Gritty Mix / 5:1:1 - Newbie Questions

vajeff(7b VA)July 4, 2012

I've been an avid Miracle Grow Potting Mix user for years... with the occasional exception (Scotts Premium Potting Soil). However, this year I have many more containers than in previous years, and with the addition of winter sowing, I've come to realize just how much it has cost and is going to cost me. Because of this, I'm debating whether or not to start mixing potting mix from scratch in hopes that it will be at least equal or less than the cost of retail mixes with the added benefit of increased drainage, lack of salts, and durability.

From what I've been reading, both the 5:1:1 and gritty mix have better drainage than big box retail brands; the gritty mix having the most. I'm assuming that the 5:1:1 is better for single-season plants such as annuals and veggies, and the gritty mix is better for those that require superb drainage and/or will be potted for several seasons. And now the questions:

For winter sowing, which is better: gritty mix or 5:1:1?

Can products such as Espoma Garden Tone be added to the mixes in addition or instead of the Ozmocote? I'm thinking it is better in the 5:1:1 and might wash out of the gritty mix?

What brands of pine bark fines are people using? I haven't seen the first product labeled "pine bark fines" or "pine fines". I've seen plenty of pine bark mulch (not nuggets), so what brands are the most reliable for the size required? I know of Reptibark, however, at $25/24qts (online) it is a bit boggling, considering I'll likely need more than six bags if I make the 5:1:1 mix.

Are there alternatives to Turface? I can't seem to find it anywhere, and with the waste material that is included, I think it might be a little out of the price range. I've read about the Floor Dry and similar products, and hearing a few stories about them crumbling has pushed me away some. Is Espoma's Soil Perfector a suitable product?

#2 Cherrystone shouldn't be a problem. I'm sure one of the local feed stores would carry it or something very similar. However, just in case, does anyone know of a source of Gran-I-Grit in Virginia?

Does the gritty mix stand up to freezing temperatures? Does it freeze more easily than the 5:1:1? Another reason I'm a bit hesitant to consider the Floor Dry (and similar) material is what would happen if it froze while wet. I can just imagine it crumbling to itty-bitty pieces... or mush.

Which mix is best for house plants, or can they both be used?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rarvn(z8 Coastal, SC)

I can't find pine fines so I'm using Repti Bark. Pet Mountain sells it for $18 and free shipping over $75.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pet Mountain

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 4:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Turface is a baseball field conditioner and is rarely carried by plant nurseries, and all the ones in my area, when I asked them about it, looked at me like I had 3 eyes on foot long eye

Go to and look for the dealer locator. I did, and found about a dozen locations in VA.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rarvn(z8 Coastal, SC)

List of Turface distributors in VA.

Here is a link that might be useful: Turface

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 1:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

The floor/oil spill product is almost exactly the same as turface MVP, some say even better. Dont know how either would hold up to freezing temps though.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 2:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Vajeff,

I am also from Virginia and i find my source of Gran-i-grit at my local Southern States store (Growers size). You could even find it at Tractor Supply Stores as well. Give them a call and you could find it there. Where in VA do you live?

Some stores also carry the Turface Allsport or the MVP. Both will be fine for the Gritty Mix. I do have a problem finding the Pine Bark Fines here in VA. So i just wait until the Reptibark goes on sale at Petsmart and buy that. You could check the local Hydroponics store and see if they sell Orchid mix that has small Pines fines or Fir. Just a thought.

I also enjoy making the mix and all of my Desert Roses and Plumeria love this mix as well as my Citrus.

Good luck to you and if you need any help just ask!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vajeff(7b VA)

Thank you for the help! I found Reptibark for $13.50/24qt. I think I'll wait for it to go on sale at Petsmart and compare.

There seems to be a little less than a handful of Turface distributors in the local area. The rest are over 70 miles away. I'll call around and see if any nearby locations stock it or if they could order it.

Laura, I live in southside Hampton Roads. Oddly enough, I've driven by the Southern States store on S Military Hwy so many times and never given it a thought until you mentioned it. I had no idea what Southern States was. I'll plan a visit the next time I'm out that way. I'll also plan a visit to the hydroponics store (can't remember the name) in Virginia Beach.

I'm growing Desert Roses and Plumeria from seed this year! So far, the Desert Roses are in Miracle Grow cactus mix. They seem slightly more happy now, although, they are very slow growing. The plumeria have recently exploded in growth, but due to having been under a shaded porch for a few days of storms, I think they might have suffered a bit or need repotting.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi vajeff,

So you are pretty close to me!!!

You can find Turface at Va Beach Feed And Seed (Witchduck RD) Call first to check. They also carry Gran i grit too. Sometimes they have to order it first so i would talk to "Harry" 757-497-2151. Also call Southern States t too. They were out of the growers size. (That is what you want). I also wait for the Reptibark to go on sale...

Here is a pic of one of my Desert Roses in Gritty Mix..

Hope this info helps...

Nice to see someone from the area Go "757" ...

You will really like the Gritty Mix!! My trees love it!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 12:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vajeff(7b VA)

Thank you for the help!

Your desert rose looks great! I've seen a few pictures of them in the other topics, and it's inspiring! Until I saw yours, I had no idea we could grow such tender, exotic plants with much success here.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 9:41PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What to plant in 4 1/4 Gallon Food Grade Buckets?
I was recently given about 20 4 1/4 gallon food grade...
Pre-watering before Fertilizing Vegetables
I have read on GardenWeb where some people (who appear...
Window box
I live in NJ and every spring we plant flowers in a...
RE: Brush Cherry ( Josh? )
Hi Josh, I thought I would get this off of Al's thread...
Hello! Houzz's new format has presented some challenges,...
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™