gritty mix questions

irun5kJanuary 8, 2012

So I've read nearly 10,000 posts on GW in the last couple weeks about the Gritty Mix, after Laura mentioned it.

I've got a local source of Turface and this week will work on the crushed granite. Other options are 6/20 blasting sand or #10 filter gravel. To me it seems like #10 filter gravel is larger than the other two options but maybe I'm mistaken?

I picked up the big bag of Med Zoo fir bark to get started. I will have to find a better source of bark fines for cost purposes but this will at least let me make a batch. One thing- some folks say to run this though 1/4" hardware cloth and others say it is fine as is. If I filter it, I'm finding that about 50% of the product makes it though. Of course to make it though 1/4" hardware cloth, no one single dimension of a single piece can really approach 1/4" to closely or it will never realistically make it though. I am wondering what you do here Laura?

Also, for Laura or anyone else using this mix- are you using a 1:1:1 ratio or something different? And specifically for Plumeria and Adeniums, does this mix have any trouble supporting these plants after repotting? e.g. do you find you now have to stake plants that were not previously staked in a traditional potting mix?

Many thanks!!! As you can tell I am preparing for spring :)

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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Brian!!!

I use the Gran-i-grit crushed granite (chicken grit some call it) in the "grower size". I found mine at a local feed and seed store. Farmers use this with the poulty industry in the aid of digestion for poulty.

Others use Cherrystone #2 and they like that as well.

I would like to find another source of Pine Bark Fines myself, but i do use the Repti bark by Zoo Med for my Fir bark. I have heard of other growers use it straight from the bag, but i do like to screen mine using the 1/4 screen. I do lose about 1/3 of the bag with the larger parts. But i do use these leftover pieces and sprinkle them on the top of the containers just to use all of the product.

I have enclosed some picstures of my Screens that my DH made from pics that i found on line from what AL had made. My DH made them a little large... : ) But they work very well. I really only use the 1/4 inch screen more than the other screens and use a strainer that i picked up at the kitchen store to screen the dust from my Turface and the Gran-i-grit.

Here are some pics that i hope will help you!!!

Good luck!!

Im sure you will enjoy this mix. I know that i really like it and my DR's have grown like crazy and my Plumies really like it too!

Let me know if you need help!!!

Take care,





Mix in portions

Mixed together

I also do use the 1-1-1 ratio when making my mix

1 part turface
1 part granigrit
1 part fir bark

But in the spring when i make more mix ...i am going to change to this ... 4-3-2

4 parts turface
3 parts fir bark
2 parts granigrit

This gritty mix works can change to this ratio for the hot climate here. I will keep the DR in the 1-1-1 and the Plumiera in the 4-3-2

Tip.... i also like to spritz the mix before i pot up. This gets some moisture in the bark and keeps it all seperated when im using the mix... : )

Here is a picture just to keep us thinking spring!!!
One of my favorites.. Lani

Hope this help Brian!!!


    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 9:59AM
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While I have not used this mix plan was to experiment with the 4/3/2 ratio Laura posted with Napa #8822 oil absorbent substituting for Turface, pine bark for fir bark, and crushed granite/perlite for the last.

based on that long thread in Nov...the key is to keep organics to 1/3 of your mix otherwise it breaks down too much over time.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 12:33PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, Brian. I think Laura did a stellar job, and there's not much I can add to what she said, but I did want to comment about 'staking'. The gritty mix is probably a little more stable than peat/compost/coir/bark-based mixes insofar as keeping plants stationary in relation to the pot; but it's still a very good idea to temporarily secure plants from moving, again - in relation to the pot, until roots are well established and have colonized the soil mass .... not much different than any other medium in that regard. You'll find that plants well-secured against movement will establish or reestablish in a fraction of the time of those plants unsecured against wind, jostling, pets, Mothra ....... ;-) The reason is, when plants are allowed to move, in relation to the soil mass or the pot, the movement breaks a good number of fine roots. Not only does this inhibit water and nutrient uptake, but it increases the time it takes for the plant to get its feet under it and get serious about the business of growing.

This is a plant (Ficus benjamina 'Too Little') in training that was just repotted, pruned very hard, and secured in the pot. You can put your imagination to work to devise other temporary methods.

It's also helpful to secure cuttings, even if they're not in leaf when you stick them.

Best luck!


    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Thanks everyone, very helpful.

Laura, very well built screens- I can tell your husband is from the "do it once and do it right" camp, which is great! I think I will screen my bark as well. It really is an attractive and seemingly ideal mini-mulch for potted plants.

I also like the idea of modifying to 4-3-2 as a local, climate-driven adjustment. Your Lani is great, that is definitely a favorite of mine as well.... a classic, yet sophisticated and elegant flower.

Al- thanks for stopping by and giving the helpful advice on staking. What you say makes a lot of sense and the way you have secured the plant in the picture will work great for Adeniums and probably many Plumeria as well (depending on branching.)

The good news is that I *think* I've sourced everything in the original mix locally, and I think I have a hot lead on some bark fines sold in 2 cubic foot bags.

WIll post an update on how I do :)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hey Brian,

LOL...those screen are "well built..." They were almost to large for me. When he made them for me, he made them so they will last..but he forgot that i'm not as strong as he is... ;) But, i adjusted to the large screens and I lay them on top of another screen and when i screen the fir bark, i feel like i'm panning for gold using my hands. I take the mix and run it with my hands over the screen to get it in and around the holes. I probably aid the movement through the screens with my hands.

It really is a very attractive mix, but the way it works is more inportant and when you see how the plants and trees respond you will be so pleased.

Im sorry that i didn't mention about the staking of the trees and how they react to potting in the gritty mix...I must have missed that part.. The DR's and the Plumeria do great when you pot up in the Gritty mix. I haven't had to stake them, but it is a great idea if you feel like they need additional support. The mix has much more substance than the regular light mix so it reallly has much more support around the plants than you might think.

I also like the idea of the 4-3-2 ratio for the Plumies and i will keep my DR's in the 1-1-1. I have posted some pictures of the DR that i had repotted. It had been repotted in a larger black nursey pot once before. Then i repotted it into the gritty mix. You can see the difference in the pictures and see the growth in one season. I did lift the Caudex when i repotted the DR. You can see in the second picture of the newly exposed Caudex..notice the different color of Caudex. I think its very interesting...

Im so glad that you have hopefully found a good source for the mix!!! It can be a challenge, but it also is a very rewarding experience when you have finished completing the recipe.

Thank you for the compliment on the Lani!!! I do love this vareity!!!

Thanks AL !!! You are so helpful with all that you do! We do appreciate you stopping by and to say hello!!! I like your Ficus Benjamina..Great example of a Bonsai in training...especially showing how it is staked!!! Looks great!!!

Thank you!!! You always have wonderful things to share and teach!!


I cant wait for you to try this mix!!! Sounds like you have a great plan!!! : )

Here are some pictures Brian of my DR's potted several times and finally ending up in the Gritty Mix and loving the sunshine!!!

Take care,

DR that had been repotted in a reg mix and in a black nursery pot. It had been in this container several years....

Repotted into the Gritty Mix..

Pics of other DR's and the one in the black pot at at left end of the bench. I had already repotted my other DR's and pruned them back.

Same DR at the end of the season.. 2011

Take care,


    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 11:43PM
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If you have actually found gran-i-grit in the state of Florida, please reveal your source! It's my understanding that farmers used crushed sea shells for grit here because there's plenty of that material available, and the former being so heavy that it makes no sense to ship it here from NC.

If you have located it in the Tampa Bay area, I'll definitely pick some up the next time I get up that way.

I buy sequoia bark fines in 2 cu ft bags from my local orchid supplier. At $35 a bag it's very expensive, but it's a high-quality product, very uniform in size, and to me it's worth the extra money not to have to bother with screening.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2012 at 10:24AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


I wanted to give you some advise...

If you do choose to make some screens, you may want to go smaller than a 2x4 lol... I would go smaller on the wood and even smaller in size of the whole screen. My hubby thought i was going to screen for the city of Va Beach!!! LOL... They are to heavy this way, but i really like them!! FYI...

He did a great job looking at Al's screens and then making something similar... I think AL used 1x4's, but im not sure...

Take care,


    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 12:13AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

... hope that helps.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 7:56AM
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Laura: your plants do look happy! I guess the proof is in the pudding, as they say...

I appeciate the photos of the screens from you and Al. This will help.

Greg- false start on crushed granite, attempt 1. I ended up with something I have to take back... pidgeon grit that contains a bunch of other stuff. Too bad because the granite component of it is perfect.

I have one other lead however- we will see how it pans out.

For bark fines, I have seen mention of Treemart in Tampa but I need to see the product to make sure. I had also contacted one of the orchid growers in south FL and they did say they have the product. However, I am wondering about price based on your experience. It could even be the same grower. There is also a place in Riverview near Big Bend power plant that advertises bark fines on their website. (The plus to going there is getting to stop by the manatee viewing area, literally 100's of manatees are there for the winter!)

I will keep you posted. So far all I've got is Turface along with some really expensive reptile bark and pigion grit that is currently making my entire garage smell like licorice (not kidding!)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 1:03PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


I tried to see if i could send you an email from your page...but it isnt set up for that.

Send me an can find mine on my page. I may be able to help you get started until you can find your supply.. : )

Take care,


    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 1:44PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

FWIW - I buy fir bark, pre-screened to 1/8-1/4" near Chicago for $17/3 cu ft when I buy 20 bags or more - $20 for smaller volumes. Because of the greater shipping difference (from the Pacific NW) to FL, I would expect it to be a little more expensive. Do you have any orchid supply wholesalers in the area? I would check with them, or perhaps with the nearest bonsai club for suggestions/direction. Try to get to the club's 'soil person'. In view of how important a good soil is to the health of our plants, and particularly to bonsai trees, it's surprising how many of those trying their hand at bonsai are fairly clueless about soils.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 5:04PM
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Please do keep me/us posted. I think you'll find bark fines if you look around hard enough, but as Al suggests, while you may be able to do a BIT better than what I've been paying for them (again, $35/2 cu ft bag), I wouldn't think you'd find them for significantly lower down here in FL...but, if you prove me wrong, spill your beans, please! LOL

Ugh, the gran-i-grit nightmare...I just could not find it...nor, for that matter, could I find #10 filter gravel or 6/20 sand. What was so frustrating for me was that the company that sold me the Turface (at $15/bag, which I thought was a great price), FL Silica Sand, also had the #10 filter gravel, but they wouldn't sell it to me because they wouldn't bag it in a cash and carry size. They told me I'd have to visit one of the retailers to whom they sold it...but then they couldn't identify any of those retailers by name.

I ended up on a wild goose chase all up and down the western edge of the Southeastern googleopolis asking for the stuff blindly at one landscape/garden supply after another, to no avail. In frustration, I eventually bought (very inexpensively) bags of pea lava at The Bushel Stop. I can hear Al groaning now- I know it's porous and as such is not a proper substitute for crushed granite...but I was out of patience, out of time, and it seemed like the best I could do. On the positive side, the pea lava is remarkably uniform in size, about 1/8 inch, so when mixed with sequoia fines and Turface MVP I have myself a pretty darn uniform mix.

I transplanted a bunch of my trees into it about a month, six weeks ago, and those trees are solidly rooted in my improvised, imperfect mix.

Such were the travails of a fellow Floridian who also became obsessed with "the gritty"...thought you'd find it useful to hear...or at least entertaining.

Enjoy those manatees, Brian.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2012 at 11:16PM
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Perhaps I have misunderstood but I took away from previous conversations about gritty mix is that its pretty forgiving provided you used materials which work in a similar fashion and you use the prescribed ratios.

IMO Perlite would be a good alternative to crushed granite or granigrit. It has surface area which holds moisture but does not absorb. I would 100% defer to others who actually have a science or agronomy background on this subject.

Outside factors such as availability of time and easy access to local materials have forced me to look at alternatives which behave in a similar fashion as what I have understood Tapla Describe. Not withstanding him saying otherwise I would encourage others to consider alternative ingredients available in each of our geographic areas.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 10:43AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

No groaning from me. I'm happy as a lark when I see someone using improvisation in order to implement a concept. I really don't wish for growers to follow me blindly, or even try to put my suggestions to work w/o first understanding WHY they work. I'm a lot more concerned about your success, and helping you find something that will work, than I am about posturing or pouting because you don't follow directions to the letter.

Even though I've been tinkering with the gritty mix for a number of years, and I really haven't found any ingredients that do a better job than those in the basic recipe, it makes no sense to throw the baby out with the bath water just because you can't find one of the ingredients Al suggests. After all, I'm pushing a concept, not a recipe. ;-)

The pea lava sounds like a valuable find. It's hard to go wrong with something porous and uniform in the 1/8" size range. I actually wish I had it available in my area to try.

I think that if you're going to substitute your lava find for granite, you'll probably find you'll need to use MORE of it than the 1/3 granite fraction, and less Turface. This is because Turface holds the bulk of the water in the gritty mix. If you sub something that also holds water for the granite that doesn't, you could increase water retention significantly. I'm guessing that something like 3 parts bark, 4 parts 1/8" lava, and 2 parts Turface would work.

Keep in mind that trying to max out water retention isn't necessarily a good thing (when using the gritty mix) - but in some cases, a necessary thing. What I mean is, Laura's job often keeps her from her plants for several days at a time, so she needs to guard against the eventuality of extremes - the possibility that her plants will get too dry if she can't get to them. Other growers needn't be so concerned about water retention if they're available to water regularly. After all - those looking for a more porous soil that doesn't support the excessive perched water of heavier soils are actually fleeing excessive water retention. In a way, by leaving the soggy soils behind, you're trading the convenience of those 1-2 week long intervals between waterings for the assurance of a better opportunity for your plants to grow to their potential. At the same time, you're committing to the inconvenience of more frequent watering, which has it's benefits, too.

The key is understanding that building a durable soil with as much air in the rhizosphere as possible, without infringing on your ability to keep plants watered to an intolerable extreme, will increase the potential for healthy plants considerably. Fortunately, the basics offer the most significant gains, but there is still plenty of additional improvement to be had by focusing on the nuances after the basics are part of the skillset. There's always something to be learned and a little more fun and satisfaction to be squeezed from the growing experience for those so inclined.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Greg, my granite grit showed up today. They sell it at Tractor Supply (various locations.) It is under the Manna Pro brand, labeled as "poultry grit." It is currently on sale for $8.49/25lb bags. Other feed stores that stock Manna Pro products may also carry this, or be able to order it. Lastly, one feed store told me I can just go to the Manna Pro factory on Adamo Drive in Tampa and buy it. I found this odd, most factories/wholesalers/etc. won't give a regular consumer the time of day, much less sell them a bag of product direct... but I'm willing to check it out!!! If true I'm guessing they have a small retail front on site.

Here is what it looks like... seems to be a good size and with no other additives. I have to imagine it is a close replacement for gran-i-grit, although I've never seen that product in the flesh so it is hard to say.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 6:20PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Brian,

That looks wonderful!!!

Great find on the Manna Pro looks perfect!!

Size looks great as well!! : )

I cant wait to hear how you like it and make sure you post pics of the trees and mix!!

How exciting!!!

Hey AL!!!

Those screens look like i could handle them better than the large screens that i have. LOL.. Im just building up my muscles anyway...great exercise!!

Hope all is well up north! I bet its cold up in MI.

Take care and thanks for all of your help!


    Bookmark   January 15, 2012 at 12:59PM
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Props to you, buddy! Well-done! You made it look easy...LOL

Now, did you just walk into Tractor Supply and buy it "off the shelf," as it were, or did they have to make a special order for you? Just curious.

Congrats again-- looks like you're good to go. You'll love "the gritty"!


    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:20AM
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Greg, they stock it in their stores.... convenient, eh? The 25lb bags are pretty easy to handle also vs. 50 pounders.

I made up enough to repot a mature desert rose... couldn't resist seeing how the gritty mix would behave. I found it very easy to work with in regard to repotting.

I made a simple sifter out of some cedar. It is 16 x 16 with 1/4" hardware cloth. I've found I can just lay a generous sized piece fiberglass window screen inside the frame for screening out the small bits.

Since I didn't incorporate handles and I end up just grasping the frame to sift the aggregate, I put some screen mold over the edge of the hardware cloth. I have a set of small hands that wants to help also, and I was unable to get rid of all the prickly areas where I cut the hardware cloth, so this solved the problem.

I guess one of my seedlings from March '11 didn't want to be left out so it decided to go ahead and bloom... my first blooms from that set of seedlings. I guess nobody told it that it was January :) I will wait to repot all the desert rose seedlings and my plumeria until early spring.

Anyway, thank you very much to Laura, Al, and everyone else for the help. I am still learning but I expect/hope that doesn't change so long as I'm still breathing! Part of the fun of all this for me is trying something a little different every year and watching the results.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:26PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


Way to go!!!

Love the screens.. You did a great job!!

The Desert Rose looks wonderful!!!

Very impressed with all that you have done!!

Pretty work!!!

I totally agree with you, learning new things to help our plants grow better is so exciting. Learning new techniques and finally seeing the reasoning behind what we learn is so rewarding!!! : )


    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hry Brian,

I forgot to say that your gritty mix look beautiful too!

Are you going to keep the DR on the saucer? It will like to drain freely with this mix. FYI ... or it you choose too keep it on a saucer, lift it so the water doesnt get back up into the pot. I use bottle caps to lift my continers up (i use four per pot) and use the plastic plates inside to collect the excess water. I like to leave the water to evaporate inside. But the draining water from the container doesnt need to sit in the standing water.

Hope this helps...

: )

Beautiful Brian!!!!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 12:12AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Bravo, bravo! Way to work together!
The results are excellent.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 10:08AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Josh!!!

So nice to see you!!!

It is sure nice to see everyone getting the concept of making a quality soil and understanding why it works!! It's all great stuff!!! : )


Sounds like you have had some success as well my friend!!!

Would love to see your trees!!

How are you doing down in sunny FLA?

Cold up here... Brrrr...

Take care,


    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 4:49PM
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Hey Laura!

Success?...well, sort of. Close enough, I guess. I would have been much happier with Brian's grit find than with my porous pea lava. (And a big "thank-you" to Al for his thoughtful input on how I might adjust the mix using this ingredient as a substitute.) That said, I think this mix is still a big improvement over my old, primarily organic mix.

And, Brian bought the grit at Tractor Supply, which has several locations within a few hours' drive of me. So, sooner or later, I'll be making that purchase.

I'll post some pics of my trees soon! Overall we've had a warm winter here, but also a cold front or two that, even with a sock covering it, caused the inflo on my Scott Pratt to fall off! :( WA-wa!!! That was SO hard to take...but hopefully there'll be many blooms in the year ahead to ease the pain of that loss!

My trees are waking up!! The claws are pulling outward, several are already leafing out! Slowly but surely...another season begins :)

Best to all,

    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 9:26PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

I would say that you both did a great job!!! (Brian and Greg)



    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 1:25AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think that if you guys remember that nutrition is easy, and that container culture is much closer to hydroponics than growing in the garden. If you keep your focus on building or providing a soil that remains favorably STRUCTURED for the intended interval between repots - you'll have at least embraced the principle that will get you over the hump.

Look at it like this: In your container gardening endeavors, you'll always be moving uphill toward an apex until you understand how water behaves in soils and how the water/air/salt level relationships are inextricably interrelated, as well as how they impact your plant's ability to grow to its potential. Once you understand those things, you'll have reached the apex and will be on a downhill (that is to say EASIER) course.

If you don't understand container soils, you will always be limited in the potential for greater reward/satisfaction from the container growing experience.

I think it would be interesting to see what Josh and Laura think about what impact their understanding of the relationships I alluded to has had on their growing experience.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2012 at 12:59PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello, Laura, thanks for directing me here! ;-)

Sure, Al, I'd be glad to share my growing experience. I'm far from an expert, but I've been able
to incorporate the principles that Al has put forth in his excellent Threads on Container Soils.

Several years ago, I was laboring under a number of hoticultural myths and misconceptions.
For one, I was still attempting to recreate "natural" type environments in my containers -
such as adding organics (leaves, twigs, moss...) to soils for plants like ferns. I was attempting
to build nutrition into the soil as one would in-ground gardening, which had been the lion's share of
my growing experience previously.

Another misconception I had was that a layer of gravel at the bottom of the container would promote
drainage. In essence, the choices I was making - with good intentions - were actually working
against me. And although I'd never killed a plant by overwatering, I realized later that none
of my plants were growing anywhere near to their genetic potential.

My first gritty mixes were actually too coarse and didn't offer the moisture/nutrient retention
that my later mixes would provide. However, even the coarse early versions of the gritty mix
were superior to any of the peat-based bagged potting soils I'd used before, and I saw immediate
results in the vitality of my plants. Subsequent mixes were improved with better ingredients
and screening methods, along with the use of Foliage Pro 9-3-6.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hey Josh!!!

You are most welcome!!!

Always nice to see you here!!!

I have been reading and learning for awhile on what is best for the roots and overall vitality of our plants and trees. (Amateur Here...) Not an Expert by any means. : )

Learning the basic foundation on what makes a plant happy starts with the roots. Learning this and really understanding why, did take some time to understand, but i wanted the best for my trees and plants. So i started to read and learn what and why and figured out what i had to do to take care of these trees that are so precious to me.

If i am taking an interest in wanting special varities(as well as all of my plants and trees) that mean something to me, then i am going to do whatever i can to give them the "best" possible means of giving them the ability to grow to there fullest genetic potential. I know that i am helping them when i start them with the basic foundation that will help them grow and flourish. That would be the "soil!!!"

The results that i have seen with my continued search to find what is going to give my roots the right breathing room as well as not struggling to keep them from drowning in water, or having a build up of salts has given me so much confidence in my gardening endeavors. I will always feel like im climbing the hill and will never get to the top...only because i feel like i will always be learning.. I want to see and feel like there is more to understand before i ever get close to "the top".... it will probably take a long time for me to get there!!! : )

Last year, i was afraid to even prune or even repot and root prune my trees. Now, i am not worried about taking a tree and working to help them generate new roots and give them the chance to continue to grow as they really would like in the containers. Using a fertilizer that has the essential nutrients that they need makes me comfortable knowing that they are receiving all that they need.


Nutrition is easy... i really like the Foliage Pro and i use it with all of my plants and trees. I dont constantly worry about what im using on certain plants and i know that they are all receiving what they need and im not worried about any buildup in the soil.

Im sorry that i havent been around for a while...i have been working hard lately and i havent been able to respond here. I did see your post Al, so i wanted to let you know that my plants and trees "THANK YOU" and i am so pleased with what i have seen in the way my containers respond to the care that i give.

I want the best from my trees and i am willing to give them my best...

Starting from the bottom up!!!

This past summer i have had the best year as far as blooms and overall satisfaction with the way my trees have responded to my change in finding a better mix. I cant wait until this spring to see more positive results from my beloved Plumeria and other plants.

Spring is just around the corner..

I am so excited!!!

My Penang Peach is getting ready to bloom...I will post pictures when i get home!!! : )

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day!!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:01PM
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Hey Laura-
I've been reading all of these posts and was just wondering where you buy your Foliage Pro- (or is there an equal substitute for it?) Gearing up here to start my plumie seeds- What mix should I start them in? Thanks for all the info everyone- very valuable for us newbies!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:19PM
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I just came back from the coast. I took all the lava rock from the soil I just mixed and broke it down to 1/4 inch. I needed to pot 12 5 gallon pots, and only finished 11, so I need to make another batch for my March plants. I was planning on using spray and grow, sheep manure tea , and superthrive this year. I have about 4 5 gallon pots of sheeps manure just ready to go. Today I had tropical hibiscus blooming all over my yard. I am still afraid to give them any tea, in case we have a freeze. Good news is that the mesquite trees are blooming at the coast. Barbra

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Kathy,

I purchase my Foliage Pro on line. Some Hydoponics stores sell Dyno Grow Products, so you could always ask them if they could order it for you. I did search my area and couldnt find it locally. Foliage Pro has the NPK 9-3-6.

Some like to start their seeds in half catcus mix half perlite. Some like all turface with the fines sprinkled on top. Some like the seed starter mix. I like the gritty mix to start my seeds. It all depends what is available for you.

Hope this helps Kathy!!!

Hi Barbra,

Sounds like you have been busy!!! : )

You are so lucky to have Hibiscus blooming right now...

Makes me anxious for spring!! Nighttime temps here tonight will be 39* Tomorrow will hit mid 50's.

Hope all is well!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 11:57PM
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Josh, I enjoyed reading your growing experiences. The comment about the gravel at the bottom hit home for me today.

I was repotting my singapore obtusa in a 4:3:2 gritty mix. Previously it was in cactus mix, and I had added "stuff" to the bottom of the pot to "facilitate drainage." e.g. lava rock, broken pieces of terra cotta pots, etc.

Well I realized today how well that had worked. All that stuff was caught up in the roots and basically one big mess. Meanwhile the bottom of the pot was all soggy.

Previously I have been satisfied with the way my plants were growing but seeing this sort of thing makes me realize that I ought be be able to expect much better this year growing in the gritty mix. I am a little concerned about how the watering will go since things often get busy during the week, but hopefully it will work out.

I get it now, why adding gravel to the bottom doesn't help. However, this myth really has some legs. Even Pine Island Nursery (where a vast amount of tropical fruit trees are produced) tells people on their web site to add rocks to the bottom of their pots. My hypothesis is that we are blessed with warm weather in FL most of the year and this lessens the effect of some of the common mistakes we make. Perhaps what might be damaging here could be fatal to a plant elsewhere in the country.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 8:00PM
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I completely agree and have often thought the same: Florida's climate really helps make our trees more idiot-proof (referring to myself, of course;) ). Many times I've said to myself, I think I'd kill these things if I had 'em up North...

The same thinking was behind my decision to use the tiny lava when I couldn't locate grit. I figured, well, if that organic slop that's now in the bottom of my pots won't kill 'em, this won't either.

And, one other advantage to Florida pluma-culture: It's January, and my trees are leafing out :)


    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 1:47AM
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This is the receipe I used for my gritty mix, 4 2 cu ft of of fine bark mulch, 4 bags of perlite, 1 large bag of crushed lava rock 50lbs( hand crushed 1/4 " or smaller), 1/2 bag of 50 lb chicken gritt, 2 bags of black cow manure, 2 bags of sheep manure( I plan to add this weekend), and 1 50 lb bag of turface allsport( do you think I need to add another bag?) I can adjust this if you think I need to. I have found and easy way to mix the soil, so it would not be a problem to add anything. I still have another month before I plant anything. I would appreciate any input. The plumeria will be in 5 gallon pots, dug into the ground. They will be watered every other day, by a sprinkler system. I just got 3 large trash cans of free dry sheep manure, and thought it would be a good idea to add it to the mix. What do you think? Barbra

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 12:49PM
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I found the Turface at the dealer Al pointed me to (Thanks again, Al!) and it was $15.50 for a 50# bag, which I think is about 2 cu. ft. I figure one bag mixed with the other stuff will fill at least a dozen large pots, hopefully more.

They also had these small limestone pebbles they call "white screenings" that looked like they should work for chicken grit:

The limestone only runs a few dollars for about 40#. It's very heavy so the volume was pretty low, maybe 1-1/2 cu. ft.

I'm going to try that with the rest of my super-expanded shale for this first batch of gritty mix:

The shale runs $8 for 40# but is no easier to get than the Turface.

Together with pine mulch they make a pretty heavy potting mix. My little one and I made a rudimentary screening tray last night so I'll see if I can't sift out the largest of the pine chunks. If nothing else, it's been a fun experience for the kid to help Mommy with her crazy quest!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 11:05AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks, Irun!

Honeybunny, the gritty mix is intended to promote drainage.
The recipe that you've posted contains manure, and so there is no way that it's a "gritty mix."
The fine particles will clog the larger grit and ultimately make for a mix with drainage properties
similar to that of the manure.

Jandey, I'm not sure how the Limestone pebbles will react in the mix - in other words,
I'm wondering if the pebbles will raise the pH. I'd double-check the chemical characteristics
before committing a third of the mix to Limestone. Let's see if we can get Al over here for pointers.

When working with gritty ingredients such as Turface, it is important to screen out the fine particles.
You should not be scooping or pouring Turface directly from the bag into your containers. If this is
old news, I apologize for preaching to the choir ;-)


    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 12:36PM
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In TX Hill Country the water is near capacity with dissolved limestone so a little more isn't going to hurt. In my opinion PH is a boogyman that most of us hobby collectors do not need to tackle to enjoy plumeria growing.

Josh, I didn't know that. thanks for the tip. I would cut holes and run water through the bag to wash all the dust down to the bottom and/or hand sift. After all these pictures of screens I feel like I have go legitimate and make some.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:06PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I would advise screening *and* rinsing the Turface.
Screening removes the particles that are less than 1/16 of an inch, and rinsing will remove the dust.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Thanks Josh, I guess I do not have the gritty mix. I started thinking that since my plants were in full sun, and our temps are 100 degree for months at a time. I would need something else, since I am not there to water everyday. I read the recommendations for making plumeria soil from the Plumeria Society of American and came up with my receipe. I used Al's mix, and then adding 1 bag of cow manure. I made Kms receipe this fall, and it really did work well, so I felt I needed to add something since I was leaving out the potting soil, and sand. I hope it works. Barbra

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Turface in San Antonio is near the Lockhill Selma and 1640 exit. At John Deer landscape, 50 lbs for $12. K, this is right by your house. They are the only John Deer store in San Antonio that carries it. I asked what it was used for, he said they use it on baseball fields? I was told a man from Port A, came to get some just 20 mintues before I got there, he bought it to make plant soil. I started to laugh and told him that is what I am going to do also, I don't think he believed me. Barbra

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 6:48PM
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Barbra, I'd have pegged you for a baseball field-type myself, LOL! The Port A guy probably reads these posts.

I didn't bother to tell the Turface dealer here what I wanted it for. From what I can tell it's mainly used for playing fields to keep them a consistent moisture level. $12 is pretty good compared to what I've found.

Btw, I plan to topdress all the plumies this spring with some composted manure, too, along with my epsom salts.

Josh, thanks for the tips on prepping the Turface. The limestone was actually too dusty when I made up a batch today, so I'll probably stick with my usual decomposed granite. IIRC, plumeria is pretty PH-flexible and fairly tolerant of poor soil but I hope this mix gives me the optimum growing conditions in our hot climate.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 8:38PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Here's the deal with the gritty mix ..... and this is just informational, I don't start flapping my arms and ululating whenever someone doesn't do things 'just right'. ;-) It's designed so the soil is well aerated from top to bottom, no matter how deep or shallow the container. You can grow succulents in saucers in a weeks worth of rain without much worry about root issues because it's not going to get soggy (hold perched water). That, and its durability are the only reason to make the gritty mix. If you want more water retention, adding fine ingredients eliminates the reason you would go to the trouble and expense to make it.

If you're not going to use ingredients that are appropriate in size, which means if you're not going to screen or if you are going to add fine ingredients, you may as well stick with the 5:1:1 mix, or even a bagged soil in some cases.

Roots love air. The gritty mix gives it to them, and that's why it's so easy to bring along healthy plants. The 5:1:1 mix works much, much better than 99% of bagged soils, but not as well as the gritty mix.

Aeration is the key. If you learn how to build as much aeration into your soils as possible, within the limits of YOUR ability to water (talking intervals between waterings), you're on the right track.

Laura NEEDS the extra water retention because she's often gone for many days at a time, but those of you that stay closer to home, probably/possibly don't. There is a plus to be had in more frequent waterings - it's good for the plants if you have to water more often, so don't think that because someone else actually needs the extra water retention that you need to follow suit or that it's automatically a good thing.

Just something to keep in mind ..... The soil is adjustable for water retention, so play around with it and see what you think. I know you'll like it once you get used to it. Growing in a highly aerated mix is soo easy and soo much more forgiving, compared to heavy, water-retentive soils.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to clairfy a few things..

All of my DR's and C & S and some of my Plumeria are all in the gritty mix at the 1:1:1 ratio and i am extrememly happy with this mix.

I did say that i will experiment with the other 4:3:2 this summer and do some containers with this ratio and some with the 1:1:1 ratio. Just to see if there is a difference on how my plants react to the extreme heat on my deck.

Al knows that i work for the airlines and that im not home for 3-4 days at a time. We have discussed this because of my worries for my trees in the heat of the summer. I cant rely on the DH to water sometimes when im not there. Al has also pointed out that the gritty mix can be watered everyother day and sometimes can go several days longer. Depending on the conditions. I personally like to water in he heat of the summer, every day because i know my trees love the water. So i am concerned that i will need someone to watch my trees when i have a four day trip. I will keep them all along the balcany and have the DH take the hose and do a "drive by" when i remind him..LOL You all can make your soil up in the 1:1:1 ratio and see how it works. It might be the best for me as well. Like i said, i will do two different sets of trees to see, but im sure they will both preform to the best of there abilities.

Cant wait to try..

I just ordered :
3 50 lbs of Turface
3 50 lbs of Gra-i-grit (growres size)
Now im watching Petsmart for there sale on Fir Bark!!!

Remember to add Gypsum to your mix unless you are going to use a fertizlizer that has essential nutrients like Foliage pro. If you dont use that type. then add i tablespoon of gypsum per gallon of soil

Another tip: I like to spray the mix once i get all of the ingredients together with water to give it some moisture to settle into the bark and Turface before i mix it all together. You can use a spray nozzle or spritz bottle!!!


Jen, i wanted to let you know that i use a strainer that i picked up at Walmart to sift the fines from the Turface and the Granigrit. I can take a pic if you want to see.. just let me know!!! Hope all is well with you and your family!!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 4:07AM
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Laura, nice to hear from you--thanks for the tip! I made up a reasonable sifter for getting out the large particles, then remembered that I have great screens on my rain barrels for the tiny stuff, so the screening is covered. But, boy, is it a lot of work! My back is aching from three days of sifting. I think I'll change back to my composted shredded wood since it's a more uniform small size, and make sure I rinse the Turface thoroughly.

Getting excited about the new season--it's been in the low 80's the past couple of days here AND we've gotten some good rain! I put about 20 plumies outside to enjoy the break. They look pretty happy.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Hi Laura,

I just found Turface! I got it from Ewing Irrigation. You had mentioned that you use a strainer that you picked up at Walmart to sift the fines from Turface and the Granigrit. Can you please post a picture of it? I saw your pictures of the homemade screens... Is that for the bark fines?



    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 1:16PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Mae!!

Nice to see you!!

Those screens are used for the purpose of my Fir Bark and Pine Bark only. I do use the other handheld strainers for the Turface fines and the Granigrit fines. It is really easy to use. I just use one of those food scoopers from the Pet store (Dod Food scoop, Large) and i scoop my Turface one scoop at a time to screen. Then i add it to my Five gallon container and have it ready for the time i need to make my mix. Same for the Gran-i-grit. I sift and add to the five gallon container. You can find those containers with lids at Lowes for a few bucks. I like to have the screened Turface and granigrit as well as the Fir Bark ready. They come with lids so they stay nice and dry!!! So when im ready to mix, i use the large food scoop and use one from each and then put it together in a large container or on a piece of tarp. Wet the mix and combine all of the ingredients when im ready to pot.

I am out on a trip right now, but when i get home....I will take a pic of my strainer and post it for you!!! They are quite easy to find. I have several that i use, but one in particular that i like the best.

Give me a few days and i will get that taken care of for you!!! : )

Hope all is well!

Take care,


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Hi Laura,

Thanks for describing how you prepare your mix. That is so helpful! I was curious on how fine a strainer I should get for the turface and granigrit. Can't wait to see your pic.

Hope you are having a wonderful trip.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Hello everyone, I just started making this mix but will share what I did based on everything I read here.

I would definitely invest in a tarp as mentioned by Laura, if you don't have one. They are cheap, large, and very heavy duty. I put it down when I repot things now too, so I don't mess up the lawn. And I do all my screening onto it. The granite dust and turface dust can be pretty nasty. I personally wear a disposable mask, may not be necessary but at least it makes my neighbors think I'm doing something really serious :) When I am done I just roll up the tarp and pour the debris into a large trash receptacle.

I am very space challenged so I looked for an approach that would minimize the number of buckets I would need. So, Ziplock sells really big bags now. e.g. 10 gallon, 20 gallon, etc. I bought their largest size, but should have bought one size down. Anyway, I store all my sifted material in them. And like Laura I use a scoop (in my case an Ikea 32oz measuring cup.) I use a 5 gallon bucket for the "finished" mix. I like this because I can "dial in" my mix however I like in small portions. When I made the 4:3:2 mix I used 2 scoops turface, 1.5 scoops bark, and 1 scoop crushed granite.

P.S. potting is really easy with this mix. I just place the plant where I want it (I've been bare-rooting) and use my scoop to pour the mix into the pot.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:40PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Mae,

Here are the pics for you of some strainers that I use for the Turface and the Gran-i-grit.

The first pictures are of my favorite with the long handle. The other two work just as well.

Take care,


Hope this helps!!

Have fun!!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 11:11PM
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Wonderful, next on my shopping list. Clara

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 12:04PM
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Thank you Laura! Now I know exactly what to get. You saved me from buying the wrong type of strainer and wasting materials (I was going to use a strainer with bigger holes). You are awesome!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 12:49AM
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Laura, what is it about the top strainer that you like? Is it easier to use with the long handle or is it the size of the mesh on that one that you like best?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 10:47PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Jen!!

Happy Valentines's Day to you all!

I think it is the handle that i like so much. It just feels easier to shake and sift using this particular style. This strainer does have just a little smaller holes than the other two, but i have more control...kind of like a chef's pan in your hands!!! : )

Hope all is well in Texas!!!

How are your trees?

I have inflos starting on 4 trees. They dont know that its still February in Virginia!! : ) Can't seem to make them slow down, so i guess i will see some action sooner than later. The only thing that im worried about, is that i wont get the rich color that comes form the heat of the summer as well as the fragrance.. I'll keep my fingers crossed!!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 11:19AM
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Happy Valentine's Day, Laura! Hope you've had a nice day with your DH. While mine was working the little one and I bought each other more flowers at the garden center and repotted them in the warm weather today.

Thanks for the insight on your sifter. I feel like I'm bending at the waist a lot when I sift with both hands so maybe the long-handled sifter would work better. Or a taller work table!

I did find some great flexible plastic (rubber?) tubs with handles at T***get that I mix the gritty in and that are easy to pour from. Every little bit helps when you gotta repot three or four dozen plumies! Then there are all the hibiscus and annuals...ugh.

Still, the plumies are looking very happy so far in their new gritty mix, though no signs of inflos yet. More patience needed. ;)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 8:15PM
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This was quite an experience trying to round up all of these things. I live in the Florida Keys, but am up in the Brandon, Fl area for a year or so. I would have never found all this stuff in the Keys. I brought my 50 or so young potted Plumerias with me. It rains so much up here and things don't dry out as much, so I began the gritty mix ingredients search.

I found them all after 2-3 hours of calling around. I got the Turface at John Deere on East Broadway and I had called all over looking for the Pine Bark Fines and John Deere told me right where to find them and it was only a few minutes away at Big Earth Landscaping on Martin Luther King. The big bags were $2.97 each. The Turface was $18.00 for a 50 pound bag.

I found the grit at a feed store on the same road but it was 5.95 for a 5 pond bag. I got it but will be returning it because I later found it at Shells Feed and Garden on Nebraska Ave. for $12.95 for a 50# bag and at Tractor Supply on Jim Redman Pkwy. for $7.95 for 25# bags.

I'm still very confused about the screening process and have seen photos here and some use small, others use screens with larger holes. I thought finding and getting the items was the easy part but now that I have them, I can't figure out what to use to screen them with.

I have a colander like Laura used in the above photos but other photos show a much larger screen size, so I'm very confused as to the purpose of the screens and what size to use.

Also is it better to make the mix and put it in 5 gallon buckets with lids, or better to put each of the 3 ingredients into 5 gallon buckets and mix them when potting?

Any guidance would be appreciated. I'm afraid my Plumerias are going to get waterlogged and would like to get them repotted as soon as possible. Some were in pots but many I had to dig up and put in pots to move them up here. I will have to move them into the garage when temps dip into the low 40's or below. I would like to get them potted so they can possibly begin to recover from the move which is more stressful for them this late in the season.

They are all named cultivars and I paid a pretty penny for many of them.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:45PM
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The screening process is used to separate the larger pieces from the smaller ones. The technique is to put the material on the screen with the larger holes first. The smaller particles fall through and the larger ones stay on the first screen. The next screen has smaller holes and the next size particles stay on that screen and what falls through is smaller still. Ideally you end up with all about the same size particles after the final screening.

It is best to put the ingredients into separate containers, that way you can make a final mix with different proportions of ingredients, depending how much or little water you want it to hold.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:07PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Powderpuff..

Just sent you an email..

I use the 1/4 inch screen to use what falls through the holes for the bark. (Fir) or Pine. I like Fir...

The colander screen is used for the Turface to screen out the fines...

When i start screening my bark, i put it into five gallon buckets that i buy at Lowes with lids. I do the same for the Turface once screened. When i ready to mix, i just scoop depending on how much i need to make. I use the metal scoops that you can buy at pet smart. Using the 1:1:1 ratio is easy to mix up.

When i do mix i use a large dish pan to make the mix and stir it all together. I also moisten the mix to keep it so it will stay seperated bettter when potting up.

You mentioned about moving? You might want to let them adjust before you repot. I like to repot in the spring, but i see you live in a zone 10!!


DelWH gave you great advise..

Screens are easy once you use them.. I also keep the fines from the screened Turface to sow seeds. Works great!!

Take care,


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:59PM
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To make gritty mix can I use: repti bark and bagged bonsai soil from homestead gardens? The bonsai mix has all the included ingredients

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 4:26PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Try to conceptualize what makes an ideal soil. Structurally, it would be one that is well-aerated from top to bottom of the soil column and still holds enough water within the soil particles to satisfy both the plant and the grower. In order to achieve both aeration and water retention, the particles need to be large enough that the spaces between the particles can't fill with water, which means they need to be larger than .1" in diameter and need to hold water inside the soil particles. The gritty mix embodies a concept that's driven by both particle size and particle porosity, and offers a LOT of adjustment for water retention by simply varying the ratio of two of the soils 3 ingredients (Turface:grit), so if a grower complains the gritty mix doesn't hold enough water or holds too much water, you can tell immediately he/she doesn't understand the concept behind the soil or how to implement it.

It's possible to increase water retention in any soil by using smaller ingredients or using additives like peat or compost to reduce the size of air spaces between particles, but as soon as you start to introduce small particles, you start having to deal with the effects of reduced aeration and a growing excess of water retention in the form of perched water. That's what happens when you start to introduce particles of a size that won't allow the soil to remain aerated from top to bottom. The whole purpose of building a soil like the gritty mix is so you can take advantage of the excellent aeration and still have enough water retention. If you're not going to try to get from the soil all it has to offer, you might as well grow in something like the 5:1:1 mix, which holds some perched water, but much less than soils based on high %s of fine ingredients like peat, compost, composted forest products, coir, sand, topsoil .... so I would discourage you from going through the effort of making a soil in such a way that it can't repay you for your efforts.

Perched water might be looked at as a + by the grower who doesn't want to go through the extra effort it takes to water a little more frequently, but the plant is never going to like it (regardless of what soil is being used) because it kills fine roots very quickly, and that costs the plant dearly in lost potential for growth and blooms. If you do it right, you can have all the water retention you can reasonably expect w/o sacrificing aeration to get it. There aren't many container media you can say that about.


This post was edited by tapla on Tue, Feb 25, 14 at 21:46

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 4:31PM
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Have been making calls and shopping around for a few weeks, Having a super hard time locating items for gritty mix here in Hawaii. Starting to feel a little defeated. Would appreciate any leads!

About the only thing I found readily available is the Napa Floor Dry. The grit from the feed store are premixed oyster shell Pigeon grit or else #10 Turkey Grit, so no go. The bark fines no one has any idea of. Would Lowe's Greensmix mulch work?

Even the screens/sieves aren't readily available.

Have read through pages and pages of gritty mix posts. Wonder if someone has been together a Lowe's or HD available alternative for those of us who are geographically challenged.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Farm, are you wanting to make gritty mix for rooting medium or potting medium? You're in the ideal climate for these plants and I would think yours would do extremely well in any fast-draining potting mix.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 10:31AM
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I agree with Jandey. Trust me, it is not worth the trouble, expense or time. It may be a great mix for some succulents, it is not great for Plumerias. You can ask 100 Plumeria growers, experienced ones, what they use to plant their Plumeria in and you will be hard pressed to find more than a couple that use it. and they have gorgeous trees.

I bit last year and planted about 60 or so in it. I took some out last summer when they were being roasted alive and I noticed all the ones in dirt looked about 5 times better. I am now in the process of removing it from the remaining ones. I am stunned by the difference in the roots in the gritty mix vs soil. No comparison.

In the gritty, many dried up dead roots, not the case with the ones in soil. Lots of white healthy roots. Also I watered 14 yesterday that were in gritty and when I went to re-pot them
today, I was stunned to see how many were still completely dry when I removed them from the pot. The roots were all on the sides and bottom and had bound the gritty into a big ball in the center. Water was just running right out, wetting almost nothing.

I spent a lot of money, a lot of time searching for the ingredients, mixing it to perfection, lugging insanely heavy pots from place to place and now have to re-pot all that are in it. Don't take my word for it either. Get some. Plant some in it and some in a good soil with pumice or perlite, compare the plants in each around the middle of July, end of August. I bet you can't get them out of that mix fast enough.

I could go on and on with some other detrimental things about it but I think everyone has to make their own choices and use what works for them. But I honestly cannot imagine anyone growing all of their Plumerias in this mix. There is not one single reason to do so. Not ONE! Unless you live somewhere like Seattle where it rains almost every day of the year.

The only thing I will say positive about it is that none died last summer or this winter. But neither did any of the 125 or so that are in pots of soil. In August you could stand back and look at all of them and clearly see the lushest, darkest green healthiest trees were the ones in soil. Also the ones in gritty needed water sometimes twice a day in July, August and September to even keep them halfway decent looking.

May be great for cactus and some other succulents, but I will never put another Plumeria in it.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:05AM
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Farm I was watching the travel channel & discovery channel that did a series called Hawaii real-estate & Hawaii life... You are in a lovely location to grow anything an maybe only need some soil amendments. From what I saw it all depends on what island your on but shipping would be hell.

Powderpuff I agree w/what you said about using gritty mix, I actually made something similar for almost all my plants before I found this site but just added soil in it as well, and so I could have drainage but soil would keep water retention. My Indoor arabica, jasmines, rubber tree, dumb canes etc need soil. I tired as well to put my tropicals in my gritty mix and it wasn't having it. Before I found this site I made my own mix made of: bonsai soil, orchid bark, perlite, and used small amounts of soil from logees online site. It works for me this mix I use on all my plants but when I found this site and read about "Al gritty mix & 511" I learned about important a of partial size. Overall my stuff works for me but I just can't put all my plants in orchid bark I tried and the tropicals didn't like it. I ordered the actual Al's gritty mix supplies so I can repot my succulents/cactuses in April but I'll also repot my other tropicals in the mix & just add small amounts of soil. I know it'll defeat the purpose but those plants for me I see need soil and so from what I found whatever works for you do it. So I use the gritty type for mainly succulents/cactuses. I don't like the small gnats I get w/lots of soil. Maryland is ok weather wise but right now we can't explain what's going on w/this weather here. So all year round my plants are indoors and I'll open the windows to get air flow on nice days. Right now my special tropicals are under fluorescent lights I set up in my closet

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 6:12AM
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I ordered my actual gritty mix supply from this site since he makes it as well and sells bonsai

Here is a link that might be useful: Gritty mix online

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 6:14AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

PP - your need to disagree or refute anything I offer is becoming so obviously overworked across the forums that no one should be surprised if after I suggested to someone that a 100 ft deep crack in the earth should be leaped in a single bound, you would campaign vigorously that it should only be attempted in 2.

The gritty mix is so widely variable for water retention that it is difficult to make the claim it holds either too much water or too little, and at the same time suggest that you understand how to implement the concept behind the soil. They are mutually exclusive. If you don't understand that, you really shouldn't be using it because soil choice isn't going to compensate for that lack of understanding. Using the ingredients you used, it can be made very water retentive by increasing the volume of screened Turface and commensurately decreasing the volume of grit. It can be made less water retentive by increasing the amount of grit and decreasing the amount of screened Turface. If your soil had too little or too much water retention, it's not the soil's fault that you lack an understanding of how to implement the concept that inspired it. That's on the grower. If you don't want to go through the effort or expense of making it, I get that.

A good grower with an understanding of how soil choice impacts what happens in the rhizosphere can grow in almost anything, with some reasonable attention to detail. You have had a great deal of trouble getting things to grow under conventional container culture - your posts are full of reports of the plant casualties in your recent past (pre gritty mix), yet you're an overnight expert on the gritty mix, pronouncing the soil a failure after a brief trial. The fact is, even if the gritty mix did happen to be a poor soil, it's still the grower who bears responsibility for the health of the plant - not the soil. It's not the recipe or even the ingredients that are important, and you missed that point by a wide margin. From your posts, it's easy to see you want something foolproof to grow in, that takes no effort to make, and doesn't require any sort of understanding of the science that governs both the successful and the failed growing experience. Those are very high expectations, but I do hope you find what you're looking for.

BTW - Soil temperatures are determined by a LOT of variables. Growing in black cans in z9 is going to kill roots if you can't shade them - period. What drives soil temperatures is sun load on the container, area of container surface exposed to direct sun, the container's color/light transmittance (degree of opacity/translucence), the color of the soil at the surface (dark soils absorb more heat than light soils), and how well the soil exchanges gases. The two characteristic of the soil that actually matter most are soil color and rate of gas exchange. The lighter the soil, the less heat it absorbs at its surface. The greater its gas exchange, the greater the effect of evaporative cooling. The gritty mix is lighter in color than most other soils and has better gas exchange than anything you've grown in, so with all other things being equal, there isn't anything you're apt to grow in that wouldn't find you dealing with much warmer soil temps than the gritty mix. It runs 10-15* cooler on hot days than even the 5:1:1 mix, which is another well aerated soil.

Best luck in the upcoming growth cycle. I hope you fare well.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 10:59PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Deleted a duplicate that appeared a day after the post above ....

This post was edited by tapla on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 14:36

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:00PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Good Morning,

There seems to be much debate over what type of mix that " I " like to use on this forum as well as on another forum when making my medium for my potted Plumeria and Other plants.

I come to these forums to enjoy myself, but most of all to read and maybe learn on how I can expand on how I can make my plants healthy and happy. The other part I enjoy is helping others search in what they might like to try. My intention is to help others and provide information that they can take and use for their own growing needs...

This mix ( Gritty and 5-1-1) is used by Plumeria growers . You learn the basics and change the makeup for your own needs..
My trees are all in a mix that I have made by hand.. I have learned how I can modify my mix to make each type of tree or plant happy in their growing environment . This I have learned from reading and applying what I have learned to use as a tool to help me and my trees.

I am not here to be judged by my growing abilities or how and what I like to do and share with others that ask for my help...I am here to learn and make my trees happy and to continue to make myself a better grower. Experienced or not...

My trees are very healthy and happy so that makes me feel that i have accomplished what I have set out to do.


This post was edited by loveplants2 on Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 10:10

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 9:01AM
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