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Thread: POTTING SOILS and mixes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    POTTING SOILS and mixes

    hi all,
    i am still in a quandry to land my hands on info either on the web or puchased from a bookstore.
    i dont even know if such a thing is in print.
    trial and error works to a point.
    where can i learn potting mixes drainage ,PH requirements, and so on.
    a lilac i am sure wont have the same requirements as a juniper , arborvitaes,jap maples, hydrangeas,daylillies. etc . the all need just a little difference to make them grow in a container .
    is this another closely guarded secret?
    i know drianage is a huge factor and then the ph , and slo release fertilizer.
    it isnt as easy as promix in a hanging basket.
    any one that can shed light on this subject ?
    thanks shepp

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    northeast Tennessee
    Shepp, I don't know of a place where all this is in a neat little chart but that sure would be nice,wouldn't it?
    I know it is a pain to look up every plant, but I do that a lot. I
    don't worry about exact PH but I will add a little lime for things that I know like a more alkaline soil such as my lavender. I think the pine mixes and peat pretty much take care of the acid lovers.
    We try to adjust our soil mixes to satisfy the drainage problem as some of our plants love more moisture and some less.
    So far trial and error are the only resources we have. Hopefully some of our fellow growers might have a better solution, or a good resource for this information.
    tennessee sue

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast

    Like Sally, I am unaware of a single source for all plants.

    Here are some links that may help:

    North Dekota Tree Handbook

    Plants for Acid and Alkaline Soils

    Selected Shrubs for Central Florida

    When searching the internet, you could try 'name of plant' and 'ph soil requirements'. That is how I found the ones given above....

    Perhaps someone knows of a good source, and if they do, I sure wish they would share it with all of us!

    The other thing you can do is to call your local cooperative extension service. They may be able to find the information in their database or books.

    Hope that Helps!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    Thats a good start

    and thanks for the tip on doing searches.
    i should be done in a week or 5 . i better get another ink cartridge.
    i have about 57 plants to do so this may take awhile . i have ninety days untill its time to start potting up again.
    thanks Ann , i can do this on the bitter cold nites.
    shepp zone 5/6

  5. #5

    SHepp, new author

    May I suggest?
    Get yourself a folder and start organizing your research as you gather it, enter it into a Table of Contents, etc. when you have enough pages you can self publish a Soils Guide that would sell in the area of $19-30; if you go a few steps farther and get an ISBN Number from the literary indexing people and set up yourself a print on order account at Barnes and Noble.

    You can do a trade paperback book book with a glue on coated cover for less than $3, set up a website for promotion, autoresponder to send out information, etc. and keep all the moolah! In the publishing world, Steve Martini and Stephen King get about $1 per book. If you self-publish, you will get along GREAT with your publisher and editor, and in any business deal, richer is better.

    The competition to such a book would seem small. I'll buy a copy when you get it made if you'll throw in a copy of Grandma's secret ingredient family chili recipe!!!

    You would be the authoratative voice on soils.
    Marguerite, GrannyGarden

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2002

    No Trial and error here

    We see discussions on how careful one must be to get a well drained rooting medium on one hand and the next post may be on rooting cuttings in WATER!(which I have never done on purpose by the way)

    I use a rule of thumb on cuttings that goes about like this 'the thicker the cutting, the courser the rooting medium. The same applies to seeds. All within reason of course.

    I am not into quantity production, but the cuttings I do take are usually gifts, and I don't have a lot to let spoil. My first stop is usually Michael Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. In there he normally gives the most productive method of propagation, and the culture and soil type that best suits the plant. Basically what you are asking for. If it's been a while, and I'm not too sure about it, I simply open the book to the plant in question, and read again.

    He also gives a piece of information that I follow without question, and that is the zone requirements of the plant. If my zone is not included in the plants listing, I don't even consider it any further.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2002


    thanks marguerite i will take that under advisment,but the chille recipe will still be 10 bucks
    Ann those were very helpfull websites and the surf mode took me to even greater questions.
    Tom i will consult my Dirrs book as you mentioned !
    sound advice from all of you thank you .
    Tom i am potting up rooted cuttings with the hopes, of doing it right. so they grow on to a very nice 3 gallon plant in the near future.
    the reccomendations i have had in the past has given me grief.
    WEEDS for one thing. less than optimal growth for another.
    with some shrubs doing fantastic despite the weeds.
    being this is a one man nursery i am always looking for that edge that will save me time, effort,and produce a quality specimen.
    some how i will overcome some of the adversity of never having the oportunity to be educated in this field of horticulture other than my own willingness to buy the books ,spend the time reading them ,applying what i have learned.to make my dream come true.the school of hard knocks has taught many things . this is the time of year that i have the most time to educate myself.
    observation of what i do the rest of the year and applying what i learned during the winter,remembering mistakes, carry's me thru to the next.
    neccesity is the mother of invention.
    i worked the cents show so hard to find someone who would deal with me on my level -pine fines- .80 cubic yards bulk wasnt my style just yet.
    so with some creativity i solved my problem , got what i wanted and have become a bagged mulch dealer in the end as a side line.
    and have additional income to get and keep this nursery going.
    as long as i am field planting none of this matters.(untill i run out of that room) i have to have adequate supply of containerized shrubs on hand at all times.
    i want and need return biz from landscapers.year round. to do that i have to grow with little effort where i can quality plants!
    i appreciate all ya'all's input. thanks shepp

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2002

    I see more clearly now

    Shepp if you will stroll through a few of the local retail nurseries, I think you will see that even the larger plants, in large containers are still grown in a course soiless mix. The soiless mix has very little nutrient, and is nearly neutral in pH. I know pine bark and peat are somewhat acid, but not enough to worry about.

    I've tried using compost in pots, it just does not work for me. I always end up with lots of weeds, and a pot that cannot be watered, and the pH is totally unpredictable. Things just seem to stand still in it for me.

    This next comment is going to make you think I'm a mass producer and wholesaler, but thatís not the case. I use this stuff in my flower beds as well. There is a pine bark processor about 35 miles from my house that sells in bulk all their bark products. All the different mulch including a product they call "soil conditioner" is $14.00 per Cu Yd. I have a trailer behind my truck that will hold nearly 4 yd., but I only buy 2, because they almost fill it up for $28.00. Their price for fine bark that they call 'Potting Soil' is 24.00/yd. Now, that makes course material cost me 1.03/bag, and fine soil is 1.77/bag. If I need to amend that to a finer texture, I can always add a little peat, perlite, or vermiculite to it, usually for smaller plants.

    With all this inert stuff in the pot, I can control the amount of nutrient the plant gets because I am the only source. I never have to wonder what the pH, or nutrient level is/was to start.
    With the quick draining medium, the best fertilizer I've found is the various mixes of Osmocote. It just doesn't leach away like others do.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    wish i had your prices

    17.50 a yard x 80 yards =1400.00 that is the least they will sell me.
    in bulk that was 6 different dealers. some wanted as much as 26.50 per yard x 80
    i would love to go pick up the stuff with my truck and trailer.
    i understand what you are saying about the mix .
    what about a surfactant.if i let it get to dry just once i will need a wetting agent wont i.water would run off like a ducks back!
    i read last nite to mix clay to a fine muck consistency and water once with that and it would suffice as a wetting agent.
    i use osmocote on everything now .maybe not often enuf. but that isnt my problem.
    hopefully by this time next year i can use 80 yards at one time.
    thanks shepp

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Got this from a large wholesaler

    Shrub Mix

    6 yards coarse sand
    16 yds composted Rice hulls
    14 yds soil conditioner
    24 yards pine nuggets
    60 yards total

    Tree mix( wax and Crapr mertle only)

    6 yds coarse sand
    12 yds composted Rice hulls
    9 yds Regrind
    9 yds minin nuggets
    24 yds age pine bark
    60 yards total

    On the shrub mix they had the processor add fertilizer and minerals to the mix but claim they were unhappy with it .this conditioner really ran the cost up and couldn't see the fertilizer much in the mix. They will now mix in there own slow cote fertilizer.

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