peace lily transplant to gritty mix?

andersons21February 10, 2012

I've been experimenting with gritty-ish mix for the past couple years. Gritty has been spectacularly successful for my big ficus allii tree (details in the ficus thread, where Al helped with me repot and now with pruning). It's grown to about 9' tall after repotting with root pruning last August. It's now putting out lots of new leaves, and I have figured out it would do even better if I could get used to watering it and feeding it more frequently.

However, peace lily was another story. I transplanted a peace lily last summer into a mix of turface and bark, and it promptly died. I've always considered peace lilies hard to kill, so I was shocked. I've got 2 more that really desperately need new soil. Anyone have ideas what might have gone wrong with the last one? Has anyone transferred peace lilies to gritty and grown them successfully?

When I transplanted the now-dead peace lily, its soil was half gone/compacted and very calcified and difficult to wet. The roots were completely white and healthy, no rot at all. I did not intentionally trim any roots, since it is not a woody, branching plant. I watered the mix after transplanting (no ferts). The next day, the plant looked more upright, so I thought the roots were taking up water nicely. The following day, it wilted. I checked the soil with a skewer, and the skewer came out moist, so I didn't water. Each day that followed, the skewer would seem moist, while the leaves withered and dried out. I then tried watering more (since not watering was getting worse and worse), but it didn't help.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Peace lily likes moist soil. Not sure if gritty mix is right for it but I'll let the more experienced people chime in of coarse. Me? I'd go with a more moisture retentive mix that still lets in good air and drainage.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 9:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When my BIL passed away (3 years ago last Oct), I kept a nice PL that someone had sent - mainly because of all the problems everyone has with the plant. I divided & repotted it into the 5:1:1 mix the summer after he passed, and again this past summer, after which I gave it to my sister. I kept it on a raised hearth, directly in front of a large bank of picture windows on the north side of the house. I fertilized regularly with FP 9-3-6 when the plant looked like it needed it. They did very well - grew well & had no burned tips or margins, and bloomed mostly in the summers, even after repotting.

There is no physiological reason I can think of that they shouldn't do equally well (and probably better) in the gritty mix. The only reason I used the 5:1:1 mix is because I know how quickly they fill the pot with roots, and I was sure that I wouldn't have been able to go beyond 2 years w/o repotting, so I figured why use the gritty mix.

..... hard to say what might have happened.

Take care.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 12:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Andersons, I recently transplanted a peace lily from a peat-based medium to the 5:1:1 mix.

Mine behaved EXACTLY like yours did during that first week post-transplant. I later found out I was supposed to wet the mix first. Ooops! Also, my heated home is extremely dry.

I didn't check the soil for moisture when the PL wilted pretty much every other day during that first week, and just gave it more water. I figured it was stressed from being transplanted and not able to soak up all the water it needed, since this soil was much faster draining than the peat mix. It stopped acting so thirsty after that first week.

I've had no other issues. It's doing great and blooming like crazy near a northwest-facing window. I was recently injured and couldn't water for a whole week, but it didn't show any signs of distress or wilting.

Was it the traditional 1:1:1 bark:grit:turface grit mix? Do you think maybe they weren't sifted enough and fine particles got in the mix?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 8:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
marquest(z5 PA)

This may help. He helped many of us by recognizing that plants need to be grown as they would in the wild and what they needed to grow and flourish. He was not just talk he had proof. His site is awesome.

We mix our soil based on how a species grows in nature we primarily use a very loose soil mix with 30 % Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Soil combined with 20% high quality peat moss, 40% orchid potting media that has hard wood, charcoal and gravel mixed with 10% Perlite that is combined and mixed thoroughly with a hand full or two of cedar mulch along with finely cut spahgnum moss. The idea to include charcoal is to increase drainage but also to take advantage of the tiny air spaces in the charcoal for growing beneficial microbes. It helps with water retention, as well. If you have some good compost feel free to add it. Small pieces of charcoal can be purchased from any good orchid supply.
We recently had a large walnut tree removed from our yard and once the stump was ground we composted the remains that are now being added to our soil. Extra orchid or aquarium charcoal is also an excellent additive since it helps to purify the soil. The exact mixture is not critical but all of these ingredients should be mixed as thoroughly as possible.

Here is a link that might be useful: Exotic Rainforest

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 9:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Andersons - I think it's important to understand that you can't duplicate a riparian (streamside) environment in a container.

The link to Exotic Rainforest keeps popping up, but I think you'll find that Steve Lucas and I were pretty much exactly on the same page. Whenever it came to discussions about soils, you'll find Steve's offerings peppered with comments like these:

"In a variety of links on this site Al offers very good porous soil mixes that can encourage an aroid to live a long time and grow to a larger size as well as remain healthy.

The correct mix and proper watering are far more important than the size of the pot ........

Al, can I suggest you post a link to some of your articles on soil?

Corresponding Secretary, The International Aroid Society"

"Again, I have to say I fully agree with Al's writings. Pot size is not nearly as important as soil mixtures and proper water (along with adequate light) are the most important factors to successful growth.

Like many things in house plant growth, pot size is not well understood nor well explained to many growers."

"I have spent a great deal of time studying this subject just as Al has, especially with botanists such as Dr. Tom Croat at the Missouri Botanical Garden and many others. I am also well aware that many people on this and other forums prefer that discussions not be based on science since this is a place where the average grower asks questions. I cannot help but believe many of those people want really good answers to their questions so again my thanks to Al."

"Whatever anyone chooses to do is their business. Any grower is entitled to do anything they choose to do but if my email is any indication there are tons of folks out there that want to know how to grow plants as they grow in nature. We receive about 1/2 million hits to our website every year from all over the world and most of them are seeking scientific answers just as Al provides."

"I just don't know how to explain things without explaining enough so a grower understands both the concept and the background provided by science. You can find some very good discussions on this forum about soil so if this is useless, please try to find a few of them now, mostly written by Al Tapla."

"Just a word of thanks for the information [Al]. I have agreed fully with Al's information for many years .....

Thanks again!

Steve Lucas"

"Al, that is one of the finest growing statements I have ever read! I try to explain this all the time but you have made the statement concisely and quite clearly! Where do people come up with the idea plants "like" to be in such conditions?



There are many more .... and I used to email back & forth with Steve from time to time when he had questions or comments about soils. I wish he was still around so he could have offered input on some of the recent soil threads. Steve was always well thought of, and I always appreciated his support.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 12:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Exactly what I was about to add, Al.
Steve was entirely in agreement, and would have added the 5-1-1 soil to his page had he survived.
I recall quite distinctly an excellent Thread on Elephant Ear where he lauded these mixes and planned
to implement several to review for his own plants. He was a man who very much interested in the science
of things, and so of course he was immediately drawn to and fascinated by gritty and bark-based
mediums as an answer to the growing woes faced by many throughout the world (particularly
in non-tropical areas).


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 1:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
marquest(z5 PA)

As I said he was a great man. Never needed to be to be the only answer. He is truly missed by many.

Such a gracious and considerate human being. It takes confidence to be able to look at other opinions he was confident within his abilities you can tell from his site he knew his stuff.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 1:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I didn't read all the information about the Exotic Rainforest...I don't want to get into a huge debate about soils (in this thread anyway).

ssmdgardener, my gritty mix variant was, IIRC, 2/3 screened turface and 1/3 screened bark. There's no dust in my screened materials. My bark is on the large size. I didn't include granite because 1) it's nigh impossible to get granite around here, and 2) I wanted a more retentive mix because I'm a lazy waterer.

I have not tried the 5:1:1 (can't quite remember -- isn't the 5 parts bark?), but since no one has chimed in with peace lily/gritty mix success story, maybe I should try the 5:1:1 instead.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Andersons, Al can probably chime in with better information, but I think some sort of gritty material is needed to provide air space between the Turface and bark particles. 2/3 Turface sounds like it would be heavy.

When you say the bark pieces were on the large size, how big were they? I think they have to be under 1/4 inches, or they don't hold enough water. Al, am I remembering this correctly?

The 5:1:1 mix is 5 parts bark, 1 part perlite, 1 part peat moss.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 5:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

That's correct. Even screened Turface is a little on the fine side, but works fine when combined with the larger grit and bark particles. Go too large with the bark, however, and your drainage/aeration characteristics are only that of the Turface fraction. To visualize, imagine a jar filled with 1/3 marbles (the large particles) and 2/3 pudding. You can see the soil would be very water-retentive. Smaller bark and a screened, coarse perlite fraction would have yielded a soil that was better aerated.

We're not just talking about the gritty mix when we discuss this particular concept - all soils react the same way when you mix a few large particles into a preponderance of fines.

The 5:1:1 mix should suit your PLs just fine.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 6:36PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Question on pot-up house Azaleas
I have no problem growing florist Azalea as a houseplant....
Peperomia "Rosso"
I bought this plant recently....does anyone else have...
Money tree problems
Hi, I'm having some trouble with my Money Tree. It...
House plant identification please
I bought this little plant at Walmart yesterday but...
Only 1/2 of a schefflera remaining...
4 years ago, I adopted this schefflera from a bank...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™