, and I work full time during the week. I'm not allowed to do my favorite activities, but golly gee there's no restriction from working full-time at a computer job I don't enjoy! :(

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:40PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

So..... I would like to start again this weekend.

We spread the wet stinky orchid bark mix (w/peat and perlite) in the sun to dry out. However, I'm thinking of leaving it there and starting over from scratch, as I don't want to take a chance with my precious Kumquat that has worked so hard in the old soil for several years.

Going back to the original mix, I used:
- 5 parts Black Gold Orchid Bark (small pieces, from OSH), unscreened
- 1 part Sphagnum peat moss
- 1 part perlite
- Ironite

Mixed it all together and sprayed with hose to moisten the dry peat.

After the Kumquat was situated in the mix, we watered as we added more mix around the roots.

I think the newspaper at the bottom was the problem -- AND that the pot was not sitting raised above the ground (on bricks) as it had been for the prior seven years. My husband said even when he was rinsing the empty pot on the lawn, the water did not drain out, yet there are several 1/2 holes around the base of the pot. I'm guessing that the holes are nearly flush with the bottom and therefore there's not enough space between them and the ground to allow for water to freely drain.

So..... if we start over with fresh mix, should we leave out some or all of the peat if we don't screen the orchid bark? There were some fines in the bark.

This time, we won't put newspaper in the bottom!!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 3:15PM
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