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Questions about 5:1:1 and houseplants.

Good Evening All! First of all I want to say that I have been sitting here reading forums and questions on this site for about 4 hours now and I LOVE all the information! There is so mush here and every one seems so helpful and I love that. Having said all that, a little background about myself and my growing journey. I currently have "Sans", Marble Queen pothos, jade pothos, philodendron, Peace lily,

Maranta leuconeura (prayer plant), ponytail palm, 2 types of aloe, aralia parsley, Fukien Tea bonsai, Juniper Bonsai, mini phalanopsis orchids, regular orchids, oncidium orchids and jewel orchid. (there are more that I am probably forgetting and it's spring here so there will be more.....always more) I have read Al's post about PWT and it makes SO much sense to me. I have always used commercial potting mixes that I heavily amend because they are too compact and moisture retentive for even my "moist but not wet" plants. After reading Al's post about PWT I went to the jewel orchid that I had just today repotted. I used a "fast draining" mix of 1:1:1 potting soil, orchid bark, perlite (the small perlite, not the chunky) It is in a "double pot" so that the pot the plant is actually in doesn't sit in any water. Out of curiosity about the actual drainage of the mix I had just used I went to my yarn basket, grabbed a crochet hook and a heavy all cotton yarn and pulled a string of the yarn down through the plant out of the drainage holes. This was a plant that had "stopped draining" hours my complete amazement I could not get the string all the through the soil before water started dripping. The plant that had "drained" hours early dropped another cup of water into the collection pot after I ran the string through. So I feel a major repotting of all my houseplants coming on this weekend. It's happening, I love my plants to much to lose them. So, now we get to the question that I actually have: (btw, all of my plants are doing well, none of them are in sad shape at the moment but more about this later. I do however think that, although they are doing well, they are not doing great. And let's be honest, great is what we all want out of our plants, right?)

If I am reading and understanding the 5:1:1 and the Gritty mix correctly, then my planting would look something like this:

Gritty Mix"


Ponytail Palms


and potentially my Aralia Parsley

5:1:1 mix:



Peace lily


Jewel Orchid

Do I have the concept down correctly ? I will also be container growing herbs and some veggies this year, 5:1:1 or gritty for these applications?

Now for the "more about this later" bit from above, can I just say that I love Ivy. It is probably my favorite plant ever. If I had my way, I'd have an ivy in every room of the house but I can never get one to last more than a year or two. They do really well, in the beginning. After about 6-8 months, the decline begins and it is usually very rapid after that. They always get leggy on me despite pruning and the the centers get crunchy and die and I am left with 10 or 12 vines that have 10 or 15 leaves each with nothing in the center. My mother-in-law, who can literally grow anything, has the same problem with her ivy. We have both just started viewing them semi-annual houseplants and replace every year or two. We live in south-central PA and I just attribute it to the zone that we are in as I never had a problem growing ivy when I lived down south. The other plant that I will absolutely kill is Spider plants. (don't laugh, I know that every one can grow spider plants, that it one of the "easy" plants recommended for people who are new to houseplants cause it's so easy, doesn't matter I will kill it.) I have tried babying them, neglecting them, some where in between. I've used a dozen different soil mixes/combinations, tried every room in my house, high light, low light. I've read books and articles and danced around midnight bonfires chanting.....nothing. I can't even get them to sprout baby spider plants so that I could at least "keep them going".

Would 5:1:1 or gritty mix be a better "soil" for ivies and spider plants....might I actually have found the right media that will allow me to grow these plants to thriving specimens? (all ideas welcome here. I can bring orchids back from the dead....can't keep a stupid spider plant alive for 3 months!)

My Phals and Oncidiums are in specialty blends from repotme that are a mix of (Phals) Long fiber Sphagnum, hydro tron, medium Monterrey pine bark and (oncidiums) small Monterrey pine, Turface and small lava rock and are love love loving it

So there ya have it folks. Thank you for taking the time to read and I seriously welcome any comments or ideas.



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