tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)February 14, 2014

Just as an ideal nutritional supplementation program can be conceptualized and implemented, we can also conceptualize the ideal soil, then work toward implementing the conception. I'll describe what I want my soils to do and why, which I think is a good place to begin a conversation.

It's also important to recognize that there are 2 ways to look at growing. One is from the plant's perspective, the other from the growers perspective. A prime example of the difference is when the grower says, "I have a large number of plants and I'm not willing to dedicate the time it takes to water daily during those periods it might be required". I think that's a fair way to state it - no spin or aspersion. The plant doesn't mind at all if you have to water daily, in fact, it actually LIKES it. It means the soil is well aerated and the extra watering forces the exchange of soil gases for fresh air. I tend to always look at things from the plant's perspective, and believe that learning how to do that is the fastest route to green thumb status.

What I want my soils to do is, anchor the plant and provide a structure that ensures the plant has at least the opportunity to realize as much of its genetic potential as possible - this would be within the limits of other cultural factors that have the potential to limit. IOW - my container media should provide the best opportunity for a healthy root system that I can provide. That's reasonable, I think.

As growers, what defines our proficiency is our ability and willingness to identify and eliminate limiting factors to the greatest degree possible. Plants are already genetically programmed to be beautiful, all we need to do is learn how to avoid destroying their potential. That's worth thinking about.

Getting back on track - In order to ensure a healthy root system, we need to address at least a couple of things that are commonly limiting, so we can work toward excluding them. The big one is excessive water retention, especially in the form of water that 'perches' in the container, causing a significant fraction of the soil to remain soggy for too long. Tender roots are quickly killed (within hours) when deprived of air. Root function is also impaired by anaerobic conditions, so while parts of the soil are soggy you get both a cyclic death & regeneration of fine roots and impaired root function. Both of the former impact growth rate and vitality, and in a high % of cases, appearance. This is why I want to minimize or ideally eliminate perched water in any of plantings, but especially in those of plants that don't tolerate wet feet well (like cacti/succulents) and plants grown in shallow containers.

I suggest there is no need for the soil to 'feed the plant'. In fact, a very good case can be made that when you rely on soils to furnish important nutrients, the practice is more likely to be limiting than helpful. Providing all the nutrients essential to normal growth that plants normally take from the soil is monkey easy, which means the grower who directs focus on the soil's structure and shoulders the responsibility of providing for the plant's nutritional needs will likely have fewer problems and a much wider margin for grower error.

Let's see how close we are on what a soil should do, and then let's look at ways to best implement.


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You understand a lot more about soils than I ever will, and I'm glad you dispense what you know so avidly, but I fear, again without casting aspersion, that you have a basic misunderstanding of the majority of succulent plants when you state

'The plant doesn't mind at all if you have to water daily, in fact, it actually LIKES it. It means the soil is well aerated and the extra watering forces the exchange of soil gases for fresh air. I tend to always look at things from the plant's perspective, and believe that learning how to do that is the fastest route to green thumb status. '

That simply is not true with many, dare I say most succulent plants, especially some of the more advanced ones. I grant you that Crassula ovata watered every three days in your espoused mix will likely be OK, because it's a very forgiving plant. But if you try that with the majority of Mesembs, many Aloes, Tylecodons....well, the list goes on, but your method of watering is simply not conducive to succulent plants at large. Most of the plants that I mentioned will die if you water them that frequently, so I believe your statement about watering is only partially true. Try watering a Tylecodon wallachii in the summer, and all you'll wind up with for that magnificent plant is succulent jelly.

There are many ways to grow these plants of ours, and yours is certainly one, but I like to grow them more naturally, if you will. Most do not get water and food every three days - in fact, I think that, for these, that's a vast waste of resources and time, but that's just my opinion - if your method of meditation is watering plants and your area isn't undergoing a drought, more power to you. Again, I wish no disrespect, but your method does not work the best for these plants, in general, but only for a minority of them, those that can take the constant outpouring of water and nutrition and appear in the pink of health.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 11:46AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

No disrespect here, either ..... but I think a misunderstanding - I'm not suggesting that plants SHOULD be watered every day, or that they NEED to be watered that often in most cases - but IF they do (actually NEED water daily), it's not the plant that minds - it's the grower. When a plant NEEDS water, it needs water, that's a given - same with fertilizer.

The volume of water and nutrients that needs to be supplied to a plant is determined only partially by soil choice; but how much of each it actually gets, is entirely on the grower, so if there is an issue with either nutrition or under-watering, it can hardly be attributed to soil choice.

My contention is, it really doesn't matter much how you get there, but building a soil that holds as much water as you want or can practically expect w/o holding perched water is going to be exceedingly difficult to beat; this, because the limiting effects of perched water are significant - it kills roots and inhibits root function.

Generally speaking, as you transition from situations in which soils require infrequent watering toward soils that require decreased intervals between watering, the potential for best growth and vitality increases. The grower may not appreciate the extra effort required, but the plant does. No one can ever agree on anything about soils when they mix perspectives or when they address the issue from different perspectives.

I think that because so many others want to share their "gritty mix" and "5:1:1 mix" experiences with others, it's taken for granted that I push them hard. I don't, what I push is the concept I just described in bold. I didn't even name the soils - other growers decided they needed a way to tell which soil was being discussed. The recipes are simply good ways to implement the concept. I do try to work toward keeping misconceptions or fallacies about these and other soils being discussed to a minimum, though. Hopefully it's looked at by most as a contribution with some value.


This post was edited by tapla on Fri, Feb 14, 14 at 13:53

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 1:29PM
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Just wanted to share my experience using Al's mixes.

All of my succulents/cacti are in the gritty mix (Turface, granite grit, bark) and the jungle cacti are in the 5:1:1.

Right now, the winter growers all get watered/fertilized around once a week. The winter-dormant ones get watered around every other week, if that.

In the summer, the summer-dormant plants don't get watered at all, except for some rain water when we get our summer storms. Actually, I don't really water the summer growers either -- too busy with the rest of the garden. They're fine with whatever rain we get.

I haven't lost any succulents to rot. I did get a mealy bug infestation on one container.

I find the fast-draining soils to be extremely useful in my hot, humid summer climate with occasional summer downpours.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 5:26PM
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We all have different situations, different growing conditions. I cannot believe one mix will suit all situations for everyone, every environment, or every plant.

I have some plants growing in the gritty mix, but some are not, and are doing equally as well. I respect the science behind all this, but we, most of us here anyway, do have lives, and watering every day is not an option.

Talking of a plant's potential, as the OP has said many times, there are no such things as houseplants, I can agree with that, as no plant does better in the house than it would in its natural environment. But saying that a certain mix will help a plant reach its full potential, while being a practitioner of bonsai, which does just the opposite, with root pruning and stunting growth, well, I guess I am missing something here. Maybe I just don't get what "full potential" is eluding to. I am willing to be enlightened.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 6:20PM
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I just want to emphasize that the 511 and gritty mixes are not any more work than smaller-particled potting mixes.

In fact, the reason i like them is that they require much less effort and watering on my part. For example, even when I get really lazy and let them dry out completely, I don't have to worry about them hardening like peat-based mixes. I just water them like normal and they're hydrated again.

Something else I've learned is that overwatering is a result of the type of soil you have, not related to how much you water. And that's how my succulents survive our summer downpours! :)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 8:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When people simply announce that the gritty mix or soils like it won't work or can't suit their purposes, someone who understands the concept that inspired the soils is left to wonder what prompts a person to make that statement. Made correctly, the gritty mix holds no perched water or negligible amounts. To my way of thinking, that is one of the most significant attributes a soil can claim. Excess water retention and the inability to water correctly are probably the cause of the demise of more plants than any other factor - so you would have to work very hard at over-watering anything in the gritty mix. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the gritty mix is widely variable in the amount of water it will hold. Changing the ratio of bark:screened Turface:screened grit from 1:1:1 to 3:4:2 makes a significant addition to water retention, and changing to 3:5:1, bark:screened Turface:screened grit adds even more water retention. So it's difficult to understand how someone could categorize a soil so versatile as being too water retentive or not water-retentive enough. Keep in mind that because the particles are screened, the soil holds nearly all of its water on the surface of particles or within the particles themselves, leaving a homogenous system of macropores from the top of the soil surface to the bottom of the pot to help ensure a healthy root system.

"I cannot believe one mix will suit all situations for everyone, every environment, or every plant." In all seriousness, why can't you believe it? I just illustrated how versatile one soil can be in its ability to retain water with no significant reduction in aeration and none in rate of drainage. You get drainage as perfect as you're likely to find anywhere, unless you're growing in marbles; you get fantastic aeration because there are macropores everywhere, you have no perched water to be concerned about, and because of it's porosity and gas exchange, root temps will run several degrees lower during hot spells than in soils with clogged macro-pores. Plus, you get the added benefit of no perched water. If you were asked to conceptualize and describe a perfect soil, would the description include or exclude perched water?

".... most of us .... do have lives, and watering every day is not an option." There are 2 ways to look at that. The need to water every day is unlikely - in part because the water retaining ability of the 1:1:1 formula is often understated. The second way is, you're talking about what you don't like. If the plant NEEDS watering every day, it'll be more than happy to get it. The problem usually arises when the plant DOESN'T need water daily and it gets it from an overzealous gardener. Fortunately, since a well-made mix that makes 'no perched water' manifest, over-watering (and extended periods of rain) are almost never a problem.

"But saying that a certain mix will help a plant reach its full potential, while being a practitioner of bonsai, which does just the opposite, with root pruning and stunting growth, well, I guess I am missing something here. Maybe I just don't get what "full potential" is eluding to. I am willing to be enlightened." I can help you understand better. First, bonsai has nothing to do with stunting a plant's growth by subjecting it to adverse cultural conditions. As a trained bonsai judge, I can tell you that the first thing a judge looks for is the state of vitality. Vitality is different than vigor. Vigor is a measure of the genetic potential a plant is endowed with when it comes into existence. Vitality, on the other hand, is a function of culture. It is a measure of how well a plant is able to cope with the hand it's dealt. Because of the techniques used in bonsai to manipulate a plant into a shape and scale that allows us to see the tree as something we can easily envision as occurring in nature, being able to maintain the plants in a superior state of vitality is a prerequisite. Trees tended by a practiced bonsai artists regularly live for generation after generation - many times longer than the life expectancy of their counterparts growing in situ.

You can't talk about potential without talking about limitations. In a perfect world, every plant would grow to its potential. In our world, the world of the hobby grower, no plant is perfect. They're all limited to some degree by something. Soils are the foundation of every container planting, and poor soils are severely limiting. You simply cannot expect a plant to reach its full potential when its growing within the bounds of limitations.

When you learn to view things from the perspective of the plant you'll understand that your job, if your goal is to help your plants realize their potential, is to identify what is limiting your plant and correct those problems. You can't make up for a poor soil by providing perfect light and nutrition, and a perfect soil won't help if the weather is too cold or the light inappropriate. If your soil has inherent issues, even if everything else is perfect, the plant will not be able to rise above the limiting effects of the soil ..... or any other limitation.

If you choose to live with the effects of limitations, that's perfectly fine, but let's be clear. If a soil offers greater potential for the plant, but the grower doesn't want to use it because you need to water every other day - it's not a failure of the soil - it's how the grower has his priorities ordered. A top fuel dragster (right term?) might only wish to use a safer, less flammable fuel to power his machine. If he does, he suffers under no illusion that performance is going to suffer for the compromise. Growing is no different. It takes effort to consistently grow healthy material.

What defines our proficiency as growers is our ability to recognize and eliminate conditions that cause limitations. Nothing more. The more diligently you pursue that end, the better you will be for the effort.


This post was edited by tapla on Sat, Feb 15, 14 at 23:27

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Oh, this is getting so wordy!

1. This obsession with water retention. It's okay for roots to be wet for extended periods of time, especially when in growth. It's also okay for succulent roots to dry out for an extended period of time, provided they're snug and comfy, not clinging to life in a sharp, instantly desiccant pile of pure grit.

2. You must love to use the hose. California is in a major drought. I don't need you encouraging all my people to go ahead and use rocket fuel in their dragsters. It's the wrong idea. First, don't buy a top fuel dragster - problem solved.

3. You keep using this false "if A, then B" argument.
"If the plant NEEDS watering every other day, it'll be more than happy to get it." Who said any plant needs watering every other day? This idea of plants needing very frequent watering works well into your theory but the fact is, I don't have a SINGLE plant that NEEDS that much water. Not even close. The truth is, you should be able to observe your plants individually to see if they're thirsty. It doesn't happen on a set day of the week. Watering should be done when the plant can utilize the water and food properly - during growth, in the morning of a hot day to maximize transpiration, after a strong wind dries everything out, or in tiny bits 5 times a day. It all depends, that's why you have to learn about your plants and don't count on some miracle mix to make everything easy.

4. In the last few days you've stated a few times that you don't push a soil mix but a concept. But then you insist that there is indeed on mix to rule them all. Make up your mind.

Al, you obviously hold lots of information and have experience with certain plants but your insistence that your gritty mix and philosophy are superior-to-all, in the face of very experienced people telling you the opposite, well it just comes off as stubborn. I don't know how you can be so sure of yourself. I certainly haven't seen proof. You started this thread for a reason, so I'm going to make this real simple for you.



and that's just a little bit of what I have growing in Real Grower's Mix. Yeah, I named it that just now - it was taught to me by a REAL grower. Please show us the wide variety of succulents that are thriving in your care.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:08AM
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I have fallowed almost all of the info that has been posted on 511 and 111 gritty, and I understand the concept behind it, and I use it modified to fit my lifestyle needs. When I say life style needs I am referring to work schedule, financial status e.g. water bill, grow media supplies etc. sometimes incorporating more water retention into it or less depending on the need, sometimes substituting components due to me being so cheap or lack of availability. I will not pretend to have the sophistication or intelligences that I witness with the posters I see at gardenweb you guys are truly amazing, I am so glad you guys have not chewed me up or spit me out for my unintelligent questions. Humility goes a long way when you are trying to learn, some of best knowledge I have ever learned has come from being able to listen to the new hired kid and exploring the validity of his questions or his suggestions. I have been in supervision most my life and learned along time ago I am at the same social level as anyone else in the world regardless of how intelligent or sophisticated I am, my humility has kept me grounded and able to listen and learn new approaches to old problems regardless where they come from, I am just glad you guys have put up with me and always answered my questions regardless of how elementary they may be. I just love listening and learning thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:41AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It takes more words to explain how soils work and to get growers down a path that isn't going to be inherently limiting, than it does to be a critic. A critic is like the gong you hear at a railroad crossing, clanging loudly and vainly as the train passes by. That you have to resort to hyperbole to make a point is also telling. Suggesting that plants in soils that embody the concept that inspired the gritty mix will be "clinging to life in a sharp, instantly desiccant [sic] pile of pure grit" is a weak attempt to discourage others from using a soil that has proven to be extremely productive and easy to grow in. You don't even realize that angular soil particulates are a plus - promoting root bifurcation and increasing the number of fine roots, which do the lions share of the work.

I don't take drought into consideration - that's for the individual to worry about. I'm concerned with the well-being of the plant - which goes back to that 'different perspectives' thing. If you wish to grow in a water-retentive soil to conserve water, that's entirely your choice. It's also everyone else's decision to make. That you need to conserve water has no bearing whatsoever on the negative effects of too much water retention. You can't have it both ways. If you want a soil that retains water well, you have to be up for dealing with the effects of that water retention. But again - there is no reason the gritty mix can't be made as water retentive as you wish - WITHOUT hampering aeration or drainage.

You say that it's ok for roots to be wet for extended periods of time. If you mean damp (not wet) - as in moist, and without a soggy layer of soil at the bottom of the pot, then I would agree. But if you're suggesting there are no limitations associated with soggy soil while a plant is growing, you're simply wrong about that. Water uptake, and therefore nutrient uptake, is an energy-driven process that is hindered when soils are wet or soggy in part or entirety.

"Who said any plant needs watering every other day?" You did, when immediately after we disagreed about fertilizing you began disparaging the gritty mix by offering, "It tortures root systems and creates the need for almost constant watering." If that's not more hyperbole, I'd suggest it means you might even need to water MORE than once each day. But how do you square that observation with the fact that the gritty mix allows the grower to adjust water retention over an extremely wide range. It's much more logical to think that you don't really understand the concept that drives highly aerated soils, and didn't implement effectively. After all, if your plants needed more water retention, all you needed to do is make a minor change in the formula. Instead, you gave up and kicked the whole concept to the curb, and assumed that because you rejected the concept, others should find no value in it.

I'm not suggesting that anything is superior to anything else, though in many cases a person would have to be insane or have an axe to grind in order to withhold agreement with the concept. What I AM interested in doing is dispelling intentionally sown myths. That's always been how I roll.

It's always the last refuge of people who disagree with me to suggest that because I don't focus on succulents, I can't grow them well. If I didn't have such a keen interest in bonsai, I probably would focus on succulents. I'm interested in plants I can manipulate, not plants I just grow for the sake of growing them. As soon as I start showing pictures of my plants (and I've posted MANY pictures of succulents) I'm sure you'll be happy to point out "Yeah - but those are all the EASY ones" or offer some other remark meant to diminish. I used to watch the houseplant forum and try to figure out which plants were the most difficult. Then, I'd buy one, repot it, & grow it for a year or so - just to see if I could. I never found any of them to be difficult.


This post was edited by tapla on Sun, Feb 16, 14 at 15:53

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 12:28PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Nicely said, Stimey.

One of the most important attributes a poster can have is credibility. I work hard to protect mine by not delving into areas where I am operating at beyond the limits of my knowledge. When I disagree with someone, it's almost always because (the collective) you are getting information that has the potential to decrease the return on your growing investment. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but too often opinions end up being an exercise of the human will that allows us to make a decision without sufficient information. I don't want to make up your mind for you, but I do want to provide enough reliable information that the questioning feeling you experience when making up your mind can only be escaped by thinking.

Thanks for the contribution.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 12:47PM
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Hey, if I came off as irritated, I am. Al, you choose to take a narrow view of what I'm trying to say. You trivialize and call it opinion while every word you say is fact. You refuse to back up a single inch. Yeah, it's irritating. I wasn't expecting to change your mind, just pull back the curtain a bit.

People can read these exchanges and make up their own minds. If that last part of my comment comes off arrogant, well I can't think of a humble way to call you out. You said it all, btw, about your plants being the easy ones. Nice arrangements, though!

Anyway, I'm not going to go around in circles wih you on this. You started this thread after we disagreed about soil on a different thread. An invitation to Thunderdome, if you will. You can choose to view me in a negative light, that way it's easy for you to disregard my words, but it doesn't change anything. Touting yourself as a "thinker" and a man of science and then regarding others who disagree as "believers" or holding less knowledge is an old, petty way to win an argument. Humility does not come to mind.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Hanz : Is it true that the Spheroid Institute has been looking for you.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:43PM
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Ummmm, nope.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:47PM
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Thanks Talpa, let me clarify I was not siding with no one on this particular subject, I just know being a lowly, virtually new grower that my questions are perceived as redundant when you experienced guys hear the same one over and over, I have more then once been referred to the search function when posting a question that I have already studied, and not found a defining answer. I do read all the info that is put forth at gardeweb some of it is above my understanding, so I ask questions in order to achieve clarification. I do respect the many hours of work you guys have done in order to get where you are at, that is why I ask the questions in order to shorten my learning curve, with out all the work that has already been done I would have to be doing it myself because I love the experimental side of it, I take the ground work that has already been done and try something new, sometimes it works, sometimes it ends up just like you guys said it would but I had fun anyway. It is a passion I have, I have been working as a manufacturing eng. for years designing through fit, form and function, not many of us love our work, I do because it is a constant learning curve. I found out a long time ago when I cease to listen to the new kid on the block I have lost the ability to learn, I have had to struggle to maintain my humility so I may learn from the novice that walks in the door, as well as being able to listen to trained experienced person that tried to tell me, and I wouldn't listen. Am I grinding an axe? I think so now that I think about it, I have had more then one PM ignored because the question was very elementary, I also understand the other side of it as well when a person probably answered the same question over and over. "Just use the search function man!" LOL this is such a great forum and you guys are great people thanks for putting up with me.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hanz - that's what I'm hoping - that people will read these exchanges and make up their own minds. I don't care a whit if someone chooses not to use the gritty mix. I'm not that emotionally invested. What I DO try to do on a regular basis is cut through exaggerations and misinformation so people have reliable information to make up their minds. I take full responsibility for everything I say, so if there is something you think is an error in fact, or there is something you don't agree with, I'll be more than happy to offer an explanation that anyone can understand, but be specific. I don't have an axe to grind. You got called on another thread about fertilizing and it made you upset - so here we are. You say you don't like the gritty mix - I get it already, but you're flailing around like someone drowning, trying to find a straw to grasp. In the meantime, if any can tolerate the ire, I get to highlight considerations that are important in deciding what soil to use, which is something I've been doing for a very long time.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Stimey - if I had a nickel for every time I repeated an answer for questions already asked .....

I look at every question and every adversity I run into while posting as an opportunity to help other growers expand their understanding, which I always hope allows the grower to get more from the growing experience. Plants aren't pets, but the level at which we are able to interact with plants varies widely from person to person. We can be held back from reaching those higher planes of interaction by several factors - lack of knowledge, attitude, and an unwillingness to see things from the plant's point of view are the big ones. Every time I post, I hope I'm doing something to increase someone's knowledge and/or help them see things from the plant's perspective. Attitude is what it is. Answering the same questions over and over doesn't bother me much. If you want to reach people, it's best to do it in the present - like on a current thread. Some folks won't use the search function, and some folks might come across a thread like this and find that something suddenly 'clicks' in their mind, and a new piece of the puzzle falls into place.

I think one of the most rewarding things that happen regularly to me occurs when I'm addressing a garden groub/club ..... and I'm using an illustration to explain how water perches in soils. At the point they come to understand that concept, you can literally see the light go on and their minds working overtime as they realize the ramifications of what they just learned.

I didn't think you were choosing sides - just wanted you to know that your reflections are welcome.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:44PM
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Wow, really? Flailing? You disagreeing with me on fertilizer didn't make me upset. That's projection. Your manner, which I just described above, bothered me, that's all. Your insistence on fertilizer only works ASSUMING the person is using your mix - so here we are.

I'm not drowning, Al. I'm perfectly clear on my position and confident in my methods. Again, like you said, you're putting a lot of work into defending your legacy. And like I said, you're attempting to trivialize me but it won't work. I stated my case very clearly on the other thread, not going to re-type it.

You speak of watering and perched water as if it's the only factor regarding soil. In my opinion, the comfort of the roots is actually more important and the plants have let me know that it's true.

I'm sorry this feels like a personal attack. It's truly just an attempt to show a different perspective, because I care and I feel like I've learned something relevant and pertinent to our friends, here. It does become more personal each time you attempt to diminish me. Talk about flailing... jeez.

Here is a link that might be useful: Previous Thread

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 3:00PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Comfort of the roots - really? Comfort is an anthropomorphic idea, but one of the most important things a soil needs to provide is an environment where healthy root growth is always possible - not just possible when the ratio of water:air in the soil just happens to be in the favorable range.

I don't make assumptions or work off assumptions - in fact, I'm pretty good at qualifying what I say so it can be applied narrowly - and I readily admit to being 'matter of fact' when it's the best course. I'm glad you're clear on your position and happy with your choices, but so were the people who thought the earth was flat, and being clear on a position or course is no indication the same can't be improved upon. I'm not trying to trivialize what you're saying, but you won't say anything specific so it can be discussed. You just feel the need to disagree. Anyone can disagree with anyone on any topic. What good is disagreement if it can't bear fruit?

And you're right, it does feel like a personal attack - as being emotional. For instance, I never even hinted that I spend a lot of time defending my legacy - whatever that means. I said I'm careful about keeping my credibility intact by avoiding venturing into topics that find me operating at beyond my limitations. Quite different than your paraphrasing. When you can't argue on the basis of fact, you immediately turn to ad hominem disparagement. I'm always ready to discuss any part of whatever I say. What's the topic? What have I said in error? Be civil.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 3:37PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Perhaps you gentlemen could just to agree to disagree already?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 3:56PM
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Is it true that the root zone only needs to be large enough to support what is above the substrate that the plant is growing in if the plants needs are met via nutrients, moisture, oxygen etc.? With that said, if what I said above is held in balance will the roots continue to grow or will they maintain there size until more roots are needed to supply the growing plant that is above the substrate? I don't know if I said all that correctly to make good sense, but if you understand my question I am looking forward to your answer.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 4:56PM
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I think a lot of the things you are both saying are similar.

We can all agree that it helps to have soil that provides aeration and drainage.

I'm in southern California so I've noticed I have to tweak the amount of grit/organic matter according to a variety of local factors.

I've greatly increased the amount of grit due to the gardenweb forums. You really just have to find something that balances your local environment, the plant species, and your time.

Either way, great informative arguments on both sides. Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 5:09PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Stimey - Root growth always precedes top growth. Think of the first thing to emerge from a seed - the seed radicle. Plants have chemical messengers that help to keep top mass and root growth in balance, and only after root growth can support it (with water and nutrients) does the volume of top mass increase.

The volume of roots required by a plant varies by situation. If rootwork has been done regularly, a much smaller volume of roots is required to support a plant because a higher % of roots will be the fine roots that do the lion's share of the work. Root congestion also slows growth and decreases vitality. It may be to the grower's advantage to grow a plant tight, in order to achieve a certain type or rate of growth, or to force blooming, but tight roots are a stress. To avoid that stress, a plant should be repotted before the point where the root/soil mass can be lifted from the pot intact. if you're fine with the stress or are employing it intentionally, that's fine, but if your looking to maximize growth and vitality, roots need room to grow.

Almost always, if you prune the top back hard, that fraction of the roots no longer needed to supply the top mass will die back to an appropriate level. Plants are shedding organisms and quickly shed parts that aren't needed or that use more energy than what they produce. On the other hand, if you prune the roots, the top might or might not die back, depending on how much you prune. If you have a plant that is seriously root bound, and you decide to do a major correction, you might decide to take a proactive stance and prune the top back so the plant doesn't shed parts viewed as critical to the composition. Most succulents are tolerant enough of dry periods that you won't need to fuss with the top, but that's not true of most houseplants or woody material grown in pots.

Yorkie - there are good ways of ensuring water retention and not so good ways. It doesn't make much sense to use large, gritty materials to create porosity and then clog all those pores with fine particulates like peat, coir, compost, sand. Where does all that great porosity go? It's gone. Visualize a pint jar full of BBs. In the mind's eye, you can see all the wonderful air spaces between the BBs. Now add some sand and peat or compost to the mix. You've just destroyed the aeration you look at as an attribute.

Also, If you have a pint of BBs, you have NO perched water and perfect drainage. Add in the sand and peat, and you get a perched water table of the same exact ht as that in the sand and peat. At that point, the only positive you can expect from the large particles you added is an o/a reduction in water retention, but NOT in the ht of the perched water table. Perched water is not something a grower should ignore. It kills roots and inhibits root function - it's a guaranteed limiting factor that can't be denied because root function is energy driven and needs to have adequate volumes of O2 to be carried on efficiently.

A book by Carl Whitcomb PhD, 'Plant Production in Containers', is full of what I call Whitcombisms. You might enjoy.

"If the root system ain't happy, ain't no part of the plant happy"

"Roots control the tree [plant], the stems and branches just think [not my emphasis] they are in charge."

"The more roots to share the load, the faster the dirty work gets done"

"Roots provide the fuel for the plant engines we call leaves"

"Each root tip casts a vote to decide what the top will be allowed to do"

"Top growth gets all the glory, but the roots do all the dirty work"

He also notes that "Stress can ALWAYS be measured in the root system before symptoms appear in the top [of the plant]".


    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:06PM
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Do you see why we can't simply agree to disagree, Karen? I agree to that for sure but I'm almost positive Al will deliver the last word, devoid of concessions. We obviously have very different approaches even though there are correlations that can be agreed on. I appreciate Stimey's and yorkiemiki's feedback. It lets me know that I have indeed made a point and I appreciate the input.

Okay, Al. Imagine a pint of BBs. Now imagine roots trying to force their way through the tiny gaps, forced to displace as much volume as they need to occupy. I dare say that some root systems will eventually occupy a large majority of the pot - where do all the BBs go? The problem is, many succulent root systems just won't put up with that kind of pressure/expectancy.

Now, without immediately dismissing the idea, imagine my mix. I know you can, it's been thoroughly explained. The fines are a blend of peat, forest products, small amount of clay, sand and vermiculite - a nice balance. The grit is just perlite and pumice. Now imagine that there is a very good amount of this grit blended in and creating a framework while also adding to the inorganic fines. What you end up with is a light, fluffy mix with a ratio of fines to grit that creates a wonderful structure for the roots to navigate. Now imagine the roots navigating freely through the fines, consuming organic fines as they occupy that space. There's no struggle to displace grit or navigate through unfriendly places. The fines will hold water briefly but each little pocket of fines will be somewhat separated, providing their nutrients to the roots while the perlite absorbs what the plant does not. In dry/dormant periods, roots will be snug and comfortable. Comfortable, yes. They are living organisms, not inanimate. I do love anthropomorphism but plants don't qualify.

Your Whitcombisms are all spot-on. It's strange how many things are lost in translation. I can appreciate your expertise in bonsai and I'm sure your mix has helped many people. I just think you need to accept that (maybe) your mix (philosophy) isn't necessarily right for succulents. That's really all I want to hear. No pressure though. I'd just like to make peace with you and be done.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 8:06PM
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Can a person every hope to grow lets say a semi dwarf citrus tree if there is such a thing, maybe I should say a semi dwarf peach tree just because I know there is such a thing, anyway could a person expect to grow this tree in a container to the point where it produces fruit of the same quality and size as the same tree grown in the ground with out providing a container of huge proportions? I guess what I am really driving at is can a person expect to even come close to a in ground grown tree using a container with proper manipulation of all the variables? If your out of the trees hardiness zone and your grand baby's want home grown oranges can it be done with proper substrate, nutrients, root pruning etc. etc.?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 9:36PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Imagine a pint of BBs. Now imagine roots trying to force their way through the tiny gaps, forced to displace as much volume as they need to occupy. Ok, where's the problem? It's easier for roots to displace air in the gaps between particles than it is to force their way through whatever obstacles are in their way - be it sand, peat, compost ..... Roots of plants growing in situ have no problem finding a way between soil particles, why should they have problems in containers unless the soil has lots of particles that are fine and extremely compacted? Compaction can't occur when particles are large and roughly equal in size. A variety of particle sizes mixed together and a preponderance of small particles is what creates compaction. I dare say that some root systems will eventually occupy a large majority of the pot - where do all the BBs go? As root congestion increases, soil particles are pushed upward. Often, the depths of a container become filled with nothing but congested roots, which pushes the entire root/soil mass upward. It happens in all containers, regardless of soil choice, especially when the grower doesn't manage their plants' root systems properly. The problem is, many succulent root systems just won't put up with that kind of pressure/expectancy. That is simply not true. There is no difference in the amount of congestion a plant will tolerate in a very porous soil vs a heavy (water retentive) soil. If anything, the porous soil gets the nod. The reason is a no brainer - more porosity = more space for roots to grow.

Now .... imagine my mix. .... The fines are a blend of peat, forest products, small amount of clay, sand and vermiculite - a nice balance. Let's stop right there. What you call "a nice balance" is what thousands of growers have already discovered is a recipe for trouble. Mixing all those fine particulates into a soil destroys aeration and ensures a perched water table. YOU might not think perched water is a problem, but thousands of growers who have changed to a highly porous soil with virtually instant success would differ. When you talk about a nice balance in soils, the ratio of the amount of water:air is what SHOULD come to mind. The grit is just perlite and pumice. Now imagine that there is a very good amount of this grit blended in and creating a framework There is no "framework" in soils that allows you to place soil particles in a pattern that exists only in someone's imagination - sorry. while also adding to the inorganic fines. What you end up with is a light, fluffy mix with a ratio of fines to grit that creates a wonderful structure for the roots to navigate. This is all a wonderful pie in the sky description, but you can't simply cancel the laws of physics because they don't fit with what you envision. Now imagine the roots navigating freely through the fines, consuming organic fines as they occupy that space. Plants don't consume organic fines - they consume the salts from the fertilizers we add, or salts that result from hydrocarbon chains that make up organic particulates being broken down by soil biota. As this occurs, the already fine soil particles become increasingly fine - clogging more pores and increasing water retention. Some of the organic mass of soils gases off in the form of CO2. There's no struggle to displace grit or navigate through unfriendly places. 'Struggle', unfriendly'? These are not concerns or sentiments an experienced grower would voice. Roots have absolutely no problem growing through porous soils, and soils with sharp edges and irregular shapes promote root bifurcation, which is an advantage. The fines will hold water briefly but each little pocket of fines will be somewhat separated, providing their nutrients to the roots while the perlite absorbs what the plant does not. That sounds lovely, but fines don't hold water briefly - they hold water for a long time. And how can perlite absorb what the plant doesn't? Perlite isn't even internally (open) porous. In dry/dormant periods, roots will be snug and comfortable. Comfortable, yes. They are living organisms, not inanimate. I do love anthropomorphism but plants don't qualify. Your description is actually full of anthropomorphic idealism. Honestly, we could imagine our way through chopped celery being a great medium if we use a lot of superfluous language and make a lot of assumptions that are not even close to being grounded in reality. I'm sorry, but what you've illustrated is that your understanding of how soils work is still in its infancy, and based almost entirely on how you wish things could be.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 10:23PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Stimey - some trees are scions grafted to dwarfing rootstock and some are genetic dwarfs , but you don't need purchase a dwarf of the species to maintain a tree in a container at a manageable size.

To some degree, container culture is going to slow the growth of a plant. The greatest effects are noticed after root congestion reaches a point where the root/soil mass can be lifted from the pot intact. Beyond that point, the effect on growth and vitality is almost directly related to the state of root congestion.

To keep your trees compact, you would need to acquire some pruning knowledge and learn how to manage the tree's roots. Most trees won't be as fruitful in containers as in the ground, but the fruit will be the same size whether in containers or in the ground. Lots of growers grow citrus, figs, all sorts of fruiting trees in containers.

For more information on maintaining trees in containers, follow the embedded link.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 10:34PM
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Did I call it or what, Karen?

Oh, how grand life would be if I only had a fraction of Al's seasoned understanding of how soil works.

Al, some facts:
1. I've used your soil. You haven't used mine.
2. Real (major) succulent growers don't use your mix.
3. I have thousands of plants growing extremely well in my mix.
4. Every plant (in my care) moved from gritty mix into better soil shows immediate improvement.

You can type 'til your fingers fall off, doesn't change a thing. The truth is, you don't grow what I grow. If you did, you'd have changed your tune long ago, or given up - back to bonsai. All the rebuttals in the world amount to nothing next to this.

I know this won't slow your confident fingers one bit, but I'm done. Stay classy.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:09PM
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Thanks for the link I have it clipped, I am out of here on to production thank for everything everyone

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 7:28AM
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LOL thanks talpa, after further investigation I had the link in my favorites anyway. Thanks again, see guys I do read your stuff!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 7:49AM
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Love the Aloinopsis I've been attempting them for a long time in my collection of suculentsd in a wide variaty of mixes to include: Grits Mable mix modified mable mix and even the sillly store bought stuff with and with out ammedments.
This one very attractive caudiformic messeb plant seems to elude me for the long term growing..

I dont have problems with outher messebs my home made mixes the problem I have with this one plant is...

Well after several attempts with an of Aloinopsis in diferent soils the problem cant be the soil(s) I had used. With my attempts and failures on the confessional for front the problem must be me...

I must be doing something wrong.

Think about it I just mentioned the easiest out for the two of you guys didnt I ?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 9:01AM
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I too am a 1.1.1 Gritty mix user, and have been for years.
I will admit that on some pots I will not use this mix, but, not because it's not a good mix and does not work, but because it doesn't suit MY needs...

If I had the time to water plants every day, then I would use the 1.1.1 mix as is, on everything...The 1.1.1mix does not have to be watered every day in certain pots depending on variables..

I can say that if it were not for 'Al' for introducing the CONCEPT of these mixes, I would still be a failure with my plants , not understanding how water behaves in container mixes.

This is a concept I had never heard of I owe Al a debt of thanks for the free time he has invested here to help others like me.

I will admit that I too failed with the 1.1.1 mix at times and still do, but not because of the ingredients and ratios, but because I chose not to keep up with the watering every day on certain pots.

Many are in very small pots, under hot lights, in very hot sunny areas or were just starting to fill the mix in with their roots. Some are cuttings..

I made an informed decision to switch to a more water retentive one by adding more pumice, or turface or peat, so I could skip waterings on certain plants/pots. This is called amending the 1.1.1 mix to suite MY needs taught by Al..

Let's face it..

Even certain 'Orchids', would much prefer to dangle their roots in mid air on cork or tree fern and get misted several times a day or live in very high humidity, but I simply can not be there every day to mist the roots or several times a day to mist them in summer.

But as for me, the pots suit MY needs.

I have learned that plants require porous mixes in order to produce healthy roots systems, but to stay in mixes that do not break down rapidly and squash this vital need.

I see the everyone here has agreed that plants need very open mixes to stay healthy, and try to figure ways to blend their own with this concept, even if they don't use the 1.1.1 or for some reason despise it....But the main points are worth every ounce of gold and I have to thank Al for giving me another option to choose and others for taking the time to relate their experiences with what they use.

The failure does not lie in a very porous mix as we have seen, but in the hand at the end of the watering can.

Ps..NICE plants Hanz and Al...!!


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 11:45

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 9:57AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

I'm laughing at one member claiming another member always has to have the last word, and then posting afterwards to make sure he has the last word...........

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:00PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy, Mike and Rob!
Well said, Mike.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:14PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

That's true, Mike, and you've hit on a point that is very important. It's hard to disparage a mix as being too water retentive or not water retentive enough when the mix is almost infinitely adjustable for water retention by simply varying the ratio of 2 of the only 3 ingredients. In effect, by saying the gritty mix holds too little or two much water, a person is announcing that he/she really doesn't really understand the concept, and is tossing the entire concept out because the first recipe tried didn't seem to fit the grower's needs. You learned that soils are adaptable and that you don't need to sacrifice drainage or aeration in order to increase water retention, and that adding even small amounts of peat or other fine particulates fills up soil pores and puts you right back to battling water retention and perched water, what you were struggling with initially.

I've had a chance to watch you eliminate the frustrations that had you on the brink of giving up on growing in containers, so you've come a long way in the last several years. I hardly ever hear from you any more, so it's prolly safe to assume all's going well. Good luck - good job!

Stimey - knowledge is the fastest way to a green thumb. Experience is mostly over-rated. What value in experience if it consists of doing the same things over and over again with no attempt at expanding the horizon? Learn all you can, then put experience to its most valuable use - practical application used to validate what you've already learned. You're on the right track because what you're learning is going to help you bypass most of the pitfalls that seem to catch a very high % of growers.

Nomen - I'd be happy if the ire generated is in the rearview, and I'm glad to allow Hanz the last word. I think there is enough contrast in our approach to soil science that growers can make up their own mind w/o asking the forum to endure any additional strain.


This post was edited by tapla on Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 15:52

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Whip - I meant the last word in the contentious conversation. I'll still answer questions, visit, or try to help wherever I can for as long as this thread is active or whenever it gets dug up and posted to. I have some threads many years old (10 years or so) that still get posted to regularly. Many of the questions on those threads are fielded by other members, but I still follow them closely and offer help whenever I think I can contribute.


This post was edited by tapla on Mon, Feb 17, 14 at 13:18

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:23PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Mike... Well said!!!


You are the reason that I started looking for a better understanding of soils and why they are a major factor in the overall health of our plants.

My Adenium and Plumeria as well as my other C & S have never been as healthy as they are at this time . Through my involvement here on the GW and from reading the many informative threads written by Al, I have learned to better understand the concept of how roots react and how everything we do has an impact on how our plants / trees respond. I can make a mix that will give my plants and their roots the best growing environment to flourish .

I work for the airlines and I am gone for days at a time ( four day trips) and I can water my plants before I leave and I'm well assured they are fine until I get home. ( I'm talking hundreds) ;-). Just knowing that I can change the make up of the mix to make it more or less water retentive gives me the upper hand on how they will preform and grow while I am gone on business.
This change in my gardening practices has made me a better grower. For that I will truly be grateful to Mike and Al... I am still learning, but I am confident in my growing abilities because of you two!!!

This thread is full of wonderful information that will help others determine how to implement a better practice for gardening.

I am very thankful and I wanted to tell you Al, that I appreciate all what you do on a daily basis to help us learn and grow!

Thank you!!


    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 5:31PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Thanks for the kind words, Laura - always appreciated. You're another person whose ability has grown to where it seems to be practically boundless, judging by the beautiful pictures you regularly share. And I see the variety of plant material you tend keeps growing - where do you SLEEP? I never get tired of looking at the gorgeous and healthy material you keep. Keep sharing the pics. You say you're still learning - we ALL are, but I'm sure you could teach most of us a thing or two.

Getting hammered by another storm here - just starting. Might not get out of the drive tomo if we get all they say - up to 8" + blowing/drifting. Sigh! I know you're out today so I'll hope you're south of what we're getting. Take care.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 6:04PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

whenever I hear someone argue that system x doesn't work because no major grower uses system x, the logical part of my brain starts jumping up and down screaming, 'fallacy'. There are many reasons why major growers would prefer one system to another that has nothing to do with how well the system works. First we have to recognize that most of those growers are growing container plants. That means they are at least shipping plants to retail nurseries in box trucks. Therefore, that will bias them towards lightweight media. Also, the weight of the containers will impact the productivity of the labor when moving plants around the nursery. Someone might be able to get three #1s with pumice in each hand but try that with Missouri Gravel Bed. It's no wonder why commercial producers are looking at axis instead of turface when you consider axis is about half the weight. When it comes to hobbyists, that weight may not be a big deal. Sometimes, like on my 20mph wind is a good day hillside, weight is very beneficial.

Then there is cost of materials. Because each of those containers and the medium container are lost when sold, keeping the cost of each container as low as possible while still maintaining high rates of growth is imperative. This might not be the case if those plants were being sold bareroot. Cost is also less important to the hobbyist that can reuse the medium and realize a savings in that way.

Secondary costs are also a major consideration for growers. A medium that maximizes watr use efficiency will effect profits since water is a major cost for growers, at least the ones in SoCal. Along with water efficiency is nutrient efficiency as they are tied together due to leaching. Fertilizer is another major cost for growers. These problems can be solved through reclamation but that requires a major capital investment. The hobbyist might not be as concerned if there is runoff that goes to the lemon tree. They just don't water the lemon tree as much. The hobbyist will also have a much smaller area in production and as such, the capital investment for reclaimation or diversion is much smaller.

While growers benefit from maximizing stock growth, any gains have to be weighed against other important costs. Those costs may not be as important to the hobbyist as other factors. In some cases, those costs may not exist at all. Just because it is possible to be successful doing what a grower does, does not mean that system is the ideal system for growing that plant. Take orchids for instance, Most orchids will come in a plastic pot with large bark chunks. Those same orchids would probably grow better attached to a branch with no bark chunks in a high humidity environment with occasional drenching. What growers do is but one system by which to be successful, not the only system by which to be successful.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 6:53PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Hanzrobo, while you obviously have a lot of success with your medium I am fairly confident that more than a couple of growers would take issue with some of the materials in it. Perlite is right out for a lot of c&s people because of the plant killing perlite pancake. Same with coarse sand. The Huntington uses straight pumice or pumice/peat for most c&s. A coarse solid aggregate medium is not unusual. I have been using turface as a replacement for peat with pumice to increase the available water and it has been working quite well.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 7:37PM
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Fact: I( and a very specail chubby frog ;-) am very glad to hear what you just said to me Al.

Fact: anyone is capable of failing yet they can only fail so many times untill something works right.

cactusmcharris: Fact I'm leaving a pic for you because I think you know what it is plus ( no disrespect) I dont think Al grows it either

Hawothia enelyae 'picta' for the ones who didn't know what it is

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 8:20PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Nil - all excellent points. There a LOT of reasons commercial ops do what they do, most of them tied more closely to optimizing the bottom line than any other reason. In the same vein, there are a lot of things that (your typical)hobby growers do, most of them more closely related to convenience that what's best for the plant. In some cases, the hobby grower doesn't have any idea what's best, or even good, for the plant, but in some cases, the grower does know but orders his/her priorities in such a way that growing isn't a primary concern. There's nothing wrong with that, because no one should be presumptuous enough to be ordering another's priorities, but it does illustrate clearly that convenience and the bottom line often take precedence over the plant's welfare. Neither good nor bad, it just is what it is.

NN - did you mention frogs?


    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 8:47PM
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Nil, I know there are many styles of growing and different types of growers, large and small. I'm aware of the shipping weight issue. C&J and Altman's use just peat and perlite for outgoing pots, many growers I respect very much use pure pumice. It's a different style. My point from the beginning has been that there are different perspectives and many mixes to suit many different needs, not that my mix is the best. It just works very well for me. It's a long-term mix tailored to my environment. It's nothing like the mix they use at Mesa Garden, which I had the pleasure to mix with my own hands. I'm not going to break it down but the stuff looks just like dirt with a few white chunks. It's perfect for their needs and in turn, would be very tricky to maintain here.

I can tell I've offended some people who've had great success with gritty mix, even though most people say they find the need to amend it. That was never my intention. This whole thing has been between me and Al ever since we fouled up that fertilizer thread a few days ago. I hope my friends can understand my intentions.

Man, I really wanted to be done with this but out of respect for you, nil, here I am. Seriously, though...

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 9:38PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

well I appreciate it, but don't let me drag you back into this.

I guess I just don't get the argument. The way I've seen it, Al is just arguing for air space over available water when constructing a medium and making up the available water deficiency with increasing the frequency of irrigation.

Whenever you design a medium you are going to make tradeoffs between air space and available water. Straight pumice is about perfect for air space but has an available water curve that isn't much better than sand. If you need to increase available water you can either add peat on one end of the continuum and sacrifice air space or you can add calcined clay on the other end of the continuum and sacrifice weight and cost. The most important bit is that people understand what different materials honestly do and why they are chosen.

I sort of have an urge to figure out what size aggregate I would need to grow some cacti this summer watering every day. I'm thinking 2" scoria.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 10:51PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Thank you for the frog pictures. They all look very warm and sunny. Considering I'm getting the same 6-8 inches your getting, I could really use some sun and warmth right about now........

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 11:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

My dogs name is Louie VI, because we liked Lou for a name and he's our 6th dog. Anyway, I just came in from emptying the Lou and blowing about 8" of fresh off the drive, and it's still snowing hard. Might have 2 steal the wife's 4wd in order to get out tomo - again.

Hanz - we both prolly said what we needed to say, so let's just figure we're on different wave lengths and bury the hatchet? I don't mind spirited disagreement, but the personal stuff cuts too deep - both ways - I'm not pointing fingers. I take whatever anyone considers to be my share of the blame for the rancor.


Whip - what about this one:

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 12:10AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

I've got enough of my own snow.......... Please don't share.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 12:26AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

y'all can send however much of that snow you want my way. I'll take water any way I can get it right about now.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 12:43AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Do I understand correctly that the state of CA says they own the rain and snow that falls on the state and it's unlawful to collect same for your own use?


    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 8:48AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

no, they push rain barrels out here. But we are under western 'original appropriation' water rights.

But seriously, I'll take soggy cardboard boxes at this point.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 10:43AM
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I for one have not been offended by you hanz. I think you have added alot of good insight and information for the plant growing hobbiest. Soil options such as yours should always a welcoming reminder.

Look at some of the other great information you left on this thread,
Example: Your pic show a set up for plants looks great from sun screen to built over head cover, sorted out and orderly pots on benches. Not every hot house looks as good as those in pics.

If you feel you had offended someone it's not because of what you said but the way you said it. Your not alone hanz alot of us could use work on how say things better by use of our keyboards

I for one am very glad that you can be an inspirtaion for anyone that may want to take a try at growing succulents

It's Easy to see that your sted fast dedication and to your plant growing hobby comes as a second to none commitment to you.
talpa: Yes I did mention frogs and you mentioned that you need a long term plan for growing for a healthy plant Advice for better long term plant growing heads up for you. Acorn tops decay in time the plant inside it will last longer.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 7:02PM
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Thank you, nil. Agreed. I think your 2" scoria idea is a good challenge. Set up a pump to cycle the water every 5 minutes? At the end of summer, pull it out to show root behavior. Make sure you do a control sample right next to it;)

Thanks for your words, NN. I know you're right about there being room for improvement in how I use my keyboard. It's true. You are invited to the BBQ.

Al, thanks for the olive branch. I agree and also take responsibility for my emotional self. Consider the hatchet buried.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 9:35PM
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Ryan....You are a good person with lots of passion in these plants..I have been reading your posts and threads for quite a long time and thank you for being an important part of this forum..

Beautiful plants by the way..

Al, no problem..You have always been very educational to me for years...Thank you
My Mom has said we haven't heard from you either for quite a long time and wishes you all the best!

Soil in containers is a great blessing once you get it right...I wish I could of known this all along before coming here.


This post was edited by meyermike_1micha on Tue, Feb 18, 14 at 21:52

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 9:48PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

oh goodness. at every 5 minutes I could grow lettuce. No I think I'm going to stick with the once a day schedule and work from there. lol.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:55PM
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Hanz.. Critiqueing : Try to slow down and lower the expectations
What I mean is;
If I understood you correctly what you said is: If you take a plant from an older soil and repot it with BETTER soil you would notice an immediate improvement.

A question from the mind that wonders to far away places could be... How many seconds are immediate ?

On second thought you know how one of those experianced plant grower already knows a plant ( anyplant) needs time to wiggle it's feet ?

Anyhoo it's Good to know I'm not one LOL

It's okay to slow down, the turtle wins the race. While at the BB-Q someone usually falls during the three legged race. Aquatic repltiles strike again Hmmmm

Plant pics from you are( as said) awsum IMO what they have is top shelf stuff while being very easy on the budget We've used Messa often no disapointments from the crowd so next time you pull a few plants for us keep ME in mind, four or five are proberly mine.

Conophytum Quaesitua..

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 2:16AM
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Status Upgrade - Do not engage. Bad wifi under bridge. Keyboard missing punctuation keys. Hide your goats, hide your wife.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 11:44AM
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Kisses wife on her way out the door then and only then I lead the goats to dried out X-mas trees for some feeding.
It's a timing trick for me it happens daily, just not not everyday..

Soon I'll get some spare time and head out for some wire. At the 60 X 120 foot in demension ( X6 ) shop where wire is to be found I'll see someone that will be watering every single plant on that soon to come day and again on the day to follow.

In the higher heat of summer they would water nearly every plant in every hut everyday and some of them will be watered twice.

Out of curiosty I'll even ask them why to which I hear a responce.... Certain pots can be and are usually very drying even inside of any one of the 6 60 x 120 huts with or with out sunscreen.

Watering the same for your succulents will be what I ask the watering person next, responce.... No someone else waters and cares for those will be the responce I hear.

Noticing signs pushed into pots with a red colored tag reading DONOT water thinking the tag must mean the paticular plant in that pot is dormant.

Watering: A timing trick for any plant to have a chance for growth in pots that we somehow get use to day by day.

Reminder Check those drying basements even under them lights any pot will go dry if drying is whats permited..

Mist it, srpay it, drip it or count the droplets as you may Everyday ? Not always but as often as they need.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 1:35PM
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Soem people pay little attention to the nice comments expressed towards them..This place has not

Too focused on other stuff I guess....

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Hey by the way..Laura.Thank you for such kind words..I had no idea that I helped you that much..You are the perfect example of a member that appreciates good things and one that displays such beauty on ALL of your plants!!

Al was right..Your plants are amazing and a true inspiration for those that want to give great soil mixes a try!


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 5:25PM
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Thanks for the kind words, Mike. You're right, I popped in this morning before work, not enough time, missed your comment. I enjoy reading your posts too.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 7:38PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Thank you Mike and Al!!

I really appreciated the kind comments as well.

You both have inspired me and for that I am grateful !

Have a great evening !!


    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 8:15PM
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