Al's Gritty Mix- issue

breton2February 3, 2013

After reading testimonials about Al's Gritty mix for a while online, I decided to move some of my jades into it this past summer. However, i can;t seem to keep them watered enough to avoid shrivelling leaves. They are a Gollum and a variegated jade, in 6 inch clay pots, indoors for the winter. I am giving them a good soaking every 10 days or so, but they are still dropping leaves and small branches. Getting kind of straggly...So far I am not impressed with the results.... Do they really need to be water more often when in this mix? If so, I'm seriously considering putting them back in the old C& S soils/half grit mix I've always used prior to this. I have noticed, oddly, that a few smaller plants, mostly Echeverias, in smaller clay pots, don't seem to be getting so dry.

Any ideas/comments?

P.S. My plants are indoors for the winter because I live in coastal zone 6, and no, a greenhouse is not in the cards anytime soon..


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This is a sticky issue on this forum. Dissent is seen as heresy in the gritty camp here. I see it as a lifestyle thing. If you have time to water more frequently, the gritty mix is an excellent choice, but if you have a more busy life, as with most of us, gritty mix can be an issue. Just my dos pesos, mind you.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:47PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I water my Jades in small pots about once a week, now that the sun is getting stronger.
Jades will shed leaves and branches if there isn't sufficient light to support all of the foliage.
It happens on some of my Jades inevitably. Could this be at work, as well?


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 7:44PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

What size pots were the plants in previously? Were the roots trimmed upon repotting? How much space is/was around the root ball compared to the size of the pot? Other conditions inside? How are you watering when you do water? Since this isn't a store-bought product, one would first want to confirm that what you made is a relative approximation. BUT, the answers to these questions are really irrelevant to the general topic.

I can't imagine any plant in any "soil" in a 6" clay pot going for 10 days during summer without water.

"I'm seriously considering putting them back in the old C& S soils/half grit mix I've always used prior to this."

It's illogical, unreasonable to not expect to water more often if one is using a mix with less water retention.

"Do they really need to be water more often when in this mix?"

The basic principle of this mix is to be much less water-retentive. So comparing apples to apples, same plants, pot sizes, yes. From your questions, it seems that you didn't know about that part, so I'm glad you're asking now. You would have had the same results changing to anything less water-retentive without also watering more frequently, or using bigger pots.

If 10 days is a watering schedule you prefer, and it was going well, I'm kind of left wondering why you had an interest in changing mixes - but not watering practices accordingly, to match. Did you feel like you were overwatering? It's certainly your prerogative to prefer to water less often, but under this umbrella, one can't make an even comparison.

Hope that helps you decide which you prefer, so your plants are as enjoyable as possible to you. It's not really possible for anyone else to decide that for you, although you can certainly use their opinions to make a more informed, complete decision, based on your preferences and schedule.

If there really was one perfect way for everyone to perform every aspect of gardening, none of us would be sitting here chatting. We'd be reading "the book" ... or playing Nintendo?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:17PM
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Thanks for the responses, everyone. To clarify, I am watering every 10 days in WINTER, not in summer. And in my zone, a succulent could easily go 10 day son a clay pot outside without water in my old 50/50 mix. It is very humid here in coastal NS, but I have never had a plant die form overwatering in this mix. I put my jades in this new mix because I kept reading about the fabulous growth everyone was reporting for their jades in this mix. As I live in zone 6 and don't have ideal growing conditions, I wanted to see if they would grow a little faster. I potted them up a size when I repotted to hopefully avoid the problem I appear to be having, but to no avail, I guess. I realized they'd need to be watered a bit more often, but not so much more as they appear to need. When watering. I water till water pours out the bottom, and occasionally sit them in a few inches of water to get a good soaking. They are mostly shedding shrivelled leaves and seem a bit fragile, dropping branches and stems when bumped. I guess this mix is just not a match for my growing conditions and practices.....

Greenman, it could be lower light, I suppose, it does not seem to be happening to my larger jade which receives more light (but is also in the older soil mix and a larger pot)....I think it is the lower water availability.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:57PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

How often are you fertilizing, Summer and Winter?


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:17PM
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Hi Josh
Sorry for delayed response, I usually fertilize early in growing season and then sometimes again in mid summer. Think I should do so more often? I use the Schulz C& S fertilizer.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

From your last, I'm wondering if you just water more often and not do the sitting in water part, if that would help. Seems like not getting so dry that you think that is necessary might help. I'm certainly not an expert either, but that struck me as probably not the best thing.

Is this past the point where it could be considered as still adjusting to the repotting? Don't think that was really mentioned, if anyone thinks that's a possibility.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:43AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

this is the gritty has no nutrients. Of course you need to fertilize.

While plants can certainly be grown "hard" with little fertilizer or water,
they will thrive if watered properly and given a dilute but consistent stream
of nutrients all winter long. 1/8 strength dosage wouldn't be unreasonable every
other week.

You're growing in a fast, well-draining medium now...toss the old fertilization advice
out the window. No watering in sips; no withholding nutrients during the Winter.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:40PM
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I am certainly not watering in sips, they get drenched when I water. And I realize I should be fertilizing more, that was an oversight on my part. The schedule I listed earlier is what I used for plants in the old mix, I generally do not fertilize in the fall/winter since I don't want to encourage lanky indoor winter growth. Since they haven't been in this mix during a spring or summer yet, I hadn't yet thought of fertilizing (a new baby in the house helps you forget a lot of things!) So I will start giving them some weak fertilizer.
Yep, I'm going to have to water more often, or switch mixes. The occasional soaking in water was kind of an act of desperation.....

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:18PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Excellent! And congrats on the new baby :-)


    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:25AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

No doubt, congrats! Enjoy the sweetness while it lasts, sigh!

Sending good vibes to your family, humans and plants!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:44AM
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penfold2(4b, MN)

Just a couple suggestions for you:

Have you tried digging in the soil to see that it's actually getting wet? I had some bark that caused my entire mix to become extremely hydrophobic. I could flood my pots with water and they'd still be bone dry just beneath the surface.

This was with a heat treated orchid bark, and I found that soaking the bark overnight before mixing seemed to solve the problem.

Also, this mix doesn't wick very well, so you can't just water one side of the pot like you can with peat based soils. You need to water the entire surface. It sounds like you already do this, but if not...


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 12:54AM
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That mix is no good for me either.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:58PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Echinaceamaniac, this seems to be your one and only post on this forum. What were you growing and why didn't you like the mix?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:17PM
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Purple: GW search may have a problem I see 459 post

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:19PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Josh and Purple.. I agree with you!! ;-)

I just want to say that all of my C & S are in the Gritty Mix and i wouldn't have them in any other mix.

My watering and fertilizing doesnt seem to be a problem with this mix. I find that i can let these C & S go longer than my other tropicals, which gives me a much needed break.

For those that are thinking of trying the Gritty Mix.. don't think that it is difficult. It isn't It is a wonderful mix and the plants just love it....

Just my opinion...


    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 12:03AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Mike, I meant on C & S. I don't think I'd try to grow perennials in this mix, or use it for seasonal displays of annuals.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 10:13AM
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