Return to the House Plants Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Posted by Plant_Lover_UT none (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 0:58

I rotted my two zz plants before due to bad soil. However, I just planted new two my zz plants with MicroGrow Potting Mix soil in one pot.

Are my ZZ plants ok with this? Do I need to fertilize the soil since it is new?

I am a newbie with indoor plants.

Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Another pix


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Another Pix


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

did you mean to say miracleGrow ? if so - that's too damp for them, it needs to be cut with fine bark/perlite to like one part each. or 50% perlite.
at least do not water them unless the the mix is dry all the way to the bottom: take a chopstick/skewer, stick in the pot - if it's dry all the way, then water. and then not much. basically like a succulent.
they look very healthy, but i would use half of the pot volume, just barely to fit in the roots.


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

....and you might want to remove the attached drip-tray so that there is never water standing in there.

Josh


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 17:51

"Cutting" Miracle-Gro with fine bark or even 50% perlite isn't going to make a significant difference in how your plant reacts to the amended mix vs the straight MG soil. Your MG soil, which is nearly all fine particles, is a lot like pudding when it's saturated. What happens to a pint of pudding when you add a marble to it? Nothing - the marble takes up space - nothing more. How about 10 marbles - see any improvement in the mind's eye with 10 marbles? 20? 50? Nope. The pudding oozes in around the marbles and fills all the potential pores in between the marbles. In fact, if you started with a jar full of pudding (water retentive soil) and started adding marbles. Envision the pudding oozing over the rim of the jar with every marble you add until the jar has all the marbles it can hold. It's completely filled with marbles - can't get even 1 more marble in the jar. Where are the air spaces we need for root health and root function? There are none to be found.

The same scenario plays out when you try to 'improve' heavy soils like MG by adding perlite and bark. You can't add perlite and bark to peat and come up with a well-aerated soil, but you CAN add peat and perlite to bark and end up with a well-aerated, fast-draining soil. At the point where there is enough peat (pudding) in the mix to fill all the air spaces between the bark and perlite particles (marbles), the soil essentially takes on almost all of the properties of the finest ingredient - peat (pudding). Starting with bark and perlite, and adding only a small fraction of peat (or MG potting soil) leaves you with a soil that still has lots of open air spaces between the bark and perlite particles.

What size pot is appropriate isn't determined by plant size, root-ball size, or the size of the pot it's in today. It's determined by your choice of soil. Over-potting (growing in a pot too large for the soil you're using) is a concern when using soils like yours - soils that support a significant amount of water that resists the force of gravity and refuses to drain out of the pot. After watering to saturation, it's not unusual for MG soils to support 6" or more of completely saturated soil at the bottom of the pot after it has stopped draining. Conditions like this kill roots, and often entire plants. Obviously, you would want to grow in the smallest pot size possible, so the plant uses up excess water asap. The problem here is, small pots and tight roots impose limitations on growth and vitality that increase in direct relation to increasing root congestion. When you grow in soils that DON'T support that soggy layer of soil at the bottom of the pot, you can put your plants in pots as large as you like, with no concern your plants might be 'over-potted'.

I'll link you to something that, if you'll take the time to become familiar with it, will help you avoid all the most common pitfalls that growers come to this forum seeking help for. See what you think (see below).

Growing well is a holistic endeavor that's driven by knowledge. Learn all you can and use your experience to validate those things you already rely on as truths - it's the fastest way to a green thumb.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Keep your plants healthy ........


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 17:54

Deleted duplicate

This post was edited by tapla on Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 12:05


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Hi All,

Thanks all for your help. I today went to ask the plant expert at Lows about the soil I bough. She said "perlite is added to the MiracleGro" that I bought.

She also suggest I should take the drip-tray off the pot, put the stones in the drip-tray, and seat the pot on it. When there is the water in the drip-tray, it will evaporate up -->the plant will happy with it.

Thanks all,

Jimmy


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Another Pix


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Yes, a good idea to separate the drip-tray, as I noted.

Secondly, there is NOWHERE near enough Perlite added to the potting mix. As Al posted, the actual drainage characteristics of your potting mix won't change until Perlite is a significant majority (60 - 70 percent) of the total volume.

Josh


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

adding bark and perlite to make a 1:1:1 mix will certainly work as far as drainage. it's quite an acceptable solution for casual grower, though it will still require careful watering, not constant pour thru's to saturation practiced by 511 and gritty growers.


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 12:12

If you have the bark in hand - why o' why would you choose to make a soil that odds say will be limiting? If you can't water a soil to beyond saturation, you have to work much harder to avoid the issues that aren't inherent in soils with better aeration/drainage? All it takes is a few more scoops of bark.

Al


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Petrushka, your post came after mine and I wasn't sure if it was a response to my comments on drainage. Just to clarify - the minor fraction of Perlite already present in the Miracle Grow will not increase drainage. And, if one uses Miracle Grow mix sans bark, the necessary Perlite to actually improve drainage is quite significant.

Josh


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

i was just responding to OP - a suggestion to improve drainage. not an ideal mix by all means. but easily doable. and it will improve drainage well enough to keep the plant healthy, provided it is allowed to totally dry up.

in general, i would not put ZZ in bark - mostly lava rock/perlite would be my preferred choice. that is what i use, it does well for me, so that is what i recommend.

there are many ways to grow healthy plants ;).

greenman,
i clearly suggested 1:1:1 MIX - so using miraclegro instead of 1 part peat. if course miraclegro does not have enough perlite.


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Hi Guys,

You guys were right. I today notice some of the leaves are yellow. I dug it up immediately and discovered the root was ready to get rot--two or three of them, tiny bit not much. I cut it to the fine part

So, I bought a bag of perlite and mix it with 50/50 with soil.

Am I going to be ok now?. Do I need to to anything with the yellow looking leaves.

Thanks,

Jimmy


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Another pix


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Looks better but I suggest you need to plant the tubers deeper. I'd only leave the top 1/8 or so of each tuber exposed above the mix. Otherwise they really need to be almost buried in the mix.

Am confused, what's that red thing? Are you trying to tie them onto the pots? Just bury them more deeply, placing large rocks around the base of the plants to hold 'em in place 'til they root.


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

The red is just a red chopstick. I tried to make one of the stems to be inward.

Thanks,

Jimmy


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

perhaps only 1/2" deeper, not more. so that half the tuber is underground. you could put down 1/2" of gravel instead. it would be ok,but... it'll reduce evaporation from the soil - which in case of zz is not such a good thing. AND it will obscure the soil surface - will be harder to see if it's drying up.
these are large plants too - they might topple the plastic pot easily. thick unglazed clay (that absorbs and evaporates water) would be much better.
it's a deep pot too - will remain damp in the bottom half for quite awhile. even with pure bark! which is why i prefer lava rock in principle.
you need to treat it like a succulent at least until it starts actively growing.


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

al said;
If you have the bark in hand - why o' why would you choose to make a soil that odds say will be limiting? ..
. you assume it's easy to have it on hand (store large amts/screen large amts) - not everybody wants or can do that. if you live in an apt in a big city - it's a very inconvenient thing to deal with.
it also does not wick well enough for sub-irrigation.
which is a major problem for me.
i travel a lot and leave my plants on wicks 2-4 weeks routinely (last time 2 mo!). bark won't let me do that.
i have lots of plants that i kept for many-many years not in bark! mostly in reg potting soils like miraclogro. they are totally fine . but i did not travel as much then.
now that i do, i have converted most of them to 50% perlite for wicking and am quite content. been about 6 years - have no problems with drainage/growth whatever.
my doctrine is " if it's not broke, don't fix it!".
sorry to take up your time with explanations, but had to address it.


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 19:18

Delete duplicate

This post was edited by tapla on Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 19:44


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 19:29

I didn't assume anything. My comments were based entirely on your suggestion to amend with bark or perlite (you must have these items on hand to amend with them). If you have them, why build a soil that still embodies issues that can be prevented by adding a little more bark? Can we agree that more bark = better drainage, more aeration, and a reduction in the amount of perched water a soil can hold - good things, all three?

I don't think you offered explanations so much as descriptions of your unique circumstances that require certain compromises. I'm sure that only a very few of us have the same priorities to consider, so what works well for your situation might not work well for others - at least not as well as the approach I outlined. I think it's important for new growers to gain an understanding of basic issues, especially as they relate to soil choice. You choose your soils from the grower's point of view, so you can order your priorities in a particular manner. There is nothing wrong (at all) with that, but I choose to offer advice from the plant's point of view (that being what's best for the plant) and from the perspective of what's most foolproof/ easiest/ most productive for the grower.

It's easy to SAY that soils like MG are totally fine, but in saying it, you must ignore the fact that a very large % of the problems houseplant growers experience are indeed directly related to problems inherent in soils like MG et al that have fine material (compost, peat, composted forest products, coir, sand, topsoil ....) as their largest fractions. Your suggestion offers no relief from the problems inherent in MG et al similar. My suggestions are specifically aimed at avoiding problems and making it easier for the grower to get as much as possible from the growing experience.

I don't think you need to apologize for taking up anyone's time. People come here to learn, and amicable differences of opinion give growers the opportunity to evaluate different views and decide what advice it's in their best interest to follow.

I don't think progress is served by the adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". It's a self-limiting philosophy, and adherence to the thought requires a certain complacency that encourages stagnation. When you're involved in growing plants in containers, there is ALWAYS something limiting growth and vitality. The best growers are continually proactive, trying to figure out what their plant's limitations are and correcting them before they become threatening. To assume there are no limitations "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and to act accordingly is to ensure them.

Al


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

we obviously have diff agenda.
my circumstances are far from unique - there's like a million people in NYC alone in small apartments (and there are other cities too), growing smth or the other besides doing a gazillion other things.
i hope my advice will allow them to grow some plants while they are at it. the trends are good, more and easier plants are offered for sale. everybody is trying to do it. but...
your great growing practices would be a very serious limitation for most of them in the city. that's just a fact.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it - nothing to do with philosophy.
it's just a very practical approach in a busy life. believe me, i am very proactive,
else i won't be able to keep 150 plants going in such a state of health for so long. no need to encourage me more!? i need to scale down, in fact. though all i manage to do is expand... :)
as far as bark helping drainage... i don't dispute that. but you seem to have missed the point about wicking. you asked why would you... and i gave you the answer.
it is not of interest to a lot of people, granted, but there is enough interest in hydro/semi-hydro that i want to mention what i do and why. and specifically as it relates to gritty/ 511 that you recommend.
al said:
a very large % of the problems houseplant growers experience are indeed directly related to problems inherent in soils like MG .
i say - it's related first and foremost to their watering routines. it is perfectly possible to water MG correctly.
and it is also possible to water bark incorrectly.


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 22:03

Living in a small apartment isn't indicative of the need to use water retentive soils - that makes absolutely no sense. Many of my plants live in a small basement, but I'm not changing my approach to growing or the soils I use any time soon.

Watering correctly is part of a more complex issue. Soils like MG don't allow you to water to beyond the point of saturation (so you're flushing accumulating salts from the soil) without having to worry about root rot or impaired root function, and that IS a serious issue and the source of a LOT of problems. It's possible to water bark incorrectly, but at least you're not forced to do so, as you are with MG et al. Properly made, a bark-based soil can be flushed at will, every time you water, without concern. That can't be said of heavy soils based on fine particulates, and it's difficult to look at those attributes as a negative.

How water behaves in soils is governed by the laws of physics, and no matter how hard we might wish, that's not going to change.

Al


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Good now?


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

Another pix


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

you missed the point, it's not about the small apt - that could be found anywhere. it's about big city - there is one HD in manhattan and if they don't carry bark (coarse only if at that) you're out of luck. you'll need to go to specialty orchid suppliers, which prolly won't have it either.
you HAVE to order by inet. that is the only way and shipping will come in extra!. do you think anybody is going to screen it too, even if they bother to find it someplace in the burbs (greentoe is an exception, i guarantee that!)? and then store a bale of it in the closet (with their clothes to boot, total of 6')? don't know the stats but incredible amt of people in NYC don't even drive! besides it being a serious bother (talking about going to the 'burbs to get some bark ...).
al, you're not getting the picture and i am tired of trying to explain.
sorry, man you're out of touch with reality as i see it.
granted NYC reality is very different, but lots of people in other places are just as limited in time/money/daily effort.
lets' leave it at this.
we can rehash it in a new thread - with some other growers from cities putting their input on the subject.
trust me, really big cities is a tough place to grow plants in smth other then what's available in the supermarket.
and your solution is not a solution, but unattainable proposition.
..root impaired function... really!
they just need to freaking buy a plant and keep it going for a while, without getting a horticultural degree to do that. whoever wants to get more info (like you post) can get endless data just googling. it is not smth hidden and esoteric that you preach. but you need to understand that not everybody need to do as you say in order to grow a few healthy plants. i have done so for 2 decades before i new anything about bark or perlite.
over and out. i am not participating in this any more.
we've been thru this in other threads too.
i will ignore the jibes but you can't shut me up. i am going to continue to recommend what works for me to other people whether it complies with you or not.


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

plant_lover, sorry it's in your thread...
it's much better, since it's shallower. good depth too.
search this forum for lots of info and conflicting discussion on zz's. you can check out exoticrainforest site for even more info - totally diff approach.
happy growing!


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

You don not have to say sorry. I thank all for your help.....I learned a lot....


 o
RE: ZZ plant soil suggestion..

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 18, 14 at 23:09

Plant lover - don't stop learning if being proficient is your goal - knowledge is the fastest way to a green thumb and getting the greatest return for your efforts at growing. Experience isn't very meaningful when it consists of doing the same thing over and over. Experience is most valuable when it's used to validate those things you've already learned - to put them to the test, so to speak.

Trust me - when it comes to soils, if you set your minimum standard for an acceptable soil as one that you can water so you're fully saturating the soil and at least 15-20% of the total volume of water you apply exits the soil through the drain, without having to worry your plant's roots will rot or the soggy conditions will hamper root function for as long as the sogginess persists, you won't regret it.

P - I think you'd be very surprised at how close to being on exactly the same page the late Steve Lucas (Exotic Rain Forest) and I were when it comes to soils and soil science. There are a lot of conversations between us on this forum illustrating our close concurrence. Examples offered if you like ...

Al


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the House Plants Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here