Vermiculite?

dinajean(upstate SC -Zone 7b)June 19, 2007

Been reading around in this forum as time permits. Just finally got off the road after working it for 3 years. Now have a chance to enjoy the 10 acres of land we got 2 years ago. It is an old established piece of property, once a farmland established in 1901. Now it is woods and lots of overgrown stuff. Anyways, little by little finding all sorts of heirloom plants I would like to propagate. I have noticed alot of y'all mentioning perlite and peat moss as a potting soil, but have not seen any mention of vermiculite? A friend gave me this recipe for propagation, maybe someone can tell me if this is good? 10 parts top soil/pine bark mulch, 5 parts peat, 1 part perlite and 1 part vermiculite.

Would appreciate any help.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

In containers, top soil works against you rather than with you. Leave that component out. Vermiculite tend to collapse after a very short time, and will not provide the porosity a good propagation medium should have.

I'd specify that you use pine bark FINES, rather than mulch. The latter seems to insinuate larger particles than you really want. The bark fines I use are quite small. I use them in all of my container mixes, but not my propagation mediums....no particular reason.

I usually use half perlite and half peat or even 100% perlite when sticking cuttings.

Most problems with propagation are caused by excess moisture, I believe. Using a propagation medium that all but eliminates that possibility is really helpful. ;-) Use something that provides support, air, and moisture....and you're all set. (The top soil and vermiculite are apt to muck up the pore spaces.)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 2:00PM
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dinajean(upstate SC -Zone 7b)

Great info, thanks. Just a couple other questions. One a dumb one - Perlite helps with drainage, peat moss retains water...isn't putting them together like an oxymoron? Or does the perlite drain the EXCESS water?

2nd ? - I have a whole trash barrel full of the mixture I listed at beginning of this post - what to do with it?

Oh and a 3rd question - what to do with the 1/2 of a 50-lb bag of vermiculite I still have?

Thanks so much - I love this forum, I just need a vaca so I can plop my butt in front of the computer and read read read!!!!!!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 7:45PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Peat moss acts sort of like a sponge. It absorbs and holds on to a certain amount of water (depending upon how finely the peat is ground up) but excesses will drain away. Perlite is most valuable in providing great PORE spaces (porosity) and structure. Using them together makes for an ideal combination (moisture plus oxygen).

I'd be the last person to tell you that you mustn't use a whole barrel full of your potting soil. I DO think that you will find that it won't drain very well and that it will be rather dense.

If someone GAVE me such a mix, I would gladly put it to use in my outdoor garden beds, but never in a container. That's where the vermiculite would go, as well. Some people like to root cuttings in vermiculite, by the way. And I'd use it with peat moss to make a seed germination mix.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 9:20AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

IF I WERE YOU .....

skip making your own.. until you know what you are doing...

go buy 3 or 4 different bags of professional product... and use them.. experiment.. keep notes.. and decide which is best for what you want to do ... each plant may need a different product ...

IMHO.. you are trying to start near the end of the process ... instead of reducing your variables and learning how to stick plants ...

once you learn the timing ... the methods.. the plants.. the misting.. the light.. the heat ... etc ...and the 10,000 other variables .. then fool around with 10,001 ...

this is one of the hardest variables to take care of .. and just so simple to use a professional mix ...

and STERILIZE all medium you make or use ... in the oven ... even if it says its sterile .... you don't need bugs .. or issue 10.002 to be a problem ..

good luck
ken

Here is a link that might be useful: sterilized your soil

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 2:27PM
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kansasblazer(Zone 6 -Kansas)

A great recipe for propagation medium is one part peat moss, 3 parts Perlite. You'll have great drainage to help prevent your cuttings from rotting. Place a clear container like an upside down aquarium over your cuttings to help retain moisture and humidity. Place in part shade. Water only when you don't see moisture on the glass. You might want to treat with a fungicide every 1-2 weeks, especially when doing softwood cuttings. Remember, it may take a few weeks if not more to properly root. Just my two-cents. :)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 7:01AM
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dinajean(upstate SC -Zone 7b)

KansasBlazer - By part shade, do you mean a dappled shade all day, or is AM sun and afternoon shade okay? That is where I have a big outdoor table set up.
Other question - if I dont have an aquarium, would a plastic tupperware container suffice - I have plenty of them!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 8:46AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

drink milk??

how about this set up???

you are limited only by your imagination ... thats pure perlite ....

i apparently didnt take a picture... but i cut windows in the jug... so that a structure remained to hold the gallon bag aloft ..... otherwise they tended to collapse ....
ken

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 8:41AM
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kansasblazer(Zone 6 -Kansas)

Dinajean: This is my little set-up. Got this idea from another website. The flat is made with 1 x 4's and has a firm screen on the bottom for drainage. The aquarium was painted with white paint to reflect most of the sun's heat, but the clear stripes allow some of the light in to allow photosynthesis. I'm not sure about the tupperware unless perhaps it was clear. The aquarium was less than $10 bucks at Wally-world. Notice the condensation on the inside. No watering required until it's gone! :)

Ken Adrian: Very innovative set-up! My only question would be, how does the water drain completely?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 4:51PM
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