Sempervivum forum: Let's Talk Dirt

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2
Views: 1048, Replies: 32 » Jump to the end
Name: Melissa Hopper
St. Helens, Or (Zone 8a)
Semp addict horse junky dog flunky
Sempervivums Keeps Horses Dog Lover Critters Allowed Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Photography
Hummingbirder Region: Oregon
Image
MelissaHopper
Aug 22, 2018 12:31 PM CST
I am curious as to why type of dirt mixture you all use for your semps? Especially those who are planting in container, like I am.

Right now I use Miracle Grow Moisture Control with nothing added. It seems to work well but I am thinking I can probably do better.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse
Sempervivums Bromeliad Adeniums Morning Glories Avid Green Pages Reviewer Brugmansias
Image
plantmanager
Aug 22, 2018 12:53 PM CST
That stuff usually stays too wet, Melissa, even in containers. If you get a lot of rain and are using that, you're likely to have rotting plants. It's much better if most succulents have a very fast draining mix full of perlite, pumice, or poultry grit.
Handcrafted Coastal Inspired Art SeaMosaics!
Name: BigT
Central Illinois (Zone 5)
Sempervivums Sedums Cactus and Succulents Birds
Image
Bigtattoo
Aug 22, 2018 2:07 PM CST
Melissa,

I use equal parts 3/8" pea gravel, traction sand and potting mix. You can get pea gravel at any home improvement center, typically in the garden dept.. Traction sand or tube sand is grittier than play sand. Meant for snowy or muddy areas, bags in the back of your truck for added weight, and in a pinch, cut open the bag and throw the sand under your tires. It's 1/4" grit and finer, so some sand, some grit. Then any good potting mix. This will drain my containers as fast as the drain holes will allow. It's easy to scoop up under hens with a teaspoon, and stays in place well.
I top dress with Cherry Stone #2poultry grit. Any crushed granite poultry grit will do but, the Cherry Stone has a nice pinkish, blue color and looks real nice. If you like the looks of the pea gravel you get, you can top dress with that also.

Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Image
webesemps
Aug 22, 2018 2:19 PM CST
She appears to be a hardworking woman, very dedicated to creating and sustaining her "rock" garden, very supportive of evermorelawnless, animal lover and all around nice person. She also appears to have good taste.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse
Sempervivums Bromeliad Adeniums Morning Glories Avid Green Pages Reviewer Brugmansias
Image
plantmanager
Aug 22, 2018 2:22 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing It took me a minute before I realized what you meant, Bev. Rolling on the floor laughing
Handcrafted Coastal Inspired Art SeaMosaics!
Name: Asa

Bee Lover Garden Photography Region: Utah Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Photo Contest Winner 2019
Image
evermorelawnless
Aug 22, 2018 2:38 PM CST
webesemps said:She appears to be a hardworking woman, very dedicated to creating and sustaining her "rock" garden, very supportive of evermorelawnless, animal lover and all around nice person. She also appears to have good taste.


I agree heartily with almost everything you said, Bev. However, items three and six seem to be quite dissonant.
This is fun: The thread "Asa's former lawn...or (better) Dirt's current gardens" in Garden Photos forum

My bee site - I post a new, different bee photo every day:
http://bees.photo
[Last edited by evermorelawnless - Aug 22, 2018 2:39 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1797715 (6)
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Image
webesemps
Aug 22, 2018 2:47 PM CST
Everyone is entitled to a few quirks.
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: Utah Bee Lover Garden Photography Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Photo Contest Winner 2018 Photo Contest Winner 2019
Image
dirtdorphins
Aug 22, 2018 5:51 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
That's all too dang funny right there

Sometime, when I get a chance, I'll come back and tell you the things I'm learning about dirt, soil, and soil-less mixes--
for now though,

How kind of you Bev Thank You! !
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
crawgarden
Aug 22, 2018 6:42 PM CST
2 parts pea gravel, 2 parts sand, 1 part Bobs compost. Top dress with cherry stone #2 or 3
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
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 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
valleylynn
Aug 22, 2018 8:40 PM CST

Moderator

webesemps said:She appears to be a hardworking woman, very dedicated to creating and sustaining her "rock" garden, very supportive of evermorelawnless, animal lover and all around nice person. She also appears to have good taste.


Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
My laugh for the day. At first I thought Bev had had to much of Tim's lemoncello. Then my brain caught up. *Blush*

I like BigT's mix. I will have to give it a try. Right now I am using sandy loam
Name: Lizzy
Northern KY (Zone 6b)
Image
Mefforde
Aug 22, 2018 8:48 PM CST
I use about the same as Big T. Drains fast for my potted friends.
Name: Melissa Hopper
St. Helens, Or (Zone 8a)
Semp addict horse junky dog flunky
Sempervivums Keeps Horses Dog Lover Critters Allowed Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Photography
Hummingbirder Region: Oregon
Image
MelissaHopper
Aug 23, 2018 2:28 PM CST
Ha! You got me with that one Bev. I admit I did wonder when I posted if anybody would pick up on that. I should have known that you would. You scamp!

BigT, that sounds like a very nice and easy mix. I always have a big pile of pea gravel on hand because we use it in the horse's paddock in the muddy spots to make then not muddy. Already using the #2 chicken grit and it sounds like the stuff that you are using. It is granite and soft shades of pink and blue.

RJ, I have an abundance of compost. Not Bob's, Amie's Compost. Amie is a horse and she makes lovely compost. I have a huge pile out back of the barn so will try mixing a bit of that in also.
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Aug 23, 2018 8:09 PM CST
Melissa,

If the "horse compost" has a little too much nitrogen you might get some atypical growth and/ or rot. That's one reason I use Quick Start as it has relatively low N.

The soil in my raised beds (big pots??) is from Terra Gardens and is called "Premium Perennial Mix". It is fairly light with a large amount of shredded bark in the mix. I would actually like something a little heavier but this grows great plants. As Lynn can attest by my 12" semp seedling one year from seed.

Kevin
Name: Melissa Hopper
St. Helens, Or (Zone 8a)
Semp addict horse junky dog flunky
Sempervivums Keeps Horses Dog Lover Critters Allowed Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Photography
Hummingbirder Region: Oregon
Image
MelissaHopper
Aug 25, 2018 9:00 AM CST
Kevin, would your advice be too skip the horse compost?

And how and when do you use Quick Start?
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 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
valleylynn
Aug 25, 2018 9:07 AM CST

Moderator

I agree with Kevin on the horse compost. How far are you from Scappoose Melissa. There is a place that that has compost.
Name: Melissa Hopper
St. Helens, Or (Zone 8a)
Semp addict horse junky dog flunky
Sempervivums Keeps Horses Dog Lover Critters Allowed Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Photography
Hummingbirder Region: Oregon
Image
MelissaHopper
Aug 25, 2018 9:17 AM CST
Lynn, I am just a few miles from Scappoose. They are the next town over. I noticed that Kevin gets his dirt from a nursery in Salem so was thinking it might be worth the trip but if there is someplace in Scappoose that would be great.
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 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
valleylynn
Aug 25, 2018 9:36 AM CST

Moderator

Just make sure you know what they are using in it. Kevin's mix is great.
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Aug 25, 2018 11:08 AM CST
Agreed. I know Patty has gotten some good Oregon soil for her yard too. It seems others aren't as lucky. Scappoose would be close enough to get something good delivered without costing an arm and a leg. I usually get 5-6 yards at a time to save on delivery expenses.

I use the mix in two ways. In my perennial beds and in the seedling rows of irises and daylilies, I spread ~1-2" of the soil mix on top of the soil and then spade it in to mix things a bit. My yard is across the road from the Willamette River so my soil is not too bad already, although there are a couple of clay pockets here and there. The soil mix loosens it up and adds organic matter. As Lynn and Bev can tell you, it grows very pretty irises too. In the raised beds, I either lie down weed mat in areas where tree roots are problematic, or not where they are not. The beds are then filled with the soil mix and allowed to settle before planting. Ideally I will let the bed sit over the winter covered with weed mat to prevent any weed seed from landing on it. The weed mat does allow water and air to go through though.

In the semp beds I mulch with fine gravel and/ or chick grit #2. Am trying some #1 around the seedlings as it's much finer. Jury is still out on that.

Kevin

Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: Utah Bee Lover Garden Photography Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Photo Contest Winner 2018 Photo Contest Winner 2019
Image
dirtdorphins
Oct 7, 2018 9:51 AM CST
Well, I've been having some epic dirt disasters--
Got 12 yards of what was supposed to be 'sandy loam' that turned out to be silt, fine sand, and gravel dumped in 8 beds--add water and it turned into pudding that doesn't drain, dried by evaporation into concrete--yikes! Jury convicted that crap, cannot grow anything in that.
Major pita to extract as much of it as possible out of the beds...got that done with help. Got another 12 yards of light and fluffy silt-counteraction material all spread into 8 beds--add water and the weed seeds are sprouting like mad Grumbling goatheads! D'Oh! woe is me!
anyway--can't recommend any of that Hilarious!

The one thing that I wanted to mention is that I have killed more than a few plants by giving them very well drained, gritty, lean and mean places to live because that's what everybody says they need...and then unintentionally desiccating them to death.
What I didn't understand is that when they are planted that way, they also need a heck of a lot more water than I can consistently provide.

I finally figured out that the 'proper soil mix' is not necessarily the best thing for me to do here because we really don't have much in the way of water to deal with. And by that I mean our average annual 'rainfall' is somewhere ranging from 13-22 inches per year and the majority of that is actually snowfall in the winter--not rain--which doesn't qualify as water either, until it actually melts.
So really, barring irrigation disasters, the only time it is ever soggy around here is occasionally, in the early spring --if we have accumulated any winter snow to melt and we get some heavy spring snow, sleet, and/or rain--otherwise, it's generally pretty dry in these parts.

By way of example, some of you may recall my big ole spalling shale
Thumb of 2018-09-20/dirtdorphins/1c8c52

Well, I used to have this

growing in the side of the thing, for a couple of years. I had such great visions for how that was going to carry on and expand and be really cool...
Then, following a normal (dry) summer, we had a really dry winter (puff-dry). I failed to water my rock. It died. Not the rock, the plant.
The semp up top was really desiccated too, but it had more of a root run thru the rock plus all of its dead and dried up former buddies to consume, so it managed a comeback, with some much needed moisture.

When I replanted that side crack, I packed the thing with clay, because at that point I had come to the conclusion that it was worth a try.
I put four chicks of this one in there
Thumb of 2018-10-06/dirtdorphins/c96216
That'd be the four bigger ones you see here in the first pic taken October 2015
and just for grins, here's that poor tortured semp on 4 Sept. 2018
Thumb of 2018-10-07/dirtdorphins/5e49d6
Still there, and I've removed many dangling chicks from there to torture in other experiments even though you can't really tell Hilarious!

Anyway, the point is, I was tired of killing plants with sharp drainage and inadequate water, so I've been conducting a lot of experiments with semps and other plants, in the ground, raised beds, regular containers, and unconventional containers.
What I can tell you all is that the drainage they demand is directly proportional to the water they receive that needs to drain away.
And the corollary, planted in free draining, non-retentive media, in the high desert...they die without supplemental watering!

This is grown in another crack packed with clay
Thumb of 2018-10-07/dirtdorphins/c576bf

This one is planted in grit, but, there is no drain hole in that geode--just canted so some water can run out the lower edge. This was summer 2016
Thumb of 2018-10-07/dirtdorphins/7e8795
Freaky, yes, but it works--
Still working this summer
Thumb of 2018-10-07/dirtdorphins/88caa1

These are growing vertically out of sphagnum and some very perlite-y potting mix behind it. I have to water them frequently (EOD) in the summer. In the winter, I shovel snow on them when we have it and water them when we don't.
Thumb of 2018-10-07/dirtdorphins/99e309
This was August, they've been in this 'container' for several years, before I started playing around with the rules...

These are growing in riverbottom sand and gravel on top of the native clay hill
Thumb of 2018-10-07/dirtdorphins/a6a609
They seem happy enough, but, I do have to be careful not to over-irrigate them in the summer...

So at this point, I don't have the perfect go-to semp mix.
I've just recently relocated a bunch into the new areas with the new weed-seed packed silt-counteraction mix Rolling my eyes. and they are doing very well so far...time will tell...
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Oct 7, 2018 11:37 AM CST
Dirt,

I found the same here in Oregon too. What is considered PERFECT for succulents really in many ways isn't. We get SO DRY AND now with Global Warming HOT in the summer that plants are cooking in the lighter mix. It doesn't retain water well enough. I lost a few things in those lightest soil beds although the hardier souls live on.

My new conclusion is that it's a bit better to create a raised bed with slightly heavier soil so that it retains enough moisture to keep the semps from dessicating but because of the raised beds they are never in standing water. Gravel around the plants keeps them happy.

Kevin

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Sempervivum forum
Only the members of the Members group may reply to this thread.

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by Baja_Costero and is called "Mounding bromeliad"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.