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Best brand of potting mix? Also, easiest varieties of begonias?

bubblpopelectrc
11 years ago

I'm fairly a beginner when it comes to house plants.

I hear a lot of mixed reviews about pre-made potting mixes. Is there any (readily available, e.i. at big box stores) particular brands that are good? I'm OK mixing something like perlite into a potting mix but would like to keep things as simple as possible.

Also, are there any good, easy types of begonias? I really enjoy the cane types but I'm sure some are less fussy than others.

Thanks!

Comments (144)

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Gorgeous, JoJo! I'd say the proof is in the pudding, but as we know, pudding is what we're trying to avoid! ;-)

    The Chive roots are really healthy looking and numerous, but just check out those Hippeastrum roots, will ya! Wow! Is that amazing, or what?! Evidence that the concept of a more durable, aerated medium for container use helps produce massive, healthy root growth... which in turn, ensures healthy, vital looking plants!

    Thanks for sharing that, JoJo... it's a wonderful visual that clearly illustrates the difference in results between a fine particulate of peat majority, and one of greater durability, drainage, and aeration.

    As far as I'm concerned, there's no comparison. I simply can't get the same results using a medium that compacts so quickly and holds such a high amount of perched water. I think this proves beyond a doubt that understanding the basics, and applying the science to our own growing, can make a huge difference in our growing experiences.

    I hope you have pictures of the blooms on that Hippeastrum to share, JoJo... I'd really love to see!

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Great pictures, JJ - clear illustration of the concept that highly aerated soils produce extremely happy roots (which leads to a happier plant). I think most telling is the picture second from the bottom, the one where you can see the wire mesh you used to cover the drain holes. In heavy soils, you often find the very bottom of the pot entirely devoid of roots because of extended periods of saturation. I think it was Joe that recently commented that even the center of the rootballs of the large number of plants he is repotting into faster soils were devoid of roots. This is because those areas of the pot lack sufficient aeration to support healthy root growth.

    Many growers feel that roots grow outward until they reach the pot wall & then start growing in circles, but that is only partially true. Roots don't have the capacity to 'grow toward' moisture or nutrients. They grow only where conditions are favorable. In soils that support soggy areas, roots will make forays into those soggy areas after the plant dries down enough that air returns to the area. When we water next, the areas again become soggy and the roots die. This unseen cycle is extremely taxing to plants in terms of energy outlay. The sad part of the deal is that you don't always actually SEE it happening or you might not be able to see specific symptoms, though our own reasoning and every text that's worth reading about container culture contains whole chapters devoted to telling us how to avoid those conditions. This cyclic death and regeneration of roots is very often visibly manifest in poor growth and vitality, but when it doesn't occur on a level serious enough to make us stand up and say "WOW - I have to DO something", it is made manifest in lost potential - your plants not being all they could be.

    Al

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  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hello Everyone...

    I just wanted to say that those pictures are just gorgeous!!! Quite impressive!!!

    Al..beautiful pics as always!!!

    Jodik...great pics too! Great illustrations of the difference in soils... It is nice to see the results first hand..thanks for sharing them!!!

    Hope everyone is having a great day...

    Happy Spring to you all!!

    Laura in VB

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank you for noticing, Laura. Haven't seen you around much lately - how are your Plumies doing, and how are you doing with the gritty mix?

    Al

  • puglvr1
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank You Al for the name!...I've spent all day on the internet and phone trying to locate a vendor,lol...NO luck yet...but I'm determined! Wish me luck!

    Hi everyone!

  • meyermike_1micha
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Jojo, Laura, Nancy, Jodik, and Al!!! It always always so good to see you all here.

    Jojo: I couldn't wait for you to get your camera back! Fantastic work and pictures. Look at those roots, and all the way to the bottom of the pot..

    Bravo....;-)))))))

    Mom says hello and thank you too. I will show my sister this thread!

    Mike

  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hello Everyone...

    Thanks Al!!!

    I have been working alot lately....way to many long hours...!!! LOL... I need a vacation...

    My plumies are doing well..Thanks for asking...Yesterday i noticed some minor damage on the ends do to the temps here in VB changing daily...one day the highs are in the 50's then the next into the high 70's...Monday they are expecting 85*!!! So i was a little bummed..but mother nature will repair them...

    The trees/plants are having a hard time adjusting to the swinging temps... so today i will focus on covering the tips so they will not burn....UGGGGGGGG!

    My mix production line has started quite nicely...Thank You again for all of your help and information...

    Last night i repotted 6 jades...today all of my DR's will be potted in the gritty mix...along with my Night Blooming Cereus...Plumies will be next week...

    Thanks all of you for all of your help....i really enjoy reading your informative post and i especially love the beautiful pictures...I really like the special "velvet love" flower..as pug and Mike said....it is just a very unique flower...you are lucky to have found this beauty!!

    Thanks for all the encouragement that you all give...

    I will post some pics soon...

    Take care everyone...

    Hi Mike!!! Tell Sissy hello for me....Big Hugs!!!

    Happy Easter to you all!!!

    Laura in VB

  • puglvr1
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Jodi, remember my Orange Amaryllis from last year...well I decided to plant it in the ground late summer last year and not its in full bloom...just gorgeous and I have another bloom spike coming too. Just wanted to share and thank you for the help you gave me!

  • jojosplants
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Everyone!

    Jodi~ Thanks! I'm glad I had the pictures to share! I think it's important that people can see results from both types of growing mediums. If I were new, and came upon this thread, I'd pick the well aerated mix for sure!
    Well, I guess technically I did..:-) I chose to grow with these mixes over bagged after years of having what you posted, now look at the results I get!

    That Amaryllis had no roots when I first potted her up.

    Al~ Thank you.
    That's a great explanation of how roots grow!
    It's true, I've found many a plant in the past, and ones I buy, with no roots towards the bottom! And yes, it was Joe, that explained not having any roots towards the center of the root ball, and I've had plants like he explained too.

    It was an easy choice to switch from bagged mixes to the well aerated mix. And these pictures we have shared show why.

    Laura~ Nancy~ Hello! good to see you!
    Nancy, I'm looking for a vendor for the "velvet love' too, so if we find one we'll let the other know! ;-) O.K.
    Laura~ our weather has been real flip flopy too. :-) High of 42* yesterday and we are normally near 80* this time of year! I hope your plumies will be O.K.

    Laura~ I have about 100 cactus and succulents to move into the gritty mix! Want to come help!! Bring the pups, mine would love some company! But we need to make sure they all have name tags, one of mine looks just like yours, and funny part is they are not the same breed. lol..

    Mike~ Hi!!
    You were anxious for me to get my camera cord! Imagine how I felt! LOL!
    Yes, the roots went all the way to the bottom of the pot! A 10" pot! That's why I cut the plant out, the pot was breaking and I didn't want it all over the patio I had just washed. LOL!
    Lots of love to Mom!

    Here is the Amaryllis when I first planted it, a year ago This month.

    {{gwi:55722}}

    Lemon lime~ Her blooms.

    {{gwi:30304}}

    JoJo

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Puglvr, it was my pleasure to offer help... I'm glad you're enjoying your bulbs! :-) I dearly wish I could plant mine directly in the garden, but that would entail digging every autumn as the weather cooled, and I'm just not up to it, physically speaking. I have so much to do, and only so much energy to expend...

    JoJo, now I recall... yes, the Lemon Lime! The green flowered ones are some of my very favorites... I have a thing for green blooms! :-) It's just beautiful, and I can't get over the great amount of root growth it put on! There's definitely something to be said about understanding the basics of soils/mediums and what's happening under the surface in containers.

    Laura, and everyone else... my pleasure to share! :-)

    In my opinion, visual aids work much better than just telling an informative story, regardless of how factual or scientifically accurate that story is. We've become a society of instant satisfaction/gratification and media/visual influence. We want to see it, and we want to see it now! ;-)

    But seriously... we have so much visual stimuli thrown at us, that it seems easier to grasp things when we can see them in action. We talk a lot about soils, their components, how they work... and I knew I had plant material in poor soil that could be used as a perfect example of what we don't see, but what's happening under the surface... and I wanted to share that.

    It's still up to the individual grower what method or what soil components he or she chooses, but with only one school of thought, you can't call it a choice. A choice involves more than one idea or object with which to have/make that choice.

    I'm glad to be of service in this respect, providing the other "object" so there is a choice. Actually, Al provided the other objects... I'm just helping. :-)

    I also wanted to talk a little bit about what Al says in his post above... about un-potting a plant only to find that the roots are not colonized in the center of the soil ball or all the way to the bottom of the pot, like JoJo's are. I've run into this numerous times... where the center of the root ball is essentially decomposed matter, too dense for good root growth. Most of the live roots I found were concentrated around the outside of the soil ball, within the top 2/3, or thereabouts... the only space conducive to decent roots growth in that type of medium.

    I've avoided the death and regeneration process of roots, and the scenarios mentioned above, by providing the plant with a good, durable, consistently aerated medium that extends from the top to the bottom of the container.


  • puglvr1
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Jodi, I absolutely understand! I wouldn't plant them in the ground either if I had to dig them up every year. I've made the decision that once I planted them in the ground...its where they will stay permanently. I have no intention or desire to dig them up every year too. Apparently I'm lucky enough our winter can handle them in the ground all year...I'm okay with that. Thanks again!

  • Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hello Everyone...

    Thanks for the invite Jojo!! I really enjoy the warm temps that you usually have and especially all of the varities of palms that you all have in AZ...You are quite lucky to live in such a beautiful area!!!

    Sounds like you are having rollercoaster temps like us here on the East Coast...definately doesn't know what it wants to do...I was going to post some pics...but im
    having trouble with Photobucket...

    My Plumies are all outside..enjoying the sunshine..but are having some trouble..with sunburned tips...I was going to post pics..but ill have to wait...

    The dogs would love all of the company!!!!

    Good luck with all of your repotting...I thought that i had to many plants...LOL!!! If i could help...i gladly would....

    Jodik.....package was sent today...hope you enjoy!!! Thanks again for everything!!! : )

    Hope everyone is enjoying the warm temps...

    Happy Spring to all...

    Take care everyone...

    Laura in VB

  • newgen
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    A little off topic, but can you guys offer an opinion on soil for inground planting? I have killed a few avocado plants, upon removal of the remains, I saw rotted roots and just a wet environment overall. I will try to plant the next one in a raised mound. I've been using Kellogg Gro Mulch mixed in 50/50 with existing clay soil. Is there an equivalent to the Gritty mix for inground use? I am hoping that a raised bed with gritty mix equivalent is the answer.
    Thanks.

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Raised beds are a horse of a different stripe, when it comes to soils. You might start by describing what the underlying substrate is? Clay?

    You can achieve excellent results with a mix of sand/topsoil/other mineral ingredients and compost or other organic ingredients in raised beds that would probably be ruinous in containers. More input is required from you, and the best forum to discuss that would be the 'Soils/Composting' forum, or maybe even 'Container Gardening'.

    Al

  • jojosplants
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Everyone,
    Yesterday I tackled one of the many projects I have of getting plants I bought last season potted up in their new mix. I'd like to share what I found.

    This shows more of what Jodik explained up thread! It has been a constant battle to keep these plants going . They have been in a peat based mix. The end result , is little to no roots!

    After having experienced first hand, the healthy plants and roots from growing in a well draining mix, I will never go back to a bagged. And i've learned the hard way, not to let them stay in the mixes they are in when I buy them.

    Here they are right after I had removed soil from one. You'll notice hardly any roots! These came out of a container 6" deep.

    {{gwi:81179}}

    Close up of how they looked right out of the pot. No signs of healthy roots.

    {{gwi:81181}}

    Sorry bout the glare on these.
    Here they are before being rinsed.

    {{gwi:81182}}

    After rinsing.

    {{gwi:81183}}

    And the soil they were in..As far as I can tell, it is just peat and perlite.

    {{gwi:81184}}

    I can honestly say the plants growing in gritty mixes are far easier to care for than those growing in bagged mixes. I can't wait to finish getting them all switched over! Many to go, but it's a good feeling to sit back and see them knowing they will be able to grow and be their best.

    Here's a picture of the plants in their new container with gritty mix. I will try to remember to get back later in the season with up dated pictures.

    All the others in this are fairly new. And were also missing 90% of their roots.

    {{gwi:81185}}

    JoJo

    JoJo

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Another very good "show and tell" visual... thanks, JoJo! Nice Heucheras... I hope you're able to turn around that root production!

    I think what amazed me the most was how fast the peat based soil compacted... losing an inch upon first watering, right before my eyes. This tells me that a season of watering and settling is almost certainly going to cause adverse effects to the root system, which requires oxygen. And basic science tells us that the finer the particles, the more surface for water to adhere... therefore, a soil comprised mainly of tiny particles will most assuredly hold perched water.

    And right there, in your photograph, you can see how the finer particles of peat just fill in around those perlite pieces, negating any good they might do, removing any air pockets that its addition was supposed to create.

    But by ensuring the majority of particles are somewhat larger, and more comparable in size, we create AND maintain those necessary air pockets that roots need to "breathe".

    I can't wait to see how that arrangement looks later in the season! It should fill in nicely! Thanks for sharing, JoJo!

    And, thank you, Laura! I'm sorry I didn't see your post here earlier... but we have corresponded through email, so... it's all good! :-)

  • birdsnblooms
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Jojo..one reason your roots look the way they do is you over-potted..obviously, you used way too much soil for the amount of Geranium roots.

    Also, why did you add Peat with Geraniums? Toni

  • meyermike_1micha
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I don't have time to read everything right at the moment but I do have a thought.

    That throws the theory about how more 'light' could fix that problem right out the window. Don't you live in one of the sunniest places on earth?

    Fantastic pictures Jojo!!!

    Have great day everyone:-)

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think the plants are Heucheras, and to be clear, JJ did say that the plants were in a peat-based mix, not that she 'added' peat; and I honestly don't see any evidence of over-potting. If a plant grown outdoors in a 6" pot can't colonize the pot with roots in a growth cycle as long as the one JJ enjoys, there is probably a soil issue, as she noted. I do think that what we CAN see evidence of is the plant's reluctance to extend roots into areas of the pot that remain saturated for extended periods - reinforcement for what Jodi mentioned further upthread, and for what many others and I have been pointing out all along, which I suspect is why she offered the pictures.

    If, for example, a highly aerated soil like the gritty mix or a soil with a large (75% +) bark fraction had been employed, roots would have happily and entirely colonized the entire root mass. JJ already understands this, as she's worked extensively with these new soils, which is why she's confident that she'll be able to turn things around after correcting what she perceives as the cause of her issues.

    I think you made a reasonable and proper diagnosis, JJ.

    Al

  • jojosplants
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Jodi!
    Thanks! "Show and Tell" works best. :-) I've had MANY plants come out of the pots this way! All of which I bought.
    This one is Heuchera 'Harvest'. When I saw yours the other day, I chuckled, thinking mine has some catching up to do, but it will now that it's in a better mix! ;-)
    I did some searches on it, and one of the care requirements is 'light' watering! And the grower puts it in Peat! Yikes! no wonder no roots!

    If you look close, you can see on the one straight out of the growers pot, that there is debris from the shrub it was sitting under. The peat got too dry on a few occasions causing it to shrink.

    In the past i've expierenced the same as you explained about the 1" that settled when you first water. I'd get mad and put more soil in, only for it to happen again.

    Toni~
    Obviously, you did not really read my post. Please re read it before making comets that suggest I did something wrong.
    I did not "over-pot" anything.
    I did not add "peat" to anything.

    And I planted a 'Heucheras' not a Geranium. Are they in the same family? I honestly don't know that one.

    Hi Mike!
    Thanks! ;-) I sure love my camera!
    I don't head out the door without it now. lol!
    Yep...Bright light! As Gizmo would say..lol!

    JoJo

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What JoJo has there is Heuchera, a member of the family Saxifragaceae, native to the United States... some even native to Arizona, such as H. sanguinea, commonly known as Coral Bells.

    The fact that they're native to the dry canyons of Arizona would lead me to believe that a water retentive soil that held moisture for a long time would not be to their liking.

    Pelargoniums are quite different, and are members of an entirely different plant family... that of Geraniaceae. Species of Pelargonium are evergreen perennials native to Southern Africa. They can tolerate drought and heat, so they don't care for soggy soils, either.

    Heuchera has become a very popular plant, with many different hybrid varieties making a public appearance. They're grown mostly for their brightly colored or ruffled leaves, though their flowers are rather nice, and often attract hummingbirds to the garden.


  • jojosplants
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Jodi~
    Thanks for answering my question. That's some great information you posted! I didn't think the Heuchera and Geranium were the same family, but haven't had a chance to do much searching today. I did find the info you posted about them being native to Arizona. How cool! Maybe i'll find some down in the river next time I walk! ;-)
    So it should be very happy in the gritty mix that is in now, and our warmth and sun!

    I'm hoping for blooms! Anything to bring around little flying beauties!

    JoJo

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    You're quite welcome, JoJo! I grow several different varieties of Heuchera, myself, mainly for the gorgeous leaf colors... but I also grow the more common Coral Bells and the slightly older variety, Palace Purple, for their flowers. They do, indeed, draw hummingbirds to the gardens!

    For some varieties of Heuchera, the flowers aren't very spectacular or even very noticeable, growing tiny white or pink blooms on thin spires... but this is just the sort of bloom that hummingbirds like!

    Heucherella is also a noteworthy plant to grow, and is a genetic combination of Heuchera and Tiarella, both sporting similar bloom styles and very pretty leaves. Tiarella is usually thought of as more of a woodland plant... the type I'd not be surprised to find growing in Josh's shady garden!

  • meyermike_1micha
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That is quite interesting Jodik!

    They attract hummingbirds? I just hung a feeder up there for them and I get nothing.

    I am on my way to buy them if they sell them locally and they survive my winters!

    Thank you so much for enlightening me.

    Mike

  • jojosplants
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Mike!
    There are a lot of nice annuals you could grow to attract humming birds! You wouldn't need a lot, Just one nice pot/plant.

    I got my Heuchera at one of the big box stores.

    JoJo

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Don't waste your money, Mike... I have several perennials that will attract hummingbirds for you. Email me your address... I'll send you a care package! :-)

    Columbine also attracts hummingbirds, as do many other plant types. Pineapple Sage is a great one, too, though it blooms later in summer in my area.

  • jojosplants
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I love Pineapple sage , but it's hard to get around here! Salvia's are nice too for hummers.

    Is Columbine poisonous? I thought I had read it is, if so, Mike has a cat.. So he'd have to make sure Kitty doesn't nibble. :-)

    JoJocolor>

  • meyermike_1micha
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Jojo: Kitty never sees the light of day outdoors..He is an indoor depressed cat...lol. That is until I get home!

    I think it looks like Jojo may need a few Pinapple sage too Jodik! Your offer is just too kind. I will save my money and take you up on the offer. THANK YOU:--0)))

    Mike:-)

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My pleasure, Mike... I have a lovely species type Columbine that reseeds itself nicely, though it is a perennial, the mother plant coming back each year larger and with more blooms. It spreads around the garden nicely, and I find new baby plants here and there in spring. The hummingbirds love it!

    Pineapple Sage is an annual in my area, but it's definitely worth purchasing each year just to enjoy its beauty! It spends most of summer just putting on size, but as soon as the weather begins to cool in early autumn, it explodes in a riot of red blooms! I think it's an exceptional plant for the garden! I think it could probably be brought indoors and grown in a container over winter.

    I believe its native habitat is somewhere in Mexico. There's a blue flowered version of it, as well... but I'm not as impressed with its growth. It grew sparse for me, and though the flowers were nice, it just didn't grow anywhere near as impressively as the red flowered Pineapple Sage.

    The plant, itself, gets as big as a shrub, so I save a small area in the front bed for it every year. It has actually reseeded itself and come back after a mild winter... but this spring, I don't see any starting, so we'll have to replace it.

    There's a rumor that we may be getting a flat of Pineapple Sage plugs... if we do, I'll try to save a few for special folks. :-)

    Mike, another idea is to grow some of the hybrid columbine types from seed... they're easy to start, and depending on where you look, the varieties and colors you could grow are many! Thompson & Morgan has an impressive array of annual and perennial seeds available... and I'm sure there are many other seed catalogs you could obtain.

    I'm not one to sing the praises of an annual unless I really, really like it... and I really, really like Pineapple Sage! It's a winner!

  • birdsnblooms
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Jojo, from the angle, the plant looks like Geranium.
    Despite the type of plant, the mention of packaged soil w/peat is baffling.

    Everytime bagged soil is discussed, for some reason, a few here assume Peat is added to all packaged soils..It's not.

    All one has to do is read the ingredients on the bag. If Peat is added, and it's not needed or liked, then the thing to do is find a different brand.

    I buy bagged soils with and without Peat, and use accordingly.

    For the record, I'm not trying to promote bagged soils..On the contrary. If you're happy with your mix, so be it.

    I just wanted to say, there are different brands of packaged soils; not all contain Peat.

    As for over-potting. I made the comment based on your before and after pics. There was way too much soil for so few roots. Definately not suitable for a 6" container.

    Over-potting, and too much soil leads to over-watering. I've expressed this concern the last 9 years, here on GW. That is the reason I advise people to go up one to two sizes when they repot.

    Bagged soil isn't the problem, it's the people who attempt growing plants, over-pot and over-water who kills them.

    Comparable to, guns don't kill people, people do..in this case..soils don't kill plants, people do. Toni

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    FWIW - I have never seen a bagged soil suited to use in containers that doesn't contain peat, and more than 95% are a very high % of peat - 85%+. I've seen plenty of amendments or potential ingredients, but never a soil ready to use from the bag that doesn't have peat in it. .... and it's not the fact that these soils contain large peat fractions that causes the water retention issues, it's the fact that they are comprised almost entirely of fine particulates. ANY combination of peat/compost/coir/topsoil/garden soil or any other ingredients equally fine, will yield a VERY water-retentive soil that shouldn't be expected to be problem-free in containers - far from it. Excess water retention is inherent in their composition, and is the source of a greater % of issues on this forum than any other. If we can't agree on the term 'excess' we can certainly say that there are much better choices with greatly reduced water retention. Plants don't like 'wet' and compacted, they like damp or slightly moist and airy.

    I wouldn't hesitate to put the plants JJ had struggling in the soil they came in, into a 12 or 16" pot full of the gritty mix or the 5:1:1 mix. JJ already knows from experience that she can do that and the plants will thrive. We can plant the tiniest seedlings or cuttings in large volumes of soil when using the 5:1:1 mix or the gritty mix and get tremendous growth because of their high degree of aeration, and with no concern for over-potting; but when using heavy, peat-based soils or other soils based on fine particulates, we actually do need to adhere to the protective warning to only pot up a size at a time. That alone is enough to illustrate clearly that there are issues with these heavy soils that you can't resolve by simply keeping plants in small pots. We know that small pots restrict growth and negatively affect vitality, and that begins to occur at about the time the root mass & soil can be lifted from the pot intact. To keep plants in that condition for no other reason than the hope of avoiding root rot, all the while relinquishing potential growth/vitality, is using the gun to shoot yourself in the foot.

    Al

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The high percentage of peat used as an ingredient in potting soils sold retail aside, it's the individual particle size that's relevant to the high water retention and the prominence of dead and dying roots. It's a matter of simple physics.

    The vast majority of plants sold were started in, and are already potted in mediums of microscopic particulate that remain saturated way longer than is healthy for the root system. Whether of peat, or of some other tiny particulate, it really doesn't matter. Peat is really not the issue. The issue boils down to actual soil particle size. Basic science tells us that the more surface available for water to adhere to on a microscopic level, the wetter the medium will become, the more water it will hold, and the longer it will take for that volume of water to dissipate.

    As retail customers of plant materials, we don't get to choose what our purchases come planted in... but we can make a choice of what to change that medium to, post purchase, for the health of the roots involved, and to encourage the growth of more healthy roots. Left in a water retentive medium of fine particulate, it's inevitable that future waterings will compact the medium further, removing any significant presence of necessary air pockets and creating even more of a perched water table. And though we don't see it, it's also inevitable that the root system will go through bouts of suffocation, death, and regeneration as the saturated medium dries out enough to allow new roots to grow and colonize the area. But the next time the microscopic particulate is watered, the same thing will happen again... suffocation, death... and as the water evaporates and/or is used by any healthy roots, and the area once more dries to a consistency the roots can tolerate, they once more grow to colonize it. The downside is that this continual cycle saps the energy of the plants, making it impossible for them to grow to their genetic potential.

    The cure is as simple as moving the roots to a more durable medium of larger particulate, as JoJo is doing, where compaction won't be an issue, and oxygen can freely reach the roots. There's less area for water molecules to adhere to, therefore, less perched water and less time for roots to remain saturated. The roots are happy, the plant is happy, and the grower is happy because she, or he, has a plant that is able to grow closer to its genetic potential.

    To recap... peat really isn't the issue... particle size is the issue.

  • meyermike_1micha
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    A once robust plant plant going BUST!

    Since this subject is about Begonia and soil mixes I thought I would show everyone mine.

    This plant has been doing nothing but loosing its roots and mass above the soil line each time I go to repot it from one bagged mix to another. Instead of growing, it is declining and continually being downsized. I had kept this one in a pot just big enough for it's roots and then after this past winter, I have had to repot it into a smaller 3 inch pot because I finally found it in my heart to give it the 5.1.1 mix mentioned here because this is one of those plants I finally decided to care about after this thread and such good advice. I guess every plant deserves a second chance.

    Upon first examination of the roots, I noticed they were half dead and needed to be trimmed and planted into a smaller pot. Upon todays examination, I noticed that most of the roots were dead and had to be repotted it into a 3 inch pot.
    Just how small did I have to go before I realized it was time to give it a much better mix that I make? The 5.1.1 mix mentioned above.
    Please keep your fingers crossed and hope it makes it now that I have a new found fondness of it:-)

    Before the first transplant last year into another bagged mix, and then the second transplant today. Notice that the mix has compacted and smothered all the roots. Also notice how dead looking and decayed the mix looks only after a year. Also, notice how dry the top inch or two is while the rest of the decayed mix is still damp. Notice too that a pot just right for it's root size did not stop it from a slow decline anyway.

    Before the first transplanting last summer.

    {{gwi:50588}}

    {{gwi:50586}}

    Now into the second transplanting today, less than a year from the first transplant above. I put it into an amended bagged mix last time by adding more bark, because I did want to take the time to make my own for it.
    It seems to me that adding more bark to the bagged mix I used did nothing to stop the progression of compaction and decay of all the finer particles left in it, in particular peat, since the bagged mix had little of anything else except for perlite.

    I can't find any white roots, can anyone else?

    {{gwi:81186}}

    {{gwi:81187}}

    {{gwi:81188}}

    Here it is now, repotted into a now 3 inch pot in the 5.1.1 mix.

    {{gwi:81189}}

    I have to thank all those who have helped me to understand how to do a better job at growing in containers than I have done in the past, and how important provide the best possible mix for my Begonia by understanding how particle size works.

    Mike

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Good pictures, Mike. They depict very well the adverse effects of a fine particulate, the brown coloration and the lack of plentiful roots indicating the difficulties they've experienced.

    I'm sure it's a much healthier Begonia now!

  • gravyboots
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Mike, I heard some garden people on the radio the other week - someone called in about hummingbirds & the comment was made that they tend to stick pretty exclusively to their flyways (or "highways" as the radio-garden-person put it) and it can often take quite a while to attract them to a new area.

    So, don't give up! It was also recommended that the caller encourage neighbors to plant hummingbird food, so there was more reason to "reroute the highway."

    I don't know if any flowering currant is native to your area, but it is an early bloomer here in WA, so a very attractive food source. Any early-blooming red/pink native in your yard should be a draw, eventually.

    I rented a room the other summer at a house with tons of crocosmia (lucifer, I think - the flowers were HUGE!) & many, many hummers - they were on that crocosmia all day.

    GB

  • birdsnblooms
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Tapla, you calling me a liar?
    If you don't believe there are soils, suitable for house plants, in fact, recommended for house plants, that does NOT contain Peat, I'll give you a list of names..a couple to start off..You can do the rest. Toni

  • jojosplants
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Toni~
    I'd like to clear a few things up about the plants I posted about.

    1~ I purchased these plants in a 6" container.

    2~ I did not pot these plants in the 6" pot. They were bought in the peat mix I show in the picture. I never added peat or changed a thing.

    3~ I did not make the mix that is shown. I did not put them in the mix. The nursery that grew them, made the mix and potted them in it. Not me.

    5~ The only mix I made is the gritty mix in the very last photo of the post.

    6~ I have NOT over potted them.

    7~ About peat mixes...If you look at most bags of packaged potting soils, you will find peat moss listed first on the ingredients. In general, this means the majority of the mix is made of peat.

    I am fairly new to GW, but not to gardening! I spent 10 years looking for a pre packaged mix, to not find one that worked.

    No one is calling you a liar. But based on our own searching, have yet to find a mix that does not contain peat.

    I would like to see a list if you can post some. I do have a few friends who insist on bagged mixes. Mainly my best friend who is handicapped and hates to ask me for help! So she uses bagged mixes. Just unloaded several bags for her 2 nights ago. She knows I have a lot going on right now and didn't want to ask me to take the time to make her a mix. If there's a better choice out there for her, and if she's going to be stubborn, I'd at least like to see her have nice plants.

    As also stated above in several posts.. Peat set aside, every packaged mix i've seen are still mixes with fine particles that will eventually collapse. I have come across all sorts when re potting plants out of what the grower had them in. And all the plants had very poor root systems!

    All of my plants are going into the 5-1-1 and the Gritty this season.

    JoJo


  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'd be very interested in seeing a list of brand names, too... mainly so I can compare ingredients, ratios of ingredients to each other, particulate sizing, costs, and other pertinent information. If people are to be offered a choice, then it's only right we lay all the choices on the table so everyone can compare them and make the determination of which soil is best for the level of effort they feel compelled to expend in growing their plants, and how well they expect said plants to grow.

    In general, and unless otherwise noted, most soils contain peat ground into minuscule sized particles, which basic physics tells us will allow more water molecules to adhere to all the many surfaces, thereby causing what we know as a perched water table within the container used. With such tiny particles, there's no getting around this fact... unless... the larger ratio of the soil mixture is comprised of bigger particles.

    In all my many years as a grower of plants, I have yet to run across a prepackaged soil product sold on the retail market that meets the requirements I have learned to be optimal for the health of my plants' root systems. Profit being the main reason for retail sales, I doubt I ever will come across a prepackaged product that meets my expectations. And so, it falls to me to locate the items individually, and mix them together in order to create a medium that's durable and free draining enough to grow my containerized plantings to their genetic pinnacle... or as close to that mark as is possible, all other factors considered.

  • birdsnblooms
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Jojo..
    It doesn't matter who potted your plant..whomever did, doesn't know or doesn't care which soils or pot size was used. The point is, it was over-potted. Done intentionally. The larger the pot, the higher the cost. Nurseries, like most other companies, are out to make money. If your plant had been potted in a 4" pot, they couldn't charge the same price as they did for the 6".

    Perhaps you're unaware, but I worked retail. HD is notorius for potting, 1. in huge pots, 2. setting the plant up higher in soil so it looks larger. So high, if a person rubbed against the plant, it'd fall out of the container. Both are done for $ sakes.

    I never said packaged soils doesn't contain Peat..I said, you can find bagged soils that do not.

    Here's a list of those I use.

    Hyponex House Plant Soil.

    A rich, black, very fertile soil. I've been using it for years. I do amend, depending on plant.
    This soil shouldn't be used with succulents..
    FWIW...I discussed Hyponex for years. It was tapla who said it was too heavy..Even though I explained I amended it with other mediums..If one wants to go back a few yrs, you'll see Hyponex House Plant soil was not only discussed, but described. Many many times.

    Ace Potting Soil....ingredients...45-55% Aged Pine Bark, Top Soil, Sand and Perlite.

    Sun ?
    Since I mix soils in plastic containers, I tossed the bag..The name is 'Sun something' or 'something Sun.'
    I will be going shopping in a few...If they have it in stock, I will get the name. This soil is sold at Ace, Walmart, Osco, and Walgreens. HD used to carry it, but they deal mostly with MG..However they have a soil, 'would have to find the name,' made for House Plants, that doesn't contain Peat.

    Schroader's Materials...
    Schroaders House Plant Mix. I can either call in an order, or buy pre-bagged. Pine Bark, Perlite, Sand, rich/black soil..No Peat...if I phone it in, they'll add whatever I ask for.

    MG, used to sell a house plant soil w/o Peat. This product was either stopped or I just can't find it here. It was available before they added fertilizer in the new pre-mixed bags.
    My dh works for the EPA. He had to go to Hyponex Company, brought home several, huge bags..Some with and others without Peat. I may still have a bag..and yes, it was House Plant Soil.

    If anyone takes the time to visit a Landscape company, you can buy pre-packaged soils with or without Peat. Like Schraders.

    The soils mentioned are sold in my part of US.
    I copied and pasted a thread from a woman who used to visit here..she lives in CA. The link was on GW/houseplants, July 21, 2007.

    "just use a 'commercial peat free' mix (not hyponex) and add 1 part each perlite and vermiculite, and 1/2 part of cat litter or aquatic soil for normal plants. C & S and hoyas I add to the above 2 parts"
    Jojo, so you're going to repot in gritty mix..And your point is?????
    As I stated above, I'm not here to promote bagged soils. It's up to the person to use whatever suits their plants.

    Jodik, Ironically, while browsing GW, I came across a post from you boasting about bagged soils..Think it was MG. You were saying how great your plants were doing.

    Again, guns don't kill people, people do..Soils don't kill plants, people do...Toni

  • birdsnblooms
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Went to the store. They had newly-shipped bags of potting soil..Its brand is either 'Home Life' or 'Home Lite'..40lb bags were stocked atop each other, enclosed in plastic, outdoors, so it was impossible to see the name without ripping open the plastic.
    The bags were outside, and it was and is raining. I didn't want to play around ripping plastic, while holding a heavy cart filled with groceries.

    BTW, I've bought small, 10lb bags of HL in the past. There's yet another soil the store sells, Sun whatever, but it wasn't in stock. Neither contains Peat. Toni

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    1) The finer the particles a soil is made of the greater it's water retention, the taller its perched water table, and the lower the volume of air it holds - none are desirable qualities in a soil, so we should agree that moving toward larger particles (like significant fractions of pine or fir bark) in our soils is a good thing. This is simple science and is governed by the laws of physics and plant physiology.

    2) The best soils, from the plant's perspective (growth & vitality being the measuring stick), are those that hold little or no perched water and lots of air to promote healthy roots. We know this to be true because if the plants JJ pictured had been in the gritty mix or the 5:1:1 mix - they would not have been over-potted. This illustrates clearly that as the perched water table disappears, the advice to limit pot size to one size larger is not applicable. The perspective that those growing in highly aerated soils hold is, the reason here plants may have been over-potted from the greenhouse is because the soil was inappropriate for the pot size - not because what came first, the chicken or the egg? She could have grown those small plants in a 20" container if she had transplanted into a well-aerated soil like the 5:1:1 mix or gritty mix.

    3) You cannot start with a measure of fine material (like Hyponex soil) and amend it so it drains well and holds favorable volumes of air, unless you're amending with large particles (like pine bark/perlite), and those large particulates are the largest fraction of the soil, by far (75-85% minimum). This means you would actually be adding the Hyponex to the larger particles as an amendment, not amending the Hyponex (or other heavy soil) with larger particulates.

    This illustrates the futility of trying to amend fine particles:

    Use your mind's eye to picture what happens when you mix sand into a jar filled with marbles. You can fill a jar with a quart of marbles, but still pour a pint of sand into the jar ..... so did you ACTUALLY fit 1-1/2 quarts of material in a 1-quart jar? If you envision this arrangement, sand and marbles, what do you think the drainage characteristics of the soil would be? There's a quart of marbles but only a pint of sand, yet the drainage characteristics AND height of the PWT will be exactly that of the sand; the marbles would have no effect. The only thing that changed by mixing them together is the o/a volume of water the mixture CAN hold.

    The same thing happens when trying to amend a fine soil or soil ingredient like peat/coir/compost/Hyponex/or other peat-based soil with large particles (like pine bark or perlite). This is precisely why adding a little bark and perlite to peat or bagged soils like Hyponex cannot achieve the (aeration/drainage) results possible when starting with a large % (75%+)of favorable size bark/perlite when building soils, and why adding a lot of peat or other heavy soils to the larger bark fraction doesn't work well either.
    I think this is probably the clearest example (I've offered) as to why particle size is so important to how container soils function.

    4) How water behaves in soils is governed by the laws of physics, which don't change because we wish them to. My experience is that it's better to understand these laws and put them to use for us than to fight them and try to grow in soils comprised of fine particulates. It's less work - promises greater rewards - and offers greater margin for error. There's little not to like.

    5) We all know that most bagged soils do not offer anything close to the optimum environment for healthy roots, and watering properly in heavy soils is problematic because it carries not only risk of root rot, but causes the cyclic death & regeneration of a considerable fraction of fine rootage every time the soil is saturated. It seems we're all in agreement that these heavy soils are not the best choice because we are all amending them to improve their inherent shortcomings and trying to make them drain better and remain well aerated. I think everyone who looks at the issue with an open mind can see that moving toward more open (well-aerated, better draining) soils is moving in the right direction.

    I simply use a scientific approach that defines the problem (water retention), the reason for the problem (fine soil particulates), and offers a solution (soils with a high % of larger particulates that hold water internally instead of between the particles like heavy, water-retentive soils do) based on scientific principles that don't change.

    That there are growers by the hundreds (probably thousands) across I don't know how many forums embracing the concept with results exceptional enough they want to share them with their friends and neighbors is pretty good testimony to how valid the concept is and to how well it works.

    Al

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I would term anyone who went about the education process and subsequently applied that knowledge and shared it with others, intelligent... not ironic.

    I do hope note was taken of the date on any posting I would have made regarding MG potting soil, or any other bagged mix or fine particulate? It would have been dated quite a while ago... I'd guess somewhere around two years in the past, or thereabouts.

    Prior to a few years ago, I might have recommended all manner of items... for the simple, yet ignorant idea that they worked for me. Oh, how little I knew.

    That was then... this is now.

    Today, given what I've learned, I'd never recommend a bagged potting soil of fine particulate. It would be a waste of money, a waste of time, and quite possibly a waste of plant material.

    I've actually had the opportunity to see what MG potting soil looks like these days, and I can tell you that any quality it once might have had, plus its consistency, have both deteriorated to the point of no return. I personally looked at the contents of two bags, both purchased at the same store, at the same time, and each bag contained a different consistency of product.

    One bag was nothing but dry bits of microscopic sized peat... and the other bag held some larger bits of well decomposed bark along with the peat, but it also held a good amount of mold.

    Neither bag contained a large enough ratio of decent sized particulate, and the consistency of product from bag to bag was rather disturbing.

    Hyponex soil borders on the same thing I'd dig out of my garden... I've never heard of Shrader's, and neither has Auntie Google... and Fafard products are not available to the greater retail market. So, while a choice or two has been offered, they're not of a particulate that is root healthy, unless they are actually the smaller ratio of a mix made with other ingredients.

    Let's face it... there isn't a decent sized, pre-mixed particulate offered to the general public by the retail market. It coincides quite nicely, though, with industry goals.

    I must concur with Al... we can't change scientific fact simply because we don't want it to be true. We can certainly hold our own opinions, but we then shouldn't be surprised when people disagree and debate them. Facts will always win out, but as Al also states, there's very little to dislike about the facts laid out. Using a larger particulate does offer a greater margin of error for the grower, is healthier for the growth of roots, and does offer greater rewards.

    I, too, think that with the vast amount of offered testimony, the actual science and physics, the great respect Al has has gained through sharing so much, and all the happy growers offering thanks, there's really no way anyone can claim that the concept isn't a valid one.

  • birdsnblooms
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Jodik, you made the comment a couple years ago. For someone who seemed so happy with her 'healthy plants,' who'd think she would want to change?
    Not that I care. You can use whatever soils, fertilizers, or anything else you want..

    The correct spelling is SCHROEDER Materials.

    Also, not that I'm searching for it, but Fafard can be purchased online..Amazon, among other stores has it available.

    This thread is a bore.. I've explained my position, numerous times...I'm happy with my plants, and they're happy with me and their care. Fin...Toni

  • jojosplants
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Well it's obvious why Jodik chose to change. Something better came along! We all have had something we felt was a good thing at one point , until we learned something better was available. Food , clothes, cars we drive... something.. so why should potting mixes be any diff.? Jodik learned of a better way to approach container growing. Like thousands of us have. A scientific approach. No law I know of that states if you happy with something that you cant change your mind at some point and try something new. You almost seem bothered by the fact that someone would want to change.

    I looked up some of the products that were listed by you Toni, and several have peat.

    I also came across some horror stories right here on GW, concerning how horrible Hyponex is.

    Jodik made the comment that there isn't a decent pre-mixed particulate offered to the general public by the retail market. I see a lot of truth in that. One by my own experience, and by all the posts I've read here on GW about how all these mixes need amended.

    If I need to take the time to amend a mix , buy ingredients to add to it. I might as well start from scratch and build a good draining, well aerated mix my plants will thrive in.
    And have no concerns of over potting, or over watering!

    Gosh, I even have seeds sprouting right now in gritty mix in 10 and 14" containers!

    I really don't see how the tricks of the trade have much to do with this thread to be honest with you. The thread is about brands.. and the pics I posted were to point out the roots had rotted. They would have done this in time regardless of the pot size.

    ""Jojo, so you're going to repot in gritty mix..And your point is????? ""

    Well, that was just kind of thinking out loud, but it seems to have bothered you.. so if you really want to know..I guess you could say my points have already been made.

    But one more time.. I am moving my plants into better mixes so I can plants that will perform at their highest level. :-)

    JoJo

  • birdsnblooms
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Jojo, as I said..I don't care what Jodik or anyone else uses. Why would it bother me? The only thing that troubles me is how an innocent thread, once again, turned into a fruitless debate.

    Which soils contain Peat?

    Horror stories? There are horror stories no matter what medium is used. People forget to water. It happens often. Insects, disease.

    Jodik said, 'Fafard' couldn't be purchased retail. I Googled Fafard, and came up with a few places that sell it. Reread her post. There's no debate there!

    I haven't any problems amending mixes..been doing it for years; I rather enjoy working with plants.
    What you're saying is looking for an expensive item, Turface, and whatever else is used, paying for the product plus shipping, screening and washing, is fun? Not work?
    Maybe you like lifting heavy bags to wash and screen, but I can't (physically) nor do I choose to.
    My plants are healthy, and I don't have to pay a small fortune or have materials shipped.

    As I explained a zillion times, I do NOT use soil straight from the bag..my soil is gritty. Plants don't rot.

    Regarding large pots..I prefer using small-medium pots.
    I have 300-400 plants. If I used large containers for each and every plant, there wouldn't be any room. I repot when necessary. When roots fill pots, plants are potted in larger containers.

    I too have sown seeds in 14 and 17" containers..What about it?

    It doesn't bother me when you say you're using a certain mix, Jojo..the fact that it's repeated so often, by the same people to boot, makes me wonder if you're trying to convince yourself you're using this mix or just want to start another silly debate???

    Maybe I should go from forum to forum saying, I use bagged soils. Who cares?
    If asked, that's a different story, but just to come out and say the same old thing, time and time again....I don't get it.

    Theoretically, it's like the old cliche, I'm gay opposed to I'm straight. What difference does it make?? None. To come out and say, I'm straight/gay, especially, when the subject isn't being discussed, is absurd.

    Therefore, I'm using gritty mix, or I'm using bagged soils, is nothing but a silly cliche.
    If someone asks which soils you use, and you say, gritty mix/bagged soils...is normal.

    Where and who are the thousands who use this mix? I know there are ppl here on GW who use it, but thousands? Or millions?

    It's odd..in summer, I like to take long walks. Something we've been doing for years.
    There are numerous people, gardening, planting annuals and perrenials..in-ground and pots. Guess what they're using? Miracle Gro.
    I've never once seen anyone hauling a bag of Turface..Why is that? Toni
    PS..Including the city of Chicago, too..

    Jojo, I don't want to argue with you..We're adults. If you're satisfied with your mix, so be it..I'm happy with the soils I use..That makes us two, happy people, with happy plants.

    BTW, I use bagged soils.. :)

  • jodik_gw
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    That's exactly what I said... I made those statements at least a couple of years ago, at a time when I wasn't very aware of what actually happened beneath the surface of a medium... before my newly potted bulbs developed rot and rotting root issues... the issues that took me in search of a better way to grow containerized plants... and before I educated myself, instead of simply accepting what the gardening industry had to offer.

    I also said... that was then, and this is now. And now, I am fully aware of the science and physics of container growing, and I'm fully aware and knowledgeable of the differences between growing in pots and growing in the ground. I'm now able to give my plants exactly what they require in order to gain the most growing potential from them... and I'm more aware than ever of how the industry perpetuates fallacious information and old wive's tales in order to achieve their goal.

    I've come a long way within the space of a couple of years, and I'm rather proud that I've learned so much, and through that knowledge, have had such wonderful successes. I've traded my ignorance for factual information. I no longer accept what passes for common knowledge, no longer buy the old wive's tales, and realize that in order to get what I need for healthy plants, I must expend a tad bit of effort and mix my own mediums.

    And the very best part is... I'm now able to share what I've learned so others can reap the same rewards... and because the concept and information offered is fully vetted, I don't need to guess at it... like I once did. I'm very certain of the science and basic physics my information contains, and I can also offer visual aids, like the evidence I offer above in other posts, so people can see that science in action.

    If you had asked me two or more years ago why I did what I did, or how the concept of my chosen medium worked... I'd have been hard pressed to answer in an intelligent fashion... this is not the case today, and I have people like Al to thank for pointing me in the right direction.

    I'm very glad that I decided to look further, to learn more, not allowing myself to remain stagnated, my poor plants drowning in saturated peaty silt. I'm glad that I wasn't satisfied with average to poor results, but instead, kept searching, reaching for that brass ring.

    It's been a fantastic and very positive experience... with several fantastic outcomes... not one of them to be found in a single pre-mixed bag.

  • birdsnblooms
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank God I was blessed with fertile, outdoor soils. My bulbs, 18+ yrs, pop up every spring and fall.
    Daffs, Tulips, Snow Crocus, and Hyacinths. They've never rotted.. The only problem I had, before adding Daff's, were squirrels..they enjoy bulbs.
    After planting Daff's, they no longer bother.

    I have lost indoor plants over the years, but who hasn't? Many of my plants are several years old.. For instance, my Spider/Chlorophytum was purchased in 1973/4. I also have a Clivia, I sowed from seed, from 1982 and a E. 'Crown of Thorns, 'milii,' started from a cutting, the same year.

    In 1994, while working at a plant store, that's 17-years-ago, I acquired many plants, that are alive and well in the year, 2011. Cissus, Scheff, Calathea, Dracaenas, Variegated Ginger, a few succulents..
    Oh, and a rare, Pandanus, started from a cutting in 1994.

    The last citrus I purchased was in 2005 or so, when the Canker problem prvented Fl from shipping Citrus out of the state..so prior to 2005, I purchased 18-20 Citrus that are doing fine. So my Citrus are 6-years and older. No rot.

    I don't understand why you can't agree plants can be grown, successfuly, in mediums other than the one you deem The One and Only Medium.

    Sorry about your dead bulbs....

  • tapla (mid-Michigan, USDA z5b-6a)
    11 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My question is, why, because hundreds of people arrive at this forum and the Container Gardening forum each year with major issues directly related to soupy soils; and because many hundreds if not thousands are moving to highly aerated soils and reporting excellent results and expressing their enthusiastic appreciation for the information, can it not be agreed that highly aerated soils offer far greater potential for success, reduced effort, and a greater margin for error?

    No one cares what someone chooses to grow in, but many of us do care that people are allowed to review the facts and the science. The facts are that amending soils like Hyponex and other extremely heavy soils or ingredients is not going to over significant improvement. In order to reap the benefits of a highly aerated soil, you must start with a large fraction of large particles, otherwise drainage & aeration will not be significantly affected.

    The science is in front of anyone who wants to learn and who seeks greater potential for their plants and their growing experience. Thousands of people have attested to the merit of the concept because of their success. I think I would trust the judgment of people who use the soils and understand the concept before I would put too much stock in the opinion of someone who hasn't even tried it. That just seems to make good sense to me.

    Al

  • sam (SF bay, 10a / Sunset 16)
    3 years ago

    Great thread, albeit 4 years old. All the pictures from JoJo can not be seen anymore and that puts this thread at a limbo.