Soil and Compost forum: Can I use sand for Peace Lilly potting soil?

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Name: Victoria
Kent, UK
May 23, 2016 2:50 PM CST
My question is - whether I can use sand instead of pumice, or perlite for drenage when making potting soil mix for my Peace Lilly? And which sand would be the best for this function, and in which proportion can I mix it with potting soil? Confused
“ The beauty of nature has the power and the gift - to bring peace into our hearts.”

Miguel de Cervantes

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
May 26, 2016 3:03 PM CST
Hi Victoria! Welcome to NGA / ATP.

I don't know lilies, but in my opinion, anything marketed as "sand", even "extra coarse sand", has too much fine sand to improve drainage in potting soil. To "open up" potting soil, something larger than "sand" is needed: like "grit". "Perlite" is a good example of the size needed. Maybe "coarse Perlite" is better for the purpose than "medium Perlite".

Coarse sand gets as big as 1 mm, which is still a little small. I found one system that has a category "very coarse sand", which is the 1 mm to 2mm size. If you really could find a bag of that, without the 50-70% finer sand that's usually in "coarse sand" products, you could use that.

But a better size for improving drainage is up around 0.1 inch, or 2.5 mm. Grit. Or double-screened crushed stone.

Those are all HEAVY, and relatively expensive per cubic foot.

I buy cheap (but clean and dry) pine bark, either "coarse bark mulch" or "fine bark nuggets". Then I screen it down to the size I want, and try to remove as much fine stuff and dust as I can. Then I chop up the coarse stuff, and re-screen that.

Eventually I get a wheelbarrow or so of bark shreds, fibers and chips with smallest dimension around 2 mm and as long as I can get. I play with the amount of fines until the bark - all by itself - has ~almost~ the openness that I want, but a good bit coarser.

Then I mix that bark with commercial potting mix like Pro-Mix, which is close to what I want but too water-retentive and not airy enough. I'll mix them somewhere between 70-30% and 30-70%, depending on how open I want it and how many "fines" my re-screened bark still has.

Short answer: I wouldn't bother looking for "super-extra-coarse sand" and hoping it isn't 80% medium sand.

You might buy "crushed granite #2 chicken grit" from a feed store.

Or a bag of double-screened crushed stone around 2-mm grain sizes, and "not a lot of dust and fines".

Or play with bark to MAKE what you wnat. (Or pay a lot for double-screened ground bark "fines" and hope they are not ALL fines.

Or pay for Perlite.

Hope something in there was a little helpful!
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Jun 2, 2016 5:53 PM CST
Hi Amadeo, Welcome! from me too!

I grow Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) in a mixture of bagged potting soil and bagged orchid bark mix that I purchase from my local garden center. The orchid bark mix is a combination of wood chips, charcoal and perlite.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Playing in the dirt is my therapy and I'm in therapy a lot!

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