Al and my friends..Mistakes I have made recently..

meyermike_1micha(5)October 26, 2010

Ok, I am going to admit in front of the world that I do make mistakes and that there is no shame in that...Usually I come here to post all my beautiful plants, with perfect leaves, flowers and all, but I am also going to show you a perfect example of the phrase, "Sheesh, you learn something new everyday"..

I have come to discover that everything I was doing for my gardenia was just right..I provided the perfect light, the perfect gritty mix, the perfect food, and the perfect love my baby deserved...It was growing perfect and dark green with tons of blossoms.....But>>>>>>>Never ever forget to water a plant to the point of wilt,especially a gardenia or a citrus tree or you will end up with this in just 5 days to a week...It's my own darn fault..:-(

Here is my Gardenia loosing it's leaves and yellow from root damage..

Here is a lemon tree that was loaded with green leaves and flowers just 6 days ago, until the pot was accidentally under watered...COMPLETELY BARE!

I hope many will learn from the same mistake I made..We always talk of over watering, but under watering can cause much damage too..


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Mike, so sorry that happened.

I've found the same to apply to Saintpaulia. The roots, especially in young plants, will die quickly when there isn't water.

I don't have any pictures, but they are much like yours, except it takes a bit longer. You notice the plant can only support 8-12 leaves and the outer older ones keep dying. Soon it can only support 6-8 leaves, etc. Then you finally check the roots....oops.

I've had to learn to check with a wooden skewer and water when the plant is still just barely damp. If I wait for dry soil, the roots have already started to die. They seem to prefer wet soil over soil that is alternately drenched and dry.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 6:57PM
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Thanks for sharing your story, Mike. We will never learn enough!


    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 10:42PM
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I don't have pictures of my mistakes, either, but trust me when I say that I make plenty! To err is completely human! To admit to those mistakes, to own them and learn from them, is a wonderful trait.

I've got a gorgeous Wysteria vine in a container, and I keep it just under the eaves of the garage for protection, facing east. It gets morning sun, and is quite happy as long as I remember to water and feed it.

I cheat and use a time release fertilizer on my outdoor container plants... I don't always have time to mix feeds for them.

Well, after a good rain I forgot that it was the only pot under the eaves that didn't get a good soaking, and before I knew it, all the leaves had wilted and many had dropped.

Luckily, I got to it in time to save it, and the leaves did grow back quite quickly. It's fine now, but I almost killed one of my favorite deciduous plants through neglect!

We all make mistakes... it's how we learn. We tend to forget things at times, which is quite understandable in today's busy, stress filled world. Owning up to those lapses in memory or mistakes, and sharing them so others can learn or remember is very commendable.

Thanks for sharing, Mike. I'm glad it all worked out. :-)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 3:27AM
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When visiting gardens or nurseries with my wife I am sometimes elbowed in the ribs. "What is that for?" I am likely to say. "Just don't say anything", she comments. I do find it difficult to be lovingly shown a garden full of sick plants and refrain from ANY comments. Last week I visited a small propagating nursery not seen for a year or two. I was so overwhelmed at the change of the health of the plants offered for sale I congratulated one of the owners. "We have a new man looking after the plants" she commented. Mike we have enjoyed pictures of your plants looking their best and now we know they did not ALWAYS look their best! My wife secretly has been thinking about that comment "we have new man looking after the plants". Al

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 8:34AM
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Oh the horror!!!! No seriously it's no big deal. Pamper them and they will recover.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 4:01PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Been there...DONE that! Mike, we are all human and mistakes I've made plenty! Thanks for sharing your pictures. You know that they say, we learn from our mistakes...and sometimes we repeat them,lol...I'm sure they will recover :o)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 9:42PM
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Maybe add some water-retentive material to your mixes. Under-watering or over-watering, same result. I always thought Gardenias liked moist soil.

Winter is tricky, the dry heat in the house can really dry out the pots.

I'm sure they will bounce back.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 1:32AM
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A better solution would be to move the plant to a location where you will see it and remember to water it as often as it needs... or to write yourself a reminder note, as in a list of plants needing attention, and keep it at your computer.

The medium Mike is using is not the problem. Why backtrack to square one because of a mistake that you made once? It's not the effort to water as needed that Mike has a problem with... he simply forgot. We all do that.

People in general like convenience... they don't want to go out of their way if they don't have to... and today's manufacturers know this and create products with this in mind, for the most part. This doesn't mean, however, that these products are the best or the healthiest. And this idea applies to most industries... look at the food industry. Fast foods are not healthy, but they are convenient.

But Mike isn't interested in convenience... he's more than willing to put in the effort that a healthier soil requires. He simply forgot. I've done the same.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 12:30PM
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Jodik: PERFECTLY said and fantastic idea's...Thank you for coming to know me and my cultural practices as well as you do..Your vote of confidence in me makes me smile...

I thought I would share a respose I made and share a beautiful well said post that "Rhizzo" said on another forum that I really appreciated...She too knows container practices, and my plants well...In case anyone is interested in the whole thread and it's details since many here do not frequent the citrus forums, I thought I would link you..:-)

Pug!, Al, Jane, Haxuan and Lathyrus: Thank you for your encouraging words..

Posted by rhizo_1 7a AL (My Page) on Thu, Oct 28, 10 at 13:06

The container looks tiny because Mike photographed his plants from above. And Mike, along with many of us, use clay pots BECAUSE they dry out faster. He was simply forgetful, but he surely won't change his excellent container gardening practices because of that, I hope!
Mike, whether or not your plants will suffer from more than a temporary defoliation will be determined down the road a bit. Just be observant and ready with the snips should you see any signs of die back. Don't OVER water at this point, by the way. With fewer leaves working to recycle the water via transpiration, moisture will remain in the potting mix longer.

RE: An almost grave mistake I could of made..! Picture clip this post email this post what is this?
see most clipped and recent clippings

Posted by meyermike_1micha 5 ( on Thu, Oct 28, 10 at 14:23

Thank you for your very good observation....You know me well and my growing practices.... The mix that I use is what I attribute and give credit to, for getting my plants big and healthy as it were, and surviving each winter, in the first place..

It was my "carelessness", which I am not ashamed to admit, that caused the "almost" demise and "defoliation" of my two plants, and thus far, you have hit what I was trying to say spot on..
Also,I am growing most my citrus in fact, in clay, as for the reasons you described, some in plastic, because I was too lazy at a time to run out and buy more clay, which I prefer..
I ran out of clay for that gardenia, and just havn't had the time to repot it, which could use a bigger pot now though...The roots are starting to poke through the bottom...

"Operator" error is what did this, and not the "mix", nor my "usual" way of "growing container practices" which will stay the same..

I simply just neglected, forgot, to water these two..

So good to see you Rhizzo and thank you ....:-)


Even if my plants were in a bigger pot, I would make sure they do not go days without having to water for my personal reasons..Days without watering in a container would spell certain death for my plants, especially gardenia which does like to dry out rather rapidly, and hates wet feet, especially in my climate and area..

Thanks everyone


Here is a link that might be useful: An almost grave mistake...I forgot to water

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 2:51PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Mike,
I'm sorry to see/hear about your plants. I'm sure with some of your TLC they will perk right up. ;)

Bless your heart for sharing this. But as others have said, we've all done it.

Yes, citrus sulk! I had gotten some 2 yrs ago (before joining GW) We had a good summer storm and I figured they had gotten enough rain. Wrong!
They were on the side of the house to make matters worse. Out of sight, out of mind.

After a few days of no rain, I went to water and about cried when I saw the trees. lol..(no pictures, had no reason to take them at that time or dig. camera.)
I now have other plants there and haven't forgotten. ;)

Moving the plant is a great solution.. so is the post it's. ;)
I may need post it's. lol.

Now I need to remember my plants under my shrub! At least until I prune it :)
It went through a big growth spurt recently and after a big rain the other day, my babies were wilted the next day. Only difference is, These are in ground plants. Kind of like yours, they didnt get the rain, the shrub is too thick now. ;)

I've learned not to count on Mother nature. :) I check everyone every morning now.

"Operator error" lol.. I like that, and so true. :) Were human, mistakes happen and we learn from them.

Keep us posted on how they are doing. :)


    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 10:29PM
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Hi Jane..I was looking at this post again and noticed you said this..

"Maybe add some water-retentive material to your mixes." Under-watering or over-watering, same result. I always thought Gardenias liked moist soil."

I was wondering what you meant?

Are you saying that if I forget to water a plant after a week or two due to my own neglect, like let's say I forgot about this plant in the corner behind the others again, or forget to open the doors to my greenhouse which cause temps to soar into the 100's, that the solution would be to add more fine ingredients into my mixes to keep them wet even longer?

Thank you


    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 8:37AM
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Jojo..Sheesh..I never saw your post. I hate this stupid work computer..It takes forever for certain things to download..

Thank you so much for your extremely caring attitude and very kind words..It feels good to know that I am not the only one who makes stupid
I can only imagine what happens to any of your plants if you forget to water just one day in that HOT Arizona sun even growing in pure peat or mud!
No wonder cactus are made for

Lesson learned for sure..

Imagine driving one of the best top notch safest cars in the world, and then not obeying the stop signs or speed limit? I wonder how long it would be before an accident happens and possible lost of life?
My soilless mix is top notch, and safe, and it is my resposibility to see that I use it correctly in order to avoid an accident or loose the life of my of my plants..

I will keep everyone posted..

Thanks again..


    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 8:56AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Mike!
I haven't checked texts yet, but I know they're there! ;)
My phone is charging as I type...I'll reply later from work.

Interestingly, I *have* added more organic material to a couple mixes that were too fast-draining.
One is a California Buckeye, and the other is my Blood Orange. Both mixes feature Bark particles
that are larger than recommended, and also lacking in small particles. My sifting/rinsing technique
caused a lot of the particles under 1/8 inch to wash out.

The Buckeye was in danger because of the small container - which had to be watered daily...sometimes twice.
So I added a thin layer of Bark - organic material - to the surface of the mix. Just a thin layer to help
slow the overhasty drying of the top inches of the mix.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 10:04AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Guys!
Well Mike,
Plants here aren't too happy if I forget to water, but to be honest, they fair better now that I have them in the fast draining mixes, and perk right up.

Yes, cactus are happy here. :)

The stuff the plants are growing in when I buy them gets brick hard if forgotten!
And stay super soggy after a good soak.

I think Jodi's term "operator erro" is a fancy term for "Blonde Moment" no matter what our hair color. LOL!
And we all have them. ;)

Hell Josh!
Dont let them work you too hard! ;)

Have a great day guys!


    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 10:21AM
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JoJo, two packages of Loreal LB02, applied liberally every few months, give me all the leeway I need in case any mistakes are made! "Oh, never mind... it's perfectly ok... she's a blonde." ;-)

But seriously... you'd be amazed by the help I've been offered, and the automatic passes I've been given over the years... all because I'm blonde. It's a strange societal advantage. Blonde hair must be more psychologically pleasing to the eye and brain, or something. I dunno.

In my environment, the custom mix I use actually does hold moisture for a little bit of time. I don't need to water all my plants every day. Some can go 2-3 days without watering them again. Of course, these are indoor container plants, which makes a difference.

We got a good frost last night, and the air remains chilly... it's almost time to begin moving my patio pots into the garage! Winter is just around the corner!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 3:48PM
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Hi Mike. Actually I was thinking about some sphagnam moss. I've used that with some orchids which dry out faster than I can water. I just mix in a small amount.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 9:45PM
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I had the same problem with a Meyers Lemon Tree too (underwatered it; thought someone else was watering it; Oops! My bad). I thought I was going to loose it even.... but it recovered. the tree ended with under 5-10 leaves. No lemons. But it recovered. I do not seem to feed it as much as I should so it never produces many lemons. Lots of nice smelly flowers though. One lemon a year would be awesome! Oh well. Hee hee hee!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 6:00PM
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I wouldn't add anything, Mike... just remember to water it when needed... simple as that.

The addition of anything to your medium would defeat the purpose... especially if the only issue is "I forgot to water". The simplest solution is usually the right one.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 9:45AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Occam's Razor (lex parsimoniae).


    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 1:05PM
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Exactly, Al... I almost added that to my post, but figured it might sound redundant. Then again, I don't know how many folks are familiar with the term. :-)

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 1:21PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Quite a few, I'd wager... ;)


    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 1:29PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

New to me.
Learn something new every day!
Have a great day guys!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 1:48PM
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I can understand that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily but on the lighter side of the convo. What does one call an orchid grower who gives advice to a lemon tree grower ?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 1:14PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It depends on how accurate/helpful the advice is. If an orchid grower is truly expert at growing orchids, they would be well-qualified to offer advice pertaining to a wide range of plant material. You don't get to be expert at growing one plant or group of plants w/o an excellent understanding of the plant sciences and plants in general.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 5:13PM
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Unless that "expert status" appears to be reached in record time. One doesn't ordinarily begin as a novice asking others for help, and only a short time later considers oneself an experienced expert that has the capacity to advise in a professional manner.

I've been gardening for over 30 years, and I still have a lot to learn. I would consider myself a tad above novice, but I'd not want to offer advice unless I could back up said information with facts.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 7:43AM
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Here in northern California, just a little too cool for most citrus to be planted in the ground, container planted citrus, mostly lemons, is universal. About one in one hundred is properly fed and is a good producer. Good citrus labeled fertilizer is available everywhere and the instructions on the bag are appropriate ONLY for trees in the ground. Gardeners to succeed MUST look at the plant and adjust to its needs. You do not need to be an expert to tell when a plant is not thriving. Al

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:15AM
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Thanks Al and Jodi, Things happen Mike the only thing someone can really do is learn from it.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 6:09PM
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Hi everyone..

In less than two weeks I wanted to share a couple of pictures of my gardenia fully recovered, thank God! Full of buds and even a flower..I didn't have to add anything to the mix at all..All I had to do was to remember to water it..It recovered FAST!

Thanks for the support everyone..Next I will take one of my citrus..I see new growth, but too little to see on the camera as they are a bit slower to grow..But it's coming..:-) I try a couple of pics anyway, what the hey..

The citrus with a couple of buds and flowers.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 10:13AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Mike!
So good to see they are springing back!! :)

Now, no more blonde moments. ;) he he..

Have a great day!
And as always, Hi to mom. ;)


    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 10:43AM
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Very nice, Mike! The Gardenia is a really pretty plant!

See? No need to go changing things that aren't necessary, just for the sake of convenience... all it was, was a simple mistake... no real harm done. You knew that, though, Mike. :-)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 2:25PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Sweet...Mike,looks like nothing every happened to them...just beautiful.Great job recovering!

Sent you an email :o)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 3:03PM
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Jojo..Thank you so much..:-)Nope, no more blonde moments and Mom send you a a big hello! She tells me she may want to visit you if we head to Arizona...:-)

Jodik..Thank you for your common sense in understanding it was simply a mistake in forgetting to water, and thank you for your confidence in my ability to nurse them back to health..I couldn't of done this without the mix I use, or by adding more water retentive material, or the support from all of you...The roots would of rotted by now if the dead fine roots had been allowed to take a long time to sit in a damp mix, especially this time of year.

Considering it is not the first time I forgot to water, like 5 years ago when I was using bagged heavy mixes, I still forgot! We know why they came back this time and not in the past....

It is not even inconveniant for me to water in the gritty mix at all,which I can not understand why it would be for anyone. If anything much more so in the crappy heavy mixes that rot plants in a quick amount of time should be!

Here is what an inconvenience was to me before I use the mixes I do now....

1. Having to worry if I was ever going to see my plants dry out before they rotted.
2. Having to replace my plants every time I over watered after I watched the croak.
3. Having to deal with gnats everytime my roots started to rot and mix stayed wet to long and then spend money and weeks on traps trying to rid them.
4. Never being able to leave my room a lot colder like I do now so I can avoid pest issues and encourage flowering because the mix I use to use would not dry out and even develope mold issues.
5. Having to spend money on replacement plants everytime I killed the same one I loved over and over and not being able to locate some again.
6. Having to watch my clay pots turn white from salt depsoits and look ugly.
7. Having to worry about fertilizing and salt burn.
8. Having to watch a plant die, instead of come back after a an under watering mistake, because the roots were to weak to take up water before the mix could dry out causing death.
9. Having to deal with dropping yellow leaves every single winter and through out the growing season because of poor root systems..

Oh, I could keep going, but to me, it was more inconvenient to use crappy mixes, soils, or any other than what I use now..

The only thing for me that I have to worry about is this.. I can't forget to water when needed.

I would much rather deal with this one inconvenience than all the other inconveniences brought on my using poor mixes..

Hugs to you too!!

Thank you all for all your support and kind words...

Pug...:-)))))))))))You are wonderful as always!


    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 7:18PM
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kemistry(8 - Oregon)

Mike, what's the name of your gardenia? Looks very pretty : )

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 8:03PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Hey Mike...that's a great list! I have to agree that "if" watering the plants in the gritty mix a little more often is a slight inconvenience...its one I can definitely live with and don't mind at all. I'm with you, its really not a big deal to water more often. It gives me a chance to check out my plants more often as well...its very therapeutic for me...I really enjoy my plants. and Its a very small sacrifice for much healthier plants, like you said a lot less expensive in the long run too...since we don't have to replace them often,lol...the only one that loses are the plant nurseries and the bagged soil companies!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 9:08PM
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But you where so darn close on the top ten reasons list Mike And the number one reason why I trust gritty mixes over bagged soils is:.......

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 9:51PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy, Mike!

Let me add another complaint to the list of crappy bagged soils....

Dark, tannic, nasty spills when excess water slops out of a tray or container!

By the way, your plants have snapped right back. Great job!


    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 1:51AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hey Mike,
I'd be crushed if your mom didn't visit. ;) Planning a trip anytime soon?

Great list!!
I can add a #10... :)
Rain! and bagged mixes are a nightmare!
Around here, I've spent plenty a summer in the past playing do I or don't I water?
I'd water, and a huge storm would just drown my plants the same day. They'd stay so wet, the soil would cook!

If I chose not to water, and wait for rain, that would be the day the forcast was wrong, and it wouldn't rain.. then they would dry out! and then when you did water, it would run right off!

All around no win! Even worse in the winter, considering we garden year round just about.

I really love watering and taking care of my plants on a daily basis. Like Pug says, it is theraputic!
Watering more often is a very small sacrifice, for beautiful plants without the worries.

I have a hoya, that came from lowes, in garbage of coarse. And I couldn't get it repotted right away. It went downhill, lost color and what didn't die off, wasn't growing.

I moved it into a gritty mix, it took off! has 6" of new growth, color back and new leaves!

I watered every day, with no worries of rain, and it's done just fine!

This is my first season using the Gritty mixes and the 5-1-1, and I am amazed at how well plants have done. I will give up my garden, before going back to bagged mixes.

A big "Hello" to everyone!


    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 6:55AM
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But the industry that sells the bagged soils wants you to fail... so you buy more plants after killing the ones you have, and you buy more soil to place those new plants in... and so the cycle goes... it's a vicious cycle called greed. Corporations aren't people; they're entities with a bottom line of making a bigger bottom line, profit.

Industry in our country has sold us on the idea that convenience is what we want, what we need. The saying goes, "an educated public is a dangerous public"... and nowhere is this more true than in gardening. Once we educate ourselves, we're not apt to buy the products the industry is selling, which puts them at a financial disadvantage. They count on us to keep that profit rolling in, and if we actually learn what plants need and why they need it within a container environment, we'll cease to be the source of those profits.

I have never heard that changing a medium will cure a short bout of forgetfulness... probably because it isn't true. The answer lies in a simple reminder... keep a list handy of plants and locations to check on a regular basis, thereby eliminating the urge to forget.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well... and convenience plays no role in getting the most out of this hobby we all have. We want the best, so we are willing to go the extra mile to get the best. Cutting corners won't get us there.

Watering more often gives us the opportunity to observe detail... subtle growth, budding, any insects or other problems... it gives us the chance to be ahead of any issues that might crop up. What some may see as inconvenience, we see as a distinct and positive opportunity.

As in most areas of life, we only get out what we're willing to put in. And once we learn exactly what role soil plays in a container environment, it's very easy to see that most bagged soils are not what our plants need, or want. But then, why would they continue to sell us on the idea that they are good? For sales... and for no other reason. The industry is not our friend. It does not have our best interests at heart, or that of our plants. It has profit uppermost on its agenda.

With all that said, though, it still boils down to how much people want to learn, and how much time and effort they are willing to expend. For some, good enough is good enough... and for others, only the zenith of plant health will do.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 11:00AM
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