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RE: Omitting bark from gritty mix (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 01.15.2013 at 04:24 pm in Container Gardening Forum

An appropriate size bark makes a small measure of nutrients available as the bark breaks down, and makes the soil less expensive on a per volume basis. Both are minor attributes a grower can do w/o.

I think that if you eliminate the bark, you'll need to change the 1:1 ratio of granite:Turface to something like 3:2 or 2:1 in favor of the granite. The reason is, the granite and bark combined make up the largest fraction of the soil, and those components are both larger than Turface. Even screened Turface is small enough to support about an inch of perched water. The Turface will tend to filter in between the grit particles and make for fewer large pores than if there was a suitable size bark in the soil. It's nothing that can't be worked around with a minor adjustment.



Gritty Mix without Bark.
clipped on: 01.15.2013 at 06:21 pm    last updated on: 01.15.2013 at 06:22 pm

RE: Does my 5:1:1 mix look right? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: tapla on 01.10.2013 at 05:22 pm in House Plants Forum

Ideally, the inorganic soil particles would be sized from about 1/10" to no larger than 3/16", and the bark fraction slightly larger, say from 1/8" to 1/4" to allow for some reduction in size over the life of the soil due to breakdown/composting.

PWTs disappear as particle size becomes larger than just over 1/10", so a soil with particles around that size maximizes the amount of water a soil can hold without it holding water between particles. This ensures a healthy root environment, free from the deleterious effects of perched water, from the bottom of the container to the top - even when the soil is at container capacity (holding all the water it can).

This is an interesting (physics?) question: adding bark to the gritty mix. I might wonder if it would actually make your water retention worse? It might not be exactly true, but bark holds about as much water as the average between Turface and granite combined. The aim of screening materials for the gritty mix to certain sizes is to ensure that as much water as possible will be held on the surface of soil particles and inside particles that are internally porous. What bark does to water retention depends on the size of the bark in relation to the other materials in the soil, how wet the soil is at watering time, and what mix of other ingredients are in the soil.

If you made a gritty mix of equal parts of screened Turface and granite, adding bark wouldn't change water retention much; but if the soil favored one or the other (Turface or granite), the bark could change water retention. If your soil was 4 parts Turface and 2 parts granite plus 3 parts of bark, the bark would decrease water retention; but it would increase water retention if the mix contained 4 parts granite and 2 Turface.

Also, even though it's very difficult to over-water anything in the gritty mix, letting your soil dry down some between waterings allows the bark fraction to work as a water reservoir and a sponge. When you water an almost dry gritty mix, the Turface sucks up water on contact - VERY quickly; but water pouring through the soil isn't absorbed as quickly by the bark. This is a benefit because any perched water quickly diffuses as gas (water vapor) and can be absorbed by the bark that didn't get fully saturated when you watered. If you water while the soil is still wet, the bark can become fully saturated and unable to absorb (sponge up) any excess water that might tent to want to perch near the bottom of the container.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept of perched water and water retention as a result of particle size (rather than how absorbent a material is!). There is a difference between how absorbent a soil particle is and how absorbent a conglomeration of particles is. A tiny particle of sand holds water only on it's surface. Let's call that amount of water 'x'. You might expect that a conglomeration of 100 particles to hold a volume = to 100x, but actually it's much more than that because of the added water held between the particles. Once particles reach a certain size (about .1") water can't be held in the air spaces between the particles, only in the immediate area of contact between particles and on their surface. It's the size of the spaces between particles that determine whether or not they can hold water against the force of gravity.

All tiny particles (like fine sand/peat/compost) = small spaces between particles and lots of water in those spaces - more accurately - a tall PWT. All large particles (like BB size) = no water in the air spaces between particles and NO PWT. When large particles are mixed with fine particles, the fine particles surround the large particles, so the HT of the PWT and soil aeration is largely unaffected. This is why it's impossible to effectively 'amend' soils based on fine particulates by adding larger material, like pine bark or perlite. Unless the larger particles make up a very large fraction of the soil, the fine particles simply 'filter in' around the large particles and negate the effort - except as it relates to o/a water retention. You can see that if you add a fist full of marbles to a pint of peat moss, that the marbles will take up space and reduce o/a water retention without having any impact on drainage or aeration.

We know now that particle size has the most significant impact on o/a water retention, but only up until the point that the PWT disappears. A pint of Turface particles the same size as particles of fine play sand will hold more water than the sand because the Turface has internal porosity, but because most of the water is held BETWEEN particles, the increase in water retention isn't as great as it would be if the particles were larger, say .1". Then, there would be no water in the air spaces between particles and much water inside the very porous Turface particles, making the increase in water retention significant.
Got it? ;-)



Particle size, and the influence of bark.
clipped on: 01.10.2013 at 07:09 pm    last updated on: 01.10.2013 at 07:10 pm

RE: Fertilizering Containerized Plants IV (Follow-Up #36)

posted by: tapla on 08.14.2012 at 06:37 pm in Container Gardening Forum

There is little variation in the nutritional content of the various organs of any given plant. While you're told that N is for foliage, P is for roots, ..... - the fact is, the plant needs all the essential elements in roughly the same ratio for all it's parts. If you would like to curtail vegetative growth and promote the plant's allocating more energy to fruit production, simply reduce the N you're supplying. I do this by reducing the frequency of my applications of fertilizer and/or the strength of the solution, and by adding either KCl (potash) or Pro-TeKt 0-0-3 to the fertilizer solution. In essence, it changes my fertilizer ratio to something close to 3:1:3. It's important to understand that you have to ACTUALLY TAKE CONTROL of the N you're supplying and make sure you're creating a N deficiency to accomplish this goal. It's not the fertilizer ratio that controls how much N is delivered, it's the grower's hand on the watering can that contains the solution. Just changing the ratio to 3:1:3 won't do it if you continue to supply all the N the plant wants. The extra K is just ensuring there won't be a K deficiency if you are in control enough to keep the foliage a lighter shade of green, indicating your strategy is probably working. You'll probably be sacrificing some older and interior foliage as a result of your reduction in the amount of N you're supplying if it's working as you planned.



Reducing Nitrogen
clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 08:55 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 08:55 pm

RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix? (Follow-Up #47)

posted by: tapla on 04.03.2012 at 08:12 am in Container Gardening Forum

FWIW - the taste of tomatoes grown in containers has more to do with watering habits than what type of soil or fertilizer you use.

Eggshells are almost 100% CaCO3, which is virtually insoluble at the pH levels we grow at. I've added eggshells to the garden, compost, and containers; never did they seem to change size/shape or get rubbery over the course of a growth cycle or two. As far as roots embracing the eggshells ...... they 'seem to' embrace all large particulates in the soil structure - especially bark and prills of controlled release fertilizers, like Osmocote. If eggshells WERE soluble, there might be considerable DISADVANTAGE in adding them to soils without also adding an appropriate measure of Mg. When the ratio of Ca:Mg gets significantly out of balance, an antagonistic deficiency develops, making it more difficult for the plant to assimilate one element when the other is present in excess. Where pH levels support it's use, the best way to get Ca to plants is via dolomitic (garden) lime. Bone meal also breaks down so slowly it's chemical benefits are insignificant in containers, and structurally it can't be considered a plus.

BTW - more often than not, the BER we so often associate with a Ca deficiency is a physiological issue related to growth rate, not an actual Ca deficiency related to a scarcity of that element. Whenever this is the heart of the issue, adding 'extra' Ca has no potential to be beneficial; it only has the potential to be limiting. The same is true of any element dissolved in the soil solution. Fortunately, CaCO3's (eggshells') extremely limited solubility trumps what could otherwise be a potential problem.

If you add a banana peel to your soil, how much K are you supplying? Does your plant NEED the extra K? If it doesn't, the additional K has only the potential to be limiting, not beneficial. Many of you are operating on the premise that 'more of anything' is a good thing. It's not. If the plant has any element in the soil available at levels high enough to satisfy the plant's needs, there is only the potential to LIMIT in adding more. If a plant needs the extra K that might be found in a banana peel, it needs it now, not 3 months from now when the breakdown of the fruit's molecular structure is at its peak and the amount of K it's contributing is as unknown as the need for more K.



*Eggshells and Banana Peels for Dummies
clipped on: 04.03.2012 at 12:15 pm    last updated on: 04.03.2012 at 12:16 pm

RE: Help for Ponytail Palm - Needs green on top (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: tapla on 01.02.2012 at 05:41 pm in House Plants Forum

Ponytail palms are actually close relatives of yuccas and in the lily family - not palms at all. They also enjoy the reputation of being virtually indestructible plants, thriving on neglect .... though I think it's more accurate to think they don't appear to appreciate over-nurturing. About the only thing you can do to harm them when attempting reasonable care, is to over-water, provide too little light, or allow an accumulation of salts in the soils to make it impossible for the plant to take up water.

Repotting this plant is about as foolproof as repotting gets. Because this plant is capable of storing up to a years supply of water and bio-compounds it can turn into energy (sugars, starches, oils), the roots can literally be stripped from the caudex entirely, and the plant will reroot and do just fine. I'm not suggesting this treatment, only illustrating that virtually anyone can repot this plant and be virtually assured of impunity.

While the plant can indeed suffer irreparable damage in a short time if moved from a low light siting to a full sun position, it doesn't take any longer for a plant deprived of full sun for extended periods (years) to acclimate to a full sun site than a plant that has has intermittent exposure to sun - let's say a plant that summers outdoors & spends winters indoors.

The question then becomes, "Would a summer vacation outdoors after a period of acclimation to full sun benefit the plant, or in the end be a limiting factor?" First, I can't think of any plant that does better indoors than it does outdoors when conditions are appropriate. Obviously, the plant being a native of SW Mexican deserts, it likes the sun. It's a given that the potential for net gain in the areas of both stored energy and an increase in mass are many times greater for this plant in full outdoor sun vs indoors. The greatest stress the plant could possibly endure associated with a move indoors from full sun would be full or partial abscission (shedding) of it's foliage. To be fair, in order for the move to outdoors to be a benefit to the plant, there must be a net gain in the amount of stored energy in the plant should it shed it's foliage when brought inside come fall, compared to its stored energy level had it been indoors and kept its foliage for the summer.

I think we can find the answer to that in the fact that many plants that naturally occur close to the equator are either naturally or intentionally defoliated, sometimes repeatedly, within the course of a single growth cycle with little noticeable effect on the organism. While I'm not suggesting that anyone follow suit, I've mentioned many times that I regularly move most of my Ficus & scheffleras directly from their indoor home to full sun. I have the choice of acclimation if I choose, yet I move them directly into full sun where the leaves quickly suffer photo-oxidation (sunburn) and fall off. Quickly too, a new flush of growth appears, which since it appeared in full sun is acclimated to full sun, and equally quickly sets about the business of photosynthesis (making the plant's food). These plants can be completely defoliated in early Sep if you choose, and moved to shade, so the leaves in the flush of new growth are acclimated to lower light than the plant's previous dress. I usually don't defoliate all the tropical trees in the fall because I grow under lights, and defoliation hasn't been a significant problem.

I have found that the plants moved directly to full sun where the foliage is soon shed, end up growing much faster than those I take the time to acclimate. Again, I'm not suggesting that anyone follows suit based on my say so, but if you have a full sun plant you'd like to try it with, you'll see what I mean by summer's end. A side benefit of this treatment is that branching plants exhibit denser branching and foliage as new growth appears.

The only stress the plant might endure in a move from outdoors to indoors is the potential energy outlay required to replace any foliage that 'might' be lost, which would be far outweighed by the increase in mass & particularly in stored energy, when compared to plants over-summered indoors. Comparatively, plants grown outdoors can be counted on to exhibit greater resistance to insects and disease as well; this, due to a more robust metabolic rate that provides the plant with stronger defenses.

I don't often disagree with Dori, but on this one, I think Josh got it right.



*Introducing plants to sun in the Summer*
defoliating and refoliating for healthier plants.
clipped on: 01.03.2012 at 12:39 pm    last updated on: 01.03.2012 at 12:41 pm

RE: Just rescued this guy, can I repot it in the gritty mix now? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: greenman28 on 12.05.2011 at 12:37 pm in Citrus Forum

This is not the optimal time to be re-potting.

The very best time would be later in Spring, between flushes of growth, after the plant
has recovered some of the energy reserves that it lost during the Winter. I am telling you
this to prepare you for the worst and so that you'll have more reasonable expectations.

That said, you are in a warmer zone...and that can make a great deal of difference.
In other words, a Winter re-potting in your climate will be less traumatic to the tree
than a re-potting at this time of year in, say, Michigan or Ontario.

I would not recommend "aggressive" root-pruning. I would simply try to unwind and straighten
the roots in order to keep as much as possible. Of course, you will want to remove any roots
that are girdling other roots/trunk, any j-hook and strangely angled stiff roots, et cetera.

If you are determined to go forward with this re-potting, follow these tips:

1) Prepare all your materials ahead of time (a helper wouldn't hurt, either).

2) Work quickly but carefully - fine-roots will dry out and die within 5 minutes of exposure.

3) A bucket of semi-warm water will help remove old soil and won't shock the roots with cold temps.

4) When you re-pot, add a little mix at a time, then use a chopstick to work the new mix into ALL the
air-spaces between the roots. Be very thorough. Do not leave open pockets around the roots.

5) Orient the tree so that it is upright and balanced (not leaning one way or the other).
Secure the tree to a stake that is located at the edge of the container, not against the trunk (as in the pic).
The more secure the tree is, the faster the roots will establish themselves in the new mix.

6) Water the tree well with semi-warm water, then place the tree in an area that is sheltered
from direct sun and wind for approximately two weeks. Check the soil moisture every three days,
making sure not to let the tree become too dry - a newly re-potted plant needs to stay more moist
than a fully established citrus (which should dry down a bit between waterings).

7) After two weeks, begin to fertilize again at reduced strength.

Let me re-iterate, however: now is not the best time to be re-potting.



clipped on: 12.11.2011 at 12:24 pm    last updated on: 12.11.2011 at 12:24 pm

RE: Favorite hot sauce (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: chile_freak on 08.06.2011 at 12:21 am in Hot Pepper Forum

Worry not buddy, cooking for me is like hot peppers, I enjoy spreading the love. Lets see, I'll take your posts in order.

Mango Habanero Sauce
4 ripe mangoes(peeled and rough chopped)
10 habaneros
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp fresh ginger(peeled and large diced)
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 bunch cilantro(destemmed and chopped)
1/2 cup brown sugar
cut habs in half(leave seeds and membranes for a real nice hot sauce, sweet and spicy delicious)
sweat habs, ginger and garlic(leave whole)in a med saucepan until peppers and garlic soften then add mangoes and cook til soft and mushy, then add brown sugar and stir constantly until sugar melts. then add all liquids(lemon juice, oj and vinegar)simmer for 10-15 mins add cilantro and simmer 5 min more, puree and add salt to taste.
then asian right lets see
sweet chile Thai sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2cups light corn syrup
15-20 thai peppers(thai bird, thai long, thai hot thai dragon what ever u enjoy or can find)
1/8 cup chopped fresh mint
6 cloves garlic
roast peppers and garlic in 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes
meanwhile heat vinegar and corn syrup in a small sauce pot until hot, when peppers are soft and roasted, puree all together and add mint salt to taste. this is basically thai spring roll dipping sauce, but it works great to add to shrimp or chicken stir fry.

simple General Tso's sauce
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup honey
1 cup orange juice
15-20 thai or japonese peppers
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp fresh ginger
corn starch slurry(1 tblsps corn starch 2 tblsp water mixed)
saute peppers garlic and ginger until soft, add honey juice and soy bring to a boil,stir in slurry reduce heat and cook for 8-10 mins tor until corn starch flavor cooks out.You can use this on several different things, but to make general tso's chicken pork beef or shrimp, dredge meat whichever u choose in a mixture of 1cup ap flour 1/4 cup corn starch 1-1/2 tsp salt then fry and drain stir fry whatever veggies u like, personally, I love snap or snow peas, shredded carrot and straw mushrooms then toss ur meat into the stir fry, pour over the sauce and let it thicken a bit and voila! Keep the faith man!


clipped on: 08.06.2011 at 01:42 am    last updated on: 08.06.2011 at 01:42 am

RE: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention X (Follow-Up #103)

posted by: tapla on 03.17.2010 at 10:14 am in Container Gardening Forum

Marcos - just a couple of observations: If you're growing in a home-made soil you didn't lime, you should probably expect to be faced with BER on the tomatoes. Also, if you didn't add lime to the soil, there is no need for vinegar, especially not 1/4 cup/gallon. If you think it's working - no need to change anything, but I see those areas as potential problems.

Good luck! Have fun! ;o)

Mainegrower asks: "Why would you need both granite and Turface in the gritty mix? Both are inert materials which will not break down readily, so I am puzzled about the need for both." As the inorganic fraction of the soil, all Turface would hold too much water for some plants during parts of the growth cycle. All granite would hold no water internally, so would find you watering more than once per day during periods of active growth. Turface has great water retention and granite has poor water retention. By combining them, we get a soil with good water retention that holds no perched water. If we increase the Turface fraction and decrease the granite, we get more water retention. The converse is also true, so combining the two ingredients offers adjustability for water retention with only 3 primary ingredients in the medium as a whole.

There was a lot of thought that went into selecting what I consider to be ideal ingredients for the gritty mix, but you can alter it however you want. The important lesson has always been to work toward a durable, well-aerated soil that holds a ratio of air:water that is as favorable as you can make it with what you have to work with.

"If you're using bark fines which are largely uncomposted, how do you avoid the problem of nitrogen starvation as this component breaks down? You fertilize. I know it sounds simplistic, but you fertilize frequently in these mixes, and soil biota doesn't suddenly "suck" all the N from the soil solution. More importantly, I explain in the OP why pine/fir bark is a very good choice (probably the best?) as the organic fraction of the soils I talk about.

Bark fines of fir, hemlock or pine, are excellent as the primary component of your soils. The lignin contained in bark keeps it rigid and the rigidity provides air-holding pockets in the root zone far longer than peat or compost mixes that too quickly break down to a soup-like consistency. Conifer bark also contains suberin, a lipid sometimes referred to as natures preservative. Suberin, more scarce as a presence in sapwood products and hardwood bark, dramatically slows the decomposition of conifer bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains.

I realize the microbial activity would be much less in the mix than in the ground, but wouldn't it take place eventually? Yes, it does; but because of the low rate at which bark breaks down and the cultural conditions in these soils are generally inhospitable to large populations of soil biota, it occurs very slowly, which returns full circle to your question about N immobilization.

"A commercial Japanese maple grower uses Premier Pro-Mix BRK exclusively for potting. This is 45% peat, 45% composted bark and 10% perlite. This product is not available to me, but he has suggested adding composted bark and extra perlite or Turface to the widely available Pro-Mix BX. I'd be interested in your reaction to this mix and the concept that a fairly large proportion of peat is needed to provide the acidity for JMs." I think there are several holes in the argument. First, it's fallacy that you need any peat in the mix. I just repotted 5 Jap maples last night. I'm off today & will work through at least another dozen - all perfectly healthy and all in a mix with no peat (gritty mix). To further illustrate my point - all those peat soils are limed to provide Ca/Mg, so the pH rises to something just north of 6.0 anyway. Additionally, when the subject is container media, you'll find widespread references that support the fact that media (soil) pH is MUCH less important in container culture than when gardening and mineral soils are the topic. Container culture is much closer to hydroponics than it is to gardening, and it's the media solution pH that is much more important.

If you want low pH (I never give pH much consideration, other than to take a few steps to keep it from rising too much) simply use a fertilizer with urea as it's base (MG, Peters, Schultz ......) or add a little vinegar to your tapwater to help neutralize alkalinity and stop the normal upward creep in pH of aging media.

Finally, if you start with a peat-based mix like you described and add a large pine bark fraction and some Turface (which would just be a substitute for less expensive perlite) then you would pretty much end up with a slight variation of the 5:1:1 mix described in the OP, so YES - go for it. However, you'll find the gritty mix will work better, and it makes things MUCH easier at repot time if you're properly attending to the roots of your trees - fodder for another discussion. ;o)



Nitrogen Immobilization info:
clipped on: 12.24.2010 at 01:34 pm    last updated on: 12.24.2010 at 01:34 pm

Jade plant - ID

posted by: greenman28 on 02.09.2008 at 12:01 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

I picked this jade up a while ago, when I was out hunting for a 'hobbit' and a 'gollum.' I found the others, but ended up with a bunch of discard plants that were all packed together, over-watered, over-fertilized, and given insufficient light.

I decided to keep this one, just to see if it would survive. It has an interesting look. But I can't tell if the differences are due to nature or nurture. It has a greenish grey trunk and thin, flattish grey leaves. I've had it on an east-facing window-sill for a while, and the supple, leaf-bearing stems are coloring up (red) nicely.

Thanks for the help!



clipped on: 10.07.2010 at 11:02 am    last updated on: 10.07.2010 at 11:02 am

Remembering /April ovata

posted by: norma_2006 on 08.28.2010 at 05:48 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Remember that Crassual ovata that had maroon (purple) on the back of the leaves, will I was right it wasn't an ovata, I had never seen one like that before, It is definitely Crassula lactea , or 'Tailor's Patch' I finally took it to the Huntington just to be sure and asked. So like I said way back in April it not a C. ovata and I'm sticking to that story. The white stitching on the borders is the give away. I was relieved to know that my memory is still there and can be trusted. Norma


clipped on: 09.28.2010 at 11:17 am    last updated on: 09.28.2010 at 11:18 am

Portulacaria afra - June 2010 re-pot

posted by: greenman28 on 06.02.2010 at 11:29 am in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Good morning, GardenWebbers!

Although you might say Jades are my "thing," I do occasionally spend time with my other plants... ;)
Yesterday, for instance, I finally re-potted this Portulacaria afra (Elephant's Food Bush, Spekboom)
that I received as a cutting last April. Rooted and grown in a plastic .71 gallon container since then.

For this re-potting, I chose a pond basket ($5) as my container.
My mix is composed of Orchid Bark, Perlite, and two types of Pumice (white-micro and red-macro).

I won't do any more foliage pruning until the plant's roots are re-established.

The Port. afra, languishing in its root-bound condition:

Tell-tale sign that I should have re-potted long ago....

The pond-basket for the new container.

Top Secret ingredients, recommended by NASA ;)

Secret Ingredients assembled and ready to be implemented.
Bark, Perlite, White and Red Pumice...

Washing the roots off, but leaving a decent root-ball.

In the new container, potted in fresh mix:

Back up on the deck where it will recuperate:



clipped on: 09.28.2010 at 11:05 am    last updated on: 09.28.2010 at 11:05 am

Pachira (Money Tree) - Spring re-potting pics

posted by: greenman28 on 05.24.2010 at 09:36 pm in House Plants Forum

Good evening, everyone!

I came home this afternoon to find that my Pachira had been knocked over by the wind.
Since I've been meaning to re-pot the tree for several weeks, I took the opportunity today.
I was delighted to see the thickness of the main root...which I'll be exposing a little at a time.
The mix is bark, pumice, and perlite - a dose of Osmocote, and a dash of wood ash.

I hope these images are helpful to the Pachira enthusiasts out there!

My Pachira, grown from a single leaf:

I'm embarrassed to show you these roots...what neglect!

At least there was a nice fat root waiting for me in there....
If you can't tell, I tore off a good amount of roots and blasted away the soil:

Root-ball - mostly perlite and pea gravel remaining....

The new mix:

Carefully re-potting, using a chop-stick to fill all the spaces betwixt the roots....

Watering the new mix thoroughly:

Full view of my Pachira:

Large, healthy foliage grown this Spring:

And the old soil - pea gravel mixed with bonsai potting soil. If not for this durable mix,
I don't think I could have let the Pachira go so long without re-potting. Thanks again to Al,
who set me on the path to soil-less container media.



clipped on: 09.28.2010 at 10:57 am    last updated on: 09.28.2010 at 10:57 am

Avocado converted to Houseplant (pics)

posted by: greenman28 on 11.23.2009 at 11:08 am in House Plants Forum

Greetings, everyone! And Happy Thanksgiving Break!

This summer, I had five avocados sprout in my garden. I selected one of these to become a houseplant at the end of the season. I chose the shortest, stoutest avocado seedling, as I didn't want to end up with a lanky, floppy plant during the winter months.

I was encouraged, by my sister, to try an avocado. She's had two large plants for two years now, and she's successfully overwintered them both in a semi-warm laundry room. However, her plants are tall and floppy (and space consuming). So my goal is to keep my avocado short and bushy and "house friendly" with regular pinching/pruning.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not *sure* if this avocado will survive. I destroyed roots - primarily the long, woody taproot - when I dug it up (not to mention, half the pit fell off). I noted that the roots were quite woody, with a lack of fine root-hairs. When I snapped the taproot, I also noticed a faintly-spicy, pleasant scent. I actually dug on November 11th, but have had to wait for my photobucket limit to re-set before posting new images.

Anyhow, without further ado, here's the process of extraction and re-potting:















clipped on: 09.28.2010 at 10:53 am    last updated on: 09.28.2010 at 10:53 am

Elephant Ear (?) ID (pics)

posted by: greenman28 on 04.18.2010 at 11:46 pm in House Plants Forum

I was hoping for an ID on this plant.
The plants shown belong to a friend, and they've been grown without sufficient light...until recently.

Do the leaves look like Alocasia sanderiana?
Thanks for the help!




clipped on: 09.28.2010 at 10:42 am    last updated on: 09.28.2010 at 10:42 am

Portulacaria afra re-potting - pics

posted by: greenman28 on 10.24.2008 at 12:31 am in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Finally got around to re-potting this Port. afra, my first.
I took a few pics along the way. I started with an awful gaggle of rooted stems (no large mother plants available, alas!). I selected the more "tree like" stems for single-trunk plantings, and then loosened the roots of the other stems and re-potted them as a group in an upright fashion (to be separated and potted individually in the spring).

1. The gaggle...

2. The gaggle a bit closer....

3. Hosed, loosened, one stem separated...

4. First stem selected....

5. First and second stems selected...

6. First stem sitting next to some bark....

7. First stem sitting next to bark and gravel, into which it is about to go...

8. Second stem, potted upright, supported by random stones....

9. The remaining group, in the group pot...

10. Group pot, closer.....

11. All three together....
The central stem of the individual plant in the middle of the photo has since been staked upright.



clipped on: 06.30.2010 at 03:10 pm    last updated on: 06.30.2010 at 03:10 pm

Exposing jade roots - for presentation?

posted by: greenman28 on 01.18.2008 at 12:37 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

I have a potted jade plant (standard crassula ovata) that had small surface roots growing over some of the larger roots. I discovered this as I was poking around the soil and examining the health of the jade's trunk. One of these small roots had even impressed (and begun to scar) the base of the trunk. So, I trimmed a few of these small roots away.

Now, the trunk's base is somewhat revealed - as I want the damaged root ends/connective tissue to heal over before I give the plant its next watering. Also, now that I have visual access to the top-side of the jade's roots, I like what I see. So my question is this: Can I leave these roots exposed, or is there harm in exposing a jade's uppermost roots?

(I know the plant likes to dry out between waterings, but could this cause too much drying out?).

I'm gradually steering this jade in a bonsai direction, or at least presentation, but I don't want to lose it due to naivete.



clipped on: 12.21.2009 at 05:30 pm    last updated on: 12.21.2009 at 05:30 pm