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Should my potting mix still be damp?

Posted by tifflj 6 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 10, 12 at 15:52

I watered everything Friday Oct 5th.
Im using the 5:1:1 mix
Bought skewers to be certain it is time to water.

Today 3 of the plants are wet/damp about an inch or so up the stick and 2 plants are damp/dryer than the others.

Thats like 5 days. I read how ppl usinf the 511 go about 3-4 days in between waterings. Since mine are still this bad?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Should my potting mix still be damp?


I don't have an answer for you, really, but since I switched over to the 511 mix around the same time as you, I'll chime in anyway!

I have watered twice a week since repotting. I, like you, notice a difference in dampness between plants. My peace lily & dracaena have stayed wetter than others. I think I'll be watering my syngonium/arrowhead vine a day or two ahead of the rest of my plants, because it has seemed the thirstiest.

I am not as technical as you are with the skewers (I just stick my finger into the soil when I get curious!). My guess in some delay of drying would be the weather. It has been cold here this week, so I haven't had to water since the weekend.


RE: Should my potting mix still be damp?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 10, 12 at 17:14

If you recently repotted, you need to be sure there is moisture where the roots are - regardless of how wet it is in the lower reaches of the pot. If the roots have colonized the entire soil mass, wait to water until the soil feels dry. It's not unusual for plants in the 5:1:1 mix to go a week between waterings when they're not growing robustly.

Unfortunately, in times gone by there have been a few people who would gladly have traded their souls (only a slight exaggeration) if it meant they could convince you the only way you could grow in soils like the 5:1:1 mix or the gritty mix was if YOU were rooted next to the plant ..... with a watering can in your hand ..... 24/7. The result of all the hand flapping and ululation is the residual suspicion these soils might not be worth it if you have to water every few hours, which of course is an idea that might more rightly be something we'd expect Chicken Little to come up with once we have some actual experience USING the soils. You DO need to water highly aerated, free draining soils more often than soupy soils, but the well-reasoned perspective wouldn't include the idea that the soils like you're using don't hold enough water; rather, the considered supposition that makes more sense would be that the soupy soils hold too much water.

Soil still moist = don't water unless the roots are only occupying the upper part of the soil mass and you have good reason to think that fraction of the soil is going to become dangerously dry before your next opportunity to water. "DAMP - not wet" is the operational phrase to remember.

It's good to know that soils start to feel dry to the touch as they begin to dry down to less than about 40% of their ability to retain water. Plants though, can still extract water from soils until their moisture content is (for most plants) between 25-30%, so there is still a bit of a built-in cush there after soils FEEL dry.


RE: Should my potting mix still be damp?

Exactly what Al said :-)

While the plants are establishing in the mix, keep the mix slightly moist.


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