Making the switch to gritty mix

deva33 Z5 SE IowaAugust 16, 2014

Hi all. I have recently made Al's gritty mix and put a few plants in it. My question is, how often do I need to water and fertalize?

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You water when the plants need water, so when the mix dries out a bit. I fertilize every time I water, but you must provide a fertilizer that contains all nutrients, including Ca and Mg. Dynagro Foliage Pro 9-3-6 fits the bill, and is what I and many others use.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 11:57AM
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deva33 Z5 SE Iowa

Thanks Joe. It seems to dry out pretty quickly so I'm watering almost daily right now. That's expected though, right?

Also, I have a lithops that was in terrible condition. No roots. So I stuck it in some gritty mix but Im not sure if I should water it? Honestly, I don't think it's going to make it. The outside leaves are pretty mushy. Any tips? Or should I just give up?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 6:14PM
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The top of the mix dries out fast, but it hold more moisture than you think. I water my jades every 3 or 4 days in summer, and every 10 or so days in winter. Mind you, each plant is different, based on the size of the plant itself, as well as the root ball. Don't forget pot size too; a plant in tighter quarters needs water more than one that's in a bigger pot.

I'm not familiar with growing lithops, but like any succulent, mushy is bad. If you can salvage some parts that aren't rotted, then you can maybe save something from it. It's hard to say without seeing it though.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:12PM
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deva33 Z5 SE Iowa

Thanks Joe! I moved some from the top and saw that is was still moist so I will back off on watering. I posted photos of the lithops in another thread and I was told that the outside leaves turn a little mushy before they fall off. So hopefully that is all that is happening. I am just going to leave it in the gritty mix, in partial sun, and not water it and see what happens. I have found that sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. I have not purchased Foliage Pro yet. I still have 1/2 a bottle of Miricle Grow cactus/succulent fertilizer - but I think its 2-7-7. Should I just chuck that and move to the folliage pro sooner that later?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:24PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The gritty mix actually holds more water, longer, than it's given credit for by growers who haven't used it, and that's primarily due to protestations of other growers who haven't used it, that it doesn't hold enough water. When someone says that, it illustrates that the concept that yielded the gritty mix (an understanding of which is much more important than the recipe) isn't fully understood. You can adjust the gritty mix for water retention by simply increasing or decreasing the amount of screened Turface and grit.


More water retention:
3 bark
4 Turface
2 grit

Less water retention:
3 bark
2 Turface
4 grit

It's always a good idea to water on an as needed basis, even if plants are in a well-made gritty mix. It's worth mentioning, though, that as the amount of perched water a soil holds decreases, so does the critical nature of watering on an 'as needed' basis, until the critical factor nearly disappears when the soil reaches the point where it holds no perched water. Obviously this doesn't apply to every plant, but when you limit the discussion to plants that prefer the soil 'evenly moist', watering on a schedule with the gritty mix or other soils that support no (or very little) perched water isn't the problem it is when using water-retentive soils. I water all my plants, indoors and out, on a schedule with no problems, but I'm careful to be judicious about that schedule. Some plants that don't tolerate wet feet might get skipped once or twice when other plants are getting watered more frequently. It's still a regular schedule somewhat modified to ensure some plants don't get more water than they prefer.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:15PM
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You'll want the Foliage Pro right away. The MG fertilizer you mention doesn't provide nutrients in the correct ratio, and is lacking micros that you need to provide. I get mine from Amazon for about $23 a quart, and it lasts me a couple of years watering 10 jades in 6" average pots, and one rather large ficus.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 5:51PM
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deva33 Z5 SE Iowa

Thank you Joe and Al for your tips. I definitely see that the gritty mix is much more water retentive than others give credit for. I plan to switch all my plants to it as time and finances allow (I'm going into my 3rd year in a PhD program). I keep my plants on a balcony while it's warm enough and I believe it'll help me worry less when we get a lot of rain but still be water retentive enough for me to go a few days without watering. I will also order the foliage pro ASAP. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:59PM
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Yes..The gritty mix DOES hold more moisture than many think..
Would you believe I have over watered some of mine in the mix in winter before getting use to using it?

You have to make really sure the mix has dried out in the root zone or at least is almost dry below the roots in winter which can take days for larger pots and root masses and even smaller ones depending how much heat, sun, light, or the size of the root ball, not an issue in summer, and you'd be surpised how much a wooden dowel will say as compared to your fingers or the weight of the pot...
One should use this method until they get use to watering and can do it on their own feeling)

Also, if one has a problem with it not holding enough moisture, then I can promise you that it was not made correctly..Users usually will not use the appropiate size ingredients/particles as suggested..Many will either use sizes too big, not soak the bark first, not water properly, not use sizes about the same unison, or make a variation of it...

Please make sure to discount one problem at a time before anyone discredits the 1.1.1 mix. If is made properly, then it will live up to it's good reputation ...You won't be dissappointed as hundreds of others have only rave reviews about it.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:36PM
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