Foliage Pro & Pro Tekt (..AL..)

tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)November 19, 2012

This is message is directed towards Al, but of course anyone can chime in also...

Gearing up to buy the above products. I was originally going to just get the Foliage Pro but I remembered you recommended both together. Why. What benefits do each bring me and my plants that a regular fertilizer cant do?

I am comfortable and confident enough now that I am ready to spend the money if necessary to get these products. I have really gotten a handle on watering and such. I just dont have patience. I want them all to grow now! :)

How often do I use these products and how much.

Is there a place where you or anyone else buys these from that they get a good price and you can buy them together?

As always, Thank you for your expertise.


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

This is a copy/paste from something I left over at the Plumeria Forum, so if it doesn't directly answer your question, feel free to prod me. ;-)

About Pro-TeKt: On its face it looks primarily like a potassium (K) supplement, but the K it contains mostly adds a degree of versatility to your fertilizer program if you're already supplying nutrients in an appropriate ratio. Remember that supplying an excess of any single nutrient can be as bad as a deficiency, so it's a valuable asset to have a pretty good idea of what you're supplying and when your plants will get it.

3:1:2 ratio fertilizers (ratios are different than NPK %s. 24-8-16, 12-4-8, and 9-3-6 are all 3:1:2 RATIOS) come closest to supplying nutrients in the ratio at which plants actually use them. By supplementing K with 0-0-3 Pro-TeKt, you can EFFECTIVELY reduce N applications & not worry about P or K deficiencies. There is more than enough P in 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers (plants use on average 6X more N than P) to prevent a deficiency of P, and the K is covered by the 0-0-3, which also provides silicon.

Silicon (Si) is Pro-TeKt's most valuable asset. A high % of plants absorb additional Si when it is available. Plants that test higher in Si concentrations in shoots show a more rapid rate of increase in (dry) mass. Since an increase in mass is the true measure of growth, we can say the large % of plants that respond to increased availability of Si simply grow better.

While how Si affects plant metabolism escapes complete understanding, we know it improves growth, increases metabolic rates, and increases the chlorophyll content of leaves. Very important is that it increases the tolerance to temperature extremes on both ends, as well as drought.

Added Si in cell walls structurally protects plants against pathogens and insects by making cell walls stronger.

One of the greater benefits of available Si is it can balance elemental nutrients in tissues because of its suppressive effects on Al, Mn and Na and because it acts to mediate the uptake of P, Mg, K, Fe, as well as the minors Cu and Zn.

I'd like to mention that the effects of silicon on plants is documented scientifically, so my offering isn't anecdotal, even though it may seem that I'm promoting the use of Si as if it might be the magic potion guaranteed to turn the struggling grower into a plant magician, like so many other super elixirs promise. It won't do that, but it does strengthen plants in ways noted above, and as also noted adds versatility to your nutritional supplementation program if applied properly.

Though I think I'm a pretty critical observer, I'll qualify the following observation as being anecdotal, even though it squares with science. I have noticed a difference in my plants since I started to use it about 10 years ago. The areas where I notice most improvement are, improved resistance to heat, obviously stronger & more upright foliage, and a considerable reduction in the incidence of both diseases and infestations.

The nutritional supplementation path we travel is often obscured by a lot of anecdote and misconception, but it really isn't difficult at all to put a supplementation program in place that ensures your plants will get not only all the elements essential to normal growth, but also ensures they are supplied in a favorable ratio - more important than realized by most.color>

I used to by both by the gallon when I'm in Chicago at a place I favor, but they've moved to Milwaukee :o( so I'll be in the same boat as you next time I need either, looking for the best deals. A lot of places stopped carrying it by the gallon because of how expensive freight has become. I'll be checking out the few hydroponics shops in the area to see what sort of prices they offer.

How often you can or should use them depends on your habits, so after you digest this, we can talk more about what you're using for soil(s) and how you water.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 5:46PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

I have read and reread this and understand as much as I can.

I have changed up my watering habits in this way. I have only a few big plants right now with most being medium to small sized and the rest is cuttings I received. I took upon Purpleinopp's technique in that i try to water in sips so that i dont over soak. I also use skewers to measure how wet the mix is. When I water I try to water where a little comes out the bottom. If i get a river, i feel i watered too much. So i am getting a handle that.

As far as fertilizer , i havent used much as i have only been at this for about 3 months. So most plants have been fertilized once with an all purpose houseplant fert. From MG.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 2:18PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry, but I think you're miss-judging the watering thing. Small sips is not a good thing, we always tell folks that here. I'd suggest you water 'til a fair amount comes out the bottom. This is NOT overwatering Tiff, I assure you, many of us have been doing this for a long time & would know by now if it were.

I'm not personally in favor of Purple's watering technique as I understood it; tho'she's been doing this a rather long time & knows how to judge this. Sorry but you haven't & are still learning. I predict (sorry) that'll you'll have more trouble from this 'small sips' business than if you would let a fair amount of water come out the bottom (which might be overwatering if you did that frequently, which I'm not suggesting).

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 3:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If I had to lay out a plan for you, this is what I would say:

* Keep working toward the ability to make a soil that allows you to water with no concern for root issues - no matter how big/small the pot/plant are or what time of the year it is. I easily achieve that with no extraordinary effort, so if you want to, you can too.

* In the meanwhile .... I think most of your plants are small enough that you can lift them easily? Water thoroughly, so at least 10-20% of the water you apply exits the drain. Pour buckets through the pot if you want. Then, hold your pot over the sink and move it up and down. You'll soon discover that when you move the pot downward and suddenly reverse it's direction upward, a big squirt of water will exit the drain. You'll figure it out - first pot. This will remove ALL perched water from your soil, so you needn't worry.

If the plants are too large to carry to the sink, take a look at the picture.

Imagine A as your container at rest, right after you watered. The dark area is the PWT. If you tip the container (B), the PWT will maintain the same ht, but do you see how much water will be removed, just by tipping the pot? C just shows how a container's shape can affect the volume of PW a soil can hold. D illustrates how to use an upside down pot in a larger pot to reduce the volume of PW in a pot, and E shows what a wick can do.

That trick I told you about moving the pot up and down over the sink will really help if you fear your soil is too water-retentive.

* Then, you can fertilize however you wish. If you want to fertilize using a little less than 1/4 tsp of FP/gallon each time you water, you can. If you want to fertilize using a little more than that every other time you water - or, that's fine, too. Getting rid of the perched water frees you up to do a LOT of things you can't do when your soil is too water retentive.

* Finally, keep making an effort to learn. The more you learn, the faster you'll move forward in your abilities. Even if you're an excellent observer, experimenting and relying on experience (trial/error) takes a LOT longer than gathering knowledge and then using your practical experience to validate that knowledge. ..... and keep asking questions.

Happy Thanksgiving!


    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 4:12PM
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silentsurfer(6A OH)

hi guys,
i mayve missed something previous (elswhere?) so, let me get this straight,
when i hold my just watered plant over the sink, at an angle and shake it downward, stopping suddenly, and that little bit of water flushes out the drainage holes, from the gravitational force,,,,
Thats removing the perched water??

btw Thanks for the pics Al,
always makes everything so much easier for people like me. :)
given the use of the entire English language, or a crayon,, guess which i'd pick? :)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 8:24PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Im with ya Joe on the crayon version!! Haha

I guess then I dont know if I am over watering. I thought that if alot of water came out of the bottom, there was a good chance I was overwatering. So how do I know then if I am doing right? I assume I am only because these plants are doing so very well. I am proud of what I have accomplished so far. And what i HAVE learned from trial and error.

With what you suggested about fertilizing... How do I incorporate the Pro Tekt? Or should I hold off? Is it really necessary?

Thanks Al for your explanation. It helps alot! I will certainly check out your technique to see how I am doing.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 9:24PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

..... glad you guys found the info helpful.

SS - hold it level. As you move it down, then quickly upward, Newtons First Law of Motion (an object in motion [the water] stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force) kicks in and the water keeps moving downward when you revers directions to upward. If your pots are small enough, you can remove all perched water from almost any soil. There's a BUT that goes with it though ..... it doesn't do anything to increase porosity like chunkier soils do, except to the extent that removing perched water increases o/a porosity. IOW, it helps a lot, but not as much as a well-aerated soil would.

T - how much water comes out the bottom is of no concern - it's how much water stays behind in the pot you need to worry about. Now though, at least for your smaller pots, you know how to get rid of it. Once you get comfortable with a soil, and gain some confidence in your watering technique, things will be less worrisome. I haven't worried about over-watering a planting in at least 15 years - or even having one rained on too much/too long.

I'll have to stop back when I get time. I'm the cook here & I have chocolate mousse cooling and a pie in the oven ...... need to whip the cream to fold into the mousse, and cranberry relish to make ..... oh yeah - I have breadcrumbs in the oven drying that need turning, too. Come to think of it - I still have a lot to do. Big crowd tomo.



    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 10:15PM
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This is pretty interesting Al. This visual is very helpful to understand how PW works. I've found a 32 oz bottle on Amazon for 21.99. Is that a good price?

Also happy Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful to have found your guidance Al.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 9:50AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Thanks for the kind words, Vance.

I've bought FP 9-3-6 from New England Hydroponics on a number of occasions, and they list it for $16.95 plus shipping .....

Copy paste link to your browser:


    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 10:45AM
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Thanks Al. I checked it out and saw that shipping is $13.00. I can get it with free shipping off of amazon, so I might just go with that. I'm going to continue to look around before I make a choice though.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 11:15AM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Al, and the Pro Tekt? Is it necessary right now or should I hold off.
Hope you had a great turkey day.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 3:12AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - up in the middle of the night fretting over fertilizers? Please tell me something else had you up at that hour. ;-)

Here's how I fertilize in the winter: I water/fertilize (fertigate) every time I water with a low dose of fertilizer. Not everyone CAN fertigate that way - it depends on your soil choice and watering habits, so don't emulate unless you understand the ramifications. After I'm done fertigating, I fill 5 - 1 gallon milk jugs with tap water and add just under 1/4 tsp of 9-3-6 to each, and let them rest for the 4 day interval between fertigating, so they come to room temperature. I've asked a LOT of degreed hort people if plants suffer adversity from being watered with cold water, and not one has ever offered anything conclusive that says it's either good or bad, other than potential damage to foliage on some plants, like AVs. Most bonsai books suggest that a cool drink during the midday time period is very helpful because it quickly cools roots down, so apparently the 'shock' thing is a perpetuated myth. Still, it's no extra effort to allow the water to come to room temp, so that's what I do.

When I fertigate, I use a watering can with a long spout that allows me to reach plants in the center of my 4x8 growing areas. The spout has a fine nozzle that sends out a 1/8" stream of water, so it take on average about 20-30 seconds to water a plant. This allows me to wet the entire surface of the plant, so gravity moves the solution down through the entire soil mass. When I see water flowing into the collection saucer, I water for a few more seconds, then stop. My plants are set on pieces of plastic u-channel above the effluent, so I don't need to empty the saucers. The evaporating water means my humidifiers run less.

When it's time to water, I pour 2 qts of fertigation solution from the gallon jug into the watering can. I then add 3 drops of ProTeKt while the water is still turbulent, so it mixes well. I don't mix it in until the last minute because mixing the fertilizer and ProTeKt ahead of time causes some of the elements to precipitate from (fall out of) the solution.

You asked if the ProTeKt is necessary. I think it's good to remember that in many cases, we approach growing with only our own perspective in mind. Much disagreement arises between someone who thinks their way is good enough for everyone because they are happy with it, and the grower who has found a way superior to that particular way and wants to share it. People very often get defensive when someone suggests that what someone says or does isn't the best way. "Well, it works for me!" really isn't very conclusive when it comes to deciding what might or might not be best for the plant. In addition to that, some growers place a high premium on 'less maintenance is better (for me)', while the next grower is trying to make the point that MORE maintenance is better (for the plant).

I tend to always speak from the perspective of how to get to what's best for the plant, and then let the grower decide if they want to go to any extra effort or expense that might be entailed in getting there.

So, the ProTeKt isn't necessary if your goal is to raise a healthy plant. I had healthy plants for many years before I started using it, but after I started using it, I noticed a lower incidence of insect and disease issues, and I noticed that my plants seemed more resistant to temperature extremes. I noticed these things even before I read a few of the many studies that quantify the effects of aqueous Si on plants, so if I was dreaming, I was at least dreaming in accord with the conclusions of others who made the actual effort to nail down the Si's effects on plants. I can't really tell you it's necessary, but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that if you do use it regularly, it's going to be helpful.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 1:27PM
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tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Ha!!! No, baby woke up and i tend to read while rocking him back to sleep.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 12:22AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'd figgered sompin such as that. ;-)


    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:41AM
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