Hating that Bark Potting Mix

echinaceamaniac(7)August 4, 2011

Don't you just hate that bark that Lowes plants come in! If you buy Plants in that and don't remove a lot of it, the plants die. I bet Lowes replaces tons of plants each year from people not knowing about that stuff. Echinaceas are always in it!

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I agree. I had several plants not make it. I try to get most of it shook off but then the roots have a hard ajusting.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 9:07PM
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tepelus z6a SW MI

For some plants it's great for providing good drainage. Hostas really do well in a potting mix mixed with fine bark mulch. I know, I mixed my own this year and planted some young hostas in it in pots and when I was finally able to get them in the ground a few days ago, the roots had doubled or tripled in size since I got them in May/June. It helps to get air to the roots as well as good drainage. When I planted, I removed most of the medium from around the roots and mixed it in with the soil in the hole I planted them in. My soil is nasty clay (in places), so adding anything helps to improve it.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 9:57PM
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I bet lots of people simply dig a hole and dump the plant out and stick it in the hole with the bark still attached. A lot of plants will die if you do that. The bark dries out really fast. If you water it enough to keep wet, the plant will get too much water. It's ok for pots, but if you plant it in the ground without removing enough of it, the plant will suffer. Some plants cannot be saved when they are planted in that stuff. I really think it's just pure bark with nothing else in it. It needs something else added to make it a better mix.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 10:20PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

it sounds like the greenhouse [the mass producer] is producing them for the florist trade.. with a high drainage media ... like most house plants ...

rather than producing a pot made for insertion into mother earth ...

i would presume bigboxstore is simply buying based on price, rather than future performance ...

besides.. why are you buying your treasured heirloom plants at bigboxstore... SHOPPING PRICE????

lol ...

you get what you pay for .... "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." [i had to use the quote rather than rely on as gender specific answer]


    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 8:56AM
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I have never purchased plants from Lowes so have no comment on their mix, however as for bark based potting mix, I would not use anything else. I do not use any mix in my own propagation system that contains peat. Al

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 9:48AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Agreed, peat is awful stuff.

I bought bags of "professional potting soil" this year that were full of just mulch - nothing but mulch. Even mixed with aged manure, my potted annuals that lived were just awful. I won't buy any more bags of stuff without looking in them first. It sounds like the same folks who called this stuff potting soil might be involved in supplying plants to Lowe's.

I'm a firm believer in supporting a real garden center vs. a large corporation BUT refuse to pay more for the same plants. Garden centers need to offer plants that are unique if they expect people to pay more for them. I don't need a knowledgeable employee to buy petunias, coleus, impatiens, moss roses, marigolds, etc... They can't compete and need to capitalize on the niche of uniqueness.

I miss the good ol' days, when there was dirt in the dirt, sugar in the sugar, and fat in the fat.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 10:11AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

however as for bark based potting mix, I would not use anything else.

===>>> well sure Al .. IF YOU ARE KEEPING THEM IN THE POT ... right ...

the most important thing i learned when moving from nice loamy soil to pure mineral sand.. is that EVERYTHING has to be bare rooted.. or the sand will eventually start wicking all the water out of peat ... and once dry.. underground.. peat almost NEVER re-hydrates properly ....

that is most likely ... the root cause [pun intended] with the failure of the plants complained about... the potting media is to 'different' from mother earth leading to root issues ... which also means water issues ...

then.. of course.. you cant bare root plants this time of year.. it must be done in early spring.. when there is enough time to get the roots out of shock and working before the heat of summer ..

or in fall.. so the plant has 2 cool seasons [in z5] before the heat of summer next year ...

so even if you buy your bargain plants now.. you 'hold them over' until the next proper planting time.. so you can work on the roots/media.. for future success ...

in other words.. just because you buy it.. it doesnt mean its the best time to plant it ....


    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 12:26PM
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I'm not a professional greenhouse grower, I'm a home gardener, my Lowes use a grower that has bark mix, the coneflowers that i've been getting need to be taken out of this potting mix, water runs right through the pots, it's cheap and if they can get them to market size with bark and liquid fertilizer they will keep using it. and if you take the plant out and smell it, it's decomposing right in the pot. Their target buyers are home gardeners, we shouldn't have to take a plant out of it's potting mix, we should just loosen the root ball and stick it in the ground. I have to baby sit these plants for a few weeks to get them settled back into the ground. I've lost more than one, lowe's threw out a whole rack full last year they were wilted. this year they didn't buy any coneflowers at all they had some mixed premium pots for 20. that had sundown series in it and one white coneflower, now that's a great buyer for lowes's! I can see it caught up with them this year, i can't afford to buy a plant more than once and struggle to keep it alive.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 2:36PM
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It's terrible, Business has always been greedy, but I remember back when firms wanted to sell good products too, as well as get rich. Now they only sell marketable products, ones designed to get the product out the door and not much else, with fewer people getting very rich (and they likely hate gardening and prefer to let the help do that sort of stuff). On the bright side, Lowes & HD & OSH have certainly helped me improve my propagation techs! I buy vermiculite and washed sand from box stores and not much else.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 4:03PM
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chris_ont(5a Ont)

I purchased several young Liatris in that mix. Turned out that the bark stuff was propping the plant up. All of them collapsed over the weeks that followed and eventually died.

I won't buy a plant in that mix again.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 12:31PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

it sounds like the greenhouse [the mass producer] is producing them for the florist trade.. with a high drainage media ... like most house plants ...

however as for bark based potting mix, I would not use anything else.

===>>> well sure Al .. IF YOU ARE KEEPING THEM IN THE POT ... right ...

And therein lies the irony -- the potted house plants are instead almost always potted up in pure peat or barely amended peat. Again, typically a recipe for disaster for many houseplants and their would be home growers.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 2:29PM
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In this part of California, we have a lot of propagating nurseries who sell their product to everyone. The small retail nurseries as well as the big box outlets. In most cases the producing nursery has his label on the plants. There will be growers who produce a better plant than others, and a buyer can easily tell the difference. Except for specialty plants these growers all use a bark based mix. The advantage is the mix will last for several months, without collapsing. The disadvantage is that frequent watering will be required, as the mix is fast draining. A fast draining mix will also require either timed release fertilizer, or frequent liquid fertilization. As for myself, I buy my mix by the yard from the same landscape suppliers that mix for the commercial growers, and I buy the same mix for the same reason. My potting mix costs me $50 per yard and is only used for pots. Al

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 10:24AM
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Real dirt, real fat and real sugar cost real money. So you have to pay more.
There is an immense difference in the mixes growers use for their plants.
Better mixes cost more money. Better mixes also grow better plants.
In this, as in everything else, you get what you pay for.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 12:27PM
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