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Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Posted by bmoke 7 (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 17, 08 at 16:28

A message was posted last week asking about a Turface MVP soil mix formula. It caused me to reflect back on why my use of this inorganic potting medium method failed. Many many of my young rooted cuttings, after re-potting into the grit, calcined clay, and pine bark mix suffered from root rot and failed. I originally attributed a summer heat wave, compounded by over watering to be the root (no pun) of my problem. Now I will add another possibility, as I never thought about the potting medium itself and the role of soil acidity, or pH, until today.

This week, a fellow fig forum enthusiast steered me to this post titled "Osomocote" (that is the spelling in the thread) at http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fig/msg071148154271.htmlshared. There is a potting medium recipe offered by Mountainman0826. The one constituent recipe element that caught my attention was Powdered Dolomitic Lime. All this morning, I was wondering why the use of dolomitic lime, until I remembered some questions posed to me by Henry (hlyell) who was coaching me to help understand possible causes for my root rot. As for Powdered Dolomitic Lime, it is an old friend. I use it all the time, but not in my gardening and not in my fig propagation. Well, it seems I missed some passing recommendations to add this material when I created my mix of grit, calcined clay, and pine bark. And if it was an important ingredient, then it was another factor in the root rot situation.

If I was a betting man, I would bet that I used to much pine bark, with young fig roots, and no limestone to offset the low pH caused by the pine bark fines.

So, here is what I do know. Also, I apologize for what I do not know, but I did some simple tests of pH against the ingredients I have been using around the figs and my pond:

So, this afternoon, while thinking about the Mountainman (MM) recipe, I wondered why MM suggested using a cup of dolomite limestone. I can offer 1 really good reason, although there might be more. Pine bark fines are acidic and the dolomite will counter the impact of that soil amendment. I did an experiment, just today. I had a plastic container with some old pond water that I was using to wash my pine bark chips. The container still included 2 or 3 cups of waterlogged pine bark. Well, I just tested the pH of that water solution. Today, my pond water is at 8.33 pH and the standing water in a plastic pail of pine bark chips is 3.45 pH. I was not surprised, just deflated. I should have known that the pine bark would work to lower the soil pH. I dumped a planted nursery pot the other day and (on my honor) ran and showed my wife how it seemed there were pine bark fines clumped around the dead and rotted roots. I blamed my self for the uneven incorporation of the soil mix and for the local areas of clumped fines and concluded that wetness around the roots was the cause. Today, I say that the acid in the fines might also have played a role in the plant root loss.

Separately, I took a portion of Miracle Grow Potting Mix and filled a container to half-full and then filled it with 8.30 pH pond water. After stirring and allowing for settling, the pH of the water was tested at 6.98. The Miracle Grow mixture tested out to be a somewhat acidic , as it lowered the pond water pH, but it did not do so to the extent of the pine bark fines alone (6.98 vs 3.45).

Dolomite limestone: Here is how it works in my pond:

My back yard is shaded with a stand of 40 foot tall pine trees. The prevailing winds shed loads of tree material into the pond all year around. You might think a pine cone will float forever. The same with pine needles. Well, they sink. These items are buoyant for about 24 hours and then they sink. Between fish naturally discharging ammonia based waste products, the pine trees, and the township well water, in general, sometimes I like to put some alkaline buffer into the pond. Too, pond plants generate carbon dioxide and this turns to carbonic acid. So, I add a dolomite limestone slurry right into the pond. My pond fish thrive in the environment. Use enough and it will bring the pond water up to ~8.0. Below ~8.0, the limestone actively dissolves and causes pH to return to ~8.0. At ~8.0 pH, equilibrium is reached and excess limestone simply rests at the pond bottom, like sand, until pH starts to fall, when more limestone will dissolve to bring pH back to 8.0. Above ~8.0, the limestone is passive in terms of pH. In terms of nutrient value, I do not know if high amounts of limestone are counterproductive. I would guess not. Bottom line, while the use of dolomite might have some mineral nutrient value, to fig plants, if there are acidic pine bark fines, that acid will be neutralized in the presence of limestone.

Next time I use pine bark fines, I will be sure to include an appropriate portion of Powdered Dolomitic Lime.

Bill


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Bill

Thanks for sharing both your research and your analysis of how/why you lost figs plants. You never know how many plants you may have saved but my guess is a lot.

Thanks again
VInnie


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Thank you, interesting stuff.

Might it be beneficial for us to come up with a common methodology of testing the Soil ph in our containers(or the water coming out of our containers? Pet stores have inexpensive test kits...)


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil pH or Acidity

Vinnie,

Thanks for the good words.

One typogrpahical error crept into my original post. The last sentence and last word should read "limestone", not "lime". The whole sentence should be: "Next time I use pine bark fines, I will be sure to include an appropriate portion of Powdered Dolomitic Limestone".

If you refer to the MSDS Sheet for Dolomitic Limestone, it talks about the pH of a saturated solution around 9.5 pH. But, if I add a half cup of the limestone to a pint of water, mix and mix well, let the solids fall down, I get a pH reading of 8.30. That same number is what my crystal clear pond water reads. I would not make a limestone muddy sludge to plant my cuttings, but there is somewhere a prudent amount of limestone to add that works. I just never thought to add it to my mix, when I re-potted.

I have seen and glossed over a lot of questions about limestone, but I have not noted any serious discussion about the when, why, or wherefore of using it. Seems intuitively obvious that it might be important. But it is hard to sense how much acid might be in the soil mix or whether a tad too much limestone is bad or not.

Bill


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil pH or Acidity

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 17, 08 at 21:48

The pH of pine bark fines generally ranges from 4.7 as a low, to 5.1 as a high, so your finding a pH of 3.45 is confounding, especially since pH is measured on a logarithmically inverse scale. I.e., a pH of 3.45 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 4.45 and 65 times more acidic than pine bark that falls within the normal range at 5.0.

Figs will grow just fine in an acidic media, if the nutrient solution pH is reasonable. The pH of a container substrate is much less important than the pH of mineral soils. Additionally, the pH of a medium comprised of equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite should hover somewhere around 6.0, and lend itself very well to rearage of figs. Tropical figs and carica have the same pH and nutrient preferences, and I've been raising them in the soil you describe for years with stellar results.

I'm quite sure you need to look at something other than pH as causal. Much more likely, if you added no lime, or didn't add gypsum and regularly supplement the Mg levels with Epsom salts, is a Ca/Mg deficiency. Plants need a continual supply of Ca for normal cell formation. Disruption of the nutrient stream via humidity, over or underwatering, excessively high root temps, soil compaction, contamination by biotic or abiotic pathogens, or an outright lack of Ca is soils could all cause the root issues you describe.

Any one of a number of rot (damping-off) fungi are also strong candidates as a possible pathogenic cause.

Over many years I have become reasonably familiar with the chemistry and physics of soils. I and hundreds of others are growing in the tried and true soil you describe with nothing but excellent results. That alone is enough to convince me that your issue lies with neither medium structure or pH.

Al


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Al:
Any advice on amount of Epsom salt and frequency of use for potted figs?
Thank you,
Leon


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

  • Posted by bjs496 9/Houston 7/NJ (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 18, 08 at 1:04

Bill,

I have to agree with Al that the issue lies elsewhere. My best results in rooting cuttings have been using a mix of pine bark, expanded shale and Perlite. I also adopted this mix for air-layers on a limb greater than 2/3"D. I've had much fewer complaints with this mix than other which did not necessarily include pine bark. Another thing that makes this mix so nice is that it is the same mix (more or less) as is in my other containers.

I think if you were to pass water through the pine bark (as if you were watering a container) instead of soaking the bark in it for several hours, you will find a less profound impact on the pH of the water.

~james


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Al (and James),

This fig raising has consumed tons of my time and enthusiasm. I used to multi-task. Now I am one dimensional. The fig dimension. Tonight I am sleepy. Except for mowing the lawn, I played with figs plant stuff all day and into the night. For the amount of satisfaction derived from working with the fig cuttings, I feel that I owe them their best opportunity to reach maturity. I ask a lot of questions, read all the archived postings and approach things from my point of view, and then see if we all meet at the same intersection. In this case, we are at the intersection, just catty-corner.

I offered this exercise up so that others could reflect on possible reasons for issues they might have. I cannot argue that my tests validate my conclusions, since I only have my intuition to fall back on and many things are contrary to what is intuitively obvious. Prior to this growing season I have had no fig cutting propagation experience. I can only state that I transferred relatively young and immature plants from a stable environment where they were progressing under an alkaline pH (~8.0) that used perlite and/or vermiculite and pond water, to an acidic pH (~5.0) with log scale differences that could vary between between 1000 and 10000 times difference in ionic activity. Yikes. Today, I spent sometime doing tests, that others might be thinking about, or not. Call me anal, my wife does.

Anyway, I did some testing this afternoon and evening and I offer it up as operating experience. I offer it up for whatever it is worth. I am engineer, not a horticulturist. Take whatever I say with a grain of salt and be skeptical. I am no expert in fig propagation. I did some simple tests, that others can dwell on, pass on, or duplicate. My findings surprised me. I am sitting here, almost laughing at myself, at 2:26 am because I want to pass on what I did today in the area of fig propagation. No more, no less. And, I mean this in the most collegial manner.
Al, all your general rules are mesmerizing. In principal I thought I had followed them and believed the results would be superior, without a doubt. Somehow, I simply missed the point or the recipe line item, for using dolomitic limestone. I missed applying one of your requirements, so I take full responsibility for failing to add at least one of the soil amendments that you identified. I do not understand why you would discount that the absence of the limestone was immaterial to the failure of my root systems. If it is not material to the recipe, then why is it in your recipe. A rhetorical question. Anyway, the argument here is convoluted. I am suggesting there might be a collateral benefit of a component in your soil recipe, a benefit that you might not have considered or measured. I measured. I shared the results. Draw your own conclusions. Dismiss the test. I found the test results interesting and cared to share them.

I would contend it (the limestone) is important and would agree with your advice to use it, although for reasons that you apparently think are irrelevant and discount. I am not a chemist, but this pH thing shocks me. I moved plants from an ecosystem thriving at one pH level and then relocated those plants to a drastically different universe. Your use and recommendation for dolomitic limestone may be right, but for the wrong reason. At this hour I am not sure what it provides.

Humor me. I am not a book man. I am an applications type of guy. I test, inspect, and act on the results. So, I removed all of about 40 young plants from their re-potted containers and examined each one. Only one showed a healthy root system, subsequent to being transplanted. They all maintained great outward appearance and vitality and growth, but that appearance belied what was happening below surface. For those that failed, their demise was sudden. I still cannot say conclusively what happened, but I am exploring what the possibilities might be. The remaining plants had anemic, declining root systems.

While you say "pine bark fines generally range from 4.7 as a low to 5.1 as a high", in my test(s) I found that my sample fell outside this general range, by a goodly margin on the logarithmic scale. I tested the samples this afternoon. I initially contested my own results. I bought new batteries for the Hanna pHep tester and made fresh standard test solutions using distilled water and buffer salts made by Micro Essential Laboratory. Two buffers were made to cross-calibrate the pH meter, one at 4.0 pH and the other at 7.0 pH. So, when I tested the pine bark fines in a container of standing water to readout at 3.55 pH it did seem, if not confounding, then oh-my-gosh too low and what did I do to my plant roots exasperating.

I just came back from out-of-doors on the back patio. It is late. The mosquitos were tough. I brewed some fresh turface, grit, and pine bark fines. Here are my test results as of 11:00 pm DST in New Jersey:

I mixed 2p water at 8.19 pH (48 ounces) 1 part dry pine bark fines (24 ounces) and stirred the soup. The pH dropped to <4.00 in 20 minutes. (24 ounces is 1 clear plastic root developing cup). I needed 2p of water to make it soupy.

I mixed 2p water at 8.19 pH and 1p turface and 1p grit and pH lowered to 7.16 pH in 10 minutes.

Then, I mixed the containers of water and solids in a bucket and retested the soup.

The net result after 5 minutes was that pH lowered to 4.98.

So, I assumed that I was transferring these young rooted cuttings from a relatively neutral water pH environment of about 8.0 pH, (giving the vermiculite and perlite medium a relatively neutral credit toward pH) to another relatively compatible, no not compatible but supportive environment, that at best case is actually acid based at 4.98 pH.

Now, fig plants might live long and prosper at 4.98, if they are hardy and once they get acclimated. But gosh, what a way to introduce them to their new home. On the logarithmic scale, moving from an 8.0 to a 5.0 pH is a factor of 1000 fold difference in ionic activity (10 raised to the power of 3). If I were to suddenly add muriatic acid or vinegar to my pond to drop ph from 8.0 to 5.0, it would kill every living fish in a heartbeat. This seems to be what I did to my plants, at best. At worst, on contact with the pine bark fines, the pine bark fines contact moisture was at 3.55 pH, if the standing water tested earlier today is recalled.

So, of course, I did just a couple more tests, here at 11:30 pm. I made, mixed, and measured the pH of three solutions, which took about 45 minutes. Then I tested the mixes. Here is what I mixed and the results. I found these surprising and interesting:

Test 1: units of measure were 1p = 8 ounces dry weight volume.

2p pond water and 1p perlite and pH goes to 7.95 ph. The perlite has a slightly acidic effect on the pond water. Container set aside.

Test 2:

2p pond water and 1p vermiculite and pH goes to 9.60 pH. Wow. Vermiculite is some kind of high pH item. Earlier, with a very very heavy dose of dolomitic limestone stirred into water I could only reach equilibrium at 8.3 pH. The vermiculite would provide better reduction in acidity than dolomitic limestone. Very surprising. Container set aside.

Test 3:

Fresh pond water at 3p pond water and 1p vermiculite and 1p perlite goes to 9.32 pH.. So, if you were plastic cup growing roots using a roughly 50/50 mix perlite and vermiculite, the moisture in that environment, would be 9.32 pH.

Using old school averaging, that might not be reasonably applicable, and a 60:40 mix ratio, the pH would be 7.95+9.60=17.5 divided by 2=8.8 pH.

Logarithmically, the differences between 4.0 pH and even 8.8 pH, let alone a 50:50 mix resulting in a 9.32 pH are huge differences, that cannot be discounted.

I offered this exercise up so that others could reflect on possible reasons for issues they might have. I cannot argue that my tests validate my conclusions, since I only have my intuition to fall back on and many things are contrary to what is intuitively obvious. Prior to this growing season I have had no cutting propagation experience. I can state that I transferred relatively young and immature plants from a stable environment where they were progressing under an alkaline pH (~8.0) that used perlite and/or vermiculite and pond water, to an acidic pH (~5.0) with log scale differences that could vary between between 1000 and 10000 times difference in ionic activity. Yikes.

I still believe your recipe will work. I believe it does work. I believe that hundreds of people are benefiting and happy with your advice. I am happy with your advice and I think I would have had a stellar outcome, if I had followed your advice, except for my error. I have my personal thoughts about how one item in your recipe might provide a benefit that is not supported as fact in the fig community.

After I de-potted and examined each and every root system of about 40 plants, I water washed and sifted out all fines (dusts you might say) smaller than a 1/4 inch mesh screen and larger than a 1/2 inch mesh screen, because it appeared that the "fines" where collecting on and smothering the roots. I repotted again, mostly using the turface, grit, pine bark approach, which I still believe is viable, although some few plants were put into Miracle Gro Potting mix, as a test. Many figs plants originally suffered leaf drop, when the roots failed. A dozen failed entirely. Some others recovered. Several never dropped their leaves, but they were still repotted, and they seem to have weathered the storm. Another handful are now sprouting new apical foliage atop 12 and 18 inch tall, but bare, stems.

Got to go to bed. Please excuse any typos. Take care.

Bill

http://mysite.verizon.net/bill.moke/.



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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 18, 08 at 7:54

I don't discount the use of dolomite or think it irrelevant at all. My postings on the forum are full of hundreds of discussions outlining the importance of the Mg and Ca it provides, and its effect on media pH. I think you missed the very important point that the lack of lime in the mix wasn't particularly important from a pH perspective, but it is very important because of a probable deficiency of Ca/Mg.

Leon - use Epsom salts only if you know/suspect there is a Mg deficiency, then use it sparingly (1/8 - 1/4 tsp per gallon added to fertilizer water. If you add Mg unnecessarily to soils w/o adding Ca, it creates an antagonistic deficiency (prevents uptake) of Ca; plus, any you add increases electrical conductivity and total dissolved solids of the soil solution, which makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in the water (this is true of ANY solute). This is why we generally like to supply our Ca and Mg by adding dolomite. It supplies both in a favorable ratio.

Al


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Thank you Al. Appreciate the information.


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

I have a problem that's driving me crazy!!!

I have been experimenting with rooting cuttings for a couple years now. I seem to have great success using 100% Vermiculite under a tent of loose fitting see-through plastic. This seems to allow just enough air circulation to prevent excess humidity and rot. At the same time it keeps the medium from drying out too quickly. My success rate is easily 80%. I get good leaf out and nice roots in clear plastic cups with a hole in the bottom.

This is when my problem begins. After I have a well developed root system (easily visible) and nice leaf structure I have been transplanting to a mix of 40% top quality sphagnum peat moss and 60% Perlite for good drainage. At this point I have a failure rate of about 50%. They all seem fine for 3 days to a week, then about half of them begin to wilt, loose all their leaves and die. I have adjusted my mix ratios 4 or 5 times and the same thing seems to happen. 1/2 of them are beautiful and healthy and the other 1/2 shrivels and dies.

Is it possible my problem could be related to what you are discussing here? Should I be adding Dolomitic Limestone to my mix?
ANY IDEAS... PLEASE HELP !!!
This is driving me nuts.


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

keith-figs,

You described my similar situation exactly. That is why I started this message thread, to generate some discussion and hear from others. I do not know how many others have had root rot and it seems like it is something that just happens. So, I need to go to the post office this afternoon. I will stop by the local plant center and pick up some sphagnum moss and try to do my version of a soil sample test. I have been running a test with three containers and combinations of water, dolomite limestone, and pine bark to see where pH levels travel after time. I post the results on my webpage and you can see how things pan out, with my testing.

Like you, all my roots were healthy, prior to being repotted into a new soil environment. I readily and completely admit to having not followed the general drift of the recipe for a soilless medium. I did not add the dolomite. My brain has been flooded with info on figs, and in my newness, I simply overlooked the addition of the limestone. While it might be the cat's meow and provide a superduper dose of Calcium and Magnesium essentials, I am leaning toward the benefit the limestone provides to sweeten the soil in the immediate vicinity, at the point of contact, where the roots and the pine bark touch. That interface seems it is at the pH of the entire potting mix, at a minimum.

Bill

http://mysite.verizon.net/bill.moke/

There is no advertising posted on my site.


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

keith-figs,
I mixed up two batches of your 60/40 Perlite/Sphagnum Peat Moss recipe to test for impact on the pH of water added to mix. One batch consisted of 6 parts perlite, 4 part peat moss, and two parts pond water (8.57 pH). I needed two parts pond water because the peat moss absorbed the first part of water completely. The second batch duplicated the first batch, except that cup (4 ounces) of dolomitic limestone was mixed with the water to ensure even distribution of the limestone throughout the perlite/limestone. These two batches were allowed to rest for one hour, then stirred again. The ph of the two batches was measured. Here are the results:
Perlite/Peat Moss/Water (no limestone) at 3.82 pH
Perlite/Peat Moss/Water (with limestone) at 6.14 pH
In an earlier part of this thread, I had measured the pH of the water in a perlite/vermiculite mix, similar to the one you used. A 100% vermiculite and water mix tested out at 9.6 pH. I was startled that the vermiculite could have such an alkaline impact on water and the roots in contact with that water.
So, it appears that you moved plants that were perfectly comfortable, healthy, stable in a 9.6 pH environments and then transplanted them to a mix that, using my peat moss, tests out at 3.82 pH. The difference between 9.6 and 3.83 is 5.77, in terms of the logarithmic scale. We convert this to decimal units by raising the number ten to the power 5.77. This computes to 5,888,436. Yes, 5 million and change. According to a University of Texas link http://www.utexas.edu/safety/ehs/msds/glossary/?page=p , the definition for Ph reads as follows "pH - The symbol relating the hydrogen ion (H+) concentration to that of a given standard solution. A pH of 7 is neutral. Numbers increasing from 7 to 14 indicate greater alkalinity. Numbers decreasing from 7 to 0 indicate greater acidity. In your case, that concentration changed by a factor of 10 to the power 5.77, or, 5 million and change. I want to be wrong, but regardless of other factors that might be involved, I would suggest it is not a good idea to relocate a plant from one environment to another which, for better or worse, is so different. (my humble opinion). As a separate argument, the number 3.82 pH , in and of itself seems like it would alone lead to the demise of the roots. (my humble opinion).

If a half cup (4 ounces, or .16 parts, 1.3 percent of the total test batch) of dolomite had been added to the mix, the pH would have stabilized at 6.14 ph. The difference here is 9.6 6.14 = 3.46 ph. In decimal 10, the difference in pH values is 28, 840. This is a significant difference over the batch that did not include dolomite. Practically speaking, we are moving from something slightly alkaline to something slightly acidic, still something of a shock to the plant. However, all the literature I have found to date indicates that 6.14 is within the acceptable soil pH level for figs. I have two references on my website. So, at least one should be able to rule out that the roots would be burned by a dolomite addition, where as it could be argued that the roots relocated to a pH level outside recommendations I have been able to locate. Other adverse conditions could be raised by the amount of dolomite that might be added, that are not known to me. Since I am not a horticulturist, I am not a plant pathologist, and I have no credentials in the plant world, I would not be in a position to suggest that my test mix is suitable in any way. I have not, in the field, tested this combination of soil amendments. I only offer the results of the tests, as they are, for your info and use. I would encourage others to perform the same or similar tests. If anyone has, please report your results, so we can all benefit.

Bill

http://mysite.verizon.net/bill.moke/


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Bill,

All I can say is I am totally amazed. I would have never suspected such a dramatic difference. No wonder they are dieing. It's amazing that any of them lived. The limestone would seem to be the answer. I will change my mix immediately.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate your efforts.

Thank you SO much,
Keith


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

I'm resurrecting this thread because I've recently had an almost identical experience....expect I've killed at least two plants and caused damage to at least 10-15 more. They are not fig trees, but what happened is so similar that I felt compelled to write about it here.

Here's what I know:
-Pine bark fines test at about 3.7 or so (same as the person who started this thread)
-The mix with the fines, oildri and granite test somewhere in the mid 5 range (I can't find my notes at the moment)
-The 5-1-1 mix was even lower
-I used a fertilizer (Dynagro) that has calcium and magnesium in it
-each affected plant (and African Violet) was started in a peat/perlite mix and was growing well but began to fail when moved to the either the gritty or the 5-1-1 mix; when removed, all had dead, brown roots

After several failures in both mixes, here's what happened:
-I tested pH and saw it was low, I added dolomite
-I tested the soil/water together and it tested at 6.2 or so
-I planted a few more young plants in it
-They again failed; as with the prior ones, they stopped growing after 2-3 weeks, by week 4 the outer leaves were soft, but week 6 the whole plant was soft. When removed from the pot, the roots were dead with no sign of white

These same plants grow well with the exact same water, the exact same fertilizer, the exact same lighting, but a different mix. And, this mix/water pH is sometimes as low as 5.8, sometimes a bit higher. This mix is usually made with mostly perlite with a bit of peat. No lime or gypsum is added to the mix, yet they are fine.

It doesn't make sense to me that this is the lack of a supplied nutrient. The DynaGro is highly recommended by many on this forum and contains all necessary majors and minors. But, it also doesn't seem to be pH. If it was only pH, then the ones planted most recently would have been fine...but they weren't.

I don't have any answers regarding the cause, but I did want to let the original poster know that I, too, have bark that tests below 4.0, but that adding lime didn't resolve the issue for me. Even though I wasn't planting a fig tree, this may be important for someone who's having similar problems.


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Bill, thanks so much for sharing your test results and proof of your theory. I wiil make a note of your results


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

Similar problem but with commercial vermiculite/peat/perlite potting soil which I firmly believe does not pH adjust because the lime or dolomite does not react with wetting the mix . Have used the same product in same way for many years , straight out of the bag for seeding. Plants germinate but will not grow. Roots do not rot but deform and seem not to take up nutrients. Low ph must damage the root tip and cause the problem. Testing has shown out water to be fine . Plants tested show no herbicide damage either. Lost a whole lot of plants.


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 8, 10 at 15:08

Your issue is most likely physical & not chemical. Most commercially prepared potting soils are pH adjusted with dolomite to a pH of around 6.2.

Al


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

  • Posted by noss 9 Lafayette, LA (My Page) on
    Wed, Sep 8, 10 at 21:30

So, what's the best medium to plant newly rooted fig treelets in?

Plus, what kind of roots formed in the Vermiculite? There are those white roots and roots that are tannish. Someone mentioned that rooting figs in water produced the white roots that are brittle and break off more easily as opposed to the tannish roots. I've been thinking of the white roots as water roots because that's the kind of roots that were forming when I was drowning my young fig trees, as opposed to the tannish roots that have all the little hairy roots on them. Or, do the white roots turn into those kinds of roots?

Thanks,

noss


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RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 9, 10 at 14:04

The best medium to plant newly rooted figs in is one that provides the greatest amount of aeration and ensures that aeration for the expected interval between repots but is still something you can deal with as far as the intervals between watering. IOW, you'll get the best growth from a soil you need to water daily or even twice a day, but if that is too inconvenient, you'll need to adjust to something more tolerable. How much vitality you sacrifice for convenience depends almost entirely on how far you go in the other direction and how fast air returns to the soil after a thorough watering.

E.g., if you were using a soil/plant combination that required daily watering and could magically change the soil to one that only required watering every two days, there would be some degree of sacrifice in potential growth and vitality. If though, you could magically change to a soil that required watering only every 5 days, there would be a considerable sacrifice in growth potential and vitality. Soils that remain waterlogged for extended periods kill roots, and the plant pays to regenerate those roots by spending energy it would normally have put toward increasing mass, more blooms or fruit, extending branches ......

You may be referring to something I wrote about roots:

While fig cuttings may root readily in water, the roots produced this way are quite different from those produced in a solid, soil-like or highly aerated medium (perlite, screened Turface, very coarse sand, e.g.).

Physiologically, you will find these roots to be much more brittle than normal roots due to a much higher % of aerenchyma (a tissue with a greater percentage of inter-cellular air spaces than normal parenchyma). If you want to eventually plant your rooted cuttings in soil, it is probably not best to root them in water because of the frequent difficulty in transplanting them to soil. The "water roots" often break during transplanting & those that don't break are very poor at water absorption and often die. The practical effect is nearly equivalent to starting the cutting process over again with a cutting having diminished energy reserves.

If you do a side by side comparison of cuttings rooted in water & cuttings rooted in a solid well-aerated medium, the cuttings in a solid well-aerated medium will always (for an extremely high % of plants) have a leg up in development on those moved from water to a solid medium for the reasons outlined above.

Al


 o
RE: Pine Bark Fines and Soil ph or Acidity

what excellent discussion !!
al..as always..truely grateful u share your valuable observations and experience !!! cant thank u enough !!
i am a major fan of 5:1:1 mix..i make my own version..using
pumice instead of turface..
my tropical amorphophallus love this mix..
?? and al..i did send you a Dmail on other site..:)
but.. reading postings here.. i am thinking as pine breaks down..i dont need to be concerned with a alkaline
trend in my potting mix..
not ignoring other concerns..Ca/Mg..
my concern with potting mix primarily composed of pine bark shouldnt go out of neutral/slightly acidic?
much thanks !!!!


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