How to distribute the Gritty Mix throughout root ball?

bellapietra(z6 PA)May 1, 2013

I have been reading about repotting plants into Gritty Mix and how to get all the old soil off the roots but I am wondering how do you then repot with the mix. How best to do it without damaging the roots. It seems it would be hard to distribute the mix throughout the root ball?
Thank you in advance!

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

What kind of plant are you considering repotting?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 11:16AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Set the roots on top of a slight mound of mix with the roots radiating outward like the spokes on a wheel. Add a bit of mix, work in with a chop-stick. Add more mix, work into the roots; add more mix, and so on. The first re-potting tends to be the most difficult. Keep a hose or spray bottle handy to moisten roots if the process takes more than a minute or two. Water well after potting. Set the plant in the shade, out of the wind.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 12:17PM
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bellapietra(z6 PA)

It's a little cactus in a 4 1/2" pot. I'd pot it up one pot size larger.
I must say in clarification I have a sort of makeshift gritty mix which I made from a bag of Hoffman's Bonsai mix which I screened. It contains Haydite, sand pebble, aged pine bark and Turface in that order.

I am trying to locate the ingredients for the proper Gritty mix but felt this would be a good way to practice my repotting skills with this new type of medium.

I'm in the process of being converted from the "Miracle-Gro with some perlite thrown in" school of repotting, thanks to all the wonderful education on this site.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 12:30PM
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bellapietra(z6 PA)

Sorry for the sideways photo!

Thank you Purpleinopp and Josh for your responses. I will proceed as advised. Now to find that pair of chopsticks.

Do you think this mix is viable this one time while I locate the ingredients for my Gritty mix? The photo is of the mix.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 1:14PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I would be way out of my league talking about a cactus, having never repotted one. It's a cute little thing, though, good luck!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 2:15PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

No need to fret about chopsticks....a pencil will work just fine. :-) Or anything of a similar shape.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 2:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, kabob skewer, popsicle stick, pencil...whatever you have on hand ;-)

I think that mix will work just fine. However, I advise that you moisten the mix ahead of time, then let it dry out a bit (so there's some residual moisture). Then, re-pot your cactus *DRY* - this will help prevent rot from developing in any roots that are damaged during the re-potting process. After 3 - 5 days (a week approximately), slowly and thoroughly water the mix.

My previous advice on keeping roots moist does not apply to desert cacti.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 12:38PM
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bellapietra(z6 PA)

Thank you Rhizo_1 and Josh, for the guidance!
I want to start out small before tackling larger more scary repotting jobs like my huge jade plant.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 6:29PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Good advice from all. Don't be afraid to bare-root the plant. The soil you have looks pretty good for cacti & succulents. If you use it for succulents, remember it's a fallacy that succulents like to go dry between waterings. It's better to let them go dry, because they'll TOLERATE it, and if they had a voice they'd tell you they would rather go dry than be kept too wet. Still, letting them go dry is the lesser of two evils, which is still an evil. In the mix you pictured, you can treat them just as you would all other houseplants you would keep in a well-aerated, fast draining medium.

Al

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 8:16PM
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bellapietra(z6 PA)

Thank you Al for the advice. I am learning so much from your tutorials, and all the other helpful people on this site. What a luxury to have so much information in one place!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 12:43PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

..... really glad you found them helpful - thanks for the kind words. There are a lot of good gardeners here who are ready and able to help folks get more out of the gardening experience. It's always nice to be a part of people helping people.

Learn all you can from a reliable source, then use whatever practical experience your getting by growing to validate what you've learned. ..... fastest way to a green thumb.

Al

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 12:42PM
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jenbis

I have trouble with roots drying out after transplanting to gritty mix. How can I avoid this? It happens more with young plants.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2014 at 10:08PM
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asleep_in_the_garden

My guess would be more frequent watering. The gritty will not hold water nearly so much as a less porous mix...but then again...that's the whole point.

I have to wonder if bagging the plant while it adjusts to the new environment wouldn't be helpful.

Al,..if you're still around,I'd love to get your input on this.

Thanks! :)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2014 at 11:51PM
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jenbis

I thought about watering more however I find that the top layers are the ones that dry out fast and the bottom layers are still wet. I thought the idea was not to water until the whole pot was dry? I'm afraid if I keep watering with the bottom layer still wet I'll start to get root rot? I guess I'm still trying to find a balance.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2014 at 7:12AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When you repot a plant into a well-made gritty mix, you eliminate the limitations imposed by soils that support perched water columns. The idea that 'you shouldn't water until the entire soil mass is almost dry' is a result of the assumption you'll be using a soil that remains soggy for a period after a thorough watering. That's not an issue with the gritty mix. It shouldn't EVER be soggy. The reason the ingredients are screened and the fines removed is so it won't hold perched water.

Some plants could be over-watered even in the gritty mix if growers don't give some thought to what they're doing, but it's still pretty hard to over-water most plants in the gritty mix - which is what allows us to water on a schedule, rather on a need per plant basis.

Water as often as you need, to ensure the soil is moist where the roots are recolonizing the soil. After a week or 2, for most plants you'll be watering every 3-5 days, depending on soil volume and root congestion.

Al

    Bookmark   September 28, 2014 at 9:45AM
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jenbis

Thanks Al...maybe I described it incorrectly. The gritty mix is not soggy but it is damp at the bottom if the pot it never seems to dry completely so perhaps might medium is on the small side? Larger particles quicker dry time?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2014 at 10:21AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's normal for the top of the soil to look and feel dry while the lower part of the soil is still moist - that's how all soils dry out - top first. Maybe I wasn't clear in making the point that what you described isn't an ongoing issue, but something you need to consider in the week or 2 after repotting. You need to water often enough to ensure the soil doesn't dry out in the area where the roots are concentrated. That's true of any well-aerated, fast draining soils.

Al

    Bookmark   September 28, 2014 at 10:39AM
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jenbis

Got it! Thanks Al

    Bookmark   September 28, 2014 at 11:03AM
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asleep_in_the_garden

hmmmm....seems my question got overlooked. Oh well.

Thanks anyway. :)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2014 at 11:37AM
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alisonoz_gw

Just incidentally, a nursery person showed me a neat trick with transplanting cacti, jut in case you are new to it.
Take a large sheet of newspaper and fold and re-fold it until it forms a narrow strap. Then wrap it around the middle of the plant , and grip the paper in the middle, so you have it held tight but not a hand full of prickles.
Then with your other hand, deal with de-potting it, shaking off the soil and whatever, before you replace in the new pot. Keep a grasp on it that way till you have it repotted and level, tap the pot to get the grit distributed better, re-top holes, then water and let go.
Of course, if you have three hands, it makes it even easier :-)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 8:04AM
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