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Issues making and using Als 5-1-1 mix: ingredients and nutrients

Doctor Disco
last year
last modified: last year

Hello everyone,

I've been silently lurking this forum for quite some time now looking for an appropriate substrate for my aroids. I dislike overly complicated mixes so I naturally more or less stumbled upon Taplas 5-1-1 mix.

I live in Germany and 2 of the 3 ingredients are sadly not available: partially composted pine bark and sphagnum peat (I also misread Als recipe and used sphagnum moss instead ...). At least I'm not able to find them.

So, I basically made the mistake of using uncomposted pine bark. I've been using the mix for about 4 months now, and most of my plants recently started showing signs of nutrient deficiencies (the pictures are just 3 examples):

There's no stunted growth or browning going on, only chlorosis.

Now, I have a few questions:

  • Looking at the leafs I would say that this is not a nitrogen deficiency but rather iron or manganese. Only young leafs are affected. Could this be caused by my "faulty" mix?
  • As it is not possible for me to find sphagnum peat, could I use white peat as a substitute?
  • I did a pH slurry test to rule out pH issues. My meter read 5.5. If I were to use peat, wouldn't the pH drop considerably?
  • I do not use dolomitic lime in my mix, instead I add CalMag to my fertiliser (I water + fertilise every 5-8 days): CalMag to 450µS, then fertiliser 8-3-6 (with trace elements) to 1450µS, pH 6.5 (RO water). Is this an adquate substitute for lime?

I know those questions are quite specific and understand that remote diagnosis is hardly possible with plant related issues, but I feel like I'm losing my mind about this. I really want this mix to work for me. I've been researching for days now, digging endlessly through weird, vague blog sites and forums. Maybe you guys have an idea.

Thank you for taking your time reading this.

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