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Chile Pepper Bonsai

posted by: ryan_tree on 07.15.2010 at 11:51 am in Hot Pepper Forum

Hey all, not sure if Josh has posted this here or not, but he is the one that showed this link to me. It is very cool and I would love to give it a try, but I cannot find any of the seeds on the site. Here it is:

What do you all think?



clipped on: 07.28.2011 at 08:41 pm    last updated on: 07.28.2011 at 08:41 pm

Concrete vs Hypertufa containers?

posted by: granburyflowergirl on 07.28.2010 at 08:52 am in Container Gardening Forum

I need help ASAP Please!!! I have gotten mixed messages/conflicting info on the Hypertufa forum, so I need input from people experienced with actually using hypertufa containers before I embark on my planned mass production.

How long can they be expected to last?

Is it reasonable to think you could grow citrus or other small trees in a hypertufa pot for any length of time? (I am thinking at least 6-10 years).

How well do they hold up as compared to terracotta?

Would I be better off making concrete planters with a thin layer of hypertufa over it?

If I make concrete/hypertufa pots, will they still breathe?

Help! I was hoping to start today! :-(


clipped on: 07.20.2011 at 12:19 pm    last updated on: 07.20.2011 at 12:19 pm

Gunnera waterfall

posted by: barttwin on 07.19.2005 at 02:57 pm in Hypertufa Forum

Well my leaf water feature is finally in place. I had plans to have it finished this spring, but...
The leaves were cast last fall and left to cure over the winter. They are painted with acrylic paints and sealed with cement driveway sealer. I used a layer of hardware cloth to add strength to the leaf. The basin is actually a large laundry tub bought for about $8.00 I have to get a pump yet. Because I have a 3 year old I have decided to take a large black potting pot (like you get at the nursery when you buy a tree/shrub) and put it in the basin up side down. I drilled a bunch of holes in it and plan to put my pump under it. This will leave only about 3 inches of surface depth of water and prevent my toddler from going head first into the basin. (she fell head first into the hole as I was digging it!) I am going to silicone the back of the leaves to prevent backwash of the water and water loss. I found it difficult to position the leaves to get the water flow I desired. It took many adjustments which is a drag when each leaf weighs about 100lbs! I also had to break (gasp!...yes purposely break!) some of the back of the leaves off in order to get them to sit properly on top of each other. If I was to do this again I would only cast about 2/3 of the leaf for the bottom leaves. (the most top leaf needs to be complete) I would also try to cast them a bit flatter. Anyways I hope to get more plants around it and a pump in it before the end of summer. I need an extra 12 hours in each day!

Here is a link that might be useful: leaves


clipped on: 07.18.2011 at 09:51 pm    last updated on: 07.18.2011 at 09:51 pm

You Pictures are Not Safe

posted by: plantman56 on 01.05.2010 at 06:40 pm in Hypertufa Forum

In the past I have posted pictures my Hypertufa containers. Hopefully you have all enjoyed. Well there Garden Centers, Bloggers, and the latest someome selling an E book on Hypertufa - All have taken my pictues and used them - without my permission. I even talked to the owner of the large garden center in Massachusetts _ he though it was pefectly ok to go out to the web, to Garden Web and right click on the pictures. I even contacted GW - becasue the pictures actually belong to them now. They did not want to get involved.
So I have deleted many of my pictures. I will figure out a way to print my name on the picuture but for now you will see a blank picture in my older posts
Keep posting but not as many pictures in future.



clipped on: 07.18.2011 at 11:46 am    last updated on: 07.18.2011 at 11:47 am

Leaf Casting

posted by: plantman56 on 07.20.2010 at 11:52 am in Hypertufa Forum

Photos of my latest leaf casting experiment

This is the base (Hypertufa) . To make the base - I used a 1gal nursery pot and then placed the smaller green pot inside (upside down) then I put the hypertufa in the nursersy pot. I used the same green ( 1 qt) pot to make the round mold on top of the leaf.


When I make the leaf (portland and sand), I place a small hamburger pattie of tufa in middle of the leaf and then used the green pot to form the mold, - let dry the uses same pot for the base above.

From 2010-07-14

From 2010-07-14

Finished - Leaf fits right into the base! -- Thanks Billie

From 2010-07-14



clipped on: 07.18.2011 at 12:35 am    last updated on: 07.18.2011 at 12:35 am

Leaf Shine?

posted by: Joe1980 on 04.02.2011 at 02:22 pm in House Plants Forum

Anybody use leaf shine products?? I have some of the Miracle Grow Leaf Shine, and use it here & there in leafy plants like chinese evergreens, schefflera, etc. I've heard that some shine products are bad and clog leaf pores, but supposedly the MG stuff doesn't. To me, it smells like nothing more then vinegar water, but the ingredients are "secret" according to the web.

Anywho, I use it by applying a small amount to a piece of cloth, like a cut up old t-shirt, and wiping off the dust. They look really nice when I'm done, but I wanna make sure I am not causing harm.

Anybody have any input??



clipped on: 05.28.2011 at 11:13 pm    last updated on: 05.28.2011 at 11:13 pm

check out this pot...

posted by: tom_termine on 04.03.2011 at 07:06 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Okay, I know, it is not a succulent (actually, it is a zamia integrifolia aka floridana - the coontie cycad...) but it does have a caudex!

Just wanted to show off this new Caudex1 pot I put it in...great pot, right?



clipped on: 05.18.2011 at 09:07 pm    last updated on: 05.18.2011 at 09:07 pm

Which potting mix do you prefer for Citrus and why?

posted by: granburyflowergirl on 07.14.2010 at 10:23 am in Citrus Forum

Hi folks,
I am new to citrus in containers and I am trying to decide whether to pot my plants in the gritty mix or the 5:1:1 or ??? Please bear with me - I digest this stuff slowly!

I have access to all of the recommended ingredients for both of Al's mixes so that is not a concern. I would like to know the pros and cons of using each mix for citrus plants specifically and what adaptations you have found to be useful specific to citrus needs.

My ultimate goal is less work down the road as I have plenty of time now but I am hoping to be employed again by next year. I will have an automatic drip irrigation so watering frequency is not a concern

Can you wait longer between re-pots and root-pruning with the gritty or the 5:1:1? I have all dwarf or semi-dwarf trees and I want healthy plants and some fruit but I don't need huge super-plants as they will likely need to be moved in the winter (subject of my next post!).

Thanks for any help!



clipped on: 02.16.2011 at 07:25 pm    last updated on: 02.16.2011 at 07:25 pm

RE: Granite Grit Substitute? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: puglvr1 on 11.04.2010 at 07:15 pm in Container Gardening Forum

John, yes I've used Silica Sand just like Al mentioned and recommends.

The website is below, an #800 number you can call to see where the closest place that carries it.
Here's what you're looking for...I get mine in Haines City which is quite a ways from you.

Size 6/14

Here is a link that might be useful: Standard Sand and Silica website


clipped on: 02.08.2011 at 06:46 pm    last updated on: 02.08.2011 at 06:46 pm

Oops! (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: tapla on 01.22.2011 at 01:16 pm in Container Gardening Forum

Darn - missed the question about raised beds. I would use a soil in my RBs that was at least 75% mineral content. It could be native topsoil if it's good, or fine sand. Mix it with things like composted manure, reed/sedge peat, pine bark.

Here is a picture of the soil in my raised beds:


It's a very productive soil and abundant with all the tiny denizens that make up soil life. You can see it also has excellent tilth. It drains well yet still holds lots of moisture. The soil is comprised (originally) of approx
5 parts partially composted pine bark fines
2 parts sphagnum peat (could also use 2 parts Michigan or reed/sedge peat, leaving out the sphagnum)
1-3 parts Turface (you can use a Turface product finer than MVP/Allsport in RBs
1-2 parts builders sand or native topsoil
dolomitic lime
but I could easily have used more sand or other mineral ingredients in this soil.

For the first year, you may need to use quite a bit of N if your organic fraction is high - to make up for N being immobilized, but after that, little fertilizer should be required.



clipped on: 01.22.2011 at 11:00 pm    last updated on: 01.22.2011 at 11:00 pm

RE: feeding plants newly repotted in gritty mix (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 01.20.2011 at 05:14 pm in Container Gardening Forum

Ida - there is no reason you cannot fertilize using MG at 1/8-1/4 recommended strength at every watering if you are watering copiously enough to flush the soil whenever you water. I've been doing it for years, and everyone has always been impressed by the pictures of the plantings I've posted. Fertilizing in this manner ensures that the level of nutrients and soluble salts combined will always remain at a very low level. There is NO such guarantee when using heavy soils, even if you stop fertilizing completely for the entire winter season. The reason is because the solubles in irrigation water accumulate and add to the o/a level of solubles in heavy soils you cannot regularly flush.

You can take control of your fertilizer supplementation program and approach it from a rational, reasoned perspective, or simply withhold fertilizers and hope for the best.

So no one can intentionally confuse this issue - you CANNOT effectively fertilize in this manner if you are using heavy, water-retentive soils that you cannot regularly flush w/o risking root rot.

BTW - there is no NEED to fertilize at every watering. I do so because I don't have to keep track of what I fertilized and when. Tying the amount of fertilizer supplied to the amount of water used is a good strategy. When plants are growing less and using less water, you'
re fertilizing less frequently, so the water/fertilizer relationship becomes self-regulating.

Tom Ericsson is an associate professor and senior lecturer whose field of expertise is mineral nutrition of plants.

Plant structure and functioning are the main topics covered in his teaching.

He writes: My main focus is on whole plant physiology, i.e. how plants interact with the growth environment and what happens if factors such as light, temperature, water and nutrients are in short supply. The realisation that the morphology of roots stem and particularly of leaves mirrors the preferred growing conditions of most plants is of great importance for my student's future success. I am convinced that basic knowledge in plant structure and growth is a prerequisite in order to understand the detailed mechanisms behind them. My pedagogic is applied on students belonging to the following SLU programmes; agronomy, landscape architecture, engineering and natural resources. Besides the SLU programmes I also participate in the education of gardeners and green keepers.

My own research is focused on plant nutrition. The optimal balance between the essential mineral nutrients in a fertilizer and consequences of nutrient shortage/excess on plant growth and development are topics of major interest."

From an interview:

"Tom Ericsson has showed in his research that different plants� need for nutrients isn�t all that specific as the fertilizer producer will have us believe. The truth is that specialty fertilizers are unnecessary and that fertilizing correctly is pretty simple.

If you choose a well-balanced fertilizer it will .... work equally well for pelargoniums, citrus, bedding plants, rhododendron, roses and all other plants � even orchids and cacti. They all want the same nutrients served in the same proportions at an even rate. The only difference is the amount they want, or rather how fast the rate of delivery should be. Fast growing plants need more nutrients than slow growing ones, but still at the same proportions.

All you need to think of is the dosage and the regularity. For container grown plants Tom Ericsson has a recipe that will solve the problems all at once.

Choose a liquid, well balanced fertilizer containing all the nutrients the plants need. Add 1 ml to 1 quart of water (4ml/gallon), and use it for all your plants. It makes a weak nutrient solution that you will use year round, each time you water.

That different plants have different needs for nutrients doesn�t matter using this method. It suits them all. Because the nutrients are added with the water it is a self regulating system. Fast growing plants that need more fertilizer will also need more water. When more water is supplied, so is more fertilizer.

"The method works equally well for plants with low nutrient needs", says Tom Ericsson, who himself is an enthusiastic grower of many slow growing species, such as cacti, orchids and tillandsia. They all need very little water, getting small amounts of fertilizer. Cacti and orchids are grown in fast draining substrates, and some of the water and fertilizer will drain out right away.

If you grow plants completely without substrate, in the case of tillandsia and some species of orchids, you can submerge them in a bucket of water with the same nutrient solution a couple of times per week. 1ml/quart of water is so weak that all roots will tolerate it. One argument for using specialty orchid food is that regular plant food is too concentrated. This is a peculiar argument to Tom Ericsson.

"The concentration depends on the dosage. The dose I recommend is not too strong for any plant"

Tom Ericsson recommends applying the same dosage both summer and winter because plants need nutrients not only for growth, but also for maintaining already existing plant parts. As plants need less water during the winter months � due to less light, lower temperatures and the resulting reduced growth � the fertilizer applied will be diminishing. Even in winter the method is self regulating.

We grow plants indoors during the winter during sometimes extreme conditions. When plants are placed above heating ducts the evaporation rate from both soil and plants becomes very high. The need for water increases, but not because the plant is in active growth. In such conditions, it�s better to reduce the fertilizer dose by half [this is due to increased evaporation, and you'll note the suggestion is to DECREASE, not discontinue].
"One ml of fertilizer per quart of water [low doses] will work for most situations, but it is not a holy grail", says Tom Ericsson. Each person needs to experiment a little to find the right dosage for his or her specific conditions.

Using 1 ml of concentrated fertilizer per quart of water will deliver about 50mg of nitrogen in the nutrient solution, assuming the ratio of N is 5g/100ml. However, liquid fertilizer ingredients vary quite a bit, and the dosage may need to be adjusted for this reason.

Fertilizing the garden follows the same principles as fertilizing containers. All nutrients that plants require should be applied at the same proportions as they are found in plant tissue. [Sounds familiar] Nutrients should reach the soil at an even rate. Sudden, large applications of nutrients cannot be absorbed by plants and the surplus is leached out to groundwater and waterways.

Watering in the fertilizer makes nutrients immediately available to roots. It�s a good method to induce growth in plants that have slowed down or stopped growing.

� The purpose of fertilizing is to increase the fertility of the soil. It can be achieved by fertilizing more frequently and in smaller doses. It reduces the risk of unnecessary leakage of nutrients. The gardener also needs to recognize whether plants really need extra fertilizer.

In nature nutrients do not suddenly appear in large amounts, nor do nutrient levels change quickly. Organic material is constantly being decomposed, adding a continuous supply of nutrients to soil moisture.

Regular applications of fertilizer is of paramount importance. In the cases of nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur; plants can function well regardless of plentiful or sparser availability, as long as supply is continuous. This is the reason that plants growing in lean soils in nature do not show any deficiencies, in spite of poor access to nitrogen. Slow growth will be the only indicator. When access to nutrients change, as in the case of fertilizing seldom but with high rates of fertilizer, deficiency symptoms will occur when nutrient levels diminish. Deficiency symptoms will also occur at low levels of other nutrients than nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur.

If nutrient access is unbalanced, i.e. plants are getting more than they need of certain elements, but less than they need of others, the substance they need the most is the one that is going to limit growth. Whatever nutrients are available in excess, will be absorbed by the plant to a certain point. In come cases, this may lead to toxicity. Too much nitrogen will lead to excessive foliage production and less flowering. Too much potassium or phosphorus will not lead to ill effects. There will be no toxic symptoms and the gardener may not realize that the soil contains five times more phosphorus and twice as much potassium as needed.

We need to find a fertilizer that contains all 13 nutrients, in the approximate proportions [used by plants]. This will allow for some luxury uptake by the plants. According to Tom Ericsson plants need a fertilizer with the ratio 10:1.5:7. (NPK)

Tom Ericsson and his students have looked at the market of fertilizers offered to consumers. They have checked whether all 13 nutrients that plants need are included, and at what the ratio is. Some of the most extreme nutrient ratios were found in orchid fertilizers. Other specialty fertilizers lacked minor nutrients or did not contain any information about them. Some specialty fertilizers are formulated with ratios not suitable for any kind of plants.

After studying the findings of Tom Ericsson, one might ask what the producers of fertilizers are basing their products on. In many cases they do not reflect what we today know of plants� needs. His students interviewed some of the major producers of fertilizers in Sweden, asking among other things about whether they conduct their own research on how to prepare an optimal fertilizer. They found that no such research is done and that producers "only make the products the market is asking for". End interview.



clipped on: 01.20.2011 at 09:15 pm    last updated on: 01.20.2011 at 09:15 pm

RE: Tap water pH (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: caudex1 on 01.09.2011 at 12:32 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Have you read the article by Elton Roberts? it will tell you all you need to know

Here is a link that might be useful: Cactus_and_Alkalinity.pdf


clipped on: 01.09.2011 at 07:10 pm    last updated on: 01.09.2011 at 07:10 pm

How Plant Growth is Limited (container forum version)

posted by: tapla on 09.19.2010 at 09:07 pm in Container Gardening Forum


In a recent post, I suffered criticism after I tried to explain why light could not make up for or 'trump' the negative affects of other factors that potentially limit plant growth. Liebig's Law of the Minimum is a universally accepted concept that defines how the growth of plants is limited. Originally the law was viewed by Justus Von Liebig, a German chemist who is often referred to as 'the father of the fertilizer industry', as a fitting way to define the fact that plant growth is not limited by the total of the available resources, but rather, by the single resource in shortest supply.

Though Liebig's focus at the time was on nutrition, his concept was later expanded to include other limiting factors as they were discovered. Not only are each of the elements commonly regarded as essential to plant growth recognized as having the potential to individually limit growth, but the law has also been expanded to recognize the limiting effects of cultural conditions like light, temperature, levels of soil moisture and aeration, insects, disease, and others.

Liebig used a barrel with staves of varied heights, like you see in the picture, to illustrate how his concept worked. Imagine the barrel also had a stave for light, soil moisture/aeration, temperature ..... for each and every potential limiting factor, insects and diseases included. The picture above is illustrating that in this case, N is the limiting factor. The plant is not growing as well as it could be because it is N deficient. When we add more N, and N is no longer the nutrient or potentially limiting factor in shortest supply, something else takes its place as the limiting factor. Even if the supply of N was increased to the point where it was in perfect supply, the least available nutrient or cultural condition would STILL be the limiting factor. We raise the stave representing N, but then another stave representing another resource becomes limiting.

You can see that if light levels are made perfect, it wouldn't compensate for the effects of a N deficiency or a soggy soil. If it could, we would be able to grow our plants in peat porridge with no supplemental fertilization at 32* F in a wind tunnel .... as long as it was a bright wind tunnel .... or we focused on perfecting light levels. The same is true of soils. The most perfect soil we are able to build will not make up for or 'trump' the effects of a nutritional deficiency or poor light.

Our goal then, is to try our best to make sure ALL the cultural conditions are optimum - making ALL the staves taller, as it were. It doesn't do us any good to make all but one stave taller, because it is that pesky short stave that is going to limit growth - EVERY SINGLE TIME! Surprisingly, it is not as difficult as it sounds.

Light and temperature are actually very easy. The onus of learning your plants' preferences for these cultural conditions is on you, but they are very easy to learn and easy to correct, so that issue needs no more attention. Insects and diseases might be a little tougher, but IPM practices are derived from common sense. Identify the pest/disease and use the least noxious remedy possible to reduce the problem to something below your tolerance threshold.

Modern fertilizers make it easy to supply nutrients at near optimum levels and in a ratio to each other that is favorable. Tucked into Liebig's Law is the fact that too much is as bad as not enough, so there is incentive for us not to cater to the idea that because a little is good, more is better. As we look at the barrel example, we can see that increasing the N supply so the N stave is taller than the P or K staves is not going to help. So, using fertilizers with a favorable ratio and applying them wisely is actually something we can all manage.

Because this is the Container Gardening Forum, the most frequent source of trouble and the issues that arise with the most frequency are soil related. Soil moisture and aeration are staves as critical as any other in the barrel. Just as a perfect soil cannot 'trump' the effects of other short staves, optimizing other conditions cannot offset or 'trump' the effects of a poor soil. The necessity of making sure your plants are adequately supplied with water is an obvious given. The effects of excessive water retention and inadequate aeration are widely discussed on the forum. You can learn how to avoid these issues entirely or almost entirely by reading about How Water Behaves in Container Media by clicking this highlighted text; or you can read some tips about
How to Deal With Water-retentive Soils by clicking on this highlighted text.

Keep learning. The more you know about how your plants grow, what cultural conditions they prefer, and the effects varying cultural conditions will have on your plants, the better equipped you are to deal with them, keeping all the staves tall and minimizing limiting effects.



clipped on: 12.31.2010 at 03:58 am    last updated on: 12.31.2010 at 03:58 am

RE: Ficus Trees in Containers (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: tapla on 10.20.2010 at 04:39 pm in House Plants Forum

Jodi first - ;o) Thanks again for the compliment and kind observations. They are much appreciated, as your kind words always are.

I've posted pictures that detail a repotting, but when I catch my breath and balance, I'll post them again. It seems pretty appropriate on this thread and should be helpful. ..... and you're right. Most people feel that the rootball is the 'untouchable' part of the plant, that if you disturb the roots, death is assured. That many be something of a minor exaggeration, but given hobby growers as a group - it's very close to being an accurate general consensus. Rootwork, or continually potting up w/o missing the appropriate timing, is essential to ensuring the potential for peak growth and vitality. Since continually potting before it's too late isn't really as doable as it sounds, learning to perform root pruning is in the tree's best interest if you intend to tend the tree over the long haul.

I should also mention, that anything that reduces the tree's vitality, also makes the tree more susceptible to disease and insect infestation. A trees natural defense is a byproduct of it's metabolism, and reduced metabolic rates mean lower defenses. Keeping the roots happy, with room to roam ensures best growth and is the best defense against predation and disease. It's interesting to see how something as simple as soil, watering practices, light levels, even root pruning, can have such far-reaching affect.

JJ - I do know that the sap causes contact dermatitis where it touches my skin. I found this link about trees in aviaries. You might find it helpful.

Tammy - You're right. On a scale of 1-10, with growing in gardens and beds being a 1, and full hydroponics being a 10, conventional container culture (including houseplants) is probably a 7 or 8, with the more open soils pushing things just slightly toward the upper end of the scale.

I looked at your tree. I wouldn't do any real root pruning at this point, unless it was to prune SOME of the encircling roots around the perimeter of the root mass. I would do the vertical slits, cut 2" off the bottom, flush thoroughly, do the wick, pot up, fertilize @ half strength.

When you do root prune, take note of the very large root that, in the picture, originates behind the tree then moves counterclockwise until it is coming toward the viewer and pressing on the trunk. That root should be severed such that it isn't putting pressure on the trunk. You can see the hollowed depression higher on the trunk (crosses the large root I'm talking about at close to 90*) where it probably cut off water and nutrient flow. Part of the trunk died, but then a root emerged from higher up on the trunk because photosynthate and the polar flow (downward) of the hormone auxin was also blocked. That root will be a continuing problem as it enlarges. This is a good visual as to what also goes on unseen UNDER the soil, and illustrates why root pruning and correction of problems is essential to longevity and best vitality.

Deburn - You can fertilize immediately after you're done flushing, or wait until the first time the plant needs water. It's often repeated that you shouldn't fertilize a dry plant, but fertilizing a not quite dry plant with a reduced dose won't be a problem - especially since there will be no additional accumulated salts in the soil (you just flushed them out) at the time of fertilizing, to add to EC/TDS levels.



clipped on: 12.31.2010 at 02:54 am    last updated on: 12.31.2010 at 02:54 am

Re-using Gritty Mix

posted by: retiredprof on 12.03.2010 at 05:50 pm in Container Gardening Forum

Today, in my attempt to persuade a friend to undertake using gritty instead of you-know-what, he asked me this question when I said gritty usually lasts for 3-5 years:

"If roughly 2/3 of it is inorganic, why can't you 're-freshen' it with new fines and use it again? Seems to me that would make more sense than making up all new batches from scratch considering the turface and granite should be reusable. I'm assuming the original fines would have broken down in that time."

Well, I wasn't quite sure how to answer. The mix was "spent?"

Can anybody chime in here? Al?


clipped on: 12.15.2010 at 02:23 pm    last updated on: 12.15.2010 at 02:29 pm

RE: Plant Tips Browning (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 12.02.2010 at 06:11 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I doubt it's from fluoride, especially since fluoride becomes tied up in the substrate at pH levels higher than 6.5-6.8. From one of my other posts:

Tip Burn/ Necrotic Margins

Plants with brown tips and/or leaf margins have been known to generate considerable debate, perhaps because of multiple causal possibilities - you think? ;o) Dry air, over-fertilizing, air pollution, fluoride, chlorine - all have been judged guilty, alongside of bad plants, bad culture, bad water, bad air, bad temperatures, ad infinitum.

Lets think about this - First, we need to consider it a symptom, and not a disease or pest. Like a rash, it could be caused by a wide array of maladies; and like a rash, if we want to get to the offending cause, we need to do tests or become detectives. I can tell you this - there technically is no cure (dead tissue cannot be brought back to life), but you can halt progression in most cases, by looking to cultural causes.

I see fluoride or often blamed for scorch in plants like spider plant, Easter lily, maranta, dracaena …. and a few plants are actually somewhat susceptible to leaf scorch injury from fluoride and chlorine, but not to the degree for which it’s blamed, and we really cant avoid it anyway - it’s all around us - in the water we irrigate with, in superphosphate (a nutrient added to soils), peat moss and perlite as well. Coffee and tea, tea being the greater offender, are reliable sources of fluoride too, so consider that the next time you read that it’s a good thing to add them to your plants.
I wish that tip burn could be so often attributed to fluoride toxicity, because it would be easy to fix. Adding one teaspoon of gypsum or two teaspoons of dolomite (garden lime) to a six-inch pot of soil raises Ph and makes the fluoride less available for uptake.

If I had to pick a plant most often named as the victim of fluoride it would be the spider plant (Chiorophytum comosum). Most growers think brown tips come with the plant. ;o) At the Soil and Plant Lab in Santa Ana, CA, new spider plantlets were subjected to a barrage of treatments in multiple grow mediums. Included were heavy fertilization with superphosphate, and fluorine applications in irrigation water at 3 times the concentration of what is normally in drinking water. None produced any measurable amount of tip burn, and the short of the conclusions is that many of the injuries previously blamed on fluoride would more accurately have been blamed on other, unfavorable cultural conditions.

Some growers have decided/concluded that fluoride damage is a perlite-related problem and have suggested rinsing it in clear water prior to using it in soil mixes. But testing information still strongly suggests you can't blame leaf scorch on only perlite or fluoride.

The most likely cause of tip burn is an accumulation of metal (fertilizer) salts in soils. Briefly, high levels of salts in soil solutions inhibit the osmotic process, making it difficult, or in some cases impossible for the plants to take up water and dissolved nutrients. When this occurs, distal plant parts suffer tissue necrosis due to salt induced drought stress.

Over-fertilization and softened water are big offenders. When water is too hard, the standard treatment to “soften” it, is to replace the calcium ions with sodium, which is essentially what table salt is. You can replace the calcium and neutralize the sodium in softened water by adding ½ tsp gypsum in a gallon of warm water & allowing it to sit overnight.

In recent plantings or repots in fortified soils (those w/fertilizer added), microorganisms can make toxic levels of fertilizer immediately available, causing plasmolysis (fertilizer burn) and leaf/tip burn.

Humidity can be to blame. Most houseplants are tropicals, and they prefer humidity in the 60-90% range (most greenhouses operate at around 60% in winter). We usually keep our home humidity levels, when controlled, somewhere around the 30-35% range. Unhumidified homes may often have as low as 10-15% humidity levels, which is lower than the average relative humidity in the earth’s driest deserts. This can be a problem.

Though continued ultra-low humidity can be problematic, an even bigger problem is that rapid drop in humidity when plants are brought indoors as the weather turns cold and the furnace is suddenly employed. This can cause not only tissue necrosis, but loss of blooms and buds, and the shedding of other plant organs, sometimes so severe as to cause the death of the plant.

I know some feel humidity trays are effective at raising humidity in their immediate area, but I tested this theory. I placed a digital hygrometer in the foliage of a bonsai tree about 10 inches above wet pebbles in a large humidity tray. It read only about 4% higher in humidity than the room air. I attribute the lion’s share of this rise to normal moisture loss from the foliage through transpiration.

Misting is also ineffective/inefficient. It only increases humidity for as long as water remains in liquid form. Humidity levels return to normal in a few minutes, as soon as evaporation is complete. Misting can also be counter-productive for two reasons. As dissolved salts from mist water accumulate on plant surfaces, the salt can actually “pull” water from tissues, like salt pulls moisture from a ham, where it is lost to the air via evaporation. Misting also closes plant stoma, often for many hours, which slows transpiration and water movement in the plant. When transpiration is slowed, it is also accompanied by a reduced photosynthesizing ability.

You can also suspect cold injury as a possible cause of tip burn. Many tropical plants can leak bio-compounds from cells at temperatures below 50* or so. Low temperatures can also inhibit photosynthetic ability. The time needed to fully recover normal ability once more favorable temperatures are restored varies by plant, but is often measured in days.

Many other cultural conditions can cause tip burn, too. Leaf shine, dust accumulation, a source of ethylene gas or carbon monoxide, inappropriate pesticides, aerosol propellants (cold), and on and on.

In an overwhelmingly high % of cases, you’ll find tip burn originates with something cultural. Most often it can be attributed to a poor soil that drains slowly and causes drought stress from too much water in the soil and it’s accompanying impediment of root function, or from a poor soil that necessitates the grower water in sips to prevent root rot, the upshot of which is to guarantee the accumulation of soil salts and the plant’s inability to take up water.


Fetilizer can either lower or raise pH, depending on what components it contains.

I'm able to recognize and react to symptoms of high pH quickly, reversing the effects by acidifying the irrigation water, usually with white vinegar. If you're unable to recognize pH induced deficiencies, usually in your 'tell' plants, you can do the following: Using pH paper, add enough white vinegar to a gallon of water to reduce the pH to 6.0. Note how much it took, and add that to each gallon of water before irrigating.

If you wish, you can even add your normal fertilizer charge to the water and note what it took to correct the pH, so you can add an appropriate amount of acid to your both irrigation and fertigation solutions.



clipped on: 12.02.2010 at 10:05 pm    last updated on: 12.02.2010 at 10:11 pm

RE: Online Pepper Identification Guide (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: smokemaster_2007 on 08.28.2010 at 10:45 pm in Hot Pepper Forum

I'd check out the N.M. chile Institutes site for ID books.

Then for pics of peppers a lot of the seed venders have pics and short bits of info about the stuff they sell.

Gov. Site-some have pics

Chileman data base

another one..

For XLNT pics


clipped on: 08.29.2010 at 10:30 am    last updated on: 08.29.2010 at 10:30 am

RE: Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures (Follow-Up #60)

posted by: tapla on 03.29.2009 at 05:21 pm in House Plants Forum

I can tell you're not simple! - just determined. ;o) If you want the soil to be the best it can be - screen out the fines with insect screen or a 'normal' mesh kitchen strainer. Add 1 tbsp of gypsum per gallon of soil. Add 1/4 tsp of Epsom salts per gallon of fertilizer solution every time you fertilize at recommended strength, or 1/8 if you fertilize at 1/2 strength, or a pinch if you fertilize every time you water at 1/8 - 1/4 strength (depending on how robustly the plant(s) is/are growing. Any 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer is good (better than 1:1:1 like 20-20-20) for almost all plants, so MG 24-8-16 and 12-4-8 are good choices - Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 is even better because it has all the minors and gets most of its N in nitrate form, which helps to keep plants compact & bushy - a considerable advantage in the oft dim indoor light.



clipped on: 07.04.2010 at 01:53 am    last updated on: 07.04.2010 at 01:53 am

RE: Is it safe to put Citrus in hypertufa containers? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: tapla on 06.07.2010 at 04:28 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I have a lot of plants in hypertufa. When I make the containers, I don't put a drain hole in them. That way, I can fill them with water after they're hard and let them age. If I want to use them that year, I fill with water & add white vinegar.

Remember to save your Turface fines and use them instead of sand - work great!



clipped on: 06.07.2010 at 05:14 pm    last updated on: 06.07.2010 at 05:15 pm

Trees in Containers

posted by: tapla on 04.12.2008 at 01:20 am in Container Gardening Forum

It's not much of a secret to many, that most of what I've learned about plants and plant-related science has come about as an outgrowth of my pursuit of at least some degree of proficiency at bonsai. Before the plants I grow become bonsai, I often grow them in the ground for a period before transitioning them to containers and then finally to bonsai pots. Often too, I simply grow them for a few years in containers before deciding to work on them or give them away.

I grow and manage a wide variety of temperate trees and shrubs, both deciduous and conifers, and 75 or more tropical/subtropical woody plants. I'd like to invite you to a discussion about your containerized trees and/or your tree problems. I will try to answer your questions whenever I can.

Energy management & root work are often neglected, so we can discuss those topics if there is interest.

Since I haven't grown more than a couple of Citrus, I'm probably weakest there, in the area of specific advice, but trees are trees and much of what I can share will also apply to your Citrus - just don't expect the same level of knowledge as I might have about other woody material, please.


For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. ~Martin Luther


clipped on: 05.20.2010 at 10:10 am    last updated on: 05.20.2010 at 10:11 am

Made some hypertufa pots--what about you?

posted by: grant_in_arizona on 03.15.2010 at 07:25 pm in Arizona Gardening Forum

Hi everyone,

Just for fun, I made some hypertufa pots awhile ago and thought I'd share a few pics. It was really very easy, quick and fun. Basically it was a mix of 1:1:1 of portland cement, perlite, and peatmoss mixed together with some water until it was cottage-cheese consistency, and then put in some molds (thank you Goodwill!) and then cured/dried.

Below are just a few pics I took but I thought some folks might be curious or want to see. For some reason the process always sounded more complicated than it was. I really enjoyed doing it. Martha Stewart's magazine suggested using baskets as the outer "mold" so I did that for some of them and the texture is sort of interesting.

I hope you'll take a look and enjoy. I can see why people get addicted to this stuff.

Hypertufa supplies

Hypertufa in "molds" hardening (aunty Martha (Stewart) suggested using baskets as the outer molds to add texture to the pots).

Hypertufa recently un-molded, drying overnight before being "cured" or hardened with plenty of water and sealed plastic bags to keep them moist/wet for a few weeks.

A closer view of a textured pot drying for a day before being cured/hardened:
Close view of one low pot with textured sides.

One of several (okay, too many!) pots finally with some plants after the pots hardened and then were left out in the rain and occasional rinse water for several weeks. This pot is very smooth and sort of modern as I made it with smooth plastic bowls.

Another pot with some plants. This pot is deliberately rustic and chunky and has textured edges due to being made in a cheap basket.

If you make them too, please share your techniques, successes and failures. As a backup, I put a link below to the photo album with all the pics in case you have trouble seeing the embedded pics.

Take care,

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to my hyptertufa pot pics


clipped on: 04.03.2010 at 10:29 am    last updated on: 04.03.2010 at 10:30 am

RE: Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention X (Follow-Up #82)

posted by: tapla on 03.06.2010 at 01:37 pm in Container Gardening Forum

Topie - 4-5 posts down from the top of this thread, you'll see a picture of the gritty mix, and one of several bark products from different sources. In the middle of the picture with bark, you'll see an example of what the 5:1:1 I make looks like.

A partially composted product with particles from dust top 3/8 works very well for the 5:1:1 mix. To some degree, you can alter aeration and drainage by using perlite or peat. The gritty mix is best if the bark used is uncomposted and fairly uniform in size. 1/8-1/4" seems best because the smaller the pieces the faster it breaks down (greater mass:surface area ratio). If you go too much larger than 1/4" when using Turface and grower grit, the bark tends to want to separate from the mineral fraction of the soil.

There is a great deal of thought that went into these mixes, and there is a lot more science involved than what is readily discernible - especially for the gritty mix.

I'm not sure how anyone could think pine bark fines are made of pine needles, but I think the statement illustrates a rather tenuous grasp of the obvious. ;o)

Marcos - looking good - keep us posted on how you fare.



clipped on: 03.17.2010 at 02:12 am    last updated on: 03.17.2010 at 02:12 am

Vendors that sell Hummels Sunset?

posted by: aznxswtgerl on 01.26.2010 at 11:46 am in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Hey Everyone,

Just wondering if anyone knew any vendors that carried Hummels Sunset and ships (preferrably to MA). I can't seem to find it anywhere...and I don't have any good plants for an exchange. Thanks~



clipped on: 01.27.2010 at 06:07 pm    last updated on: 01.27.2010 at 06:08 pm

Supplies by State/Region: Al's Gritty Mix

posted by: greyslate on 04.06.2009 at 07:17 pm in Container Gardening Forum

When starting out looking for the supplies for Als Gritty Mix, I ran into some walls. Aided by the indomitable tapla;), I was lucky enough to find everything needed. I thought that we could start a thread in which everyone who is using the Gritty Mix posts where they found supplies in order to help out new converts in their area. Ive started with some Maryland information please follow-up with what youve found!

If youre still looking, and no ones posted/found supplies in your area, use these tips from tapla:
Grani-grit "Go to MSN Yellow Pages; Enter Grain Elevator under 'Business name or category'; Enter Location under 'Location'; Call those businesses with 'grain', 'elevator', or 'farming services' after the bold 'category'; Ask for crushed granite grower grit. If they say they have it, be sure it is crushed granite before you head out to pick it up. It might be helpful to ask if it is packaged under the name 'Gran-I-Grit'." I also got lucky looking under "feed suppliers/stores" ...
Turface Use the website to find local distributors:

State/Region/Province: Maryland (Central/North)
Turface: Newsom Seed Company, locations in Fulton and Gaithersburg (sells by the 50# bag),
Grani-Grit: The Mill, Parkton (Does not normally stock it, but readily orders it for no extra fee; will sell small quantities) (410) 329-6558
Bark fines: "GardenPro, Premium Bark Mulch" from Lowes (must be sifted through screens for size, but decent to start with)


clipped on: 01.11.2010 at 09:46 am    last updated on: 01.11.2010 at 09:46 am

RE: Low Growing Sedum? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: Janet_SW_BC on 12.04.2001 at 10:45 pm in Favorites Forum

I just love sedums, here are some of my favorite lower growing varieties so far:

Sedum "Acre" (will cover an acre in no time), Sedum "Cape Blanco" (great grey contrast against red leafed sedums), Sedum "Tricolor" (pretty pink blooms on pink/green/cream foliage), Sedum "Vera Jameson", Sedum anacampseros, Sedum carnea, Sedum divergens, Sedum erwersii (beautiful blooms), Sedum kamtschaticum (great yellow flowers), Sedum Makinoi Ogon (my current "best" favorite - chartreuse, less drought tolerant but more shade tolerant), Sedum pachyclados (great texture), Sedum rupestre, and Sedum spurium "Dragon's Blood" (fabulous red foliage and blooms).

These and hens & chicks cover my Allen Block wall, and form part of my "grass-less lawn" front yard area. Note though that many of these are not evergreen.



clipped on: 11.17.2009 at 03:38 pm    last updated on: 11.17.2009 at 03:38 pm

RE: best soil for sedum (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 05.08.2008 at 04:18 pm in Container Gardening Forum

Noooo newspaper please. It's almost all cellulose & will break down into sludge very quickly.

Here's the deal with sedum. They demand good drainage, which means that you need a coarse soil in most containers and a very coarse soil in shallow containers. I grow them in the same soil I use for succulents & they do very well.

3 parts Turface (Schultz soil conditioner is the same stuff)
3 parts crushed granite (farm feed store)
3 parts pine or fir bark
1 part coarse silica sand (masonry supply company)
1 part vermiculite
gypsum or dolomitic lime (I use gypsum)
a micronutrient source or use a fertilizer with all the secondary macros and all the micros. You can skip the gypsum or lime if your fertilizer contains Ca and Mg. When you decide what you're going to fertilize with, I can help you decide on good program, if you like.

Good luck!



clipped on: 11.17.2009 at 03:34 pm    last updated on: 11.17.2009 at 03:34 pm

RE: at the risk of starting another soil discussion... (Follow-Up #24)

posted by: meyermike_1micha on 10.22.2009 at 01:04 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

THANKYOU SO MUCH for letting us know what Dry Stall is..

I have been ordering pumice by the small bag from e-bay all this time at 25 dollars a 5lb bag a pop, and just calling my local Agway and asking for this stuff, which they carry, is only going to cost me 15 dollars for a 40 pound bag..

YOU ROCK!! Thankyou..I love pumice! Now I can use it freely.:-)


clipped on: 11.16.2009 at 12:09 am    last updated on: 11.16.2009 at 12:09 am

RE: Hello, New to Succulents! (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: joscience on 07.06.2009 at 03:29 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Hey Suzie, welcome to the forum! You'll find that there is an incredible ammount of information associated with this hobby, which at least for some of us, is part of the attraction. The downside is that it may be a little intimidating at first.

As to your particular inquery, this is a pretty good starter tutorial on growing succulents. I can't remember who originally posted it, but I think it is pretty solid.

As to some pictures, the two most prominent online resources are Dave's Garden Plant Files and Desert-Tropicals. Both are extensive lists of plants, many not succulents. However, between those two, you should be able to come up with a picture of just about anything. Another resource I highly recomend is the book Succulents: The Illustrated Dictionary. I find it much easier to page through when trying to ID a plant than looking at (and loading) zillions of web pages. Plus, it is a good way to familiarize yourself with a variety of genera.

As to *where* to get your hands on some plants, you are actually pretty well situated. First off, the big box store always have a decent selection and they are going to be the cheapest. I know Phoenix has a few good specialty nurseries, but there are some truly top notch ones down in Tucson. My favorite are Plants for the Southwest and Arid Lands.

Finally, the plant in your link is Crassula ovata 'Gollum'. That is a monstrose (mutated) version of good ol' Jade.

Here are two of my Crassula 'Hobbit" plants, my smallest and biggest!


clipped on: 11.05.2009 at 07:44 pm    last updated on: 11.05.2009 at 07:45 pm

RE: Root Mealies (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: norma_2006 on 10.22.2009 at 12:04 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Good catch, I did correct the spelling but it didn't send.
I have been losing them, completely, I am surprised that one got through . Diatomaceous Earth by Concern www. that's better. Thanks for the correction, Norma


For getting rid of mealy bugs
clipped on: 10.30.2009 at 05:47 pm    last updated on: 10.30.2009 at 05:48 pm

RE: How do I make homemade pots? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: karen715 on 10.15.2009 at 09:41 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

There is actually a hypertufa forum here at Garden Web. Perhaps you can find some good ideas there.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW Hypertufa forum


clipped on: 10.29.2009 at 09:30 pm    last updated on: 10.29.2009 at 09:31 pm

RE: My smelly blooms! (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: pirate_girl on 07.24.2009 at 12:16 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum


to see more Stapelias & their related plants than you'll know what to do with, pls. do a search for "Stapeliads - Orchids of the Succulent World".

This will take you to the site (sorry, I don't know how to provide links) of Dr. Gerry Barad, of Stapeliad fame. He's got LOADS of pix from which you should be able to match & then ID your plants.


clipped on: 10.23.2009 at 09:46 pm    last updated on: 10.23.2009 at 09:47 pm

RE: Mail order cactus/succulent (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: penfold2 on 08.25.2009 at 12:43 pm in Cacti & Succulents Forum

Here's most of my bookmarks for C&S nurseries.

Arid Lands:
Bigfoot Collections:
Bob Smoley's:
Calplants (ebay only):
The Great Petaluma Desert:
Grigsby Cactus Gardens:
Highland Succulents:
The Institute for Aloe Studies:
Living Stones Nursery:
Mesa Garden:
Miles' To Go:
The Miniatree Garden (ebay only):
Out of Africa: (Also sells on ebay as african-plants.)
Rare Exotics:
Rare Succulents:
Shoal Creek Succulents:

Many of these specialize in rare species and some prices reflect that, but most have reasonably priced plants as well. I have personally ordered from Arid Lands, Bigfoot Collections, Grigsby, Out of Africa, and just placed on order with Miniatree. I had very good luck with them and I believe the other vendors have good reputations as well, but you should do a search to be sure.


clipped on: 10.23.2009 at 06:19 pm    last updated on: 10.23.2009 at 06:20 pm