in response to...good growing practices thread

ymaddox(ky 6)February 23, 2012

First off al let me brain hurts. Love, love, love all your info but can we do small chapter based learning material lol. But then again searching for each could be tedious as well, so may work best the way it is...i'll just find the tylenol lol. Your so smart when it comes to the scientific method of plant growth that you sometimes still go a bit over my head and I'm a educated woman. You just wrap your head around molecular information way better than I for sure. I had a doc that set down and taught me to analyze arterial blood gases and he was a awesome teacher and I get it now. Kind of the bb in pudding info...great descriptive. I have always had difficulty wrapping my brain around fluid base balance which is really the same thing your speaking of just in plant form. I get the basics but you my friend can take it to a whole different level. Have u ever had that difficulty, that no matter how you try there is just some things your brain won't wrap around. Now I'm learning in lil bits and forgive me if you have to repeat it in a different way for my brain to get it ;). Enough said about that.

I have some beautiful pothos and spider plants in just regular ole soil without drainage and they are doing great and been that way for at least a couple years. My guess is they would be a ton bigger if in a draining soil with drainage holes. But they are not and they are really very pretty. After reading your article I think I am going to leave them without repotting and see how long they stay gorgeous...considering salt accumulations cause I water them with tap water as well. It really is no big deal cause I always start new ones on my deck every not losing my prize plant or nothing. It will be interesting to see how long they do well.

I also wanted to ask and the question has been brought up but I'm now asking for specifics. If a non hobbyists just wanted to grow a .99 plant from Walmart or lowes and was not interested in a soilless medium. How would you amend miracle grow in order for them to grow nice healthy plants? Cause there are some that will not want to go to the effort that some of us has, and to be honest I may try on my outside plants a few just to see.the difference in vitality. So what I am asking is for you to take a soil readily available and amend to as close as the 5:1:1 as you can, as far as aeration etc... cause we all want to grow things but I think you will find alot of people wanting more.grower convenience than plant. Maybe they don't have the time to spend on their plants that you or I do. The floor is all yours :)

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stonesriver(6B Tennessee)

I use regular Miracle Grow for my house plants (except sans). I cut mine 50/50 with perlite; have been for donkey's years. Until recently I used the perlite (without added fertilizer) you can find in Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. I have, however, never used pots without drainage.

Now I special order coarse perlite because I reservoir water my 100+ African violets and other gesneriads (and one small spathyllum). For them it's 3:1 perlite and Metro Mix (which you can buy at co-ops).

I will eventually convert my foliage plants to the perlite and Metro Mix.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 3:42PM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

Thanks Linda for.sharing bout some pics of those African violets?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 4:49PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

YM - That's easy! I would take 1 part of the MG, add 5 parts of pine bark to it, and 1 part of perlite ..... and maybe a little lime. ;-)

Consider that in most cases, when I use 'you', I mean the collective form. I think it's important to realize that I have never said you can't grow healthy plants in MG, and I have never disparaged any one for their choice of soils. I'm also pretty reserved about including much in the way of opinion when I suggest something. I'm mainly interested in putting facts in your hands and explaining concepts in such a way that you can put them to practical use if you want to. My interest is in helping you learn to reason your way into being a better grower. I can't do that for everyone, but I know I CAN do it for a high % of the folks that pass this way and want to learn; so until I see signs I'm wasting my breath, I'll always do my best to make sure you have solid info to work with.

Back to the MG question - There are ways you can work around excess water retention. Adding a lot of perlite is one way. Perlite as a small fraction of soils does very little to increase aeration, drainage, or the ht of the PWT, but it DOES reduce water retention, which can certainly be counted as a benefit because it decreases the interval between waterings, which is the same as saying it allows the soil to dry down faster so what volume of air that soil is capable of holding returns to the soil faster, which has a positive affect on root health ...... IF you can restrain your watering hand. If you can't, you might as well have not even tried to amend it because it would have been for naught.

The best root system can only be grown in soils that hold no, or very little, perched water. Let me use another analogy to illustrate:

You've all seen gangster movies where they handcuff a guy, slip a plastic bag over his head and duct tape it tightly around his neck? THAT, is a plant in a poor soil that you drop in a bucket of water. Just like the victim, the plant will quickly die - it only needs to turn brown and crispy so we catch on. Now, poke a small hole in the bag that lets just enough air in to keep the guy alive, but unconscious. THAT, is a plant in a poor soil that supports lots of perched water. Poke a few more holes and the guy wakes up, but still doesn't feel like dancing. THAT, is a plant in a bagged soil that someone tried to amend, but didn't fully understand how to implement, or someone who consciously decided that they needed a soil like this for reasons unrelated to maximizing the plant's potential to grow well. Finally, if you take the bag off, you have the equivalent of a soil that is well-aerated from top of the container to the bottom of the container and has a minimum of or no water between soil particles.

Carrying the analogy further, we can see the parallel on the blood O2 level of patients. We know that when blood oxygen levels start dropping below 90mmHg, hypoxemia is cause for concern. Even though ALL the O2 isn't inhibited from entering the hemoglobin, our bodies function poorly at reduced saturation. Plants are no different in that regard. Whenever you limit their oxygen supply with excess water in the soil, you limit their potential in the same manner as a human's potential would be limited. Root function is energy driven and that energy (sugar) must be metabolized in the presence of O2.

That is just the direct result of a compromised root system, with the ripple effect also playing a significant role when it comes to growth and vitality.

If you're happy with your spiders or other plants - there is no need to change anything. I know that you need an extended interval between waterings, so it may be that you should be concentrating more on how to deal with water-retentive soils than on how to build a soil that incorporates good aeration with an extended interval between waterings.

No matter what you decide on as the best course, the knowledge you gain in your searching has only the potential to serve you well. I'll leave a link to a thread I started. It's about how to deal with water-retentive soils.


Here is a link that might be useful: More help if you need it.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 5:04PM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

you are most probably right al i think i need a middle of the road soil...i so get your idea of the 5:1:1 but honestly especially for outside it is not going to work for me. inside i am still going to try and incorporate it and see how i do with it. it just dries out very quickly for me and again i think my bark was too big also. but i am not giving up on the idea and as i get better with it i will use it more and more as i can. i think it will be awesome for my cacti and succulents. This has been a huge learning experience for me and i still plan on learning more from dont give up on me ;)!

I am curious as to how others amend their soil as well? if you would care to share.

al you kind of giggled when you did your mg recipe at the top...but honestly it may be just enough instead of the peat to add that extra retention without taking away from the aeration. i'm loving the thought of providing more aeration even if it cant be as perfect as the soilless medium you use. or even 1.5 and see how the drainage is on that? because honestly mg is much more weighty and water retentive than peat...correct?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 6:49PM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

A variation of the wick, is the pot-in-pot technique, in which you place/nest one container inside another container with several inches of the same soil in the bottom and fill in around the sides. Leaving the drain hole of the top container open allows an unobstructed soil bridge between containers. Water will move downward through the soil bridge from the top container into the bottom container seeking its natural level; so all of the perched water the soil is capable of holding ends up in the bottom container, leaving you with much better aeration in your growing container.

oh yeah thats right there is what i am talking just made me very happy for all my pretty pots i want to decorate with if i put 3 inches of soil in bottom and then an existing pot i raised the raised perch level to a point my plants can maintain healthy roots and i can also water once a week. that is awesome!!! I wish you could see how happy i am right now...cause now it is starting to click to a point i am gonna learn what soil works best for me and how to do it so my plants get the happiest place to live. thank you, thank you , thank you!!!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2012 at 7:14PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Since you

There are two that I use the majority of the time. Black Gold Organic Potting Soil, it is sold at my local nursery and Plant Pro Potting Soil by Ohio Earth Food.

If I have a plant that likes moisture at all times, and my tropical (Cannas, Banana, Brugmansia, Colocasia etc); I use Scotts, and Miracle-Gro. I do not mix anything in any of my potting soils. None have failed me and I have plants that I have been growing for 30+ years. They multiply like bunnies so.....My motto is if it ain't broke don't fix it.

If you would like to see my photo account to see my passion me.

I put the plant in a pot water when I think about it or have time and they grow and flourish. I have killed plants because I may not have had time to water for as long as a month at times. But that is the breaks.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 2:40AM
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ymaddox, some of the most aesthetically pleasing plants can be seen in the lobbies of hotels, banks and the like.
The decorative container which we see is water tight.
The plants are watered every 2 or 3 weeks. Sometimes the water is applied into the decorative container - "bottom watered" as compared to the more usual "top watered".
The potting medium is whatever the grower put in the 'grow pot'; and that depends upon which part of the country the grower is located.
In the UK (I am told) the plants are 'direct planted' in the decorative container and they are cared for on a 4 week schedule.
My experience tells me that an indoor plant must dry out all the way to the bottom of the container before water is applied. The tricky part is to determine just how much water to apply so that the plant needs a drink at your next visit - 2 or 3 weeks hence.
Despite one's best efforts, Surprises occur.
As far as I can ascertain, those two plants are at least 7 years in the same containers on the same lcation.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 7:17AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

some of the most aesthetically pleasing plants can be seen in the lobbies of hotels, banks and the like.

I have a friend who works for one of those indoor landscape companies that installs and maintains those plantings in malls and office buildings. The media they use is primarily partially composted bark, and they usually have some kind of irrigation underneath that waters on a schedule. He told me his primary job is to swap out plants that don't look good. He takes some of the largest ones back to the green house to rejuvenate, but he throws out most of the smaller plants. Most of them don't even last a year.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 3:17PM
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