New to AV's whats the best soil mix?

gardencraze(9b Groveland FL.)November 1, 2012

I've been lurking around for the last week to learn about AV's. I went ahead and bought a few and I really don't know what I doin.

Some of these need to be repoted but I'm not sure what type soil to use.

Any help would be greatly appreciated



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I use a 1:1:1 mix of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. The perlite and vermiculite should be relatively coarse (I aim for about 1/8"). All of my plants are wick watered, but this mix works for top and bottom watering as well, you'd just have to water more often.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 7:14PM
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I'm partial to the recipe Mark mentioned above, but I also water from the bottom (90% of the time) and from the top (10%) of the time.

That said, if you're considering using a wicking system, you'll want to go with something lighter such as 2 parts perlite, 1 part peat moss and 1 part vermiculite.

Furthermore there are others who prefer using coconut coir fibers instead of peat moss because it doesn't acidify like peat moss does when it breaks down, as well as it is more environmentally friendly. (peat moss can only be "mined" from peat bogs which aren't easily replaced).

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 7:31PM
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I never recommend AV soil. IMHO it's WAY too heavy. I use peat moss and perlite, 50/50.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 7:39PM
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gardencraze(9b Groveland FL.)

Mark, your mix sounds real good, I've not done the wick,but some of the ones I bought at the AV show were wicked so I think I'm goin that way.

Taxonomist I don't even know where to get that coconut stuff but I do have some peat from some other gardening project.

Tommy what is IMHO? LOL sorry I'm old and not hip wit these things LOL

Thank you so much for your help. I sure do have alot of work to do.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 9:56PM
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I think you can safely use Miracle Grow AV soil if you mix it 50/50 with perlite. I have used this mix and it is ok as long as you mix in the perlite. . . try not to buy perlite with fertilizer in it as the MG brand has fert and the two might be too much. You won't have to fertilize for awhile with MG. Remember not to use pots that are too big. . . violets rather like snug shoes.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 10:36PM
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gardencraze(9b Groveland FL.)

Thanx Terry, I'm so exited to learm all this stuff. I allways wanted to grow AV's but never had a place with the rite light, but now I have 2 huge windows with lots of filtered light.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 10:56PM
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IMHO means In My Humble Opinion.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 6:18AM
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gardencraze(9b Groveland FL.)

Thanx, Tommy LOL
Is regular crochet yarn good for wicking?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 11:24AM
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perle_de_or(Zone 7)

Gardencraze, the yarn has to be an acrylic. Wool or cotton will rot. I also use the Miracle Grow AV mix and mix that with equal parts perlite.
Terri, the only perlite I have does have fert in it, so do you think my mixture has too much fertilizer? Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 1:47PM
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As regards too much fertilizer with the MG perlite, I really don't know if it is. I haven't used fertilized perlite with MG AV mix so have no experience. Perhaps someone who has used them together will respond. I really don't like the idea of fertilized mixes period, but MG is readily available & I know growers including myself have had success with it. I think you will just have to watch the plants to see their reaction.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 5:16PM
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MG perlite is "enriched" with fertilizer. the amounts on the bag are 0.04:0.01:0.06... quite negligible in my opinion. Only thing potential issue is that the nitrogen and phosphate are derived from ammonium nitrate and ammonium phosphate, but at the small amounts that is present, I'm not sure it'll really impact anything.

It's in this current batch soil I mixed up and I haven't noticed any problems yet. Everything is producing and blooming nicely at the moment.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 8:48PM
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nyxx(z7 Virginia)

Welcome to our obsession Gardencraze, In regards to crochet yarn, as Perle said, it has to be acrylic. Nylon works well too. For standards I find baby wt. yarn works well. For minis maybe size 5 or 10. You can use bamboo yarns and threads as they are in reality a polyester.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 11:40AM
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    Bookmark   September 11, 2014 at 11:53AM
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Sally, please don't SHOUT!
The proper soil mixture depends very much on your growing conditions...
I started with plain av soil, then did some reading and added in equal parts perlite. Then had a bunch of plants rot anyways. So now I use 2 parts perlite, one part av soil, with a layer of perlite at the bottom. This worked fine for the summer, now, I just found another case of stem rot! Grrrrr!


    Bookmark   September 11, 2014 at 7:19PM
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I'm going to be brave this time around with my new AVs and do semi-hydroponics, no rotting, no bugs (and even if they do show up the plants are easier to treat), easy watering, from what I have read it sounds ideal. I also have a ton of Phaleonopsis orchids which will also be transferred over to semi-hydroponics. :0)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2014 at 4:01PM
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Has anybody tried a pumice-based soil mix with their African violets? I'm using 70/30 pumice/peat with the little African violets I rescued from the $1 table. Haven't been repotted long enough to tell anything one way or the other yet.

@froeschli - putting a vastly different layer like that at the bottom of the pot will often lead to perched water - and hence root rot. Try using a coffee filter over the drainage holes to keep soil in place, if that's the issue.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 7:18PM
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judyj(Z5 CO)

Actually we use a layer of perlite at the bottom too-and quite successfully. As we use capillary matting, the perlite acts like a wick and sucks the water up until it reaches the soil and moistens it. As long as the water has somewhere to drain it hasn't been a problem for us.

Any water will drain accordingly as long as the pot isn't submersed in water above the layer of perlite (and for all practical reasons, you don't want the water that high).

From a terrarium post: " Perched just means it's [water] sitting on the pot bottom, and drainage layers act to remove soil moisture. " A perched layer of water will only cause trouble with if there's no drainage. If there's adequate drainage, the water won't perch.

Of course we're very careful to ensure that the pots don't sit in water, luckily the cap mats will only hold so much! :-)

Pumice should be pretty interchangeable with perlite, if it's got the same size composition. Perlite does vary from tiny to largish. It would seem that pumice may also.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 8:09PM
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Water doesn't necessarily perch at the bottom of the pot. In a wicked system, you may get around the problem - but in the absence of a wick, putting stones or gravel or what have you at the bottom of the pot does not, in fact, improve or help drainage, but instead leads to water failing to drain and "perching" above the "drainage" layer.

"Perched water" is not about drainage - it is about surface tension. Where the medium changes drastically, there is a change in surface tension that leads to water "perching" above the layer of the change.

Using wicking material does change that.

Here's a brief and pretty understandable explanation of what happens at the interface of 2 different layers of planting media in a container.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why gravel or sand does NOT improve drainage

    Bookmark   September 15, 2014 at 12:42AM
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gardencraze(9b Groveland FL.)

Wow!!! this thread is wonderful.
I learned so much, thank you.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2014 at 1:50PM
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