Daylilies forum: Soils without peat

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Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Mar 4, 2016 6:47 AM CST
Hi everyone Smiling
Since it's almost time to think spring I was looking at soils available for sale.

Talking about peat.
One thing I know it's that I don't like it, and every bag of soil I bought until now contains a lot of peat (actually it seems producers add always more peat).
I don't like it because it has a lot of fibers and when it dries it becomes waterproof. Maybe the quality of what I bought until now it's very low, but I can't stand it. It's everywhere, in every kind of soil.

Now there's a (new?) trend about soils without peat.
They are made (at least the one I'm reading about) of: wood fibers, cortex humus, compost and coconut powder. This producer makes different soils with different PH values. maybe adding a low PH soil in the garden would be an idea?
Do you have any advice about the use of peat, it's beneficial or can I live without it?
Thank You!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
[Last edited by cybersix - Mar 4, 2016 6:47 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Mar 4, 2016 6:55 AM CST
You can live without peat. If it's to increase organic matter in the garden soil you can use compost instead except for the high pH ones. If it's for potted plants indoors then try the new ones. An advantage with many peats, especially Canadian peat moss, is that it quite acidic so is useful if your pH is too high. If the new "soil" doesn't have a high pH it could work for you in the garden.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Mar 4, 2016 7:05 AM CST
maybe the problem relies on the product, soils have up to 70% of peat and to me it's too much.

I will sure keep in mind the low PH when choosing the soil and the compost to add. This producer makes a low PH soil for acidophiles I could add it when I dig for new seedlings and maybe adding some here there?
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Mar 4, 2016 7:41 AM CST
Worth a try. It's better to amend a whole bed if you can, rather than just planting holes.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Mar 4, 2016 7:56 AM CST
Thank you! The bed I'm planning to use for my seedlings is small so digging for planting is almost like making a new bed from scratch.

With the bed I prepared the past spring I ended up with 10 pots full of clay soil to put apart. Added some common garden soil with peat but as I said it seems that clay has taken advantage again.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Mar 4, 2016 7:58 AM CST
Sue, do you know anything about Leonardite? Would it be useful? Is it a compost or not? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardite
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Mar 4, 2016 8:02 AM CST
That's normal, it's not a do it once and you're done thing, you have to keep adding organic material depending on the rate at which it "disappears". It took me several years of annually spreading composted manure from the stables onto our clay vegetable garden before the soil become lovely and friable.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Mar 4, 2016 8:20 AM CST
No, I've heard of leonardite but don't know much about it. It doesn't appear to be compost, it is derived from lignite coal. I just quickly looked at a few studies that used it and the results seem to be hit and miss depending on the type of plant and also on the amount of leonardite used. There were some benefits with some plants, but when too much is used apparently it can inhibit plant growth.

This was one of the more understandable studies I found:
http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/36/5/913.full.pd...
Name: Greg Bogard
Winston-Salem, NC (Zone 7a)
Sscape
Mar 4, 2016 8:49 AM CST
I have not used peat for years. The main reason I stopped using it is: weeds. The quality of peat has dramatically declined over the past 20 years. The peat started to get full of weed seeds about 15 years ago. After a terrible type of oxalis was introduced to my garden about ten years ago (which I have yet to vanquish)--I stopped using it entirely. Instead, I use composted leaves and/or wood chips. I have an arborist friend (who has done some tree cutting for me), who brings me truckloads of wood chips when he is in the area. He is glad to dump them on my property instead of going way out of his way to dump them in the area designated by the county government for organic waste. Wood is broken down by various bacteria and fungus. They feed on the wood and reduce it to compost. However, they need nitrogen to do this. A byproduct of this is production of organic acids. So---I throw a 50# sack of ground limestone, and a 40# sack of high nitrogen lawn fertilizer (24/0/17), on each 10' x 10' x 5' high pile of chips right away, and repeat in the Spring the following year after turning the pile. By then the pile has shrunk down by a third in size. In the Fall, I turn the pile again. By the next Spring it has reduced to compost that can be added to the bed. This compost is weed-free, and much better for the plants.
Many county governments and municipalities have organic waste dumps that do this process. Many of these give away the compost for free. They do not add nitrogen/ limestone to the organic waste--so you may want to test the pH of it before adding it to let you know whether you have to add some limestone to it to raise the pH. In the location I previously lived, the city government of Winston-Salem had large trucks that would go around the city in the Fall and vacuum up the fallen leaves deposited on the streets by the landowners. They would bring as many loads to your house as you wanted. I put ten loads(10' x 20' x 7' high) into my vegetable garden. 1000# of limestone, 400# of ammonium nitrate, 100# of gypsum, and two truckloads of sand were added as well. It made a great garden, but unfortunately, the leaves did not completely break down until a year after I sold the place. The person I sold the property to did not garden. For many years that 50' x 60' plot grew weeds ten feet tall.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Mar 4, 2016 10:07 AM CST
Sue, I will get compost and a peat-free soil as soon as I can. As soon as the weather permits!
No leonardite then, I don't need another hit and miss thing.

Greg, I never liked peat, I started gardening in 2014. Before I had only some plants in pots, no one survived and trying to get something out of that soil was impossible, at least this is how I always felt. It simply seems something dead in my hand.

It maybe a coincidence or not: I have one DL (always afternoon) that doesn't grow and doesn't bloom, it's in the only little spot of the garden where there was no soil so I used some common garden soil with the usual truck load of peat in it. All the other DLs are living in the original clay soil I found already in the garden. I didn't see many blooms but they all grow and put up new fans. The only one that is exactly as it was when I bought (it was small I have to admit) it's that in peat.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Arlene
Ponce Inlet, FL (Zone 9a)
Tropicals Daylilies Bromeliad Region: Florida Enjoys or suffers hot summers Birds
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florange
Mar 4, 2016 10:14 AM CST
Sabrina, when I lived in Georgia we had red clay that was dense and sticky. Very, very dense and sticky enough that my tennis shoes would become platform shoes when I was through in the garden. That clay stuck to everything!!! Anyway, the only thing that would stay in the clay and keep it from packing down was perlite. Don't know if you have that there. In the states, it's cheap and very available. It has no fertilizer value but lasted in the soil for more than 5 years.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Mar 4, 2016 10:27 AM CST
cybersix said:

It maybe a coincidence or not: I have one DL (always afternoon) that doesn't grow and doesn't bloom, it's in the only little spot of the garden where there was no soil so I used some common garden soil with the usual truck load of peat in it. All the other DLs are living in the original clay soil I found already in the garden. I didn't see many blooms but they all grow and put up new fans. The only one that is exactly as it was when I bought (it was small I have to admit) it's that in peat.


Something to remember with peat moss is that it has very low natural fertillity on its own. However, if you supply it with fertilizer it does hold on to the added nutrients well. But unless yours is unusual clay it likely has more nutrients in it naturally than the peat moss, so if you don't fertilize the peat moss then the plants in it are getting fewer nutrients than those in the clay. I've used peat moss (Canadian) in gardens without any problems, you just have to remember its limitations and work around them. But certainly try your other alternatives. Another possibility might be that the one daylily is in less sun than the others? Having said that 'Always Afternoon' died here but I put it down to our severe winters, it didn't survive the first one.

Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Mar 4, 2016 10:41 AM CST
Thanks, yes we have perlite! It may be something to add but as I said before I can't dig and mix all the flowerbeds *Blush*
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
cybersix
Mar 4, 2016 10:44 AM CST
Sue, maybe it gets less rain because it's the nearest to the house, for the sun I will check better in next month. I may give it a bit of fertilizer, many thanks for suggestions, sometimes I don't see the little things.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
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CaliFlowers
Mar 4, 2016 3:45 PM CST
Sabrina,

Peat has advantages, but has its share of negatives too. One thing that may be affecting your Always Afternoon is the fact that peat can be very difficult to re-wet when it dries, and once that happens, the water you apply will tend to flow downward through a few "channels" without wetting the entire root zone. As you've discovered, clay can move around in a soil mix, almost self-distributing, so if you add a half-inch of clay-based soil as a top-dressing around Always Afternoon, the water will soak in more evenly, and repeated waterings will intersperse the tiny clay particles within the peat, which might help a lot.

I've had many different brands of "normal" potting soils get to the point where they dry and resist re-wetting. I top-dressed the containers with an inch of native garden soil, and the percolation and rewetting problems pretty much stopped.

A lot of coir is generated every year by the coconut industry, and they have to do something with it, so thanks to an impressive marketing campaign, it seems to be a part of almost every soil mix available. Overall, coconut coir has been a mediocre performer for me. It seems to hold just as much water as peat, but lacks peat's antimicrobial properties. I lost a lot of South African winter-growing bulbs due to rot the first year I used it. (That mix was 1 part coir potting soil, 1 part perlite, 1 part pumice)

Last year I tried a coir/perlite mixture with a few mature daylilies in 3 gallon and 5 gallon containers. I like that it's easily resettable and (due to the perlite) has good, open structure, but it lacks any nutrients whatsoever. Despite using a complete "hydroponic" fertilizer with micronutrients, the mature daylilies showed lackluster, weak growth, with thin leaves. It's better now, the magic bullet turned out to be a Calcium-Magnesium supplement recommended by the maker of the potting mix, so I think I'll let those daylilies go one more season before repotting into a more conventional mix. Last fall, I planted some daylily seeds in 3.5" pots with the same mix. I had figured out the Cal-Mag deficiency problem by then, so they did fine from the start. The seedlings continue to grow well, and the water-holding capacity of the coir is really appreciated now that the seedlings are getting larger and thirstier.

One good thing about quality peat is that it tends to break down fairly slowly, the true test of coir will be how it holds up for several years in a container. The best potting soils used to be made with peat, sand, maybe some perlite, a touch of loam, and ground bark, and it was well-composted. Now, time is money, and there is a lot of wood recycling going on in landfills, so fir bark (a magnificent, but costly product) seems to have been replaced by the vastly inferior ground pine. A lot of the wood chips are so raw that they are being dyed black for eye appeal, and after watering they slowly return to their original tan color. When pine starts to decompose in a container, it's highly susceptible to fungal growth, and the resulting mycelium will render the potting mix essentially waterproof. This seems to be particularly bad when mushroom compost is part of the soil blend.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Mar 5, 2016 11:52 AM CST
Thank you Ken for your post.

I'm intending to use the soil not for pots, but to add to the existing garden soil. I don't think I'll grow DLs in pots except for the seedling I'm starting, though I have to say that I have a lot of tempting seeds to start.. but I feel pots are too small for them, I don't have room enough for big flower pots.
I see quality of products we buy gets lower. I will have to buy something good online because I went to the garden center today and I didn't find anything different from the same bage of soil with 70% peat, apart from a small bag of peat-free soil I'm going to try for potting potentillas. So I will search on the internet for the things I need.
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com

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