5-1-1 vs. 1-1-1 drying times

fireduck(10a)June 5, 2013

It seems to me that the gritty 1-1-1 dries out much faster than the 5-1-1. The gritty seems to need water daily (75 degree days)...but the 5-1-1 goes several days without drying out. Is this to be expected??? thanks

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Yep. That is to be expected. The gritty mix allows no perched water in the container, which is why it works so well for many plants. You do need to water a little more often, but I rarely water anything in it every day. The 5-1-1 includes peat and composted bark, both of which are pretty absorbent, but it also drains more rapidly than something like Miracle Gro potting mix.

The gritty mix holds a lot more water than people think. When you are watering it, go slow and make sure to wet the whole surface of the mix. In larger pots, it can hold water for several days. To test this, you can sink a wooden dowel (a chopstick will do) into the container so the tip is in the area of the root ball of your plant. Hold for a minute and pull it out. Touch the tip to see if it feels cool or moist. If it is bone dry, you need to water your plant.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 1:42PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I agree with Ohio.

Watering every day at 75F sounds like either the container is very small, such as bonsai, or the mix isn't properly saturated when watered.

In sufficient volume, my Gritty containers can go 2 - 4 days. My 5-1-1 can go 3 - 5 days. As the temps climb to 100F, I water Gritty every other day, and 5-1-1 every 2 days.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I have to say that I think many people are worried about the gritty mix because it behaves so differently than the mixes most of us are used to. I can understand the feeling because I am having the reverse. My daughter gave me a beautiful hanging basket packed with mixed flowering annuals. It's in some kind of peat based mix that is packed down. When I first watered it, water pooled on the surface because the peat had dried out. I broke up the peat and watered again. This time the root ball soaked up all the water and nothing came out the bottom. The top of the mix seemed mucky like it couldn't let any air in. I was freaked until I remembered how it was several years ago when I used mixes like this. I will learn how to work with it, but it really is different. I feel much more confidence growing in a mix I can't over water.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 6:40PM
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Well, I have bought into the idea of fast-draining mixes being superior. My "supply chest" in the backyard is loaded with crushed granite, perlite, napa, peat, etc. haha. We will see how I end up tweaking the mixes for myself...but I definitely understand/believe the concept. A bit more work...but seems worth it.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 7:10PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

It certainly is more work, and it's not for everyone.
But if you have the time, and the inclination, and you love to tinker with mixes and plants, then there's no doubt that a free-draining mix can offer superior results. The Gritty Mix is especially good for woody plants that will spend more than a year in the same container/mix.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 9:49PM
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