This from Tim four days ago illustrates my point about the potting compost.
Name: Tim Stoehr
Canby, Oregon (Zone 8b)
Sep 16, 2015 3:03 AM WETDST
Getting back to actual soil issues... I had my first rotter. Angry
This was I think my best looking semp which was purchased as a NOID from a nursery in Woodburn. A very robust and sizable specimen at the time.
I had noticed the lowermost leaves shriveling but it didn't seem altogether unusual. I just thought (hoped) it was the old leaves dying and making way for the new ones. And the top of the rosette seemed solid. However this morning it was noticeably worse and my optimism could no longer be sustained. I tugged at the semp and it came out of the ground without alot of resistance. The first thing I noticed was the roots appeared to have largely dissolved away.
Thumb of 2015-09-16/tcstoehr/4278a7
Pulling the rosette apart revealed rot up the central stem.
Thumb of 2015-09-16/tcstoehr/7fcddd
Digging down into the soil revealed a soggy mass of potting soil... bingo. The surrounding soil in the bed was only very slightly moist.
This semp had been purchased in a 1.5 quart pot with a moisture retentive, organic potting mix. I suppose this is fine as long as it allowed to dry out between watering. But I made the rookie mistake of planting the whole root-ball including the potting mix into a quick-draining, quick-drying, sandy loam bed. This sort of soil drained and dried alot faster than the ball of potting mix, so that mix remained consistently wetter than the surrounding soil and caused the rot to occur.
Lesson going forward is to shake off any kind of potting mix before planting, even if it stresses the roots a bit. Although I doubt the little 2" pots would pose this problem... or would they? Confused
Luckily all the chicks seem OK as they have rooted out in the sandy soil.