i need a good recipe for container succulent soil mix.TAPLA?help please.
How about if I send you a bag - YOU decide how you like it & if it's worth locating the ingredients. I think there were a couple of recent posters on other threads that mentioned how much they liked it. I actually grow houseplants and succulents in almost the same gritty mix.
I think I'll take a picture of it later today & post it so you can get a feel for what it is - along with a list of what's in it, too.
Below, you'll find a few thumbnails to click on if you're interested. Sorry that I didn't take much time to take especially pretty photos. ;o) Just wanted you to see what I grow houseplants and succulents in. If you look past the hail damage, you can see the plants are very pleased with what their feet are in.
I always have a mix of equal parts of Turface, crushed granite (grower/turkey grit), and fir bark on hand because it's my basic bonsai soil mix. I add some very coarse sand, and vermiculite, along with a little gypsum & dolomitic lime to it to round things out. Here's the formula:
3 parts Turface
3 parts crushed granite (farm feed store)
3 parts pine or fir bark (see photo for size)
1 part coarse silica sand (masonry supply company)
1 part vermiculite
CRF (18-4-9 is what I use, but anything with a high first # or close to a 3-1-2 ratio works well)
Dolomitic lime & gypsum
The Turface or a similar product is important.
Notice the lack of a large variance in particle size.
You could eliminate either the granite or sand by varying ratios or with a similar product.
The CRF is not necessary if you're diligent about your nutrient supplementation program.
I can help you determine how much dolomite & gypsum to add when I know your batch size.
You don't need peat in your mix, and the mix you're looking at is approx 75% mineral/inorganic. I grow some plants with a 0% organic component, so don't let that bother you. This soil is extremely consistent in how it performs over time and very structurally stable.
please,please pardon my ignorance,but what the hell is turface?i hate to seem like a blithering idiot,but i'm not familiar with it.i already have bags of fine pine bark mulch;i can get the other ingredients easily.i,ll let you know how much i'm going to mix up;but what is turface?
Turface is a calcined clay granule that is baked until it is almost ceramic-like. It has thousands micropores in each particle, 40-50% internal porosity, and promotes excellent macroporosity in soils. It has a good CEC as well (is good at holding nutrients), because it is clay. 1 lb of Turface aggregate has more than 13 acres of surface area.
You may have to call around to find it, but it is a superb soil ingredient and has value as an ingredient in many soil applications.
Turface on the left (screened), crushed granite on the right:
is it like oil-dry[kitty litter]?looks kind of like it.where do i look for it?home depot or lowes;you think they might have it or will i have to dig deeper?thanks again for your time.
Kitty litter often contains other ingredients (like perfumes) that may be phytotoxic. Both litter and oil dry products could be fired at temperatures low enough that insufficient vitrification occurs, leaving the particles unstable and with a tendency to return to mud or clay when wet.
If you decide on one of those products, opt for the oil absorbent (no perfumes or other additives) and test it by soaking it over night in water. After soaking, squeeze between thumb & finger to test stability - you don't want to grow succulents in clay. ;o)
Turface would likely be found at large landscaping operations or wholesale nursery suppliers. It's used often in building/maintaining golf courses & athletic fields. Usually, calling someone associated with a local bonsai club will reveal one or more sources, but that depends on what part of the country you live in - you should be able to get it in GA for $10 - 12 per 50 lb bag.
al,did you get my e-mail?
The last one I received I replied to and said "I'll post the pics tonight ....." and "If you trust me, send me your address." or something similar to that. I've received nothing since.
I just figured you didn't trust me. ;o)
You should have received your package by now. Make sure you revisit the thread later to report on how you like it, please? ;o)
hey al,it's not here yet;maybe tomorrow.i'm looking for it.thanks,pam
I would like to keep things as simple as possible cause I have limited space to store lots of amendments, but I don't know where the lines fall. I'm looking for a mix that can grow veggies and flowers along with a few more woody plants like bushes and maybe even a few small fruit trees. This would all be in containers on a second floor deck so I can't afford for it to weigh a total ton when wet. I don't like perlite cause it floats up all over and I've read somewhere that vermiculite smashes back down too fast to work, so I'm wondering if it would be possible to use something like redwood soil conditioner (I'm in CA) and Turface--or maybe pumice if it would still work and be lighter when wet--and some fertilizer, and just shift the percentages for different plants. My area is at the coast where it doesn't get blazing hot so I'm also hoping not to have to water more than once a day. Any input on whether it could work to do as I've written--skipping all the sand and gravel and stuff? Thanks to all!
How close to SF are you? Do you have access to Turface? Sure you can build something that will work just fine w/o using perlite or vermiculite, but I think you're selling yourself short on the mix for veggies & flowers by eliminating perlite as an acceptable soil component. If you're that particular about the fact that it sometimes floats to the top when you water copiously, why not just mulch with peastone to hold it down?
If you can get Turface or Play Ball, and pumice in 1/8 - 1/4" size, you've got it made in the shade.
It's pretty bad when I'm so used to peat based mixes that I can't imagine something growing in the mix shown above. I've decided that I'll ask my girlfriend for the ingredients for Christmas (may think I'm crazy) and mix up a batch. I'll be excited to see how my plants do next growing season.
Lolol - the plants will happily and immediately adapt to it - it's YOU we'll be watching. ;o)
Wow, Al, thanks for answering so quickly. I'm sure I can get Turface, but I know nothing about it, which is why I was wondering if pumice would be lighter, but it sounds like you are advising using both. Should the redwood stuff also have a particular size of chunks? If so, do you know any brands that do? If I'm leaving out some things, like the sand and gravel, I don't know which other things would best make up for it. Would you please give me some examples of what a simple blend using just the redwood stuff with the Turface and/or pumice for my three examples of flower/veggie, more woody bush, and small tree would be, in approximate percentages of each item for each of these 3 kinds of plants? I'll even add in some vermiculite if you disagree with those who think it smooshes down too fast, and you think that it would be good, it is only the perlite that gave me so much trouble. I was really hoping to replace the perlite with whatever is next best to it and still be ok. Do you think that would just be too much of a compromise? Also, how long would such a mix likely hold up, and do you think it would stay wet enough to still work ok with watering no more than once a day as long as it's not too windy or hot? Thanks again for all your help. I really appreciate your input because it really helps me feel more confident to get help from someone with so much more experience.
Hdladyblu - you should have received a package long ago. I sent it out on the 5th or 6th in a prepaid priority box. They usually always arrive within 3 days. I didn't save your e-mail addy, so I have no way of contacting you to find out.
EC - you don't have to butter me up to get me to try to help. ;o)
OK - you can find Turface you say. In case you run into trouble: do a Yellow Pages search for 'Ewing Irrigation' and/or 'Sierra Pacific Turf Supply' for the CA location nearest you. They both sell Turface and have multiple outlets throughout CA. If you call, you might ask them if they sell 'Play Ball' instead. It is superior to Turface in several important areas.
I'm not familiar with the consistency and physical properties of the redwood soil conditioner, but I have a good friend near SF that uses it. I'll get in touch & get a feel for it's properties before I try to help you with a recipe.
For the 'pretty flowers', veggies, and stuff that probably doesn't require a very durable soil, you can use a more organic mix. If you can find pumice in 1/8 - 1/4" size, you can substitute it for perlite in this recipe:
*5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite (or 1/8 - 1/4" pumice)
garden lime or gypsum
controlled release fertilizer
micronutrient powder (or other continued source of micronutrients)
* I'm guessing that the redwood soil conditioner would be ok, but I won't be sure until I talk to my friend.
For houseplants, succulents, cacti, and woody plant material, or plantings that will see an extended interval between repots, we can work up a mix with a higher inorganic component. I'll get back to you as soon as I find out more about the soil conditioner you mentioned.
I'm a little uncomfortable with hijacking Hdladyblu's thread like this. It might be more appropriate to continue the conversation here.
I'm answering here in order to apologize for disrupting this thread. I realize now that I messed up by just hopping on to the most recent post with the word "soil" in it, when if I would have just paid more attention I would have seen that this post is more about succulents. Hdladyblu, I'm sorry I thoughtlessly barged in. I was careless and I'm gone. Al, I'll watch for any further posts you have for me at the end of the list you very graciously suggested to me. Sincere thanks for all your trouble [and that's no butter!].
hey al,i got my package!!the box was too large for the mailbox so mailman left a slip for me to pick up at post office;the slip was mixed in with some other mail.i just found it when i went thru mail sat.afternoon.anyway i picked it up today.i'm so excited!it looks like an excellent succulent medium.thank you so,so much for your time and interest.i didn't know there were still nice people left in this world.[pkg. has been here since nov. 8.]lol thanks again al.
hi edencat,i didn't realize you were disrupting my thread.i have all kinds of plants and need all kinds of info.all postings are educational to me.i am new to gw.any plant related input is useful to me.this is a great forum!like i said,i have all kinds of plants and i love to learn. hdladyblu
Ohh - you're welcome, HD. If I can make a suggestion? .... for fertilizer, use either a 24-8-16 (Peters, Schultz, Miracle-Gro all make it) or 12-4-8 (Miracle-Gro). All these blends have micronutrients. If you mix it up a gallon at a time at 1/8 strength, you can use it every time you water (with the soil I sent) and you'll have no salt build-up problems. Just be sure to water until about 10-15% of the total water applied flushes out of the drain hole.
If you have questions - don't hesitate to ask. Since you're using a soil I made, I have a special interest in wanting to see that you're successful. ;o)
al,you are a treasure.
I'm a newbie, but am finding this forum very interesting.
So, would this soil mix work for Aloe vera plants?
Also, how does one know when to water? With peatmoss based mixes you can just scratch the soil with your finger and water when dry, right?
Does it work the same with these types of mixes?
I have dozens of houseplants and succulents growing in this mix or one so similar to it that you'd not be able to tell the difference except by close examination. I actually usually use a simpler mix than above - equal parts of screened Turface, crushed granite, and pine or fir bark, for most houseplants. The soils I make for others are generally made to hold a little more water than mine - simply because that's what they are used to. I like a VERY open soil that is highly aerated and needs watering daily or every other day.
I screen the mix so particles are larger, around 1/16 - 3/16. This larger particle size insures that no perched water (water the saturated layer of soil at the bottom of containers that remains there after watering because of fine particulate size) remains in the container after watering. This means, that within reason, you can water a high % of plants as often and as freely as you wish. This virtually eliminates cyclic root death and salts accumulation in soils - probably the two largest reasons for poor vitality in houseplants.
How do you know when to water?
As you've just seen, that question isn't quite as important in a free-draining soil. You'll quickly gain a feel for when plants need water. You can always leave a wick sticking out of the bottom of the container. With your aloe, there is no need to water until the wick is no longer damp. Our fingers are only able to detect dampness when soil and the wick are above about 45% moisture content, but plants can extract moisture from soils when they are as low as 30% moisture content, and in the cases where soil ingredients like Turface or Play Ball are used, it's even lower than that, so even after soils first appear or begin to feel dry, there is probably still somewhere around 15-20% moisture available for uptake, depending on how the soil is constructed.
One big advantage of using Turface in good volume in soils is that it never gets hydrophobic (water repellent) like bark and peat do as their moisture content drops below about 30%. Turface sucks up the moisture immediately & will then release some of it into the bark or peat over a short period so the soil becomes evenly moist w/o you having to water/wait/water/wait/water.
This is so informative. Thank you
al,do i need to have a wick for all of my succulents? that's alot of wicks and a whole lot of trouble.
Not with the soil you just came into possession of, but of course, I have no idea what the state of the soil is in your other plantings.
i plan to use your soil mixture for all my container plants,al.it is such a great mix.i wonder how my plants have stayed alive all these years in traditional[fairly,with a little alteration]soil.thanks so much,pam
You're very welcome, Pam. Enjoy. I hope it makes your growing efforts more rewarding.
I have searched through many many threads to find the best houseplant mix. This is the thread that seems to be the closest I can find. I am looking also for a general mix for non succulent houseplants. Some are in very big pots that I lug to the sink to water. With that % of grit (I cant find granite but have found turkey grit.) it could be very heavy. Any lighter formulas? Also doesnt the turkey grit have calcium in it. Do you cut down the lime when you use it? Thanks in advance for the answer.
Be careful, B. You're likely to find crushed shellfish where you live and I'm referring to crushed/rotted granite when I mention 'grit'. I'm usually careful to use that term.
I grow all my houseplants & succulents in a mix similar to the one at the top of this thread. It's really not all that heavy. Turface is pretty light, and the only other heavy ingredient is the granite (you could replace this with the largest silica sand you can buy from a pool supply store or a masonry store. It should be 1/16-1/8 diameter.), and that only makes up around 1/4 of the mix.
You could use the 5:1:2 bark:peat:perlite mix and just add 3-4 parts of Turface to it, too. I'm certain you'd be very happy with that mix if you think the other might not suit you. ;o)
Here is a link that might be useful: A Soil Discussion - Houseplants
Thanks Al I just started reading on the houseplant threads. I will try to not highjack this thread but one quick question. How often do you water your houseplants?
Most (80?) get watered every 3 days, but a few (15?) get watered every other day & a very few (7-10?) every day, but remember I'm growing under lights, and that has a substantial effect on decreasing intervals between watering - and I grow in an even coarser mix than I recommend on the forums. ;o)
I cant figure out how you have time to water your plants inside and out, run a business, answer all our questions and help so many people!!
Thanks once again. When I get back from my vacation I am gointg to tackle my houseplants!
I used a succulent potting soil from Home Depot and they haven't been the same since. They seem to have stopped growing.
Easy one, B. - I don't watch TV more than a couple of hours/wk. ;o)
When you get back, I have something to tell you, but I don't want to share it until you return. ;o) Wellington?
I would bet money the only sense it's a succulent mix is in that is what is printed on the bag ;-)
It has been awhile since I looked inside a bag of the so called succulent mixes at big box stores, but in the past the only difference I found in them was a little more perlite than the 'all purpose' planting mixes.
They were still predominantly peat and it takes a really skilled watererer to grow succulents well in peat dominant mixes, particularly during the plant's dormant period when the risk of root rot increases.
Your plants probably are growing, just not above ground. Their energy is probably devoted to trying to regrow damaged/rotted roots. I would definitely encourage a repot as soon as possible if the mix you have is the kind I fear it is.
I have one comment and one question. I use the OilDri in place of the Turface. I tested it in water for over two weeks, stirring it everyday about three times, mashed it with a fork, boiled it on the stove- it never broke down. It is much less expensive for me and more readily available at Sam's Club.
I must be losing it - I thought I just aswered this question. Is part of the thread gone, or was I on another thread talking to another poster? Lolol
It just adds a little extra water retention to a soil that has porosity to spare. You can easily do w/o it, even though it does extend the intervals between water applications.
You might like to screen some of the dust out of the oil-dri by using only what won't pass through common insect screening.
Al, you answered my question about the vermiculite on the "Best soil for sedums?" thread. This thread had not been resurrected yet.
Thanks, Al. I thought that the calcined clay did this, but if the vermiculite helps as well, I'll get it. Yesterday, I found a place close to my mother's that sells the vermiculite at a reasonable price (which I can't say for the non-box store garden center close to my house). The course silica sand and crushed granite have been a little more elusive, but I may have a place close to the feed store where I found the vermiculite that may have it. I have to wait until Monday to check it out. BTW, how long should this soil last? I know your other mix that I normally use for my veggies and herbs lasted two seasons. I would think this might last longer.
I do screen the OilDri. In fact, I rinse it off. I put it in my veggie strainer (don't tell my hubby, I wash it in the dishwasher before using it again ;) After I screen the dust using my soil screeners, I put it in the strainer, take it outside and hose it off until the water runs clear. I also like it to be moist when I mix up the soil so that there is a little moisture in the mix. I don't water the first week after repotting my succulents so there's a little moisture to be released but it's not too wet. I wouldn't imagine that root rot is even possible in this soil though, even if there's a little root damage in the repotting.
I am going to get my supplies together this week and try to redo the pots next Saturday. With my back still not 100% after surgery, I'll have to mix smaller batches at a time. At least I know these plants should fare better while I'm on my vacation. With such a free draining soil, I may get a timer on these guys too, maybe set to once a week. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
If you didn't put a plant in the soil, but watered the soil every day, it would last indefinitely because it is mostly mineral and the less than 1/3 organic component breaks down very slowly. With a plant in it - it will last until it's time to repot & then you can usually remove the old soil easily & refresh it with new.
It sounds like you have everything under control with the oil-dri. Strong work! ;o)
hi al,haven't been here for a while;have had a whole lot of personal problems lately.all of my plants i potted in your mix are thriving.thanks so much!
and,i'm so glad to see this thread still alive.
I really hope you get everything worked out. On a less important note - I'm also glad to learn your plants are doing well.
Hi Al, I got the micronutrients, an organic fertilizer, the vermiculite, and the OilDri yesterday. They only had a giant size bag of the dolomitic lime. I have a small bag of garden lime but don't know if it is the same thing. It is what I have used before in your mix with the peat for my veggies and herbs. If it isn't the same, I will have to do some hunting.
Also, is the gypsum a part of the dolomitic lime? I don't recall ever buying it separately. I don't have time to read all the post to find out the importance of these two ingredients but am assuming it is to neutrilize the acidity of the soil?
Lastly, once I have these last incredients, how much of the fertilizer, micronutrients, and dol. lime do I put in comparison to the rest of the products. I use a large scoop when mixing and literally put three bowls of OilDri, three bowls of bark, three bowls of granite, one bowl of sand, and one bowl of vermiculite. I was remembering 1/8 of a part as being the measurement to use for the last three ingredients, but I don't know where I'm remembering that from.
I'm not sure how well the organic fertilizer will perform in the soil and your heat.
The garden lime & dolomitic lime are probably approximately the same % of Ca and Mg, so use them interchangeably.
Dolomite supplies Ca and Mg, in about the proper ratio, which is a good thing. The trouble is, it raises soil pH and this soil should be just a little over 6.2, so you don't want it to be higher than that due to the soil's tendency to show an upward creep in pH as it ages. Gypsum supplies Ca and S (note: no Mg), but it doesn't change soil pH, which is why I suggest it in this mix. When you use the gypsum as a Ca source, you need to supply Mg somehow, because it's unlikely you'll find it in a soluble fertilizer. Epsom salts are the best way for us.
Since your intent is to use an organic fertilizer, it's possible that the chemicals I just noted are included - no way for me to tell unless I know what you're using. If you have an aversion to soluble fertilizers like MG or Dyna-Gro, I understand and respect your decision. If you don't, I think you'd be much better served to use something that is easier to control and that will be more reliably delivered.
The fertilizer is called Micro Life. It is a 6-2-4 which meets the 3-1-2 ratio. It is a homemade brand from the feed store where I bought the vermiculite. It has no instructions on the bag so I am not even sure how often I'm supposed to add it or how much to add. I am not opposed to using MG. I have some so if that works better, I'll use it. I guess I can throw this stuff in my garden bed out front. Would I have to apply this more often than the MG or other slow release fert?
I could not find the gypsum but have the lime. How much of the fert and lime do I add? Looking at your regular mix, it would seem that it is 1/4 cup for every 4 gallon of other mixed ingredients. Is this accurate?
The soil conditioner I found is 50% decomposing pine bark mulch and 50% compost (or there abouts according to the employee). Do I need to sift out the finer particles of compost or leave them in the mix?
I went looking for the silica sand but couldn't find it. All they had was turbinado sand. The sample they showed looked like it would work with some sifting, but the bag he scooped for me looks to be too fine. I will open the bag and see. If it won't work, I'll skip it. I also got the crushed granite, so I don't know if the sand is that critical. There are particles in the crushed granite that I got that are the size you described for the sand.
I am going to start sifting the granite right now. I'd like to make up a batch tonight so that I can do a planting activity with my fifth graders tomorrow. I have 23 cuttings of jade and 23 little pots with saucers. If I can't get it made tonight, I'll make it tomorrow and we'll plant on Wednesday. We have three more weeks of school and I think I can get the first showing of roots on the little guys. I am going to make one up to test every three days to see how long it takes for roots to show. I've created quite the little plant finatics in my classroom this year. I keep a mini succulent garden in my coveted window (there are only 12 classrooms out of 48 with windows). I also keep one of my ficus retusa bonsai. My kids love to help me take care of them. =0)
I won't try to influence your decision between MG and the organic fertilizer except to say that the MG or other soluble fertilizer is immediately available for uptake the minute you apply, while organic fertilizers require the activity of microorganisms to break down the organic components into usable elements. If microorganism populations are low, delivery will be slow or erratic with carryover between applications a very real possibility.
I can't help you with how much (of the organic) fertilizer to add. Knowing what it's made from would help a little ...
If it was my soil, I'd sift the fines out of it. I actually use uncomposted bark in this mix so it lasts longer.
I'm excited for you and the kids, and I would really love to see you have great success. I'm not sure if you're set on making this an entirely "do-it-yourself" project, but I'd like to offer to send you the soil you need. If you get word back to me right away, I can mix it & get it in tomorrow's mail, and wouldn't charge you anything for it.
Let me know through GW mail, please? If that doesn't work, maybe you could just call (because time is short) & we can work something out with what you have available.
Al - standing by. ;o)
I've sent you an e-mail. Sorry for the delay. Explanation in e-mail. Words can not express the gratitude. To be so smart and talented and sweet to boot - your wife is one lucky gal! ;0)
Hi. I just read this thread because Im getting some adenium and plumeria seeds and was wondering what would be the best soil to use. I got this much..... When seeding they need to stay moist. So I figure I can use regular potting soil for that reason until they are ready for fast draining soil.Please let me know if im wrong!!!. When they are ready to transplant would your mix be a good choice for these 2 types of plants? I'll go hunting for the materials this weekend if you say yes.. I've seen other mixes that are probably easier to attain but you explain why and they didnt; except for drainage and areation(sp?). So I guess Im asking for your thought on the best soil for those specific plants. Thanks. I live in North Texas so I dont know how easily accessable these ingrediants are as I havnt searched yet. Ill let you know where I find them incase someone else is looking up here. Wichita Falls.. Again Thank You
What purpose does the sand serve? I haven't been able to find it. I'll just increase the granite grit or is there a better substitute?
Would you mind posting a recipe for a small batch so that I'll know how much lime, gypsum & crf to add?
Thanks again for all your help,
Hi, Masanchez. I must be slipping. I missed your post - guessing it's addressed to me.
Yes - the gritty mix will be great for both plants. If I was starting your seeds (this is how I sow pine and other tree seeds), I would use the gritty mix above - with a twist. I would screen the Turface through insect screening & save the fines. The coarse part of the Turface would be used to make the soil. I would sow the seeds directly on top of the soil and then sprinkle/cover with 1/8-1/4 inch of the Turface fines. I would then mist the surface of the fine Turface over-layer whenever it dried out & began to lighten in color.
Jessz - The coarse sand just increases the surface area of the soil particles and temporarily holds on to water that can then diffuse into the bark instead of flowing right through/over the bark w/o actually wetting it. If you're using starter grit, you can easily skip the sand. Don't gnash your teeth over it. ;o)
For about 1 gallon of soil:
1 quart plus a cup of Turface
1 quart plus a cup of starter grit
1 quart plus a cup of uncomposted fine pine bark
1 cup vermiculite
1 tbsp gypsum
1 tbsp CRF
Somehow, you need to be sure your plants are getting all the nutrients they need, so try to select a fertilizer complete with all macro and micronutrients, or use a micronutrient source to supply. You'll need to include some Epsom salts in your fertilizer solution unless it's supplied in the fertilizer you use. If you use a fertilizer like Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, which contains Ca and Mg, you can skip the gypsum in the soil and the Epsom salts in the nutrient solution.
I have a Berkeley, California yard full of black clay. I plan to dig out a foot of clay and pile up a succulent friendly mix into knolls. Are the ratios for your mix recommended for outdoor use with succulents or are any adjustments that I should make?
Thank you, Jason
I think you'll be disappointed after executing your plan unless you put a drain in the bathtub. If you dig a depression in clay, water will accumulate every time it rains. It may take so long for the water to percolate through the soil that roots will rot - particularly those of plants that really need excellent drainage. You would be much better off to save the energy it takes to remove the clay, and direct it toward building raised beds.
Soil (physical) composition for container culture is much more critical than the composition of soils we use when gardening in the earth. You should be fine with a mix of something like:
2 parts Turface
1 part pea stone
1 part sand
1 part partially composted bark
1 part reed/sedge peat
dolomitic (garden lime)
For better water retention, replace the pea stone with more Turface.
Thank you for the response! I will come as close as I can with the local resources I have to use your outdoor recipe. Knowing that I can now conjure a planting mix that will be healthful for the plants is a tremendous help and a burden that I can now lay to rest.
For draining: The whole yard will act like a drain to avoid the bathtub/aquarium effect. The house is set back from the side walk seventeen feet. The grade slopes towards the sidewalk and falls from two feet to flush with the side walk (% grade?). A two foot rock wall will built at the sidewalks edge and will be back filled with your recipe/mix and heaped in knolls with boulders throughout. I will line the backside of the wall with gravel to help leech the water that much more. For paths and top dressing maybe decomposed granite throughout. Finally, all the succulents that I have been collecting and propagating will have a place to thrive!
I appreciate your help and your time, Jason
This mix sounds great. The only thing I dont understand is the turface material. some people use the oil dry. this stuff is designed to absorb anything and everthing and not let it go I thought. how does it get released back to the plants?
You're working on a faulty assumption. You're thinking that because oil evaporates very slowly and tends to stay in the internal pores 'forever' that water will behave the same. It won't. Plants don't 'drink' water. They absorb it molecule by molecule from the surfaces of soil particles and from water vapor in the soil. Actually, both peat and pine bark hold water much more tightly than either Turface or calcined DE.
ok, i'm a huge newb and just learning about all the different soil componets, so my questions might seem a little remedial.
for my succulents i've been mixing regular Miracle Grow potting soil with just a little scoria, perlite and vermiculite. but after reading this thread i'm fairly sure i could do much better for my succulents - i've killed a lot of them :(
i have 1/8"-1/4" expanded shale on hand. is this something that would work in a succulent mix? would it replace the granite or turface?
i also have 1/8-1/4" scoria (little red volocanic rocks). how would you use this in a mix like Al's?
here is everything i have on hand:
napa auto parts floor dry (i see in this thread that it can replace turface if it holds up in water - i'll do the test)
scoria (red volcanic rock)
partially composted bark fines
any recommendations on a recipe using the ingredients i have? thanks.
also, a few more questions.
i've usually just sprinkled osmocote on top of my potted plants. is it better to mix osmocote into the soil prior to potting?
then use a diluted liquid fertilizer in addition to the osmocote?
i guess i'm afraid of over fertilizing. but if i remove/reduce the organic matter i'm used to using i guess i'll need to up the fertilizer.
sorry so long winded. thanks everyone (especially Al).
The scoria is closer to Turface than granite, and the Haydite is closer to granite than Turface, but the two ingredients just mentioned don't contrast with each other nearly as much as Turface & crushed granite.
I'm thinking you might be pretty happy with:
2 parts scoria
2 parts Haydite
1 part floor-dry
1-2 parts uncomposted bark
Yes - CRFs are better incorporated than broadcast, especially if they will get direct sun on the prills, but you can do just fine with just soluble fertilizers if you're diligent about your applications. Whenever you're growing in containers, it's wise to make the assumption that you alone are responsible for seeing that your plants get all the nutrients they need to grow normally in a timely fashion and in a favorable ratio to each other.
thanks a lot Al.
you mention that the scoria and haydite do not contrast nearly as much as turface and crushed granite. -- is that a bad thing? will less diversity compromise a soil mix?
Not really. It just makes it so much easier to adjust the water retention of the soil if you have something like Turface or floor-dry with tremendous internal porosity and water retention to contrast with a product like crushed granite which has no internal porosity and very little water retention. E.g., a soil with
would hold much more water than
When there is little contrast between the ingredients, it makes for more guesswork, but I suppose that if you get used to what you're using, adding/subtracting ingredients to achieve your desired level of water retention will become second nature. Notice that I keep the organic component at no more than 1/3 of the o/a volume to promote longevity.
ok that makes sense.
i noticed you included gypsum in the recipe you gave me. is that to give the mix some added calcium and sulfur? does gypsum change the ph level or is it neutral?
what about lime? should it be in there?
.... mainly Ca, but S can be a problem in the gritty mix, too. MG and many (if not most) soluble fertilizers have no S, and bark, at only a 1/3 fraction of the whole anyway, is generally low in S. Gypsum may change pH very, very slightly, depending on the starting point, but for our purposes it should be considered pH neutral. Lime will raise pH, and since the starting pH of the gritty mix is considerably higher than the starting pH of the 5:1:1 mix, I use a combination of CaSO4 (gypsum) & MgSO4 (Epsom salts) as the Ca/Mg source because it has nearly no effect on pH.
What about CRF for azalea's along with a mix of lime? (AS PER package has many minor's included)
As you probably know, azaleas prefer a pH around 5.0 or even lower in a container, so I think it depends on the soil you're using. I wouldn't suggest you use lime with the gritty mix, though - especially with plants known to have a distinct fondness for acidic conditions.
"CRF" covers a LOT of ground. Just exactly what does it list as the NPK ratio, and exactly what other elements (nutrients) does it contain. What is the source of the N. A urea-based source of N would be most appropriate in all but a very few instances for rhodies.
It is prolly better to say it is Ultra Green by Lilly Miller than to list the particular's... I just thought for the purposes of succulent's, added lime would help balance the pH as well as add Magnesium and Calcium. It has been quite a long time since college so I'm very rusty with the chemistry. Though reading thru most of your posts has brought back a few sparks here and there.
Just saying it's "Ultra Green" puts the burden of research to find out what's in it on me. I stopped looking when I discovered there's only about a thousand of them. ;o)
The whole Ca/Mg relationship is covered pretty extensively in other posts on the forum. The reason I suggest the CaSO4 as a Ca source, and the addition of MgSO4 as a Mg source is you can supply both Ca and Mg w/o raising soil pH. Since the gritty mix has a starting pH that is higher than that of peat/bark-based soils, we don't have the same luxury of killing 3 birds with one stone (raising pH, and supplying Ca + Mg). You can probably get away with using lime w/o horrid problems, but I've found that the gypsum/Epsom salts works better with the other chemical properties of this particular soil.
Sorry about the research thing, assuming does alot for one as you prolly know... However, despite the 'should be' availiblity of pine bark fines in SWFL, its pretty much non-existent. "Because of the bug problem" is what I have been told by Forestry Resources. Apparently our bugs like pine... I use Osmocote for most of my plantings. The UltraGreen is not correct according to your ratios, however down here most plants seem to 'accept' different chem structures. I know you'll have a field day with that statement. Any way- 10-5-4 plus 5.9% Urea 1% Ammoniacal N, .7% other W sol N, P2O5 5%,2.4% H2O insoluable N, P2O5 5%, K2o 4%, S: 2.5% free S, .5% Combined S, Boron .02%, Fe .10%, Mn WS .07%, Mo .0005%, Zn .004%. And now I'm dizzy so if you need me to look at the label again, please wait a bit =D Shannon
Ahhh! - that makes sense ... termite heaven stacked up next to your house (pine mulch) is probably not a good idea in termite country, thus the 'no PB syndrome'.
The fertilizer is a little higher in P than necessary, but it's not so bad for the rhodies. To tweak things, you might want to consider fertilizing only enough to keep the foliage nice & green, but include either a little potash when you pot your plants, or use a K supplement each time you fertilize. This will turn around the P:K ratio to something a little more favorable (or switch to MG 24-8-16). The primary benefit is that you'll be able to fertilize at a lower rate o/a, which will make it easier for your plants to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in it.
I am really wanting to try this mix for my cactus and succulents. I live in a smaller part of the world, Saskatchewan Canada, and I am afraid I may not be able to find all this stuff, or even online that ships reasonably. Domomytic lime and gypsum, if I make 1 litre of this, how much would I add?
I have a question, I bought this stuff called AXIS today to do Al's gritty mix. It is to replace turface. Can someone let me know if it's ok? I still have the receipt in case I need to take it back.
Here is a link that might be useful: Axis soil amendment to replace turface
Its made from Caclined DE, same as oil dry and many other products. Do a search for napa 8822 and you will find many posts about it. I would say it should work great so long as the particle size is good. You don't want it to be too fine. Sift it over an aluminium insect screen would be good.
Its very similar to turface but:
Usually more gray colored
Holds a bit more water
Slightly higher pH
Where did you find this product?
This post was edited by smishgibson on Tue, Nov 12, 13 at 23:50
Sorry for digging this post up. I have some questions about the potting mix for succulents.
I want to try the recipe of Al's gritty mix for my succulents. But I live in Vietnam, a small country in Southeast Asia where we don't have access to Turface nor DE nor pumice. We can only have perlite.
So, can I replace Turface with perlite? Since perlite is also internal porosity. Or should I just omit the turface from the mix?
Another the question is about the CRF. There is only 1 CRF availble here, the Bounce back. (I included the analysic of it). Can I use it in place of the CRF 18-4-9?
Thanks for your help!
Perlite is closed-cell, so although there are internal spaces, they aren't open to the outside. Perlite holds moisture primarily on its surface where the pores are open.
Hi Josh. Thank you for the quick reply.
So how about using Leca soil (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate) or Scoria instead of Turface?
The Scoria would be better, although it has macro-pores and won't hold as much moisture as Turface.
Thank you very much, Josh!
I shall go planting now.
Yes Josh"" I forgot how useful this stuff can be. You're the best pal!
Always here ready to lend a hand! I use too. Been to tired these days (
Have a great day my friend
Can anyone suggest a readily available pre-mixed potting soil for succulents? I know it's not ideal, however I don't know where to get the various ingredients suggested here, and I only have two small succulents, so don't want to end up with 20kg of succulent potting mix!
My DH and I exploded our Christmas Cactus by over watering. The Christmas Cactus was in no special soil at all, and it flowered like crazy this year (twice), so assume it was happy. Until...(cue scary music)
So if anyone has any suggestions as to the best (of the worst!) pre-mixed and readily available potting soil that might support succulents (and keep my fingers crossed), I'd really appreciate it.
I found Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix at Home Depot however the reviews are extremely mixed, and while there were at lot of 5-star ratings, there were more 1-star.
Thanks in advance,
Hi, Kat, my advice is to avoid MG moisture control at all costs.
Let me limit my response to your Christmas Cactus. Purchase a quality Orchid Mix that is mostly fine-grade bark (not the large chunk bark). Add a little more perlite to the Orchid Mix and that should make a decent mix for most jungle cacti.
Thanks very much!
Thank you for dedicating so much time to supplying such detailed, helpful information. I'm sorry to rehash something that has already been discussed. However, I just wanted to clarify. Is the following mixture the one that you recommend for succulents or all house plants?
"3 parts Turface
3 parts crushed granite (farm feed store)
3 parts pine or fir bark (see photo for size)
1 part coarse silica sand (masonry supply company)
1 part vermiculite
CRF (18-4-9 is what I use, but anything with a high first # or close to a 3-1-2 ratio works well)
Dolomitic lime & gypsum
I am looking to make soil that will only be used for succulents. If the above mixture is correct for succulents. How much CRF, Dolomitic lime & gypsum, and Micronutrient granules would you use for a mix if I were to use 1 lb of each of the other ingredients.
Thanks in advance for your time!
That recipe pops up from time to time, and it's one I provided to a lady who wasn't going to be convinced that she could get all the water retention she needed by varying the ratio of Turface:grit in the mix; and there was a lot of conversation that was carried on via email. I use equal parts of screened Turface, fir bark in 1/8-1/4 size range, and #2 cherrystone (or Gran-I-Grit in grower size or Manna Pro Poultry grit.
I use no additives other than Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 fertilizer. If you use that as your starting point, you'd have to work pretty hard at messing things up to end up frustrated with the results.
Thank you so much! I am excited to purchase all of the ingredients and get started.
Let me know if you think there is anything else I can help you with.
Hi Al and all,
One last question that has probably already been answered, but after an hour of scrolling, I'm giving up and asking again. Al, you said that you use fir bark fines specifically - will pine bark fines such as these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-8th-inch-Shohin-Bonsai-Pine-Bark-Fines-1QT-57-75-cu-in-BonsaiJack-soil-/290987111297?pt=US_Garden_Tools&hash=item43c02ef381 work or do they need to be made of fir?
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your time in advance!
That's fir bark in the bag pictured at your link, but pine and fir work equally well. I buy the fir bark because I can get it prescreened to an appropriate size ....... my lazy bone guiding my decision. ;-)
That's really a lot of dough for a quart of fir bark - just so you know. Why not ck and see if Reptibark is cheaper. It's usually available at pet stores.