using Coco-wet to alleviate hydrophobic 5-1-1?

hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)July 30, 2014

I've seen Al and others mention this product. The label says it's for foliar application...but it appears it can be used to re-wet dried out, hydrophobic soils?

If so - is it something added to irrigation water at the time needed? Or is it watered in once and has lasting effect?

How much should I use?

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HM : I can't answer this question but I'm also interested in the answer. Many books or web sources suggest using a 'wetting agent ' for hydrophobic soil mixes but I've never used any or seen these in stores.



    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:39AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)



    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 7:47AM
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rebuilder(7a-7b Snellville, GA)

YES !!!! I need a solution to this persistent problem. I have so many containers and so little time that I can't check moisture levels all the time. It's so frustrating to think you are watering and it just finds a way around the hydrophobic media thereby severely stressing or even killing plants. I would assume if you could find a compatible chemistry with fertilizers that you would have to apply continuously because of the rinsing effects of watering. I know some dish detergents are lightly used with homemade foliar horticultural oil sprays but not sure if it is safe at the root zone?
This would be almost life changing for me if someone has a safe cure!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 9:07AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Does no one have an answer to this?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:07AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Bark starts to get hydrophobic at around 30% moisture content. The key to avoiding your mix becoming water repellent is to water more often. You could also substitute Calcined DE for the perlite. Even if the bark becomes VERY water repellent, the DE will suck up moisture immediately. After an initial watering that wets the DE but not the bark, water begins to diffuse out of the DE and into the mix, which 'breaks' the bark's hydrophobic tendency. So the second time you water (10-15 minutes later), the bark should readily absorb the water you apply. I never have trouble with hydrophobia in my plantings because I never let the soil dry down to that 30% mark.

You can also add a surfactant like Coco-Wet, which makes water much wetter, so it's more readily absorbed. Please don't use other surfactants, like detergents, as a strategy.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 9:54PM
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I would add something peaty to your mix to hold on to some moisture. I live in Florida and my container plants are outdoors. Very high heat and sunlight. I cannot maintain my plants without adding some peat, either sphagnum in orchid mixes or a peaty potting soil to the bark in dirt, container plants.

Otherwise, water and fertilizer will just drain out and you will have to water/fertilize constantly. You need something to hold the moisture until the bark ages.

Eventually, bark will begin to break down and absorb more moisture. I agree, if you are working with new bark, it takes a lot of watering before the bark begins to absorb some moisture.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 10:15PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I'll bump this since I see it did get a few more replies...

Al - how much CocoWet would I use?

Also - would it be a repeated need, or does it stay in the soil and continue to work for subsequent waterings?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 9:43AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

That does make me wonder why the media surfactants used by commercial potting mix producers are not available to the public.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:03AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It would be like adding a detergent to your soil that wasn't phytotoxic in order ti make water wetter - the more you water and flush the soil, the more product is removed from the soil and the less effective it becomes, so you would need to reapply from time to time. FWIW - it also reduces the ht of the PWT in soils that support perched water.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 5:45PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

If you need this product your plants are not going to do well. You can't let them get that dry. DE is a better alternative. I now plan to always use it. It works well in mineral mixes too. I used DE a lot this summer and was impressed with it. But leaving out perlite did tend to at times keep soil too moist. It depended on the plant. Tomatoes, hibiscus, and Jasmines can dry out even the most water retentive soils. Nice to see the one size fits all method dying a slow death. Since hydration/nutrition varies so much by plant group, and is so well documented to be the case. Reminds me of the old SNL skit with Billy Crystal "That's how we did it, and we liked it!"
Nice to see more common sense suggestions becoming mainstay in this forum. About time!
Another way to prevent such dryness is to use less bark, the ratio does not work for eveything. 3-1-1 is what good commercial mixes use, whom have spent millions on research to get it right Vary from there depending on plant group. Know your plant groups and their nutritional, soil and watering needs.
A good example is black pepper which has different needs compared any other plant I have.
I always add new plant groups every year to learn more. I would be bored otherwise.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 6:56AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If you need this product your plants are not going to do well. Do tell - please expand.

A very high % of people who come here seeking help with soils are here because of excess water retention. Why would someone wish to increase water retention (other than so they are not required to water as frequently), given the negatives associated with excess water and poor root function. It's regularly stated that if growers understand how water behaves in soil, and the influence of particle size and particle porosity, they have something much more valuable than a recipe.

Plants vary significantly in what they will tolerate in the way of poor soils and poor nutritional supplementation; but when it comes to what plants prefer, the variability is usually very insignificant. There aren't many plants you can't grow extremely well with a soil you can keep moist w/o it being soggy, and a fertilizer like Foliage-Pro 9-3-6.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 3:35PM
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