Controversy that Works for You

marquest(z5 PA)October 14, 2011

What do you Secretly do that you are afraid to say on the Houseplant Forum. Come on it is time to confess.

I have some soil questions soooo....I see many talking about soil mix. Please this is not a discussion about mixes of how to make your own soil. There are loads of topics with that info.

Some like me are just not going to run all over town to buy all the ingredients then sit down and try to make soil. I also have seen some say they cannot find this or that, some cannot carry do to a disability to get the ingredients,, have transportation issues, have the time to do mixes and the space. So no need to repeat that info.

But.....If you found a soil that looks good and according to the listed ingredients what would you pay?

(Yesterday I paid 27.00 for a 30 lb bag to try it out. Probably would not pay it on a regular basis but I was curious.)

Have you found a good ready made soil mix that works for you?

I have had houseplants all my life I have killed many due to not knowing what I was doing as to light and water requirements. I have never counted how many plants I have but every room in my house is packed with houseplants.

My confession method...

-Learn what the light and water requirements a plant needs after I buy the plant. LOL

-Soil... I mostly use Black Gold from the hardware store. They actually put this on sale for as little as 2.00 for 30 quarts. I buy Miracle Gro soil if it is on sale none of my plants have died due to the MG after I learned how to water my plants. I have plants that have been growing in MG soil for 3+ years.

-I like pots without drainage. I know, I know most of you are probably jumping up and down SCREAMING . LOL But it works for me especially for plants that hate to dry out. Travel dictates that this works for me. Experience of how much water to put in a pot without drainage. I do not want water on my furniture where I have certain plants. Also, again some of these plants have been in these holeless pots for 3+ years and are gorgeous.

-I use fertilizer, Miracle Gro, Shultz, Epsom Salt, VF-10, A mixture of Beer, molasses, water, ammonia recipe that I found on the net. I find a little fert help does work with my plants.

Now for the disclaimer..... To the newbie houseplant person.... My way probably will not work for you. It takes experience to work around issues and find what works for you.

OK I have a disclaimer so others can post their No, No without guilt that we killed someone's plant.

I am not sensitive I do not mind post saying I am out of my mind. I am just saying it works for me and was wondering what other un-traditional things people do.

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Oh ya? Your out of your mind Marquest!lol

No seriously. I don't think you ever saw the post that my Mom and I related towards you. We just wanted to say we are sorry for your loss and you have been on our minds.

It's good to see your personality her having a good time since then. I find this place very comforting along with my plants, right? :-)

My confessions:

I have killed a gardenia recently due to underwatering!
I have yet to put plants into better mixes after 2 years of procrastinating!
I dropped my plumerias and broke the heads off of several of them.
I have peed on my Just kidding.

By the way, sometimes I use a bagged mix and throw in more perlite into the already porous mix. It is called "Fafard Nursery Mix'. I actually love it for those plants that like to stay evenly moist for longer periods.

Have a great day.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 1:54PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

The most plants I've had in the house at 1 time was probably 100. Last winter it was about 10. This year, well ask me what made it inside in a couple weeks, at least 20 not counting cuttings, depends on the ant situation.

Here's some rules I remember breaking, and whether it was a fail or a win. I...

have co-planted (in the same pot) plants that like different conditions. fail - one always dies.

keep coleus and other cuttings in bottles and jars of water for winter. win.

have kept cuttings of Philodendron, pothos, spider plant babies, and others in bottles of water for years. win unless you forget to add more water. Then fail. BUT one can forget to water ANY plant.

have had plants in pots with no drain holes for a lot longer than 3 years. truce, varied results.

gave my plants diluted sweet tea this summer. truce, varied results.

use chunks of clay from the yard at the bottom of pots of plants that keep drying out. win.

often find myself doing completely unscientific sheet composting experiments in potted plants. win.

am guilty of buying plants as gifts and taking cuttings before giving them away. win.

arrange my furniture according to the plants. truce.

have loved them to death, and ignored them to death. fail.

occasionally let one get so 1-sided that it fell over. truce - this has only been fatal in 1 of a few cases, and the other plants looked fine with time.

have ruined carpeting and furniture from overwatering during the winter. fail.

often prefer repotting over fertilizing. Our dog got really sick one time from licking plants that had been sprinkled with fertilizer water. He was vomiting and went temporarily psychotic, snapping at us. I just don't like to have that stuff around pets and kids but occasionally I find this liquid fertilizer that has an eyedropper in the lid. I like to use that, just put a drop or 2 on the soil immediately before watering. During times when there's been no dog or little ones around, I find it easy to put time-release balls on the surface. all win.

I'm not one to advise on dirt since that's a confession of mine... I regularly put yard dirt mixed with mulch and compost in my pots and consider it far superior to anything that's mostly peat, vermiculite, and/or perlite. I won't buy anything with water retention crystals or fertilizer in it. Luckily that stuff tends to be expensive, so the generic cheap bag that appeals to me if I feel the need to buy soil doesn't have that stuff. I just add mulch and compost until I get it like I like it. win.

So glad we're not confessing about outdoor gardening and composting. THOSE are areas where I could tell some much more frightening tales! If you're not supposed to do it, I've done it or still do it. I think gardening is an especially rewarding outlet for those of us who still harbor a glimmer of a rebellious teenager. By this time in life (43), I think we've all learned that...

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 3:07PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Oh Mike thank you. This is the hardest time I have had in my life and I have had some hard things happen. The GW is helping me now that I am not drowning the keyboard with tears,

Yes I am crazy, really crazy and my plants know it all to well. I talk to them and tell them if they do not behave I will old man winter have his way with them. LOL

purpleinopp, I am going to use some of your crazy items. I like the clay in the bottom of the pot. I have used baby diapers, the cheap ones from Big Lots that you get 24 for 2.99. I love them in those coir pots in the summer that dry out so fast.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 9:04PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

I often leave pots sitting in water but I do let them dry up a bit before watering again although in general, I keep everything wet.

I water with a nutrient solution all year, even during the winter.

I actually take care of my ZZ plant.

I keep a colony of Spathiphyllum in an undrained tub of mud. Spaths are bog plants.

I have kept cuttings in containers of water of years, Is this really controversial? Doesn't everyone do that?

I repot my plants whenever they need it / I feel like it, not just at certain times of the year.

I have kept a cactus outside all winter here in Chicago and it lived to talk about it, twice.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:43AM
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Two things, and I'm not willing to pass judgement on how WELL it's worked but it hasn't been terrible so far. Also this is less of a conscious choice on my part and more of external factors forcing me to do stuff.

1. I can't take plants outdoors in the summer - As I said, I moved recently and have no outside-space. This hasn't been particularly problematic yet.

2. I tend to water plants on a schedule in the summer. I'm only around to water stuff on the weekends, so every Saturday, everything gets watered. However, I have nearly everything in primarily inorganic, very gritty potting media right now, so overwatering isn't a major concern for me.

3. Also I water my ming aralia like once a month. It seems to do okay with this.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:53AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Dellis, fertilizing plants year-round is actually recommended!


    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 11:13AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Good stuff everyone. OK this is what I have gotten so far.....

-You can water when you want when life dictates how you water.
-You can let plants grow in a bog situation if they are bog plants. I killed a plant because it was NOT kept moist constantly. If life situation leaves you only the weekend to water get bog plants and grow your plants in Miracle-gro soil or another water retentive soil.
-Co-planting non/same condition plants have a low survival rate. LOL (I have made this work by planting a water hog plant with a low water hog plant. Usually the hog sucks the water and the other water sipper likes the conditions and they both survive.)
-I might be able to save my coleus this winter by growing them in water. LOL
-You can grow plants in yard dirt. (Good for you purple in this economy there are a lot of people out there that would love to grow plants but cannot afford to buy the plant and special soil to be sucessful) the plants will survive. I think a spider plant would survive growing in anything.
-Gardening/houseplants will grow without rules.
-Fertilizer is not bad.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 11:43AM
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dellis326 (Danny)

greenman28; I think it should be, Reading these boards it seem many people recommend cutting back or stopping fertilizing during the winter. I use a full strength hydroponic nutrient solution on all my plants regardless of how they're grown.

For all you folks who travel a lot and aren't home to tend to your plants all the time you should consider semi-hydro growing. You don't need all of the fancy mediums, you can use coir, wood chips or long fibered sphagnum moss rather than soil.

If you grow an indoor bog, use a shallow container or unpleasant thing can happen.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 2:46PM
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Marquest, a very interesting topic..Confessions.

1. several plants, including succulents are in pots w/o drainage.
2. although I advise people to spray organic insecticides every 2-3 wks throughout winter, I've neglected to do so. RESULTS: Up to two years ago, 'before growing lax and stopped spraying,' my plants were w/o insects. Now, I'm battling Mealy, one pest impossible to kill. And yes, I have used RA numerous times. Mealy consider RA a beverage.
3. Succulents, like 'Mother of Thousands/Millions,' that are growing in the garden in summer, are potted in straight, garden soil, and left to grow.
Purple, since you use garden soil, the only thing I suggest is baking first. Kills bugs and disease.
4. Because of my SPIDER phobia, before bringing plants in the house, each are hosed, outside, with ice cold water. Then go in the indoor sink, submerged under hot fact, I'm also pouring a little boiled water with the plants.
5. It's been 2-8, plus, years since some plants have been fertilized.
6. My oldest Spider Plant hasn't been potted over a decade. It's in a container w/o drainage, to boot.
7. Plants in water never were fertilized. A couple are close to 18-yrs-old. Just add water once a week.
8. Last year I brought a beautiful Golden Chalice/Solandra outside too early in the season. Yellow flowers grew 7+". Even though it got cold, I left it out..It's now in plant heaven.
9. I need to water more

  1. There's probably more rules I break..the last confession is, Marquest, I love threads such as the one you posted.

  2. There are times I disagree with people. Like fertilizing in winter...:) Sorry Josh, Toni

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 7:00PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Toni, #10.......Confession is good for the soul and it is fun to break the rules.

Plants are a joy for me, if I attacked it like my work, of details, and measurements, and a bunch of dos and don'ts and that everything had to be done by the book it would feel to much like work. The plants are the one thing I can enjoy.

"If you grow an indoor bog, use a shallow container or unpleasant thing can happen"

It does not have to be a shallow pot for me because I am not a heavy water person. But in my case it is a little hard to be a heavy water person if you are not even in the same state with your plants. By the time I get home they have sucked up all the water but as I said it takes experience to know how much water to put in the pot when you do not have drainage holes.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 10:12PM
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Oh, in terms of general weird mistreatment my plants seem to tolerate, I think I only water my Norfolk Island Pine about once a month. Same goes for the Pedilanthus.

Speaking of which, I left the pedilanthus basically lying on its side for... most of a year, because it was braided around some plastic thing that made it impossible to actually fit in a pot. I managed to actually get that out about a week ago and pot it normally. Maybe it will resume growing in the correct direction now.

Anyway, I really worry about killing plants I get from plant club sales or smaller nurseries. I mean, if something from Lowes dies, who cares? But what if I kill a plant that was grown with love? Then I'd feel terrible.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 10:37PM
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I LOVE that "bad plant care" is so subjective! Except for killing them of course... but, now on to the confessions:

- I heat with wood & my tropical foliage plants probably get too cold every fall/winter/spring and manage to survive (except for last winter, when they were all in the kitchen/dining room with the stove because the living room door was closed to stop cat pee/carpet interactions. They were in the lap of LUXURY!).

- I have killed some rather old plants of great sentimental value & continue to have guilt & remorse :(

- There have been random times over the years when I have neglected the plants for long stretches, but casualties have generally been limited to Rex Begonias, ferns, citrus, jasmine & African violets.

- I still purchased/accepted more of the above plants anyhow. Who knows how many jasmine have suffered death by drought at my hands?!

- I too have left plants in the same soil for years (5+) & not been a fertilizor. Phils, Monstera & Chlorophytum survive this.

- I rarely remember to check plants I bring home for bugs until I am already at home.

- I've potted regularly with outside compost or dirt & just swept up the dried up worms & bugs that crawl out of the pots.

- I've regularly used nasty, dirty, chemical-ridden driveway gravel at the bottom of houseplant pots.

Purple, I'm with you: this could be much more embarrassing if we were talking about outdoor gardening... at this point, I am apparently an Amaranth & Stinky Bob (herb robert) farmer with unripe tomatoes rotting on their vines.

Thanks for sharing everyone - we all have our little secrets & sometimes it's good therapy to take a look at someone else's evils & think "Well, at least I don't do THAT; I guess I'm not so bad after all!"


    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 11:27AM
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The biggest would be that some of the plants I neglect the most, do the best. Sometimes blind neglect works.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 8:16PM
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"- I rarely remember to check plants I bring home for bugs until I am already at home."

The bugs always hide till you get home anyway so it's not like this actually helps.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 11:16PM
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