5:1:1 mix

ymaddox(ky 6)February 19, 2012

what i am finding so far is what i have repotted is drying out pretty quick any suggestions al? just soaked them all really well and will see how long before they need rewatering. i know there is probably some transplant shock going on as well and not the best time to repot houseplants...however it is probably better than the compact dirt i washed out of the roots.

i can already tell i am going to love this for cacti and succulents but want to see how quickly it dries for my other house plants, may have to amend a bit for those but we shall see. i dont mind watering but i have to be logical about what i am able to actually do and not do. i have about seventy some houseplants and alot more with the starts i just done including ten desert rose...few of them are already rooting and i am pretty excited about that! think we will be starting on the greenhouse soon as hubby is most certainly thinking i am going to over run the house with plants and he is going to be eaten by ardmore? is that the name of the plant on lil shop of horrors? anyway i think he is having dreams of such horrific encounters and is starting to talk about beginning my greenhouse. so may very well pot up some more tomorrow lol.

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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Ymaddox,

I loved that play... "Feed Me Seymour.." I think i have a few of those plants here... : )

Good luck with your plants in the new mix!!

Hope the little puppy is doing better...


    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 11:17PM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

yeah seymour is it lol

the puppy is doing great...all puppies are eating puppy food and drinking water well. still trying to feed off mom some as well lol. but they were only 5 weeks saturday so it is expected. but the one that quit eating for a day or so is probably the spunkiest alot of times, so he did not miss a beat, right back in it :)

thanks on the mix...i probably keep it a bit warm in my house sometimes so that may be the reason for drying more quickly...but i am used to watering once a week...so we shall see. i am excited about it for sure!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 11:31PM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

i went around and checked some plants 2 days after watering and i still feel the moisture, the one i am having some trouble with is a small terra cotta pot with clivia in it, just starting out. seems to be drying rather quickly. al any suggestions on using the small terra cotta pots to be able to only water preferably only weekly without taking away from the aeration of the mix? i am hoping the plants maintain for a week between waterings for houseplants. im not sure that outside patio plants in sun would not require daily watering, but again my bark pieces could have been a bit big. but also seems to me they need watering a few times i have noticed almost for the bark to pull in some moisture and maintain a healthy balance of moisture without remaining soggy, am i right there al? give me your thoughts :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 5:16PM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

also i have a meyer lemon tree that has greened up nicely since put in this mix...it is so pretty now :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 6:07PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I've been meaning to comment since you first posted, but had to go back to your other thread to see what's going on. The interval between waterings is directly linked to how much water remains in the soil after you water. In a perfect world, the best soil you could make for your plants would be made of a very water absorbent material or materials, and the particles would be large enough that all the water would be held INSIDE of the particles - not between them. As soon as the particles are fine enough to hold water between particles, a perched water table is created. At that point, convenience increases at the expense of diminished potential for root health/function. This is simply a fact - there is no judgment in its offering. It's up to the individual to decide how much water they want the soil to hold, and how much potential they're willing to give up to achieve the additional water retention. That's a question I can't answer.

Was the soil pre-moistened when you planted in it? I ask because I'm wondering if parts of the soil remain hydrophobic.

You have a mix with bark in it, but there appears to be so much peat that the physical properties of the soil would be essentially the same as if you were growing in all peat or a bagged soil like MG. If you remember the pudding analogy, it's pretty much what it 'seems' you've created. The only thing the bark is doing is reducing overall water retention - like mixing marbles into MG soil. The marbles don't increase aeration, drainage, or reduce the ht of the PWT - they only reduce the soil's water retention - the same thing a little perlite does in peat based soils.

The 5:1:1 mix (see picture below, in center) holds more water than the gritty mix made to a 1:1:1 ratio, so if your soil can't go more than a few days without requiring water, there is something amiss. I asked about whether the soil was moist when you planted in it, but it's possible that if the roots are only in the upper part of the soil, that part of the soil is drying down and the roots can't access retained moisture deeper in the pot, which because of gravity is where the lion's share of the available water would be. As noted too, the large pieces of bark serve only to reduce water retention, so a large fraction of large bark pieces isn't a desirable combination, either.

I'll wait to hear what you have to say before we go any further. Besides, the Red Wings are calling. ;-)


    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 8:20PM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

this is my mix

i did wet it down well before planting and as well wet it thoroughly with each watering. i did 5,1, and 1 so would have to be bark size is too big. what a joy it will be to repot everything if i have to redo with finer bark lol.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 8:53PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

We live & learn. ;-) It took me a long time to get most of the puzzle figured out when I first started working with soils. Eventually, it gets to be like it was with your grandmother when she baked bread - "We don't need no stinking recipe"! You learn what the basic concept involves, and you make any mental calculations you need when it comes to increasing or decreasing water retention.

I'm just as guilty as the rest when it comes to sacrificing plant potential for convenience. I'm pretty careful about how I make the 5:1:1 mix, but I know it holds SOME perched water. I allow the soil to have the excess water retention so I don't have to water more than every other day or so when it gets hot in the summer. (I have only short term plantings in the 5:1:1 mix.) It would be hypocritical of me to castigate others for doing the same thing I do. I try to keep it to a minimum, and am willing to water every day if I have to (remember - I have a LOT of plants in very small containers) to keep everything healthy.

An inch of perched water in a 12" deep container is no big deal when the planting is mature, but an inch of perched water in a 2" deep container (same soil) is quite a different thing - so we adjust.

When I find bark that is the IDEAL size, I buy a LOT of it - I mean as much as a pallet, which usually has as many bags as it takes to make a ton. The bark at 6 o'clock above is ideal as it is - no screening. The two at 3 and 9 are just a little on the large side, but I probably wouldn't even bother screening it - too much work for too little gain - a compromise.

If I wanted the soil in the middle of the picture above to hold more water, I would add Turface fines or Turface All-pro to it, or maybe vermiculite. Something that holds water but is still large enough that a small volume won't significantly rob the air space in macro-pores.

Remember, you can take 3 ingredients and combine them in a way that makes a near perfect soil, or you can combine them so they make a terrible soil. Things will get easier and it will be easier to establish what you need from a soil and how to achieve it once you've worked for a while toward an end.

I'm sure the second period has started ......


    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 9:28PM
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ymaddox(ky 6)

on a brighter note i have a desert rose baby or two popping up...if you look close in middle you can see. super excited about that!!! and i am telling you that lemon tree is greenin up purty :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 9:56PM
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