Espoma Organic Potting Mix for Amaryllis

GrowSis(9B Inland Empire,CA)November 13, 2012

I am not going to mix my own. Really and truly I'm not. Given that limitation will the following product work to grow my (only) plant and not harm it. It's been growing in coir for 2 years and now needs to be re-potted when I take it out of dormancy next week. I just need fresh soil in a bigger pot that won't hurt my plant. I would like it to grow stronger than in the coir (which has been just fine but is not readily available) but only if I can achieve that easily/cheaply. Unfortunately the company doesn't list the product sheet so I can't investigate the ingredients. Although I am suspicious of the myco-tones. Has anyone used this one? Any wisdoms? Complaints? General reviews are good but none are Amaryllis-specific. Hopefully, there are at least a few "buyers" out there. Thanks.

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Has anyone used this one? Any wisdoms? ?
Complaints: It would compact then suffocating roots

Wisdom: by use of a medium that provides more air and still allow moisture to remain would prevent compaction and allow for better/more productive root growth.

Use it: No, reason why I dont use it. The often times commented believes of commercial products is often over rated. The unknowing reader reads what the corporate company allows them to read which is mostly positive feed back and very little to no negative feed back.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:46AM
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"Espoma Organic Potting Mix contains between 45 and 55% sphagnum peat moss, peat humus, perlite, dolomitic lime and is enhanced with Myco-Tone mycorrhizae for healthy roots."

If this is one plant we're talking about you'd be better off getting Miracle-gro Cactus Mix, which I think is widely available. Perhaps someone in your area can give you a reccomendation based on local availability. Mycorrhizae are a real thing, but they won't overcome the limitations of peat-based potting mix.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 7:58PM
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I'm an avid grower of Amaryllids of all types, and I've tried just about every packaged product out there.

I finally did some real research, delved into the basic science and physics of container growing, and decided my best course of action was to... and I know you don't want to hear this... mix my own, custom to each type of bulb and its needs. I use fir bark, coarse perlite, granite chips, turface, and occasionally a handful of high quality potting soil, if I need the extra moisture retention.

In essence, I use what is commonly known here as the "Gritty Mix", or a basic rendition of it depending upon the bulb type and where it will be situated.

If there's one thing I've learned about Hippeastrum bulbs, it's that they have a tendency toward rotting if the soil is too fine and not aerated enough, doesn't drain well, and retains too much moisture for too long a period of time.

Many Amaryllids prefer being treated a tad bit more like succulents, with regard to medium and/or moisture needs. I've had much better, healthier root growth and plant growth by using a medium that's larger particled than normal bagged mixes, and I keep a close eye on moisture using the skewer method and my fingers to determine watering. I also feed on a constant basis, using a weak solution of liquid plant food, taking into consideration the rest period most bulbs require.

I do not force dormancy, but allow them to grow as houseplants, resting as they see fit... and normally, I'm rewarded with blooms every spring or summer, depending upon the variety.

Aerated, well draining medium is imperative to root health in containers. And healthy roots mean healthy plants.

I'd look for a fine or medium/fine, as opposed to coarse, orchid or bonsai type of mix if you must use a prepared medium... and keep a watchful eye on moisture.

Hope this helps...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 8:21PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I can tell you jodik has the most amazing Amaryllids I've seen!

My first one I tried to grow in a comercial potting mix met an early horrible demise! That was before finding Garden Web, learning of a better mix and meeting Jodi.

He plants made me want to try again!

I did, and used the "Gritty Mix" as she mentioned. The end result was a beautiful plant that rewarded me with many blooms!

The mix is worth it! In the end you will have happy, healthy plants.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 8:42PM
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Thank you for the compliment, JoJo! :-)

As so many of us here on the Container Gardening forum have discovered, there's really no such thing as a green thumb... it's all applied knowledge. And it's really very easy to learn the basics by reading a thread here entitled, "Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention", written by one of our esteemed members, and professional grower extraordinaire, Tapla.

Unfortunately for us growers, the gardening world is filled with myth and misinformation... and the industry is not about to dispel any of it, which would cause them to lose a number of consumers, and thus, a bit of profit.

If I grow an Amaryllis bulb outdoors in a container, I can get away with using a mix more like the 5:1:1, or even a bark and perlite enhanced potting soil, but it must be of high quality to begin with... and the pot must drain well. But I don't get as much mileage from such a mix, and must re-pot every year.

There are many schools of thought on soil and mediums, but I rely on tried and true science and the laws of basic physics. Great results every time!

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XV

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:15PM
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GrowSis(9B Inland Empire,CA)

Thanks everyone for your advice. After much effort to choose well I have decided to go with one of these (leaning toward Special unless the bark is large). These decisions really would be so much easier if manufacturers were required to be specific and informative and not intentionally vague in their marketing/labeling.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mix 1 and 2

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 6:45PM
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The Gubler Nurseries website doesn't give any information on their mediums, but the words "fine grade" give a small indication of what you might expect. Of the two shown, that's the one I'd choose.

Once you actually open the bag and get a look at the medium, you'll be better able to gauge particle size, and whether or not you'll have to adjust it in any way for your application.

Might I suggest pre-moistening the mix before using. Normally, when I prepare my version of the Gritty Mix, I add a little moisture/water to the bucket, mix well, cover it, and allow it to sit for a while so the moisture soaks into the bark particles and is evenly dispersed within the mix.

I don't want it to end up sopping wet or too difficult to work with, but plant roots respond much better to being potted in a pre-moistened mix... and it also makes future waterings disperse more evenly throughout the pot of medium.

I also keep my bucket of medium inside so the soil temperature is kept at room temperature, and not cold as to shock the roots of plants I'm using it to pot up.

Using a medium with larger particles than the average bagged soils sold will take a bit of adjustment for the grower to get used to watering more often... but this is actually a good thing, as it allows to more closely observe your plants. You'll notice any problems sooner, such as tiny insects, any plant problems, etc... and can jump right on them before they become issues.

If you like, it might be helpful to do a quick forum search for information on the Gritty Mix and the 511 Mix, so you can see photos of what they look like, and can read a bit about how growers in various areas use them.

Unfortunately for us gardeners, the industry isn't, and hasn't been, very forthcoming about the fact that container growing plants is really not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. There are many variables unique to each person/grower, such as climate, micro-environment, type of plants grown, time you're able to devote, etc...

If I had known 35 years ago what I know today, I'd have been so much more successful. I'd have lost a significantly smaller number of plants and bulbs to my own ignorance, and to the assumption that the gardening industry was honest and there to help me.

I wish the first thing I had learned was that growing within the confines of a pot is completely different than growing in the ground, and that because of those huge differences, it's best to save the more organic methods for the garden, while employing a more inorganic approach to growing in pots. It's almost impossible to maintain the same balanced environment in a pot that Mother Nature maintains in the ground... therefore, using more inorganic and controllable methods with container culture makes it easier to maintain healthy plants... because you control the moisture, the balanced nutrition, the light amount, the location, etc.

I hope some of this is helpful to you. We're always happy to answer questions to the best of our ability, so feel free to ask.

Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 4:42AM
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The special would require you to manually do more breaking into ideal sizes and would provide a bigger yield of usable bark after the task of breaking into smaller.

As Jodi mentioned the finer sized bark would be easier to use but may still need some manual sorting,sifting breaking. Both would need to soak before potting.

A last resort for perlite would also be at HD AS A LAST RESORT Maybe if lucky you'll do okay but common is a low useable yield of MG bagged perlite is certain after a rinse and sift X 2 for bigger sized left over. If if you have a Blue Ribbon style of farm and feed supply you could easily find better and as well you would find several grits in many sizes.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 11:49PM
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I managed to locate a coarse grade perlite at a local garden center, and I use a 100% granite chip item called Manna Pro poultry grit from a local farm oriented store. And of course, I use fir bark, turface, and there are other items that can be substituted for some...

After screening for comparable size and to remove dust, then wetting and allowing a little soaking time, I'm ready to use my custom mixed medium.

The key is really understanding the concept of this type of medium... how it works, and why we use it. All the basics are covered in Al's main article, and there are literally tons of threads on finding the right ingredients, getting started, screening for size, adjusting to its use, which plant types do better in which mediums, etc...

And there are lots of members eager to answer questions and get you started.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 8:43AM
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GrowSis(9B Inland Empire,CA)

I potted up on Thanksgiving day in pre-moistened Gubler's. When I removed the old coir I noticed the root tips had some red color and now some days later this appeared. Local home centers have told me it is fungus and to 1) do nothing for two weeks so as not to shock the plant and then use a soapy spray on the bulb which I am afraid will just spread the problem to the soil. Or 2) treat immediately with Bonide Sulfer fungicide dust which is available in a local shop for $8. I read somewhere to just cut off the spot. Is that advisable? Also does the browning of the leaf tip mean anything? Help! I want to save my plant. It is growing and there are no other plants to spread it to.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 3:43PM
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My advice would be to keep a careful eye on moisture. Even when the surface appears dry, there could be moisture down toward the lower center of the pot, in the middle of the root zone... using the wooden skewer method to test for moisture will help a lot. Inserting it at an angle toward the lower center interior of the soil will be helpful.

I would keep the bulbs on the drier side at first, only watering when needed.

There should be no need to un-pot and redo anything at this point, but most of us bulb growers keep a product around called "Captan" by Bonide. It's an anti-fungal powder.

What I normally do is... using a child's paintbrush, carefully dust a bit of Captan on any wounds, cuts, around the root area, and lower rim of the bulb near the basal plate, before potting them up... just as a precaution against fungal issues.

I wouldn't use any wet agents, like soaps. Bulbs are already prone to rotting.

If you want, you could take a little bit of cinnamon from your kitchen and carefully paint it on those little red areas. Cinnamon is a natural anti-fungal.

Those cocopeat discs that come with bulbs are truly worthless! I pitch those and the plastic pots right away, and I normally pot up fresh bulbs in a gritty medium, much like the one described in Tapla's article, "Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention", in unglazed clay pots.

Freshly potted "Minerva"...

I carefully keep an eye on moisture content, and I use a systemic for insects, and Captan for fungal issues upon potting.

Hope this helps.

I had nothing but fungal issues with cocopeat and other soils with fine, silty particulate... so I went in search of a better way... and I found it here, with Tapla and others. I've had to adjust my own mix to suit my own indoor environment, but once you understand the concept of the mixes... how they work and why they work... it's easier to know exactly what you need to do, taking into account your own unique environment and what you're growing.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:58AM
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