giving the 5:1:1 mix another shot

ymaddox(ky 6)February 28, 2012

okay so i was sure that my plants was getting to dry in the 511 mix. so i decided to add 1 to 1.5 parts miracle gro. but what i found with the majority of the plants i went to repot was that the mix was wet at the bottom. Really confused me a1 since you said you water on a three day schedule. I was thinking how in the H E double hockey sticks did i manage to overwater in this mix? I did take the opportunity to inset some pots in one another and maybe this will help pwt, and as well to break down some of the bark into smaller pieces and taking out the big pieces in the ones i replanted, or not to say replanted i actually just kind of mixed the soil up and repotted back . Only ones i added a little miracle gro to was the ones that set on the cabinets as it tends to be very warm in here during winter and they dry out quickly. Accompanied with the fact that i just bought 4 bags of miracle gro at lowes as they was on sale and had planned to amend the soil and figured what the heck, just stock up. So now my plan is to leave the 511 as is and water less. The one thing i will note i am seeing new growth everywhere on some of my plants:)and i have a 100% germination on the 10 adenium seeds i planted. some of the smaller pots i did find was drying out quicker and may need a more frequent water...but most are succulents or cacti and will not hurt probably in between waterings. so back to my weekly watering schedule and lets see how this mix does! I do plan to use the miracle gro in outside pots however and will amend with the 511 mix for those pots to maintain a bit more water for long weekends when we are away.

another note i love the foliage pro and honestly it costs me twenty some bucks but this stuff is going to last forever. good deal for a great fertilizer...i'm sold on that!

one questions for those that use the 511 any suggestions on standing small plants up in this mix? alot of times they tend to want to lean because this is more of a...for a better word "chunky" mix?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Remember that I use the gritty mix and not the 5:1:1 mix for my houseplants. Also, I water almost everything on a 3 day rotation because I CAN, not necessarily because I have to. I'll explain. I have a few plants in containers so small they require watering every other day. Many of my plants can go much longer than 3 days between waterings, but to make things easier on me and to ensure nothing slips through the cracks, I water the rest on a 3 day rotation, whether the plants need it or not. THAT, is one of the benefits of using the gritty mix - it's so forgiving that you would really have to work at it to over-water. It's open poor structure due to large particle size ensures no, or VERY little, perched water ..... which is WHY it's so hard to over-water.

FYI - in order to maximize water retention w/o a significant PWT, and in a perfect world, you would want porous and durable particles concentrated in the size range from slightly smaller than 1/8" to slightly larger than 1/4" or up to 3/8", with a small fraction of small particles to increase water retention additionally w/o adding any significant amount of perched water. A large disparity in particle size works against you.

I compromise in this area all the time, using bark with the fines included and many chunky pieces larger than 3/8, but I keep a supply of bark that closest fits the profile I prefer on hand, and I'm always looking for 'the right stuff' when my supply starts to get low. I've found several brands and locations I can usually depend on to provide what I prefer, so keep your eyes peeled.

I mentioned that because I think if you'd been lucky enough to find a bark product not so chunky, that there wouldn't be as much of an issue with toppling.

Many of my plants are temporarily and mechanically secured to the pot by various methods. One reason is to prevent toppling because all of my plants are repotted in the summer when they're outdoors and in the wind. The other reason is plants secured against movement in relation to the pot establish anchorage in a fraction of the time required by unsecured plants. Bumping or jostling them, even turning them to water, can break large numbers of hair roots the plant needs for anchorage as well as taking up water and nutrients.

In the end, I'd much rather see people approach the whole soil thing in a leisurely way instead of feeling pressured because of poor plants or new found information. There is no question in my mind that the more open soils offer plants MUCH greater opportunity to grow to their potential, but like you, we have to decide if they fit into our view of what's expected in terms of convenience.

Keep fussing with your soils. I think you understand the concept, which is the important thing; if not, you're getting there fast, and it will always be a point of reference to help you diagnose any future problems you relate to your soils. I'll be glad to help whenever I can and as needed.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 10:11AM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

thanks so much al. i appreciate your open invitation for help...right now what i have potted will be it until early summer for obvious reasons and also i am gonna watch how i do with the rest in this new mix. i will continue to be fussy until i get what works best for me and i thank you for the knowledge provided to help me make a educated decision. appreciate your time and help.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 11:14PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)


    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 7:17AM
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