Good soil mix for repotting Indoor Jade plant (2-3 feet tall)

hiddenspringSeptember 28, 2013

We recently got a jade plant from a friend and it's getting top heavy and we need to repot it in a bigger pot. I am looking for a good soil mix, and different sources on this forum have different suggestions. I am not an expert in making my own soil mixes and may not have the time to do something elaborate (which involves buying lots of ingredients :-) But i do want to do spend some time doing close to the best thing out there.

What I am thinking of right now - based on what I have read so far - is 1 inch of pea gravel right at the bottom and the actual soil would be a 1:1 mix of perlite and Miracle-Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Soil available at Home-Depot. My questions:
1) Does this seem like a reasonable mix? And ok to have pea gravel only right at the bottom?
2) Can I get pea gravel in a small bag from somewhere? Is it available in Target or something? Seems like I may not need as much.

Thanks!

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cactusmcharris

Yes, it sounds like a decent mix, particularly if you sieve the larger chunks of bark out of the soil before you make your mix.

As to the pea gravel, maybe they'd have it - I've never looked for it there.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 12:08PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good morning! No, I would not use that configuration.

A layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot will actually work to impede drainage and raise the level of saturated soil (the perched water table) in the lower inches of the pot.

If you absolutely *must* use miracle grow, cut it with 60 - 70% Perlite. Wash/rinse the Perlite first to remove the dust and the particulate that is less than 1/16th of an inch (these small particles will clog up your mix and hold too much moisture).

This is quite late in the season to be re-potting, and the recovery will be slower - and you'll need to be far more attentive with how much and how often you're watering. Also, you'll want to remove as much of the old potting mix from the root-ball to avoid two different textures of soil in the container (which leads to uneven wetting/drying). If the Jade is top-heavy, you'll also need to support the plant, perhaps with a few select large stones to place against the leaning side.

...Or you could prune the Jade to balance the weight.

We like pictures, too :-)

Josh

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 2:42PM
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hiddenspring

Josh/ Cactusmcharris - thanks for your response. So here's what I got so far: skip the pea gravel, sieve the larger chunks of bark from miracle-gro, and increase perlite to 70%. Anything else to increase drainage thats easily available at Lowes or Home Depot? Do I need to add any organic matter or just adding some fertilizer pellets should be adequate?

Josh - I suggested Miracle-Gro because that was the closest to a fine draining soil I could find on Home Depot's website. The folks have given it pretty bad reviews however saying it's not actually fine draining at all - and someone suggested they use a 1:1 mix of this soil with perlite and works much better.

Finally - attached is a pic - ya it's drooping to one side :( some leaves are turning yellow - etc. guess it's time for a change, hopefully a good one. So you are saying just put a couple of large stones on the drooping side in the new pot for it to stand upright?

Thanks,
Vijay

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 3:03PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Indeed, those negative reviews are well-earned!

When the volume of Perlite nears 70% of the mix or so, the mix begins to take on the drainage qualities of the Perlite.

I can see that these Jades have been grown in lower light conditions, given the shape and size of the leaves, as well as the habit of the branches. I'd snip off the longest branches that are off to the left side of the pic, just to make the job easier. I'd also nip off any downward angling growth.

Yes, re-pot with the Jades upright, then use large stones to hold them upright while the roots colonize the new mix.

Then, of course, move the plant into stronger light.

Josh

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 3:47PM
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hiddenspring

Thanks for the tips Josh - got the soil and Perlite. Looks like the soil is already made of compost and peat moss etc. so no need of fertilizer at least for 6 months - 1 year.

I also noticed these Pearl stones there (photo attached) and was wondering if it would be a good idea to mix these (roughly 0.1 to 0.2 inches stones) around with the soil-Perlite mix - maybe add 5% or something? I was reading more about turface and basically it looks like the two uses of turface are: 1) semi porous hence water retaining and 2) creates air pockets in the soil for better drainage and root growth. These stones wont absorb any water but they should serve purpose 2) above so it may be a good thing to add? Just checking to make sure.

Vijay

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 7:12PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good morning!
Sure, you could mix the stones all throughout - they'll also give some weight to the mix to help support the Jades. The stones will displace water volume since they're not porous, and that will reduce the overall water-holding capacity of the mix - which means that it will dry out sooner (a good thing). The optimum size for the stones would be between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.

As far as fertilization, I would resume fertilizing sometime in March (or whenever you notice growth really start to take off).

Josh

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 1:28PM
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hiddenspring

Thanks Josh. Taking care of this now. There's more white in the mix than I am used to!!! Let's see how it goes :) Do you think a stoneware (ceramic) pot with a glazed decorative outside is not good for the Jade? I read terracotta isthe best due to its porosity but I can't think anything could be bad...

Vijay

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 2:06PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Vijay,
glazed pots don't allow for as much gas exchange as terracotta. I tend to avoid them, generally, although I do have a few...mostly shallow pots that dry out quickly. I would prefer a porous clay pot, especially going into Winter. I'd get this Jade established, then move it into a more decorative pot once the roots are back up to maximum vitality.

Josh

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 2:34PM
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hiddenspring

Hmm... unfortunately it's too late for that :( Hopefully this will grow and not give up on me. Finished work after pruning/ repotting is attached. Do I have to water it now or wait for a weak or two? My guess is I would expect to see some leaf shedding over the next week or so, but it should stop after that? Also ran out of perlite so bottom half of the soil is 70% perlite and top half is 50%. Top 1 inch is less than 30% and have to get some extra perlite and re-mix in that top layer. Thanks again for all the advice.

Btw I got a bunch of small cuttings!!! :-) I want to try and propagate at least a couple of them. Am I able to leave the cuttings out (indoor) for a week and do this next weekend? Or put them in water or something in the meantime? I am guessing same procedure same soil mix same watering interval smaller pot (terracotta) would do. Is that correct?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 5:51PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Looks better already :-)

Elevate the pot so that there is air-flow beneath the drain-hole.

The plant will certainly shed some leaves, and it may very well go on longer than a week...it could be many weeks before the plant is back "online" so to speak. In that volume of soil, I would wait two weeks before lightly watering. Is the soil wet now? Also, is this where the plant will be wintering? I can't tell how close it is to a light-source, but it will need as much as possible, as close to a window as possible.

Set the cuttings on top of the soil in the same pot, let the cut ends form a callus for about a week, then pot them. Or you can leave them out until you see roots begin to form.

Josh

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:07PM
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hiddenspring

No.. I didn't water and the soil is quite dry. Straight from the bag and I was doing this on the deck where it's sunny. Should I water some today?

Its sitting right next to a window that faces south at an angle such that it could get 2-4 hours of afternoon sun if the blinds are pulled. Does it need direct sun or indirect is good enough?

Will do for the cuttings. Interestingly some of them already have roots from nodes. Some roots are white and some are brown.

Vijay

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:12AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Direct sun, for sure!

Wait a week to water. Did you rinse the roots when cleaning off the old potting mix?

Josh

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 11:54AM
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hiddenspring

No didn't do that :( call it novice gardening.... well, our initial plan was to separate out two of the plants and plant them in a different pot since ultimately as the trunks grow fatter they will impede each other. But then there was this blob of soil right underneath the plants that was impossible to separate out (wish I had taken pictures). So we couldn't tell if this was originally one cutting or the roots are so intermingled with each other now... in any case we removed as much of the old soil as possible but did not rinse. Should we have?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:53PM
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