water retentive soil question! aka hello al and josh! lol

pinkgnome412(6)April 23, 2014

Before anyone yells at me, yes, I have read Tapla's absolutely wonderful explanation of soil and drainage and water retentiveness and how it affects roots. In fact I've probably read it 48 times and have switched most of my older plants over to the 5-1-1. They're all responding beautifully and I will have some awesome before and after pictures to share soon. So I do believe I have a grasp on this concept.

My question is basically concerning water retentive soil versus "standing in water." I understand the perched water level, but that's different from "standing in water," right?

For example, I recently received and purchased some new plants in what looks to be some peaty, perlite, and potting soil mix. It took literally a week to dry out. Does that have a similar effect on roots as "standing in water"? Will it rot them or at the very least, slow down the growth?
I'd love another excellent explanation for this!! I'm trying to make sure I understand before I go crazy repotting everything.

Oh, and if you're interested, the new plants are baby spider plants (these were gifts), a drenched Easter cactus saved from Walmart, and a wandering Jew from a greenhouse in a nursery. I also have a huge Thanksgiving Cactus I purchased back in December that must be in a peat mix because the top of the soil is hard as a rock, but the thing is putting on all kinds of new growth so I'm not sure if I should bother it since it appears healthy.

Thank you!!! I hope this question can help others as well!!

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a


Yes, saturated potting mix will slow growth, even if the roots don't rot outright. As for the big Thanksgiving Cactus that needs a re-potting, I would re-pot from the middle of next month onwards. Begin softening that hard top soil a few days in advance, perhaps even soaking the entire root-ball in a container.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:20PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If it was a perfect world, you'd be able to keep your soils damp - only about as wet as s sponge that has been wrung out. Soils that have larger particles and hold all or most of the water they hold inside the particles that make up the soil instead of between the particles, are going to offer you a much better opportunity to provide your plants with what they need to grow as close to their genetic potential as possible. Growing is just soo much easier and productive when you don't have to battle your soil on a daily basis.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 10:35PM
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