Gypsum for gritty mix

TeeInTO(6a)October 5, 2012

I posted a note in the adenium forum, but perhaps this is a better place for this question.

I finally obtained all the necessary ingredients for the gritty mix - all except gypsum. I went to four different garden centres yesterday, and couldn't find it anywhere, nor could they tell me where to find it. I also called a few of the big box stores, with no luck.

Does anyone know where I can find some in Toronto, Canada? Alternatively, is there anything else I can use as a suitable substitute? I've also been unable to find Foliage Pro in Canada, so switching to that fertilizer does not appear to be an option.

Thanks in advance!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Use 'plaster of Paris' - same thing. You understand the reason for the gypsum and when to use/not to use it - yes?


    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 6:47PM
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"You understand the reason for the gypsum and when to use/not to use it - yes?"

Hi Al. Can you give the reasons again, please? I am growing conifers in containers, and so want a mix that is somewhat acid.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 8:22PM
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Al - as I understand it (based on reading through the numerous threads), gypsum is added to provide a source of calcium, which is not provided by most fertilizers. You then have to add epsom salts to provide magnesium.

Also, you cannot use dolomitic lime because it makes the mix too basic. Is there anything I'm missing?

By plaster of paris, do you mean the powder sold at hardware stores? If so, it should be easy to find. Are there any special instructions on how to use this, or do I just mix it in as per the instructions on gypsum (1 tablespoon per gallon)? Supposedly it re-forms into gypsum when mixed with water. Sorry if this was already addressed elsewhere, but I didn't come across it.

Lastly, is there a link to explain how much and how often I should use epsom salts?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 1:24AM
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Can anyone comment on my plaster of paris question? Has anyone successfully used the type sold at hardware stores?

It's available at Home Depot, but there is no ingredient list on the box, so am not sure if it is appropriate to use. I've made a big effort to learn about this gritty mix and locate the turface/grit/fines, and don't want to screw up this last part.

Also, disregard my question on epsom salts - I came across the instructions on a separate post.

Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 3:30PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Use 2 tsp to 1 tbsp per gallon of soil, or 2/3-1/2 cup per cu ft. - "same thing" = same as gypsum insofar as nutrients are concerned.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:53PM
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Thanks Al. Picked up some plaster of paris from the local hardware store. Hopefully I'll have as much success with my gritty mix as everyone else here!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:38PM
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... and here is the finished product. How does it look?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:25PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It looks good. Keep your eyes peeled for something a little smaller for the grit & bark. You might need to increase the volume of Turface or DE to keep up with the watering.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Where did you buy grit?
Did you use repti bark?


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:45PM
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Thanks Al. I did manually break up some of the larger bits of bark, but will keep an eye out for anything smaller for next time.

Rina, yes I did use repti bark. It was awfully expensive ($10 for 8 quarts), but I'd read it can be used straight out of the bag (I sifted out the smallest particles), and living in the city, it's a challenge to transport/store the huge bags from the big box stores (I have no car).

I found some grit at a park nearby - I only needed a small amount (a few cups), and have the same issues with transport/storage as with the bark. Plus, there are no farm feed stores in the city - that I know of!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 4:17PM
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I also live in TO. I bought repti bark originally too, since I couldn't find proper bark. It is OK if you have just 1 or few plants. It is also very 'nice' clean bark.
I managed to find a reasonable bark at Islington Nurseries, it needs to be sifted but it's pretty good size. Sapwood needs to be picked too.
I found source of Turface, and got grit from feed store in King.

If you need larger amounts of anything, let me know. I have car & can help. Rina

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 4:34PM
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Rina - thanks so much for the offer! I did only re-pot two plants (a struggling adenium, along with a small meyer lemon seedling to try) so have plenty of supplies for now, but I may very happily take you up on your offer in the spring!

My issue is really around transporting such large quantities, as both the grit and bark (and turface) are sold in huge bags. I can really only take what will fit in a backpack, which is very restrictive. I found small 5kg bags of turface - actually, "Profile aquatic plant soil" - at a local garden centre, and the grit was a pain to wash, rinse, then sterilize in the oven. It was okay for a small amount, but of course I'd rather have a more reliable source.

Where in the city do you live? If you're willing to pick up the items, I'd be happy to come by and help with the sifting, and of course pay for a share of the ingredients. I live right downtown, by the St. Lawrence market.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 5:50PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


That is very nice of you!!! are lucky to have someone so nice to help you nearby.

I just saw your post on the DR forum...and responded about trying to find a good source. Looks like you found one!!

Nice to see.. : )


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:54PM
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I live in Etobicoke.
Just let me know whenever you need anything, I am planning on getting enough supplies over this winter (like buying at least a cu yard of pine bark, few 50lb bags of Turface and so on) to be ready for spring repotting. I repotted a lot, but there is more plants that are waiting.
I hope your lemon will grow well - I bought one in spring & repotted. It took a while but it is growing very nicely now. Almost all of my succulents are now in gritty mix. Both mixes are really great for plants. You can always contact me thru my e mail addy in profile. Would you like some jade cuttings? Or maybe some succulent leaves to try to root?


I'll be happy to help anyone, got so much help here already and learned a lot too.
I was reading your post about watering - and I feel the same. I understand how calming it is, I often spend hours just watering. And watching the birds...


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 7:43PM
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Rina - thanks so much for the offer. I wish I had found you before I went all over town looking for Turface and gypsum! ;)

My lemon seems happy, though I just repotted it today. I can't believe how quickly water drains through this mix!

Actually, I'd love some jade cuttings. My mom has been commenting lately that she'd like to get a jade, so it'd definitely be worth a shot. I don't have much to offer, but I do have a ZZ plant, which I understand you can root from the leaves (I'm trying now - it's been a few months, with no signs of progress). I'll send you an email...

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:38PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The Repti-Bark ought to be screened to size for the Gritty Mix.
It is most likely perfect for the 5-1-1 straight out of the bag, but not the Gritty Mix.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 10:15AM
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