Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: Potting Mixes and Difficult Soil

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Name: Al
5b-6a MI
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tapla
Feb 27, 2010 1:10 AM CST
Hello - and thank you, Lynn, for the request to share the recipe for a soil that works extremely well for succulents, houseplants, and any plant material you intend to keep in the same soil more than only a few months. I'll be following the thread, and I'll be around to answer questions if there is interest, so I won't go into tremendous detail here. I'll leave a link at the end where you can explore some of the more technical aspects of container soils and container culture in general.

The reason this soil works so well is because it is very simple. Each ingredient serves a particular function, and the particle size is sch that the soil holds good amounts of moisture in the internal pores of the ingredients, but very little water in the pore space between particles. This provides tremendous aeration, which promotes excellent root function/metabolism/health, and provides the grower with a much wider margin of error when it comes to issues like watering and the accumulation of soluble salts so prevalent in peat based soils, which comes about from the necessity of watering in sips to avoid conditions favorable for root rot.

The ingredients and ratio - Equal parts by volume of:

uncomposted pine or fir bark in 1/8-1/4" size
Screened Turface (may substitute calcined DE, such as NAPA floor dry)
Gran-I-Grit (crushed granite in grower size or #2 cherrystone)
gypsum (1 level Tbsp/gallon of soil)

If you decide to adopt this soil as your 'go-to' mix, we can talk about a favorable (and easy) nutrient program.

You can find more in-depth info here at the link below. I've been helping people understand some very important principles that determine to a very large degree, their effort:reward quotient as it applies to gardening in containers. For many years, I wouldn't allow myself to say that an understanding of information in the link below is critical if you have a desire to get the best from your plants, but after hearing it repeated thousands of times by so many others, I feel more comfortable in suggesting to you that it really IS that important. So many people have read it and offered comments similar to, "The light just went on" or, "I knew I was missing something, but I just didn't understand what."

I hope you'll have a look. My guess is you'll come away with a much better understanding of what it takes to give your plants at least the chance to grow to their genetic potential.

http://cubits.org/containergardeningwith/thread/view/1084/

Thanks again for the invitation, Lynn. You've done such a nice job on your Cubit.

Al (tapla)



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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Feb 27, 2010 1:10 AM CST

Moderator

Thank you As. I just got home from buying all the components to make my potting mix. I got the Turface at John Deere Landscaping, Fir bark, gypsum and CRF at Lowe's, and the grit is on order from our local feed store in the correct size. Tue. I will make my first batch. Can't wait to get started. I will post a picture of my first batch next Wed.
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Feb 27, 2010 1:10 AM CST
Hurray! Thumbs up

You're very welcome. I love your enthusiasm. Smiling

Take care.

Al
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Feb 27, 2010 1:10 AM CST

Moderator

It is so easy to have enthusiasn or excitement about something that will make my Sedum and Semps healthier and happy. Thank you so much Al.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Mar 1, 2010 2:15 PM CST

Moderator

I planted my first sedum in the potting mix. I am planting the exact same variety in MG Potting Mix. Will post a picture of results using different methods. I have a feeling, especially in the long run that Al's recipe is going to win out, especially in our wet PNW weather.
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Mar 1, 2010 3:41 PM CST
I'll look forward to your observations. You'll need to fertilize a little more frequently in the gritty mix because it drains so well, so keep that in mind.

Tip: Try to remember not to fertilize container plantings when soil temps are below 55*. There are 2 reasons for this. The first is that plants won't be doing much growing & will use little in the way of nutrients. The second is that if you are using a fertilizer that supplies it's N in urea or ammoniacal form, urea is either converted to nitrate-N in the soil by bacteria, or it is taken up directly by the plant. The plant can store large amounts of N in nitrate forms, but cannot store much N in a the ammonium form w/o symptoms of ammonium toxicity - especially when cool soil temps or soggy conditions inhibit the bacteria that convert the urea to nitrate form. In short, it's best to withhold urea-based fertilizers if there is a chance soil temps will be below 55*.

Al
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Mar 1, 2010 7:17 PM CST

Moderator

Thank you Al. I won't be fertilizing until this summer. I have never fertilized my sedum and semps, even the ones in containers. I do realize that I will have to change that using this mix. I was reading through some of your information on your site. Don't think I would want to fertilize very much though, maybe once a month for sedum and semps? What do you think?

Forgot to tell you, I love that little container planting. That is so cute. Wish I lived close, would love to see your place and just walk around taking everything in. Fascinating. : )
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Mar 1, 2010 8:54 PM CST
I have lots of them in containers & I fertilize them right along with my other stuff, and they do very well. During the summer, I fertilize at full strength at least every 2 weeks, and often, every weekend.

See, when you're using these fast soils, and flush them every time you water, you could actually fertilize EVERY time you water. I do that all winter long (fertigate every time they need water) so my indoor plants, including succulents, are actually getting fertilized at the rate of 12 drops of Foliage-Pro every time I water (every 3 days). I actually COULD do the same thing in the summer, but with over 300 containers to water, most every day, I can't afford the time to fertigate every time, so I try to fertilize every weekend or every other weekend when it's hot or cool.

Al


Thumb of 2010-03-02/tapla/207ea5
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Mar 1, 2010 11:26 PM CST

Moderator

Okay, that makes sense. I learned many years ago that semps and sedum didn't do well if fertilized very often. But that was using conventional methods of potting or growing in ground. I will give this a try. I will do the comparison thing with the fertilizer also. I'm actually getting excited about trying all these new ideas.
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Mar 2, 2010 7:44 AM CST
When our weather changes (Apr), remind me and I'll share some of my favorite succulents w/you.

Al
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Mar 2, 2010 9:42 AM CST

Moderator

Would love that Al. Maybe I have some you don't have that I can send you. I am in the process of getting them listed in the new database that will be coming out sometime this week. When it's up and running take a look and see if there is anything that you might want.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Mar 21, 2010 2:25 PM CST

Moderator

Al, I meant to ask you what cultivar is your tiny Semp? I is very attractive.
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Mar 21, 2010 2:37 PM CST
S arachnoideum 'Cobweb Buttons', but if you think that one is small, you should see the S hookeri. I don't have a pic of it, but if you remind me I'll take one when they wake up. We got an inch of snow yesterday. Grumbling

Al
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Mar 21, 2010 2:44 PM CST

Moderator

Oh no, snow. Sorry. Can't wait to see the hookeri. I have Cebanese, boy did it take a hit this year with the 10° weather in Dec. then 2 months of rain. I just replanted what was left of them today. They do tend to go semi dormant in the winter anyway. My Maigret came through all the weather in very good shape, but it's not an arach., is just hairy. : ) I love the color on your Buttons. If I add it to the database would you mind adding the picture?
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Mar 21, 2010 7:09 PM CST
Sure, if I can figure out how to. Blinking

Al
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Mar 21, 2010 7:18 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks Al. It really is easy. I already have the info part filled out. Just find it by name and at the bottom of the entry it asks if you want to add a photo. Just follow the instructions. It really isn't any different than dowloading a picture here to a thread. Any you have pictures of named cultivars I can set the new entry up so all you have to do is add the picture. Your photography is great. We are trying to get pictures of each cultivar/variety in different seasons to show how much they can change during a years time.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Mar 28, 2010 4:58 PM CST

Moderator

Hope things are getting better with your weather Al. My semps are starting to wake up, and I noticed that some are already starting to produce chicks. It will probably still be awhile for you. : )
Name: Al
5b-6a MI
Image
tapla
Apr 11, 2010 6:57 PM CST
I have several that over-winter in the garage, and they're awake already. I'm soo frustrated. Every time I move my trees outdoors, based on favorable weather forecasts, they change the forecast and I have to bring them back in (the ones in leaf, anyway). They did it to me again today! lol

I don't worry about a little frost for the semps & sedum, though. Smiling

Al

Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
Apr 26, 2010 5:28 PM CST
I am trying to figure out the right potting mix for my semps and heuffs
"I got the Turface at John Deere Landscaping, Fir bark, gypsum and CRF at Lowe's, "
I live in your area, so I will check Lowe's , but what is CRF?
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
canadanna
Apr 26, 2010 7:33 PM CST
OOPS! I didn't realize there was a Dallas in Oregon. I am zone 8 too. Now I know what PNW means! Still don't know what CRF is, though.

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