Aegle Marmelos in container

gw2010nc(7b)December 30, 2010

I have a few sorry looking plants of aegle marmelos, which, I believe, is related to the citrus family.

They are in miracle grow potting soil, but havent grown in months, have lost a lot of leaves - just generally, very sick.

However, I believe they can be revived. They do have very long roots, last time I checked.

I have read a bit about Al's Gritty mix and I would like to transfer these plants into it. I have been able to locate a source for the Gran-i-Grit and Turface Allsport. For the pine bark fines, I think I will have to make so with Repti-bark from Petco.

My question relates to the fertilizer. I havent read all the threads and discussion on fertilizing the plants grown in Gritty mix.

Can Al or someone please recommend what I can do for the fertilizer? Or should I even fertilize it before the plants recover? I think I have the liquid Miracle Grow (green bottles) and I also have a small bottle of SuperThrive. I am going to go and get the Turface and Gran-i-Grit this weekend and also the repti-bark. I am wondering what to get for the fertilizer part - I read about Foliage Pro. Is that something readily available. If not, is there something else readily available at Home Depot/Lowes/Walmart?

I live in Raleigh-Durham, NC.

I will try to post pictures of my sorry looking plants in a day or two. And then hope to post pictures of revived plants in a few months time :), for comparison.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, GW. I want to take a second to talk almost as though you weren't here, and then I'll get right back to your questions (if someone doesn't jump in and beat me to it while I'm typing).

GW's announcement that he has been having trouble with his peat-based soil of choice, and that he would like to try the gritty mix is another in a very long list of similar complaints (about his current soil) accompanied by the request for help to move on to something he has already perceived to have greater potential. Let's respect both GW's wish and anyone offering help and observations from a positive perspective, please?

GW - there is a thread I've put together that goes into some depth about fertilizing plants in containers. Basically, you'll find support and reasoning for the idea that soluble fertilizers in the 3:1:2 ratio (different from NPK %s) are a good way of providing supplemental nutrition to a very large % of containerized plants. Many of us use the FP, but unless you live near a large city that has outlets devoted to hydroponics, or a large mail-order concern near you, you'll need to acquire it over the net. Other good choices in the 3:1:2 ratio are Miracle-Gro/Peter's/other's in 24-8-16, or MG 12-4-8.

If the green bottles you have say 'Liqua-Feed All-Purpose' on them, and are refills for hose end sprayers, they are 12-4-8 and will work well.

Unless you feel your plant is in danger of rapid decline over the next couple of months, it might be better to wait until days lengthen before doing any major work. Maybe starting a dialog about what you feel the issues are, and discussing things like how root bound the plants are and your watering habits, we can come up with a plan that will temporarily improve cultural conditions w/o having to subject the plant to the stress of repotting at an inopportune time. What say you? ;o)


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 2:36PM
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Thanks for the response, Al.
I will post pictures once I get home, as a picture says a thousand words...
Anyways, since these are not hardy, I brought them indoors a couple of months back. Last year I had left them in my unheated garage and they looked almost dead in Spring. But they survived and once out in the sun, they had some new foliage as well. But they havent grown to their potential. I had given one plant to a relative and his plant had also declined and was not growing. But he repotted it and with Miracle Grow, it just took off and gre a couple of feet in a couple of months.
I had 2 pots of these with about 4-5 plants in each pot. So I would like to try the gritty mix with atleast 1 pot and see if it benefits from repotting. I had tranplanted it once in the summer - to seperate some other plants that were growing in the same pot. At that time I noticed the long tap roots.
Should I prune the root if and when I repot it? And should I use SuperThrive? If so, how?
I got the Turface already - it was $21 for a 50 pound bag at John Deere Landscapes. I am going to get the Repti-bark from Petco and the Gran-i-grit over the next couple of days.
I also have a few more seeds left, so its not the end of the world, if these plants dont make it.. But these sell for $80 a plant!!! So, if I can figure out how to grow them successfully, I will be one happy camper :)

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 2:52PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

For next year, you may wish to inquire of someone whose advice you can trust, if this plant can be forced into a situational dormancy by withholding water and moving it to a cool basement for the winter. I have over-wintered a LOT of plants this way and they wake up in spring with MUCH more energy than if they were forced to limp along and gut it out. Just a thought.

"Should I prune the root if and when I repot it? And should I use SuperThrive? If so, how?"

There is a catch 22 associated with root-pruning. If the plant has low energy reserves and poor vitality, it's a poor candidate for extensive root work, but it's possible, even probable that the issues you're dealing with originate with the soil. The question is, how do you nurse the plant back to health so it will tolerate correcting the root issues causing the poor health? ;o)

I was kind of replying to your post as I read it, and I just came to a part that leads me to believe these trees might be very small. Is that true? How large are these plants? - before we go further.

Don't worry, we'll get you set up so the trees will grow well, if you just remind yourself that 'tree time' and 'we time' are different, and be patient.

I did some experiments using Superthrive The short of it is, it's useful for repotting situations because the auxin content stimulates the formation of new roots, but I saw absolutely nothing that would allow me to suggest it acts as a 'tonic' or increases the growth or vitality of plants with well-established root systems.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 5:32PM
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Hello, Al... GW...

I, myself, have a bad habit of bringing my larger tropicals indoors in fall and allowing them to limp along through winter, hoping spring arrives quickly. By the time spring actually does arrive, they look pitiful.

This coming spring, however, everyone is slated to be moved into a Gritty Mix, and I'll probably be searching you down, Al, for a little help with root pruning.

In the meantime, I know I can learn from threads like this one... so here I am. :-)

I would also like to concur on the Superthrive issue. I've used it, too, and it's not the miracle tonic it's purported to be, but it does have a use as a root stimulator.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 7:07PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I stopped in simply because I have never heard of the plant. :) I'm a courious person. lol..

And I know there's always something to learn from threads.

As far as root pruning, I was going to have Al show us how to do it.

Hubby said we need to get him out here to have a talk with our tree's who don't know they are sposed to be dormant. LOL!


    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 7:59PM
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From 2010 - Flowers

From 2010 - Flowers

From 2010 - Flowers

From 2010 - Flowers

AS you can see the plants are very small.. However, I know the roots are about a foot long..
And for the curious, you can google "aegle marmelos plant for sale" - I cant believe those little plants being sold for $80!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 8:02AM
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Your plants look to me like they are being attacked by a sucking insect puckering the foliage. Al

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 9:55AM
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Winter 'tis the time of spider mites, what with the drier air, and all... it might be prudent to look very closely for fine webbing and the teeny tiny mites. Other insects attack when plants are grouped indoors for winter, too. It never hurts to check.

There are many methods of removal and control... I use a 3-in-1 fungicide/insecticide/miticide from Schultz. But there are oils and soaps, etc...

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 11:44AM
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I got Fafard Organic Soil conditioner and in the ingredients section, it says 100% pine bark. The bag is 40 pounds and it was frozen. The particles looked very fine.
Is it ok to use this as the pine bark fines? Or should I get the repti-bark from petco?
Do you mix the 3 ingredients and then add water to it and then plant into it? When to add gypsum?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 12:40PM
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GW, a really good starting point is reading the article in the link below. It explains everything.

I don't know the difference in price or in readiness right out of the bag between Repti-Bark and soil conditioner, but I can say that the Repti-Bark doesn't require screening prior to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gritty Mix Starting Point

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 5:07AM
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I did read it, but I cant remember whether there was any mention of whether to add water to the mix prior to planting or after. Sorry, if this was covered.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 1:22PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

For Citrus, yes, water the planting and keep the mix moist while roots are colonizing the new mix.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 1:57PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Fafard's aged pine bark borders on being too fine for the 5:1:1 mix, and is unsuited for the gritty mix because of its fine texture. I used a considerable amount of it one year in my containers, and though the plants did ok, I had to pay far closer attention to my watering habits than with 5:1:1 mixes I'd built in years past with coarser products. If you do decide to use it for the 5:1:1 mix, a good starting point would be to leave out all the peat and increase the perlite content, which is what I did. I probably ended up with something like 5:2, Fafard aged fines:perlite, and it still held more water than I prefer

FWIW - I'm ok with watering every day, and actually prefer my soils to be so fast that it's required. I maintain 300+ containers that all get watered on different rotations, so I HAVE to water every day anyway, unless it rains hard. It was just too hard to keep track of when to water containers that could easily have gone 5 days or more w/o watering.

It's commonly parroted that you should water on an as-needed basis, and that is true, but as the aeration and drainage of a soil increases, it gets much less problematic to water on a schedule. I actually water almost everything, summer and winter, on a schedule, though I do make some allowances for changes in cultural conditions. I have groups of plants that get watered daily, every other day, and every third day, as well as a very few plants that DO get watered only as needed. You can't do that if you're using a heavy soil for fear of root rot. This is one of the aspects I have in mind when I mention that durable and highly aerated soils are easier to grow in and offer a much wider margin for grower error.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 9:23PM
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I totally agree, Al... I find it much easier, actually, to water more frequently... without fear of the plants remaining in an atmosphere of too much moisture.

Sorry I didn't get back to answer right away, GW... I've been ill. I moisten the gritty medium prior to potting, and then again once potted. It helps the particles to settle around the roots, I think, which gives the freshly potted plant a little stability prior to new root growth... and I don't have to worry about over-watering.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 5:16AM
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