Share Gritty mix

wweidele(6)February 10, 2014

Hey everyone,

Hope everyone's doing good and enjoying this wonderful winter :(
Sorry to bother I just wanted to know if some one would be willing to share some gritty mix I really want to make it and I do have access to the products needed to make it I just have nowhere to make it. I really want to try it on some of my plants I would be willing to pay shipping or pick up if close please someone help me I would like to start switching my plants over but would like to try it first also before I start making this in my living room and my wife kills me haha I'm not asking for much I would just like a sample if someone is willing to share thank you so much ;)

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I'm in the central nj area I keep forgetting to post that thanks again

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 11:54PM
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ive read on here about bonsai and orchid online providers that ship out custom soils where the customer picks his own recipe. I cant remember specific site names but a couple google searches should get you to one.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:06PM
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I don't believe the "gritty mix" of legend is appropriate for most succulents. You can make a great mix with 5 ingredients, all available at Lowe's or Home Depot. This recipe is lovingly referred to as "Mabel Mix" in small circles and coveted by knowledgeable, long-term growers. It creates a happy, comfortable home for roots and also has the great qualities of drainage and aeration that we depend upon.

35-40% MiracleGro Moisture Control mix or other low-bark mix (sift out bark) NO BARK! seriously, people, OMG.
15-20% Washed Sand - believe it!
5-10% Vermiculite
30% Perlite
10-15%Volcanic Pumice

I give loose numbers because firstly, I mix by sight and feel, secondly the mix is adjustable to your conditions.
Indoor?- more grit
Outdoor?- more grit
Greenhouse?- less grit
Dry climate?- less grit
Damp climate?- more grit
Mesemb? - less grit
Aloe? more grit, etc...

I bought into the gritty mix hype a few years ago. I've spent the last year removing plants from that terrible stuff. It tortures root systems and creates the need for almost constant watering. A handful of easy species will thrive in it and the rest will suffer. Every plant I remove from the gritty and repot in my current mix improves within weeks. I honestly don't know how this mix caught on in the first place. Its inadequacy becomes apparent over time.

Another simple and superior solution is just to buy bagged cactus mix and add about 50% grit to it. I prefer a certain ratio of perlite to pumice but some people only use pumice. Either way is safe and you'll find out what works best for you over time.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 11:15PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I respectfully disagree :-)

Gritty Mix is quite appropriate for succulents, and for many other plants grown as houseplants, et cetera. It does, however, require more frequent watering and fertilization. During the Winter, I water every 4 - 7 days depending upon light and temperature conditions.

That said, there are some plants - such as the jungle cacti - that I much prefer to plant in bark amended with pumice/lava rock and perlite.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 11:29PM
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Yeah, Josh, you know what they say... different styles for different guyles or something. I will say that some plants have done fine in the gritty mix but overall, I've had bad results here. I do respect your growing and your plants always look great. One of the big things for me is finding the balance between minimal watering and a mix that won't drown my plants when it rains in the summer/winter. It takes me over an hour to water every plant on the property, not including the greenhouses. I'm trying to take advantage of the drought-tolerant aspect of the plants we grow, considering the situation here in CA.

See, for jungle cacti I use a mix that's heavy on the organic with decent drainage. I find it impossible to overwater them so drainage/aeration isn't my first concern. I guess I'm just anti-bark now, for succulents anyway. It burns. Imagine if your underpants were lined with something slightly caustic like soap and you had to wear them like that all the time. Plants are people too, Josh. ;D

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 11:52PM
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Wow I didn't keen to start the war lol hand I will try your mix as well but I still would like to try the gritty mix if some one is willing to sample thanks.

I know josh is a strong believer as well as other with the gritty mix and they made me extremely interested that's all

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 2:00AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Here's the deal, guys. Over the last few days, the OP and I have been discussing the appropriateness or inappropriateness of using 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers (20-20-20) and Superthrive on another thread. Because we disagree, there is this sudden urge to get back at me by deriding the gritty mix. Believe what you wish, but the gritty mix is easier to grow in and more forgiving than any other soil I've come up with .... especially for succulents - and I've been experimenting with soils and ingredients for well over 20 years - was even hosted by U of M summer before last to speak on soils to a large group of specialty growers. The gritty mix is easily adjustable for water retention by varying 2 of only 3 ingredients. Would like to share more but need to get to work - late already.


This post was edited by tapla on Wed, Feb 12, 14 at 9:03

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:50AM
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Problem one :You cant find " everything " at a big box store to make a good quality succulent gritty mix.

Problem two: Some of what had been mentioned to be found at a big box store are items you might not want in a succulent plant gritty mix.

Problem three: Seems the more any gritty mix is encouraged for growing plants the worse seomeone else makes it sound.

Problem four: I dont have " MOST" succulents in my collection but will say the mix your about to see performs well for the succulents that I do have in my collection.

To include: euphorbias, haworthias, aloes,lithops ,( I wouldn't even hessitate to use the same mix on any and all other of the mesebes),suculent bulbs, huneria,crassula and other types of succulent plants that include some classic trees.

Ingrediants: Perlite can be found at big box stores you could try to sift some for the bigger sizes, like in pic can be found at a hydro garden or specialty plant growing store,
Small bark fines I guess they could be sifted out from a bag of MG MC but would be a waste of what ever else is in MG MC With some soaking and continueus hand breaking or choping you could get a big bix store bag of orchid bark to perform the same way. Can be found in 1.3 yard bags but you do have to look for it (Do the leg work bud it's worth it)
Pumice stone or Scorsa: You wont find it at a big box store, suggest a REAL bonsia shop in your area ( maybe a bit pricy $$) or try a serch on Amazon
Napa floor dry : Well seeming as napa is a car parts store might be a good idea to suggest you look there before looking at a big box store for it huh ?

Sifted and rinced contractors sand( NOT PLAY GROUND SAND) Is at a big box store but before use you may want to rince sand and sift it, finer sands can be real nasty stuff if it gets to tight known as compacted from watering.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:02AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I've had a lot of success with a mix like Al's but with calcined clay subbed out for pumice. I've also had a lot of success with straight pumice, pumice and peat, pea gravel and calcined clay, and Al's mix. They each have different moisture and drainage profiles and appropriate for different genera and gardeners.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 11:31AM
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Al, our disagreement on fertilizer has less to do with ratios or Superthrive and more to do with your sweeping generalizations. I don't ever offer advice in concrete form. Experimentation and adaptability are important to me. I'm not upset about it and I have no desire to "get back at you". My reason for dissent on this thread is not personal. I knew you would see it and though it may be uncomfortable for you and others, this needs to be done in public. People just seem to buy into your mix and go all the way down the rabbit hole without considering another option. It probably feels like a personal attack because the mix bears your name, but I chose this time because I knew you were present and would participate. Our disagreement on soil is actually much bigger, more important and something I've been wanting to address for quite some time. So, here we are.

Josh, you know we're pals, right? Nothing serious.

Nomen, Napa Floor Dry is junk - turns to clay mush in a matter of months. I have 3 bags of it if you want to help me clear some space. You're right about pumice not being found at a BBS, my bad. It can be found at garden centers like Green Thumb or at feed stores sold as "dry stall". I buy my perlite and vermiculite at a horticultural supply for cheap but they can both be easily found at a BBS. Also, I've already been through the gritty mix ringer, I won't be doing it again. I have a better mix for the plants I grow. Al's Gritty may work great in Michigan, may be the best thing for certain plants. My pothos seems to like it, Jades do well, many Agaves don't mind it. BUT, there's a big difference between surviving and thriving.

I have to go work but I'll check back later.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Just real quick, some places where gritty mix is not used...

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

Lol - Maybe they just don't know about it - that's distinctly possible. You might assume the entities represented by the pictures wouldn't use it or like it, but they just might LOVE it. There are many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people using it with great success. I average about 15-20 questions in my mail from GW members daily, most of them are soil related That one person doesn't like it is hardly reason to even suggest it doesn't work extremely well for succulents, when so many know it does.

I don't really have to defend a soil recipe, because it's not recipes I push. I push the concept that coarse soils that hold little or no perched water are easier to grow in and more productive than soils that support significant amounts of perched water. It doesn't matter how you get there, only that you understand how to apply the concept in order to get to the point your soils are working FOR you, instead of against you. The recipes are just easy ways of implementing the concept.

You'll find there are very few posters at GW who are as careful about qualifying information as I am; so if you find something I said that you feel is broad and sweeping, it's almost certainly meant to be applied that way. I'm glad to accept responsibility for anything I say, so, sorry if you don't approve of how I conduct myself.

BTW - NAPA floor dry (calcined DE) is a suitable and durable soil ingredient - as long as you don't subject it to a lot of mechanical manipulation. It passes the freeze test and retains its physical characteristics indefinitely. You can crush it quite readily, much like pumice, but mixed into a soil or as a rooting medium it works well.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 1:59PM
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I know im new here so my word may not mean much. I figured I would share my thoughts and experiences anyways.

Disclaimer- some of you have grown succulents long before I was born. I am only 22, but I started growing plants when I was 5.(succulents about 6 years ago) So take my post with a grain of salt if you need to.

I feel the main reason why this is a good mix is for its lack of water retention capabilities. The mix is fairly fool proof in regards to overwatering. For people just starting out with succulents they often don't realize (for the most part) when it comes to watering less is more.

As a more experienced succulent grower(forgive me for tooting my own horn) there are a few reasons why im shying away from the mix. I must add three years ago I followed the recipe to a T. I have used it ever sense, so I do have some experience with it. The main thing I don't like about it is the need to water every day.(in my growing conditions at least...9d Northern Cali The East Bay Area to be exact) The main reason I gave up tropical and turned to succulents is because of succulents forgiveness when it comes to under watering. Another reason im shying away from the mix is the need to fertilize more often.

In my honest opinion people need to realize there will never be a mix that will perform even on a satisfactory level in all growing conditions. What woks best for me and my Aloes in California for instance, Will most certainly not have the same results in New York.

I have to get back to work now sorry for the short answer. I hope everyone's winter is going well, and I hope everyone's propagation this upcoming spring is prosperous.

Kindest Regards, Patrick

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 5:48PM
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lol, indeed, Al. Really funny to imagine that the world's greatest growers haven't refined or experimented with their soil recipe.

I agree about there being a concept behind soil and I understand your concept. I even rode the Gritty Bus for a couple years, long enough to pinpoint all the reasons it doesn't work for me. I should thank you for the learning experience. I have my own concept now and if you wish to know, I will explain it thoroughly.

Patrick, very well said. Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 8:50PM
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An avg of 15-20 questions per day where do you find the time ? One more ? Technicly now it's two

Five potting ingrediants that would allow any one or more persons to grow ( as Hanz said THRIVE) the maximum amount of plants with minamal problems other than the possibilaties of pest ?( I'm Pushing it seems I had just made ot three.)

Hanz: Next time you read some info about growing lithops Per say these and other messebs in 100% pure pumice that guy isn't talking about you or himself but is talking about someone else which also means other people but not everyone
On a side note ( dont feel alone either) what need not be taking personal is how any one of your pots would get a complete soil make over if in my hands and care, You've no idea what enviroment is here meaning my condidtions arent yours.
Original poster: Welcome to succulents We are glad to be of some form of help to you but this is where the word is drainage Grits do one thing, they provide superior drainage and airation for a soil in my honest opinion the best sample of a gritty mix is the one you make for your needs.

Succulents soil sample succulents kind of like how these are more than one ?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:16PM
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NN, I think you have me confused with someone else. You definitely have me confused. I feel like you're implying that I believe my exact recipe is perfect for everyone and every climate? That's not true. I've said many times that the mix is as individual as the grower. I do think my ingredients are very good though.

Now, it seems that you're not to be left alone in the presence of other people's plants. I'm afraid I can't invite you to the BBQ.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 11:20PM
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LOL Yeah Okay Hanz but lonly can be a good place to be too. I get it hanz but do you ? Check you out as you advocate your specail kind of modified big box store bag o crap as being the better to the person asking the original question but then suddenly rephrase your statement toward something else in an odd kind of way as soon as enviroment is mentioned.

Yes this is what you implied unless you edited your prior posting
Dry Stall can /could be used as a grit but would need sifting it's a compacted volcanic ash, should not be confused as pumice pumice is a volcanic pourus rock that varies in sizes can aslo be found at feed and suply stores
Vermeculite Yeah I know they offer it at big box stores BUT if it where a grit and if it reliable enoughmyself and others would of suggested it already, but it isnt either a grit or vital to make a grit.
As said there are things at a big box store ( LIKE MG MC that you dont need to make a good gritty mix.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 8:34AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Alright, alright, mudslinging on a thread about good drainage seems wrong somehow, NN. Though heated at times, the thread has been pretty civil, ere now.

Speaking of heated...Ryan were the bark fines you used pine or fir bark? They (pine especially) have enough lignins in them to bring composting nearly to a halt, so I'm surprised they heated up your mix.

For the record, I use the Gritty Mix with tj

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:21PM
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tj, I really like the way you express yourself. I also like what nil13 said about different mixes being appropriate for different things/different styles. I agree with that wholeheartedly. That's usually where these soil discussions end up.

I'd just like to establish the understanding that the classic "Gritty Mix" is not the good-for-everything-miracle-mix it's purported to be. I'll gladly reiterate that the gritty mix has been fine for a handful of plants, mostly very vigorous plants. I see the purpose of grit as being for drainage, aeration and occupying a certain volume that will ensure that the rest of the mix dries out in a timely fashion. For that reason, I see no need for anything beyond perlite and pumice.

I like my fines to be a very amalgamated blend of organics and inorganics. That's why I use sand and vermiculite and don't sift my perlite or pumice. My ratio of fines to grit is my own and I expect anyone else would figure out their own ratio. I'm well aware that plants can be grown in pure grit but I can't keep up with the watering/feeding necessary. I see the fines in my mix as the navigable areas for roots. It's comfortable and provides some nutrients while not being pure peat. A straight grit environment just seems harsh and the bark adds insult to injury. You may be right about pine bark but I've encountered one-too-many brown, burnt, half-dead root systems in bark to think differently.

With my mix, I think if there were too much grit, the fines WOULD wash through. For me, the grit is the skeleton that supports the body of fines. Pumice is just great porous drainage and perlite is drainage plus water retention, plus aeration, plus inorganic fines, plus it's lightweight and fluffy, plus it wicks water out of the fines. If Perlite weren't so dangerous to breathe, I'd roll around in it like a puppy. That's how much I love perlite.

I just wish more people would try this mix for themselves and report back later with results. I've had nothing but improvements. I have to say, my mix is not for serial overwaterers but it will survive a few weeks of rain.

I may have never discovered this mix had I not delved so heavily into mesembs. In doing so, I realized that what makes mesembs happy, with a slight variation (or none depending on your situation) will make everything else very happy - happier than before.

I think climate has much to do with how you construct your mix but the general theory of how roots behave in relation to soil/what roots desire can be pretty well defined. So, I'm just providing a different option/theory. It doesn't freeze here but it does in New Mexico (pictured above) and that mix is MUCH thicker than mine.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 9:53PM
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At least we have several people who can give us what they think is the "idea" mix recipe. And suggestions as to where to purchase each item.................wish we had a big sticky with each persons "perfect" mix and places where to buy the items............but, I dream a lot.

I am new to Gasteria and Haworthia. I asked what to use so went and got my cactus/succulent bag of soil and a big bag of perlite and vermiculite.

When my plants came, I used a small tub and put soil in and tossed so much of the perlite and water, mixed and planted the plants and topped them off with little rocks...............ok, so far they are doing well.
the haws that I just got, I was worried about because they came from Oregon and not sure how they would do. I go out and sit with my babies each day, and visit and talk to them. I pick each pot up and see if I see any new growth. I know, this is a new hobbie, so tend to go overboard. I do think my haws are starting to look better, so believe they are going to make it.

The soil mix I made and used, I have no idea how it will be this summer when the heat soars over 100 plus. I may have to move them to the back patio that has area that the sun can't get to them. Guess I will wait and see.
The fancy soil some use, not so sure I even need that cause so far mine are doing great with just the simple stuff.
OK, I will have to get some pictures taken, I have the batteries charged in my camera. If I can remember how to use it, it will probably take better pictures than my cell phone does.

So soon, I will post pictures of all the plants that I have ordered.
Only one place sent the plant in the pot the rest have sent bare I am waiting on, the frost got one of the leaves and they have offered me a larger plant.............I told them they could refund the money if they if its that not hardy to take out of the nursery inside, then maybe coming bare root, I will have problems with it also.

Neysa in California.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 11:55PM
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It's a girt question that I read as can someone on the forum send to someone in NJ a sample of a gritty soil.

Not sure how it turned into a who's plant is it debate what ever helps the ego is my guess Not that ego gets anyone anywhere closer to a grit sample somehow it still seems to help. assuming someone is shiping or sending you a sample of gritty mix then it did.

If it didnt then my private email is listed in my profile where you can email me a shiping adress
If you want a sample what size pot would you be needing sample for ( the person in NJ) would be requesting a sample for ONE pot size should also be included ( Note the pic I posted has two pot s of diferent sizes) confused as it gets all I was doing was attempting to find out what one means by sample with out several others assuming would send a sample to them too.

High heats and succulent container soil. All I can suggest is the crunchier or more soild the mix is the better it will hold up to higher heat. PART TWO With the same mix and the same succulent plant in the same container would still hold well in colder areas if stored away or just as well if indoor growing at the famed sunny southern window. ( One mix that holds up and still works in three places if that makes sence)

Keep in mind succulents that thirve tend to grow at an up hill traviling snail pace slow. To make matters worse a shorter succulent growing season in NJ area isnt the same as longer season inTexas/Arizona where some could expect the snail pace succulent to thirve only not as steep of a hill.
As far as where to get succulent mix ingrediants shoping places list isn't long as soon as you know where to shop, regarding places where items can be found, sometimes even finding these places can become an added driving effort for some and not such an effort for others.
Example Not everybody gets to drive for five minute to grab a bag of MVP Turface. only to have at specailty garden shop on route to the drive home where super chunk perlite and/or pumice can be found.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 2:13PM
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@ nodem

Thanks for realizing what this whole thread was about all I'm looking for was a sample I have access to all the ingredients all I wanted was a sample and my thread got hijacked look if some don't like it or disagree that's fine to each grower it's different but I would like to try it and that's it thank u for those who read the question and didn't feed into the frenzy

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 11:57PM
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Bill, I was trying to help you. Trying to help everyone avoid heartache and wasted water, really. Also, I didn't see much of a frenzy... maybe some defensiveness, a little ego flaring, definitely some bad grammar, but them's the shakes.

A tip to ease your heart: Begin each thread knowing that it belongs to the group.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:11AM
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