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Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Posted by greendale 6B (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 14, 12 at 10:56

Hi, Al and all the friends that following Al's theory.

First I just wanted to say thank you very much for sharing the knowledge of growing plants in container. Especially the soil - I am very new to growing in-house plants and I never owned any plants before. I was so excited to grow some plants in our soon-to-move-in new house - I did some research on this topic before I start and oh man, I was swimming in the Ocean of knowledge. I have to admit how ignorant I was before reading your posts/articles of soil, watering and fertilize - I was thinking either the mix from store or the garden soil is good enough for the plant - somehow the soil will magically generates nutrients that plants need, I thought using fertilizer is so un-green /un-organic, and as long as I provide enough water and light, the plants will thrive. At a first look on your soil - it just against the intuition - how can a plant grow in such media? well, if that works, why in the nature we do not have many plants growing in sand - they always growing in soil? But as I read along I understand the theory behind it and saw so many friends testimonies (experience) on GW. Further more you explained the scientific reason for that and I believe Science. :)

Ok, enough for my retrospective. I have not read all your posts yet, but I read most of the posts regarding Soil, Watering and Fertilizer. I wanted to get started and with my hands get dirty more questions will come up, but here here are the questions for me to get the mix ready:

1. I saw in different places you mentioned different media to use for the soil - the theory is to water the plant copiously and to lower the water table. One option is
Turface : Pine bark : Granit = 1:1:1 , sometimes playball, Fur bark and perlite also mentioned. Can I category them as below based on there water retention ability? (> means the better choose if you can get the media)

Group one (hold more water)
Playball > Turface > vermiculite
Group two (hold less water)
Pine bark > Fur bark
Group three (does not hold water)
Granit > Perlite > #2 cherry stone?

What is the rough particle size? Arounf 1/8 inch? I never say any of those stuff in my life :( - so even somebody put them in front of me - I would not know which is which.

And what is the purpose of bark here? As it will be slowly collapse - if I do not want to change my soil for the life of the plant - can I use Turface and Granite only?

2. I also saw 5:1:1 mix

5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat
1-2 parts perlite

What is the difference between this one and 1:1:1 one? Or they all work for house plant? Just because some places we can not get Turface then we will go with 5:1:1?

3. I live in RI, I think I located John Deere dealer for the Turface. (do they have different type /size of turface, what model/type should I ask?) But I have not find where to find Pine Bark or Granit yet. If anybody knows please let me know where (in RI or MA) I can get them.

4. Dolomitic (garden lime) or gypsum needed to add into the mix, where can I find them (does Home Depot or Lowe's carry these?)

5. I do not think I will have a lot of time to tender the plants. Most likely watering once a week. Do you think the 1:1:1 mix will work on this schedule. How about watering once every two weeks? The plants that I wanted to have are Spider Plant, Peace Lily, Jade Tree, Rubber Tree , Weeping Fig , Potho , Umbrella tree and Succulent (most common and easy ones)

6. Most likely I will flush the soil everytime. Water, wait for water come out the pot, then water again. Do you think the first time I need to add the fertilizer in the water, or just the 2nd time cause the purpose of first water is to flush the salt out?

Sorry for the long post and hope you still have patient with me for my newbie questions (I believe you already answer these stupid questions thousands times), I tried to read as much as possible but since the information scattered everywhere and they all are long posts. I think I'd better to ask before I am more confused. And I hope I am start it right with my plants (I have not got any plants - I wanted to get prepared before I invited them into my home).

And although this post address to Al, but it is actually to all the friends here who follows "Al's soil" practice, so please chime in with your experience /alternatives. I will be very appreciated with any help.

Thanks a lot
Felix


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

oh, and I have a clay pot without drainage hole- if there a way to drill a hole on the bottom? what tool should I use? Or just forget it?


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 14, 12 at 23:27

1) A uniform particle size of just over 1/10" holds no perched water, so in a perfect world, the particle size would be about 3/32" - 3/16". Usually the grit is prescreened & the fines are screened out of the Turface MVP or Allsport over insect screening.

The bark holds water and nutrients. It's water retention is approximately that of the average between Turface and the granite. It's include as filler - it's much less expensive than Turface or granite and lighter. Also, by limiting the bark fraction to 1/3 or less of the medium, the soil will never collapse (structurally) like a peat or bark/peat-based soil would. Your planting will need repotting long before there is even the hint of structural collapse. The small amount of nutrition supplied by the composting process (of the bark) is incidental.

2) Either the 5:1:1 mix or the gritty mix are superb soils for houseplants. I much prefer the gritty mix because it supports little or no perched water. This means the entire soil mass is always well-aerated even when the soil is saturated. The gritty mix holds virtually all its water inside of soil particles and in the tiny spaces where the soil particles touch. There should be very little water in the pore spaces between particles. The 5:1:1 mix, because of its higher % of fine particles, can't be said to offer that kind of aeration. Still, the 5:1:1 mix is far superior to soils that support significant perched water tables and is usually much more durable, seeing that most of the heavy soils are based on smaller organic particulates that break down much faster than pine bark.

3) If you use Turface - ask for Turface MVP or Allsport. If you use calcined DE, look to NAPA Auto Parts store for their floor dry, part #8822. Hopefully, someone will help out with the bark/grit.

4) Once you decide on what fertilizer you'll use and what soil you'll choose, we can talk about liming or using gypsum/Epsom salts for Ca/Mg.

5) If you don't think you can water at least weekly, you'll probably need to use a more water retentive soil. Unfortunately, the price to be exacted for the increase in potential comes in the form of a sacrifice in grower convenience. There really isn't any other way to realistically look at it.

6) There are several fertilizing strategies. I fertilize every time I water when plants are over-wintering indoors. I can't afford the time to do that in the summer when the number of temperate plants I tend more than trebles the number I over-winter, so I fertilize weekly in the summer. More on that when you've made some decisions.

To drill holes in clay pots, use a spear point drill. Sometimes they're called spade drills or 3-point drills. You can buy them at most big box stores of hardwares. Make sure you cool the tool:object interface with water as you drill to significantly extend the useful life of the tool. They are far superior to masonry bits & not too expensive - much faster too, and you can use them on vitrified pots as well.

Copy/paste this addy to your browser: http://m2.sourcingmap.com/smapimg/en/n/11c/16mm-dia-tip-spear-point-drill-bit-for-marble-tile-143963n.jpg

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Thank you, Al.
1) >>Your planting will need repotting long before there is even the hint of structural collapse.

You mean the plant is root bound and need a repotting? Can I reuse the old turface and granite in the pot for the re-potted (root pruned) plant? (Since they are not organic - should not matter, or should they?)

2) I will go with the Gritty mix then.

4) Will ask question again about the fertilizer when I am at that stage. I think Foliage Pro -if I can easily find it.

5) Weekly should be OK to me - just not sure if the gritty mix can hold that long between watering. I know what you saying it is a balancing (compromise) thing. Also sometimes (like travel) will need a longer interval. For the plant on the window above kitchen sink, can do everyday too. :)

6) I wanted to fertilize every time I water. And the correct water steps I read is trench the soil and let the water (10%) drain out the drainage hole, then wait a couple min - water the second time. Should I add the fertilizer in the water the first time - or should I add it in the water for the second time - the first time water suppose to flush salt away - isn't it?


Again, thank you very much. Once I find all the ingredients for the gritty mix, I will go buy the plants - then sure I will have more questions to ask.

Thank you.
Felix


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 16, 12 at 16:08

Yes - even with the bark in the soil, it won't collapse. You can reuse the old Turface & granite if the plant wasn't showing any signs of disease. I'd let it dry completely & them mix it with water in a tub & float the old roots off.

Ideally, you would wet the soil well & then water to flush excess salts from the soil. Same if you were fertilizing at every watering - wet the soil, then fertigate. I never do. In the summer, I have everything outdoors & try to fertilize weekly, so during the week the soil gets flushed. In winter, I fertilize at every watering with 1/4 tsp of 9-3-6/gal. The dose is low enough that the fertility/salt level never gets high enough to cause any spoiled foliage - as long as I water enough that 10-20% of the water I apply exits the drain.

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Thank you. Al.

Last question, do you know what kind of store carry the Gran-I-Grit/ crushed granite or pine bark? I just have no clue even with a yellow page book on hand.

Thanks
Felix


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 17, 12 at 13:55

Look to rural farm or feed stores that cater to those that raise farm animals (chicken grit). Gran-I-Grit is mined in NC, so you'd be more apt to find the Gran-I-Grit or Manna Pro than cherrystone. Ask for 'grower size'. Be sure to avoid grit with crushed shellfish or additives.

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

I went to a farm and feed store. They have vermiculite and perlite. They also have Pine bark Mulch. (Does Pine bark mulch same as pine bark? The shape of the pine bark mulch is irregular, does it matter?). They do not carry Gran-I-Grit (But they can order it for me).

Do perlite, vermiculite and pine bark mulch make a good mix? (Need to do a research for perlite and vermiculite to know what they are).


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Vermiculite holds a lot of water and collapses easily. It is not a substitute for anything in gritty mix or 5-1-1. The feed store in my area sells turface once baseball season starts because its used on the diamond to cut down on mud. Another possibility is NAPA floor dry at auto parts stores. Use one of them instead of vermiculite.


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Thanks.

Is pine bark mulch the same thing as pine bark?


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 26, 12 at 22:08

What you want to use for pine bark depends more on what's IN the bag than ON the bag. Desirable product might be found packaged under a host of different labels. The SIZE of the bark is what's important - for ANY soil you might use the bark in - not just the gritty mix or the 5:1:1 mix. To illustrate, ask yourself where the advantage is in mixing a couple dozen golf ball size chunks of bark with a quart of peat moss?? There really is none; but if you mix a little peat moss into an appropriate size bark product, along with a little perlite ........... THEN, you're on your way to building a soil that takes advantage of particle size to increase aeration, improve drainage, and most importantly - to reduce the volume and height of the perched water table. If you can't do that, you're leaving 2/3 of the potential benefit lying on the table, and there is little sense in going through any significant effort if that's the best you can achieve.

Look for bark like you see here. The product at 6 & 9 are great, as is, for the 5:1:1 mix. Products at 3, 6, & 9 can all be screened for the gritty mix, and the fir bark at 12 is perfect @ 1/8-1/4 and comes prescreened (for the gritty mix). The soil in the center is the 5:1:1 mix, dry.

Photobucket

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Thanks for the picture, Al.
The pine bark they have is more like the one at 9 on your picture. I just do not know if there is any special process to make a bark to be a mulch - and that process could cause the mulch not suit for the soil mix.

I guess I will get the pine bark mulch and ask them order the Gran-I-Grit grower for me.

Again, thanks


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Hi, Al:

Sorry for keep asking questions. I re-read your post Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention IX and have a question about this 1/2 BB size - what is it? Quote from the post "Some examples are crushed granite, pea stone, coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than � BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface or Schultz soil conditioner, and others. "

So I went to another farm and feed store and they have Manna Pro Gran-i-Grit poultry grit, and I remember I read from GW and somebody used this for the grity mix - but the particle size looks a little bit too small to me. Or I can just get the Manna grit and it should be fine? Also, re-read the post makes me thinking the size of pine bark mulch I find is too large.

You said "so in a perfect world, the particle size would be about 3/32" - 3/16"", So, should I use 1/10" screen to get rid of smaller particles and use 1/4" to get rid of larger particles? And what is the range in real world, it can not be smaller than (like 1/16") and larger than (like 1/4"), and it is hard to find a pine bark under 1/4", would larger one work (can not larger than let's say 1/2")?

Here is a link that might be useful: the post I refer to


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 29, 12 at 13:45

If you have a soil made up of round balls (like BBs or tiny ball bearings), they won't hold any perched water until the particle size is just under .100 or 1/10 of an inch. So ideally, you would want your soil particles to be .100 or slightly larger, and capable of holding water internally to some degree. A perfect soil, from the plant's perspective, holds no water between particles except for the small amount of water held in the interface between particles where they touch. The interparticulate spaces would all be large enough that they were incapable of water retention, so would be full of air; this, from the top of the container to the bottom. The gritty mix is formulated around this concept, the 5:1:1 mix gets you fairly near the idea, and most commercially prepared mixes aren't even close ..... and actually can't be amended so they embrace the concept because in order to do it, you need far greater than 50% larger particulates to achieve it. Once the fine soil is less than 50% of the mix and another ingredient is represented at more than the volume of fine particulates, the soil can no longer be said to be based on fine particulates, so neither can it be said you're amending either a soil based on fine particulates or the base of the soil, it that happens to be something fine, like peat/coir/compost/sand/topsoil .....

Turface is too fine, from the bag, to be perfect as the base of a soil. It's even a little too fine after it's screened through insect screen; but, because it has so many other desirable qualities, we accept the shortcoming, partly because we can make up for it by increasing the particle size of the bark & grit. Just as adding 1/3 perlite to peat doesn't change the soils aeration, flow-thru rate, or the ht of the PWT, adding a 1/3 fraction of Turface that is slightly finer than what would be perfect to a 2/3 fraction of larger particulates is a sin we can easily get away with. The only reason we do this is because the average size of the Turface is small enough that if we were to screen it to the perfect size, we would lose more than half, maybe even 2/3-3/4 of the product. If Profile made Turface slightly larger, I would probably be lobbying for slightly smaller grit & bark particles.

When you compromise and start mixing particles too far out of the ideal size range, you start to eliminate the benefits the soil is intended to provide. For instance, if all you could find was grit in 'starter' size or #1 cherrystone (both about 1/2 the size of 'grower' or #2, respectively), you change the soil significantly because with the too small grit + the too small Turface, you introduce the PWT we try so hard to eliminate. That isn't to say the soil wouldn't still be head & shoulders above heavier peat based soils, it would; it just wouldn't offer all it's capable of offering. The same is true if you start mixing in large, 1/2" pieces of bark. Essentially, it's going to be like growing in whatever the combination of the Turface/grit yields. Plus, you'll probably get some stratification/separation/settling of the soil with the bark tending to seek a level higher in the container.

I screen Turface MVP or Allsport over aluminum insect screen & use the fines elsewhere. I use #2 cherrystone as the grit component, but Gran-I-Grit in grower size is an equal. I use the cherrystone for aesthetic reasons (because I often display bonsai trees in the gritty mix and the rosy color of the cherrystone doesn't distract the eye/attention from the tree. Manna Pro is also suitable as the grit fraction.

I am lucky in that I can find bark prescreened to 1/8-1/4". The larger than ideal size does 2 things; it raises the average particle size so the too small Turface has an insignificant impact, and it allows for some degradation over time. If we started with, say 1/16-1/8" particles, the composting process would soon see some bark particles clogging soil pores as they deteriorate. The larger bark size ensures that the plant will need repotting because it's root bound before the bark is small enough to be a problem. Also, limiting the volume of bark in soils to 1/3 or less pretty much ensures that soil collapse is impossible, even if the bark was to deteriorate and gas off or be washed from the soil.

As you start to ask questions pertaining to the reasons 'why' the gritty mix is formulated as it is, you can see how much thought went into it. It really IS a soil that is formulated from the perspective of what plants prefer.

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Al:

Thanks for the answer - but please pardon for my ignorance I still do not know what BB stands for.

From what you said above. The average particle size should around 1/10", and Turface MVP/All sport comes smaller than that, we need to screen Turface to remove those particles that too fine - what is the size of screen you using for the Turface?

So Gran-I-Grit Grower or Manna Pro Gran-i-Grit poultry grit should be good out from its bag - we do not need to screen it? What is the average size of them (or #2 cherrystone?, just want to have a rough idea) Does Manna has another grade of grit (like starter or grower for Gran-I-Grit) -I am asking this is because the other day I saw the Manna grit - I feel it is too fine - and I remember you said if the particle is too fine - it would against the gritty mix purpose. Just want to make sure they are the right size I am getting.

And pine bark (mulch) should be screened to 1/8 - 1/4"?

Did I get all that right?

Thanks
-Felix


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 30, 12 at 14:31

BBs are round, plated steel balls, .177" in diameter, and used as projectiles that are fired from air powered rifles and pistols. Think 'little ball bearings' and you have the picture, especially if you can imagine .177 caliber.

I use aluminum insect screen for Turface and to remove the fines/dust from prescreened bark & granite. I'm fortunate to have found the 1/8-1/4 fir bark, because I need only the insect screen to make the gritty mix.
Photobucket.

There is no need to screen Gran-I-Grit, #2 cherrystone, or Manna Pro, but I still do. It only takes a second, and if you don't, the dust collects in any depressions there might be in your pots and makes mud.

If you're screening pine bark, the pieces will be mostly flaky/flat. You can use what passes a 3/8" screen and doesn't pass an 1/8" screen. If you can't find a 3/8" screen, you can use 1/2" for pine bark, but try to find a product that has most of the particles concentrated in the <3/8 size range.

I don't use Manna Pro, but it wouldn't surprise me if they had grit in various sizes. The 1/10-3/16" range is ideal.

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Finally I got all the ingredients for the gritty mix, to my surprise, the hardest to find is the pine bark fine(I still did not find it). I am using the Repti Bark for now (a little pricy -$19.99 for a 24 quart bag). But do not want to wait any more, will use Repti Bark for now whereas keep looking for I Pine bark fines. Well, I have to say the particle size of Turface and Gran-I-Grit is smaller than I thought although I saw so many pictures on GW. I still do not have Foliage Pro 9-3-6, But I got Osmocote Outdoor & Indoor plant food. The ratio is 19-6-12 ( close to 9-3-6), is that ok for now (Will order Foliage Pro from internet later.

I got some Jade Plant, Christmas Cactus, Spider Plant and Some NOID succulents cuttings before I found all the ingredients. I put them in the Miracle Grow Potting Mix and they rooted already. But like most people find out already, the bagged potting mix is so hard to water when it drys - the water just stay on the top of the soil.

I was repotting them (except the spider plant) into the new gritty mix this afternoon. I did not even screen the Turface and Gran-I-Grit as I have not gotten the hardware cloth to make the filter yet. But I did shake the bag before I opened the Turface to hope the smaller particles will fall to the bottom.

This is how it looks after I mix the three ingredients.

Follow the tradition, a dime in the center

Then put the mix and Osmocote into a soaked pot, water it well until water come out from the drainage hole.

Soak the cutting that grown in the bagged potting mix, Remove most of the soil from the root - but not all - intimated by afraid broke the root.

Put the plant into the gritty mix. It is actually hard to make a proper hole to put the roots in - the gritty mix is heavy so they keep falling into the hole you make for the roots.

Final results:

How do they look? Am I doing it right. I also have some Spider plant rooted, not sure is gritty mix good for them too. I had the impression that gritty mix is very good for woody plant, but Spider plant is somewhat herb? Should I put them in 5:1:1 mix. (I do not think I will make 5:1:1 mix though, since pine bark fines are not available and Repti bark is pricy).

Also, Does anybody know the ID for the two plants on the last picture (the one that not Christmas Cactus or Jade Plant)

And if anybody knows where to find pine bark fines in new England area, please let me know. Thanks.


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 21, 12 at 7:36

It looks great, and the succulents will LOVE it - so will the spiders, btw. Use a kitchen strainer to screen the fines out of the Turface. Sorry I can't be any more specific than saying use standard mesh size - the same mesh size your mom's strainers were made of. After screening - you can even rinse to remove dust if you wish.

When you pot plants, fill the pot part way with mix, then position the plant with one hand while you fill in around the roots with the other hand & a scoop. Use a chopstick or similar to work the soil into the roots of established plantings as you fill. Be sure keep roots from drying out as you work. It's easiest with a dry soil, but an occasional spritz might not be a bad idea until you're proficient enough to work quickly. Of course, there isn't the same urgency with cuttings.

Because you didn't screen the Turface, I think you'll benefit by using a wick to rid the soil of all perched water. That was one of the primary focuses when deciding what size particles would be most appropriate. It would be a shame for you to have made all the effort and not get the full benefit of what the soil CAN do for you - you're soo close. ;-)

If you write me through GW and give me your addy, I'll send you some started succulents to add to your collection.

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

I was going to post my questions (aah, I always have questions :) ) and then see your reply. Thanks for the assurance and...well... new tasks -Did a research on the wick you talked about - I guess getting the hardware cloth and mop head will be my next task this weekend. I will use the hardware cloth to make a Turface sifter, then cut some small pieces to make wick with mop head string. The size should not smaller then 1/16", correct? For those pot that already have plants in, I can just insert the wick from bottom drainage hole and let is dangling down (without small piece mesh), right?

And, thanks for the kind offer - not for that I will have some nice additions to my collection, but for that they come from a great mentor I never met. It is more than a plant - I feel pressure already - what if I can not take good care of them - but I have confident on the gritty mix and on my learning capability - so thank you for the heart warmed surprise. I will write to you offline...

And here is my problem and question: :)

I had another Jade Plant cutting(again, this is before I found all the ingredients for the gritty mix). I actually went out to get a bag of pelite for this new cutting after read about the soil should not be too moist. The soil this cutting is in is half pelite and half bagged potting mix. Today I checked it to see if it is ready to be potted into the gritty mix- but to my dismay it is rotting, (The first cutting is rooted successfully in a pure bagged potting mix). Would it be the potting mix is too moist or would it be the cutting is not health enough to start with?


Can I use the gritty mix to root a cutting if I get a cutting again? How should I do it, water the gritty mix thoroughly and then put the cutting in (just like how I did with my rooted cuttings yesterday?), Do I need to add fertilizer in the mix?

Also, a question regarding root cuttings. Normally a cutting is cut at the internode, should I bury the last node (where the last pair of axiles is) under the soil or should I leave the axil above the soil. Since I read about the axil has the most active cells- does that mean the root will most likely grow from the axil - instead of from the end of the stem? See the following picture, Is soil line 1 or line 2 the correct one for a cutting, or both are fine? And does this rule apply to most cuttings (other than Jade Plant)?

Again, Thanks a lot
Felix


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 21, 12 at 22:39

Screen the Turface with aluminum insect screen or a kitchen strainer with a mesh size approximately the same size as the insect screen.

I'll get several cuttings started for you tomorrow, It'll take a few weeks to get them rooted, so PLEASE remind me around mid-Jun and I'll send them out.

You can start cuttings right in the gritty mix if you like. I've never had a rot problem, but if you want to be extra cautious, leave the bark out & use 2 parts granite & 1 part Turface. Cuttings like LOTS or aeration and a damp medium - not a wet one. Cuttings need air in and gases out of the cutting itself in order to metabolize the stored carbohydrates. In many plants, 'WET' creates an environment that inhibits gas exchange and by that, inhibits rooting.

For the jade cutting, I would have let it callus for several days, then stuck it in a highly aerated medium & only misted the medium lightly every day or every other day until the cutting rooted. Dusting the cut end of the cutting with flowers of sulfur or cinnamon serves as an anti-fungal treatment and can help with the rotting. I probably would have cut that lower shoot & leaf off with a sharp knife/razor blade & let it callus before I stuck the cutting, too.

Don't fertilize your cuttings until you're sure they have roots.

If I was preparing the cutting in the picture, I would sever the stem with a VERY sharp tool (sharp is very important) just below the lowest pair of leaves. I would then remove those lower leaves and plant the cutting so the middle pair of leaves in the picture was just above the soil line.

Here is a Mexican petunia cutting I prepared for a friend.

before preparing:
Photobucket

after:
Photobucket

Notice that I eliminated the peduncles supporting the bloom buds and cut the leaves in half across venation to reduce water demands. When you have all that greenery demanding water, the cutting can't supply it w/o a root system & often collapses. This isn't usually an issue with succulents, but it is with other types of cuttings. It's often necessary to minimize the amount of foliage to get cuttings to strike. Also note that I arranged to have 2 node sites buried. That cutting would be stuck so the node with the upper leaves was at the soil line.

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Al, Thanks a lot. So what I was doing for the rooting is not correct, you need to bury the node under the soil line. I kept all the leaves and just bury the last section of stem under the soil. I should remove the leaves on the last node and then bury the node under the soil, and the soil line should at the level just below the second node . Another question, should I keep the section of stem below the last node? See picture please.

Just curious about the cutting you made, why you want two nodes under soil? To increase the odds of rooting (there are 2 node could grow root from instead of one). Will the root grow from both nodes?

Again, thank you for your time and effort to answer my questions.


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, May 22, 12 at 22:39

If we consider your cutting picture, I'd say that ideally, it would have been 1 node longer. Then, I would have severed the stem with a very sharp tool (I use a grafting knife I keep sharper than a razor blade) just below the lowest node. Then, I would have pruned the leaves off the next node up like you did - flush to the stem. Then I might cut the first set of leaves above the soil line in half, across the veins, to reduce water loss.

Some plants will root from a tailpiece left below a node, but most plants favor rooting from node sites. Trimming the stem immediately below a node reduces the chance of rot spoiling the cutting. Burying 2 or more nodes increases the likelihood of success, and the more stem that's in the soil, the more water the cutting can take up; and, roots almost always emerge from both nodes if the cutting strikes. Just be careful if you're using heavy soils that support perched water that you don't stick the cutting so deep the end is submerged in the water that occupies the perched water table. Think 'damp and lots of air'.

A tip. If you pot the cutting as pictured, you'll get a plant that has only 1 stem. If you plant it to the soil line you have shown and cut off the stem above the first set of leaves, you'll get 2 stems, one originating from the axil of each of the leaves at the soil line.

Al


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Just to make sure I got you right. The following picture is what you talking about, correct?

Also - flush the stem - what does that mean? Where should I cut the leaf off, cut it at the leaf petiole (stem) and leave a little stub or cut it at the joint of the leaf and the main stem?

Another question, How do we root a woody cutting with brown part? Can roots grown from the brown part? Or should we just use the green soft part only?

Again, thanks a lot


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Nice shiny Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) you have there!

I've rooted many Jades and other succulents in Gritty Mix, and it works wonderfully.
When rooting your Jade, don't put the cuttings in direct sun or they'll cook before
they develop roots. Also, don't cut the Jade leaves in half the way you would with
other plants - they'll shrivel immediately if you do so. Either leave them on the stem
to provide moisture and then shrivel naturally, or else remove them at the start.

If you're talking about a Jade with a woody stem, you can root it without a problem.
I've rooted a Jade branch that was 3-inches in diameter and 2 feet tall. New roots
will spring from the buried nodes.


Josh


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RE: Soil, Watering, Fertilizer and questions for Al (tapla)

Howdy, Josh. Glad to see you here. I did a lot of reading on this forum and seems I know you for a long time :) (through your posts/your replies to others questions)

Thanks for sharing the tips of rooting cuttings. My two Jade (one succeed and another rotted) all got before I could find the ingredients of gritty mix. Not sure why the later one failed but if I get Jade cuttings again, I will definitely try root it in the gritty mix. For the brown woody cuttings I am mostly thinking about trees (Ficus E. and Ficus B.). I want to get myself prepared in case I can find some cuttings from my friends.

The Thanksgiving Cactus (can not tell the difference between Christmas Cactus and TC) is not doing so well, a new growth tip is a little wilted, but might just the transplant shock, I will give it some more time, Other 2 pots are doing great. Yesterday I was thinking watering them back and forth, it already 4 days past and the gritty mix feels dry, so I did water them - but find out water rush out the drain hole immediately. Seems I should wait 1 or 2 more days - as this week mostly rain and foggy here.

Although they are all common house plant you can get from any grocery stores, I am very happy I had them from cuttings - it is a little achievement for me :). I have to keep telling myself to be patient, leave them alone, sometime plants grow better if we do not mess with them too much, don't they?

I read about one of your old post about how to grow an avocado from seed, I tried your method (wrap the the seed in damp paper towel and put in zip lock bag). And Tuesday night I checked it - a white and fat root. I then put it into the gritty mix and hope it will sprout to a nice little tree, it is a fun project...thanks to you for that.


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