Will amended topsoil work with outside grown House plant?

Matt68046February 3, 2013

I am growing Radermachera sinica aka china doll outside again this year. I did it a couple of years ago, but i just seeded them into square 4" pots in trays and never repotted them. This year i started them early, sown into a 72 cell liner under flouresent lights. I was planning on potting them outside in late april/may into cheater 8 (1 gallon or so) pots. I am gonna have 72 of these plants (yes i know im crazy but i like florida!) Now for soil they like something earthy yet somewhat well draining. Potting soil with sand and peat is the ideal mix. You need something heavy, coz if these dry out completely they will wither and die within a few hours. I also plan to soil drench with banrot fung. at time of planting. Im just gonna do it like they do in florida, line the pots up, fill em with dirt, make castes in the pots and plop them in. But im gonna need quite a bit of soil for 72 1 gallon pots. I was thinking of going and picking up some topsoil, amending it with pot. soil or humus, big bales of peat, and sand. Boy is that gonna be a heavy mix tho. I am running a pot rignt now as a test, and the 7" pot weighs like ten pounds. I think this will work, but i really should sterilize it somehow. I have systemic pesticde for insects, and osmocote in a big container for their top dress. I don't have much choice but to grow them in the sun since im gonna do this in my backyard. Well anyway that is my plan for this year, let me know what you think.

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Hi Matt. Topsoil, potting soil (which is almost always comprised of mostly peat,) peat, and sand are all inferior ingredients for potted plants. These are materials with very small particles which do not allow any air pockets to remain within the soil, so can suffocate/rot roots.

If you're not going to bring these plants inside for winter, why not just grow them directly in the ground?

Aren't you the same person who was giving advice on this plant in the propagation forum?

If 68046 is your ZIP code, you're in zone 5, btw...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:47AM
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So what? What are you accusing me of? My post was just my way of getting other peoples ideas. Yes i do know alot about this plant, i have had them since i was a kid at 15, i am now 29 so 14 years experience with them.
I like your answer to my question tho. I was thinking last night that i would just go with potting soil, peat, sand, and some kind of fine grade pine bark (which is what well grown plants are grown in) But the pine bark is hard to find. I was also thinking of growing them in 6" pots instead of 7. They are not picky when it comes to medium, they will grow in peat or heavy soil and anything in between. And i do this for FUN not to make money. I sell them for like 2 or 3 dollars each or just give them to friends and family. This is my hobby and it relieves stress. I don't really care much for ground grown plants. I have always been into tropicals. Now if i could just find that pine bark....

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:29PM
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WOW! Um, ok, top soil is an extremely poor choice for potted plants unless you amend it heavily. It is just too thick, for lack of a better word, and will not allow for proper drainage or aeration. I would check at a landscaping business for finely ground bark, or you could look for a product called Soil Pep. Mix that with perlite and chicken grit, some potting soil, if you choose, and you should be good to go. Good luck!


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:56PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The object isn't to see what they'll tolerate, it's to figure out what gives them the best opportunity to grow as close to their potential as possible. I agree with Nancy & Tiff - the topsoil/potting soil mix is a poor choice. The only way you MIGHT get to work reasonably well is if you use it in containers you can partially bury, or use a pot-in-pot or pot-in-trench arrangement. This will employ the earth as a giant wick and help you avoid the limitations you're going to have with excess water retention and compaction.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:18PM
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"Posted by purpleinopp 8b AL (My Page) on Mon, Feb 4, 13 at 9:47

Hi Matt. Topsoil, potting soil (which is almost always comprised of mostly peat,) peat, and sand are all inferior ingredients for potted plants."

'Potting' soil should not be used for 'potted' plants?


This post was edited by TheMasterGardener1 on Mon, Feb 4, 13 at 22:13

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:12PM
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"potting soil-inferior ingredients for potted plants."

I dont understand still? ;)

Then why is it called potting soil?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Because when they put that on the bag, people buy it.

We (you and I) have already discussed this here, and here.

Quoted words shouldn't be altered. To truncate, please use ellipses where words are removed.

This post was edited by purpleinopp on Tue, Feb 5, 13 at 14:01

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 2:00PM
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Yes, but surely potting soil "works" in containers, right? Is it a matter of it not being "the best"?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:14PM
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Then why is it called potting soil?
10)Potting soil sounded better than calling it potting dirt
9)Jo consumer can say potting soil in less time than they could say peat based plant potting medium
8)They couldn't call it potting lottery
7) 15 people sitting at corporate meeting table wanted to go to lunch
6) After lunch the first intentions where to put potting soil in jugs
5)Why call all things as they are is sometimes beyond comprehension example being: Why is red called red and not blue.
4)#5 is the reason why potting soil companies have in-comprehensive corporate meeting
3) To discuss how the corporate market needed an original catch phrase and used potting soil
2)There is no number one reason why they call it potting soil but there is a good better best. For better sales and marketing reasons " Potting soil" would be evaluated at mentioned level and does receive printed iformation indicating such values

1) As each bagged potting soil company does in fact indicate they are selling "the best" there is in reality only one #1 ( ONLY THE BEST CAN BE #1)indicating to me if one lies all lie and it's really not potting soil at all....Yet as red is red and blue is blue green doesn't get jealous but variegated could take over.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:18PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Like the list Wes. :-)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 3:47PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

From my view, it's an error to assume that potting soil contains any (mineral) soil. In most cases, the only mineral content in "potting soil" is dolomitic lime and perlite - possibly a light fertilizer charge in isolated cases.

I've been discussing soils in forum settings and many other venues for years, and rub elbows with a lot of people who work intimately with container media. A number of terms are used interchangeably. "Container media", "container soil", "potting media", "potting soil", "soilless media" .... are all used regularly by those who discuss container media on a regular basis. All are acceptable, and no one ever gets corrected for his/her choice of phraseology.

What's important isn't the label on the bag (product name), it's what's IN the bag that counts; and, what's ON the bag usually gives little in the way of hints at what it might contain (unless you go the the fine print describing ingredients) or how it will actually perform.

In the end, if you want to optimize growth/health/productivity, you need to optimize all things that hold sway over those differentia. You can't have a good nutrition program, good soil, and poor light and expect optimal results, any more than you could expect optimal results with good light, good nutrition, and a poor soil. Most of us aren't interested in wasting time determining what a plant will tolerate, because we realize either consciously or intuitively that our ability to minimize the effects of potential limitations is what defines our ability as growers.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:41PM
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My seeds are starting to come up. Its only been 7 days, but they been kept at around 86-88 degrees in the liner with the bottom heat pad. It surely does its job. Will post pictures once their all up. If im only using 6" pots, it might save me alot of money then using a 7" or 8", and there wouldn't be that much diffrence in size of the plants. 72 6" pots wouldn't be all that much. I will probably just buy a bunch of potting soil and amend it with peat and sand, and if possible ill get the shreaded pine bark. That's a good point tapla, im sure they would grow in the topsoil mix, as they do grow in the ground in nature, but i might have better results with the potting soil mix, and especially when their growing in full sun, their gonna get hot and need every bit of moisture, as these trees do get very active and hot and smell, and grow very fast, you can tell every few days that the've actually grown some. So the faster they can get that moisture up and photosyntheis it, the faster they will grow. Since i started the seeds Jan 30th, im sure this year they will be nice and big by the end of summer.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:12PM
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