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My Adenium Collection

posted by: Karmaticflow on 03.08.2014 at 08:32 am in Adenium Forum

Hello everyone.

Just thought I post a picture of all my plants. I have moved them all outside. Highs in the 70s lows in the 50s. I still haven't fed them yet. Thinking I may wait until beginning of April. But the fert. I use says start in early March. I just don't think it is warm enough yet. My collection has grown greatly since last season. At the end of last season I had 3 decent sized and 7 seedling. I lost 1 of the 3 to rot over the winter. Now I have almost 10 decent sized plants and 10 seedlings. With hopes of getting 15-25 more seedling in the next month or two. I believe in success with numbers. I will post pictures as they bloom. Hopefully I can get them to bloom all together. All different colors purples, reds, pinks, and I even believe a white or two.

I moved the 3 in 1 pot into individual pots. I did have a saucer about half way down in the mix. I just thought I might have some problems. So I repotted into much smaller pots.

Thanks for reading and responding,


clipped on: 04.30.2014 at 02:34 am    last updated on: 04.30.2014 at 02:35 am

RE: Result of last year grafts. (Follow-Up #32)

posted by: ltran54 on 11.26.2012 at 02:07 pm in Adenium Forum

Hello Tolip, welcome to the forum. I hope you find plenty of info in this forum to care for your DR.

1- Cover with plastic to keep it from drying out.
2- When rain, with mosture, the grafts don't take.
3- If you use same blades without rubbing alcohol, very low chance, because the sap from one plant gets on another plant.

If you leave the grafts out in the sun, the plastic get mosture in it and the grafts don't take either.

Ask more question if you not so sure. People in this forum will help you.


clipped on: 04.21.2014 at 04:52 pm    last updated on: 04.21.2014 at 04:52 pm

RE: release agents for latex molds? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: billie_ann on 06.03.2013 at 02:48 pm in Hypertufa Forum

8 parts rubbing alcohol to 2 parts castor oil. Spray on in thin layers so you don't get runs or bubbles. Do NOT use any petroleum based release. It will degrade the latex.


clipped on: 04.20.2014 at 03:50 pm    last updated on: 04.20.2014 at 03:50 pm

RE: spring (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: rox146 on 03.18.2014 at 10:16 pm in Plumeria Forum

here's looking at you kid....


clipped on: 03.21.2014 at 01:29 pm    last updated on: 03.21.2014 at 01:29 pm

RE: Transplanting young seedlings (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: longaeva54 on 04.02.2013 at 07:26 am in Adenium Forum

Scott,after cutting tap root from Siamadeniums.
I know you do not want your seedlings to be dead including myself because we are all adenium lovers. Mostly they die from fungi infection after cutting their roots. If you make sure that you give them fungicide chemical and diluted root hormone after cutting and putting them in media again so you will be fine.
Please do not put any fertilizer for this time. After that making holes and put these cut-root seedlings in this media. Put them in the shade (60% slant) about 2 weeks. When these seedlings recover and get more healthy, you can take them to outdoor with full sunlight. Now you can put the fertilizer and watering as usual.
 photo tap1_zpsea2111c3.jpg

 photo bonsai-part2_zps623e9ea4.gif


clipped on: 03.19.2014 at 02:01 pm    last updated on: 03.19.2014 at 02:03 pm

RE: Misting? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: tapla on 07.19.2008 at 11:20 pm in House Plants Forum

I really don't think it useful at all, and probably detrimental. The only time I EVER mist is when there is a mite problem, and then it's just because I use the water as the vehicle to deliver alcohol, insecticidal soap, or some other anti-pathogen.

I also think that in almost all cases where growers are seeing poor foliage during the winter, it can be attributed to the plants inability to take up water efficiently because of soils with a high level total dissolved solids. Poor, or slow soils that need to be watered in sips, absolutely guarantee progressive accumulation of salts from both fertilizers and the solids dissolved in tap water. These solids make it increasingly difficult for plants to take up water, and can even reverse the flow of water so it is drawn from cells instead of entering them. (like salt draws moisture from dried meat and fish) Since humidity levels are low in the house and the roots cannot move adequate water to compensate - we see necrotic leaf margins & tips.

This might be too long and technical for most to want to wade through, but it illustrates how misting actually is detrimental to most plants. I wrote it for a club newsletter:


I personally view misting as an exercise in futility when raising humidity is the goal; and there are some compelling reasons, rooted in plant physiology, why we may wish to reconsider the habit/practice of misting, even if we set aside the fact that it helps for only a couple of minutes and has no residual benefit. There is also the possibility that water dripping from leaf to leaf or plant to plant will carry and spread insects and other pathogens, especially fungi. Misting does help satisfy the nurturing side of growers who adhere to the practice, though. ;o)

There is something very important about misting that no one EVER mentions on these forums. In many, probably more than half of all plants, exposure to rain causes rapid suppression of photosynthesis by inducing stomatal closure and causing temporary decrease or cessation of the photosynthetic mechanism. Examining plants exposed to several minutes of misty rain often reveals complete stomatal closure within 2 minutes, with a 30-40% decreases in photosynthetic ability within 1 hour. In addition, it often takes many hours to several days for plants to return to a "pre-rain" ability to carry on the efficient business of photosynthesis.

Moisture on leaves and/or in the air surrounding plant foliage will determine the humidity difference (gradient) between the inside of stomata and outside of the leaf (this is termed the saturation deficit). Humidity level just inside stomata is very high as they are normally full of water vapor, which will move out rapidly if there is a steep concentration gradient in humidity, i.e. if the surrounding air has a low humidity. This causes a drop in turgor which closes stomata. If you equalize the gradient, or raise surrounding (relative) humidity turgor remains constant so stomata remain open.

Some discussion of "diffusional resistance", or things that slow down the diffusion which would occur naturally based on the water vapor concentration gradient (slow water loss through leaves) is required to understand the effect of misting. Primary considerations: the "stomatal pore" and the "boundary layer". Most, (almost all) transpiration occurs through the stomatal pores. We already saw that plants slow water loss by closing their stomatal pores when water is in short supply, but it occurs when something slows transpiration as well.

The blanket of unstirred air on the outer surface of the leaf is called the boundary layer. It helps insulate the leaf against water loss because it becomes nearly completely saturated with water vapor. The thickness of the boundary layer might only be a few thousandths of an inch, but depends on the degree of air movement, which blows away the boundary layer. If there is no air movement, a thicker layer and slowed transpiration results. More wind gives a thinner layer and rapid transpiration. At high wind speeds, the stomata usually close to prevent this rapid water loss (see above).

You can see examples of how the boundary layer works in cacti and plants that are pubescent (hairy). Most are slow-growing. I have read that the primary reason, indirectly, is stomatal closure due to the more effective boundary layer slowing transpiration and thus slowing photosynthesis.

So - we�ve seen that rain or mist on leaves obviously slows water loss from foliage by making (near) perfect the boundary layer. Since this slows transpirational loss, it closes stomata and also slows photosynthesis, which is not a good thing.

Even though we may not be able to expect the a negative impact on every single species of plant, I have concluded (for my own purposes) that an increase in relative humidity in air surrounding the plant is the most effective way to keep stoma open and insure optimum photosynthesizing ability and vitality. Remember, that there are abundant other factors that influence stomata function - light, temperature, internal plant rhythms all play into the equation, but far more plants will experience reduce photosynthetic ability when exposed to rain or mist than will not.



clipped on: 02.02.2014 at 04:55 pm    last updated on: 02.02.2014 at 04:55 pm

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: 02.02.2014 at 02:19 am    last updated on: 02.02.2014 at 02:20 am

Ficus Trees in Containers

posted by: tapla on 10.19.2010 at 10:59 pm in House Plants Forum

The previous thread about ficus culture has reached the limit of 150 posts twice. The last thread was hurriedly put together, and addressed issues as they arose. Hopefully, this will cover most of the areas where questions arise regarding how to best maintain Ficus in containers.

The information I am supplying comes from knowledge gleaned from diligent pursuit of the physiology of woody plants, and in many cases from the pursuit of information specific to various Ficus species. In order that I might be proficient at maintaining trees in containers over the very long term, I have also spent a considerable amount of time and effort gaining a command of other plant sciences, with soil science, soil/water relationships, and nutrition getting special attention. My habit is to share information, particularly information I have verified via my own practical experience and observations, my experience running to more than 20 years of maintaining healthy Ficus specimens in containers. I�m also called upon frequently to share in the surrounding communities, teaching other gardeners and bonsai practitioners how to maintain healthy containerized trees; and in general, how to get more from their container gardening experience.

From the family: Moracea (relative of mulberry)

Native: India, other tropical - subtropical regions

The Ficus genus
with more than 800 known species, is undoubtedly an extremely popular choice as a containerized tree. It tolerates the "dryer than desert" conditions actually found in many or most centrally heated homes reasonably well, and is endowed with a natural genetic vigor that makes it easy to grow. There is however, much myth and misconception regarding the care of this plant and the reasons it reacts as it does to certain cultural conditions. I would like to talk a little about the plant and then offer some specific information regarding its culture. I will primarily address Ficus benjamina - the 'weeping fig', but the commonly grown Ficus elastica - rubber tree, has the same cultural preferences. In fact, we can virtually lump all the Ficus species commonly grown as houseplants into a single group in all areas except light preferences. We need to make allowances for some of the fig species that won't tolerate direct sun as well as benjamina and elastica, and we may as well expand that exception to the variegated cultivars of benjamina and elastica as well.

Ficus benjamina
is one of the species of Ficus commonly referred to as a strangler fig. It often begins its life in duff, in the crotch of a tree, or high on a branch as a seed deposited in the droppings of a bird or other tree-dwelling animal. After the seed germinates and as it grows, it produces thin aerial roots that often dangle in the moist air or attach themselves to the host trunk, while gaining nutrients and moisture from the air, leaf litter, and the bark of the supporting tree. It does not actually parasitize the plant it grows on, it only uses it as support. This relationship is termed epiphytic, or the tree an epiphyte. Those familiar with the culture of orchids and bromeliads will recognize this term.

After the aerial roots have formed and extended, and when they finally reach the ground, the tree begins a tremendous growth spurt, sending out more roots and developing a dense canopy that eventually shades out the supporting tree at the same time the roots are competing for nutrients in the soil and compressing the trunk and branches of the support tree to the point of stopping sap flow. Eventually the supporting tree dies and all that is left where it once stood, is a hollow cavity in the dangling Ficus roots that have now thickened and self-grafted to become the trunk. It is easy to see how many of the trees in the Ficus genus have come to be called by the name 'strangler figs'.

Roots and soil
The roots of some Ficus species are so powerful they can destroy concrete buildings or buckle roads, and can be measured in miles as they extend underground in search of water. When we consider the young tree and its ability to obtain sufficient moisture from just the surrounding air and bark surface of the support tree by way of aerial roots, we can draw an important conclusion: All species of Ficus prefer well-aerated and fast draining soils. In this regard, they are actually no different than any other tree you would endeavor to grow in a container, so try always to use a soil that guarantees an ample volume of air in the soil and excellent drainage for the intended interval between repots. This can be accomplished by using a soil whose primary fraction is comprised of large particles (like pine bark) combined with ample volumes of perlite or other inorganic ingredients like Turface, pumice, Haydite, crushed granite, or others. I grow all my Ficus in a soil mix consisting of equal parts of pine or fir bark, Turface (a calcined clay product), and Gran-I-Grit (crushed and screened granite). To be fair, I will add a qualifier here: the cost of the potential for superior growth and added vitality when using these fast (draining) well-aerated soils comes in the form of you needing to be prepared to water more frequently as the soil particle size increases. Roots are the heart of the plant, and the rest of the plant can do nothing without the roots� OK - the top just THINKS it's in control. Take care of the roots, and if your other cultural conditions are favorable, your plants will thrive.

Before I go on
I would like to say there is a very important relationship between your choice of soil, your watering habits, and a very common and serious problem that too often goes completely undiagnosed. That problem is a high level of soluble salts in the soil. When we choose soils that hold water for extended periods, we put our trees at risk for the fungal infections that cause root rot. Reasoning tells us that to avoid the root rot issue, we should not water to the point of soil saturation; rather, we often feel that watering in sips to avoid the specter of root rot is the wise alternative. This strategy though, puts us squarely on the horns of a dilemma. If we don't/can't water copiously on a regular basis, the soluble salts, i.e.,all the dissolved solids in our tap water and fertilizer solution accumulate in the soil. As the level of salts in the soil increases, the plant finds it increasingly difficult to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in water. If the salt level gets too high, it can actually 'pull' water OUT of cells in exactly the same fashion that curing salt 'pulls' moisture from ham or bacon. This 'reverse osmosis' causes plasma to be torn from the walls of cells as they collapse, killing cells and tissue. The technical term for this is plasmolysis, but we more commonly refer to it as fertilizer burn. Fertilizer burn can occur whether or not we use fertilizer. The salts in our tap water alone, can/will eventually build to the point where water uptake is impossible, unless we actively take precautions.

Ficus b. will tolerate dry soil quite well. Allowing the soil to completely dry; however, will result in undue drought stress and accompanying leaf loss, an expensive affair, considering the plant will call heavily upon energy reserves to replace lost foliage - reserves that might better have been directed to other functions and growth. If you wait just until the soil feels dry to the touch at the drain hole before watering, your tree will be free from the effects of drought stress. Soils feel dry to the touch when their moisture content is somewhere between 40-45%, but Ficus can still extract water from soils until moisture content drops to about 25-30%, giving you a 10-15% cush AFTER the soil feels dry. Use a finger or a sharpened wooden dowel stuck deep into the soil to check for moisture content. A wooden skewer or chopstick used in similar fashion is also a useful tool, and feeling the soil at the drain hole and withholding water until it feels dry there, is also a good way to judge. Water meters are rather ineffective, They actually measure EC (electrical conductivity). To illustrate: Insert a clean probe into a cup of distilled water. It will read 'DRY'. Add a little table salt of fertilizer, it will read 'WET'.

I try never to water my Ficus with cold water, opting for room water or ambient temperature water. The best way to water your Ficus it to apply water slowly until you estimate the soil is almost wet enough that water is about to appear at the drain hole. Wait a few minutes and water again so at least 10-15% of the total volume of water applied exits the drain. The first watering dissolves accumulated salts in the soil and allows them to go into solution. The second watering carries them out of the container. We already illustrated the importance of using a soil that allows us to water in such a manner without having to worry abut root rot. If you feel you cannot water in this manner without risking lengthy soil saturation and the possibility of root rot, your soil is probably inappropriate for the plant. Lest anyone complain at that observation, I would point out there is a difference between the growth and vitality of plants that are only tolerating a soil vs. the same traits in plants that appreciate (thrive in) a medium with superior properties.

More about soils as questions arise ....

Although many Ficus begin life as an understory tree and are generally quite shade tolerant, most actually spend their life struggling through the shaded understory until they eventually reach the forest canopy, where they finally find full sun and can begin to come into their own. We should give Ficus all the sun they will tolerate. I grow all varieties of Ficus b. in full sun, and they tolerate it well - even some of the newer cultivars that are supposed to be extremely shade-tolerant.

I have often read anecdotal assertions that Ficus b defoliates at the slightest change in light levels (or temperature). I have found this to be only partly true. Any trees I have moved from a location with a lower light level to a brighter location have not suffered leaf loss (abscission). Instead, they have rewarded me with more robust growth and back-budding. If the change is reversed, so the tree is moved from high irradiance levels to a dimmer location, leaf loss is probable, but even then it depends on both the suddenness of the change and the difference between the two light levels. It might be interesting to note that trees that are being grown out, or allowed to grow unpruned, are most likely to suffer loss of interior leaves when light levels are reduced. Trees in bonsai culture, or properly pruned trees where thinning has occurred to allow more light to the trees interior are less affected.

Indoor supplemental lighting is a broad subject, but if you have the ability to provide it, your trees will definitely show their appreciation. Brighter light = smaller leaf size, shorter internodes, and superior ramification (finer branching), not to mention a marked increase in overall mass.

Expect the most robust growth characteristics when the plant is kept in a temperature range between 60-80* F. Actual root temperatures above 90-95* should be avoided because they impair root function/metabolism and slow or stop growth. Temperatures below 55* should also be avoided for several reasons. They slow photosynthesis to the degree that the plant will necessarily call on stored energy reserves to power metabolism and keep its systems orderly. This essentially puts the tree on 'battery power' - running on its energy reserves. After exposure to chill and subsequent return to more favorable temperatures, the plant does not quickly recover the ability to carry on normal photosynthesis. The time needed for the plant to recover its normal photosynthesizing ability is more appropriately measured in days, than hours. Leaf loss can also occur as a result of exposure to chill, particularly sudden chill.

It is prudent to select a location free from cold breezes for your tree. Even short exposure to very cold draughts can cause leaves to abscise (fall/shed). The cool temperatures slow or halt the flow of auxin (a growth regulator - hormone) across the abscission zone at the base of each leaf petiole (stem) which allows an abscission layer to form and causes leaves to fall. Chill also stimulates an increase in abscissic acid (also a growth regulator - hormone) which is also a player in leaf loss.

Benjamina can tolerate temperatures as low as the mid-30s for brief periods if the exposure to chill is gradual, but it should be noted that even though there may not be any readily visible impact on the tree, the tree will always be in decline at temperatures below about 55* because of the impact on the tree's inability to carry on efficient photosynthesis. Sudden and large temperature drops can cause varying degrees of chill injury in the plant, caused by phenolic compounds leaking from cells, which shows up looking much like freeze damage. Severe injury could occur in plants that were growing at 80-85* and were subjected to sudden chilling to temperatures as high as 45-50*

Benjamina's thick, leathery leaves with waxy cuticles help to limit moisture loss, making the plant suitable to a wide range of indoor humidity levels, even though it prefers humidity levels above 50%. When humidity levels are blamed for leaf loss or necrotic leaf tips and margins, it is likely the blame has been misplaced. Those pesky high salt levels in soils, most common in late winter, can make it difficult and in extreme cases impossible for the plant to absorb water to replace that being lost to the air through transpiration. The fast soils that allow copious watering, which flushes the soil of salts regularly are actually much more important/beneficial than maintaining ultra high humidity levels. Misting is very effective ..... For about 30 seconds. Forget the misting please, it is ineffective. For small plants, a humidity tray may marginally effective.

I prefer any 3:1:2 ratio soluble fertilizer like Miracle-Gro 24-8-16 or 12-4-8, and I especially like Dyna-Gro's Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, because it provides all the essential nutrients in the approximate ratio the plant will use and in favorable ratios to each other. Alternately, a 1:1:1 ratio fertilizer like MG 20-20-20 is suitable. Because I use fast soils, I can fertilize at very low doses, every time I water. How YOU can/should fertilize is something we should discuss. It can change by season, and also varies based on soil choice and watering habits.

There is no question that in addition to offering greater potential for growth and vitality within the limits of other cultural factors, fast draining, well-aerated soils also get the nod for greatly increasing the grower�s margin for error in the areas of watering and fertilizing.

Leaf loss in Ficus is probably the cause of more conjecture than any other aspect of its culture, so even though I have mentioned it above, I will reiterate. Even though it is widely held that Ficus b. defoliates at virtually any cultural change, with changes in light and temperature most often cited, it is not so. The plant tends to defoliate when there is a fairly abrupt change in light levels - from bright to dim, or after exposure to sudden chill, but the plant does not tend to defoliate when the cultural conditions of light and temperature move from unfavorable to favorable, i.e. from dim to bright or from cool to warm/appropriate - unless the change is markedly radical.

First, I draw a major distinction between potting-up and repotting. Potting up can be undertaken at any time. It involves moving the plant to a slightly larger pot and back-filling with fresh soil, with a minimal amount of root disturbance. Much to be preferred to potting-up, is repotting. Repotting, which has a substantial rejuvenating effect, includes removing all or almost all of the old (spent) soil and selective root-pruning. It is by far the preferred method and probably the most important step in insuring your trees always grow at as close to their potential genetic vigor as possible. Repotting as opposed to potting-up is the primary reason bonsai trees are able to live in small containers for hundreds of years while the vast majority of trees grown as houseplants are lucky to survive more than 5 years without root work

It is pretty much universally accepted among nurserymen, that you should pot up at or before the time where the condition of the roots/soil mass is such that the roots and soil can be lifted from the container intact. Much testing has been done to show that trees left to languish beyond this point will have growth and vitality permanently affected. Even when planted out, growth and longevity of trees allowed to progress beyond this point is shown to be reduced.

The ideal time to repot a Ficus, is when the plant has good vitality and in the month prior to its most robust growth. June and July are prime months for most of the US. HOW to properly repot is beyond the scope of the initial post, but I am sure the subject will be covered in detail as questions arise.

Remember - potting up a root bound plant is a stopgap fix, and ensures the plant has no opportunity to grow to its genetic potential within the limits of other cultural factors; while fully repotting, which includes a change of soil and root pruning, ensures the plant WILL have the opportunity within the limits of other cultural factors. Strong words, but to repeat the illustration: the bonsai tree is capable of living in a tiny pot, perfectly happy for hundreds of years, while we struggle to squeeze 5 years of good vitality from a root bound plant - root work being the difference.

Ficus trees suffer from some pests. Most common are scale, followed closely by mites and mealies. I have always had good luck with neem oil as a preventative and fixative. We can discuss infestations and treatment as it arises, but so it gets included in the original post, I use only pure, cold-pressed neem oil, such as that packaged by Dyna-Gro in the black and white container. The beneficial active ingredient in neem is azadirachtin, the effectiveness of which is greatly reduced by steam and alcohol extraction methods, which brings us full circle to why I use the cold-pressed product.

Oedema can sometimes be an issue as well;. Suspect it if you see corky patches on the leaves, usually preceded by wet, bumpy patches that usually go unnoticed.

This is a long post, and took a long time to compose. I hope it answers most of your questions, but somehow, I cannot help but hope there are a few lingering that you would like to ask or points you would like to have clarified. It is great fun visiting and helping people who are devoted about improving their abilities to provide for their trees.

Best luck.


Here is a link that might be useful: Link to the previous thread


clipped on: 02.02.2014 at 02:17 am    last updated on: 02.02.2014 at 02:17 am

RE: Pruning Ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf fig) (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 01.17.2008 at 05:30 pm in House Plants Forum

Hmmm - if it's 5' tall with foliage only at the top, and the stem is unable to support the weight of the foliage, it's not healthy.

If your tree was growing in the tropics, it would exhibit several growth spurts each year. Yours has one. The typical annual growth cycle for your tree would be something like this: In spring, the tree begins to grow in earnest. It uses any stored energy it has remaining after the winters rest, and the new energy it is capturing from the increased sun exposure to grow new leaves & extend branches. This extension & increase in foliage will continue until the summer solstice. At that time, the leaf production and branch extension slows markedly and the tree begins to store energy, laying down cells in cambial tissues and generally increasing girth of stems/branches. How much the stem (trunk) increases in size/strength is governed by direct relation to how much photosynthesizing surface the tree has. So, if you prune it, the trunk will thicken more slowly - the opposite of what you need to happen. Fortunately though, there is a fix for the problem. By mid-Sep growth will have slowed to a crawl & as winter approaches it will stall so that you think it's not growing at all - but it is.

The best time to undertake radical reductions in a (tropical) plant's mass is when it's strong & about to enter the peak of the growth cycle. For you (CHI, right?), that would be in mid Jun - early Jul.

You asked if the tree would produce new growth if you just chopped it at the 3' mark. There are too many variables to give a generalized answer that covers all (F lyrata) trees. Trees growing in FL will react quite differently to that kind of treatment than trees in CHI. Timing is important, too. If you reduced the tree when energy reserves are at their lowest, it may not have enough left to push a new flush of growth, so it could die. If you did it in Aug, it almost surely would have the energy reserves, but light levels are waning quickly, so why risk it?

A plan: Move the tree outdoors as soon as night temps are consistently above 50* (after Memorial Day), and let the tree gain some strength. You can tip-prune at this time, which will force some back-budding. After the tree has gained some expendable energy, we can take a look at the branching & decide how to proceed with reducing the trunk height. The trunk may not really get any stronger, but it will seem like it when it's shorter. (A short stick seems stiffer and harder to bend than a long one of the same diameter, even though their strength is actually equal.)

What I just described is a common practice among bonsai enthusiasts, and it's how we build taper into tree trunks, giving them the illusion of great age. There are always variable considerations though, when deciding on something radical. I think the primary two, are making sure the tree has the vitality to withstand the procedure, and that the conditions of the roots and soil are conducive to a rapid recovery. If you think you can insure these conditions, your tree could be much shorter and all spiffed up by fall. ;o)



clipped on: 02.01.2014 at 11:30 pm    last updated on: 02.02.2014 at 02:14 am

RE: Root Pruning/ Repotting (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: tapla on 12.15.2005 at 09:10 pm in Maples Forum

Rad - The list of genera is long & I treat almost everything except conifers this way (some pines, junipers, etc., don't tolerate being bare-rooted as well as deciduous & tropical trees with leaves). After the initial pruning, my root-balls are a mass of roots all thinner than cooked spaghetti. When I'm done pruning, most root-balls end up being disc-shaped and about 2-3 inches thick (deep). I grow Malus (apple), Ulmus (elm), Betula (birch), Tilia (linden), Pyracantha, Prunus (plum), Morus (Mulberry), Euonymous (burning bush), Fagus (beech), Buxus (boxwood), Berberis (barberry), Carpinus (hornbeam), Salix (willow), and many more. I also treat All the tropicals I grow in similar fashion.

Schusch - The root mass of trees growing in 40 gallon containers are going to be unwieldy & will probably require assistance. When you're finished, the root mass would likely be near 75 cm in diam & 20 - 40 cm thick and offer some stability, but all depends on how much tree is above ground. I mentioned the value of stabilizing trees after pruning roots to hasten re-establishment When you root-prune & remove old soil, you do affect the stability of the tree and it needs to be protected temporarily against toppling from the container.

You ask a good question about the "top" roots. The roots that originate at the basal flare are pretty much the framework of your root system & the buttress of the tree. These roots are always allowed to remain. They may be shortened to reduce the o/a diameter of rootage, and secondary roots growing straight down would be removed from them, but the buttress roots are not removed unless they are encircling, girdling, or abnormal in shape or growth.

Repotting intervals are determined by the volume of roots or the state of the soil. Roots growing out of the drain hole or crawling over the surface of the soil indicate the need to repot at the next opportunity. Decline in vitality and any number of accompanying symptoms resultant of root damage from collapsing soil and impaired root metabolism is the other indication that a repot should be undertaken asap. Air is just as important to roots as water and when roots are starved for air, the entire organism suffers.

For a soil choice, I would encourage you to find a mix that serves you well when an extended interval between repots is expected & stick with it. You cannot go wrong & unless you have hundreds of trees, expense won't be a major issue. For trees that you will repot yearly, you could use a pine bark/peat/perlite mix, heavy on bark & light on peat, with good results, but it is soo much easier to establish a single, good mix that's primarily inorganic & learn its characteristics. If you branch out into other species, you can modify the soil as req'd. E.g. for junipers, I take 2 parts of my std mix and add one part each of Turface & crushed granite. This gives me a soil that is 4 parts inorganic and 1 part pine or fir bark. Some trees are grown in 100% Turface or akadama - that is no organic component.

Old trees (30-40-50+ years) see a decreasing % of dynamic mass as they age, so they are less resilient. In bonsai, we can treat young material almost carelessly if we choose & expect the tree to be vital enough to cope. Older trees are not as vigorous & cannot be treated this way. Observe the growth rate & (reduced) recuperative powers of old trees in nature for confirmation of this. It's not likely you have any old maples. I'm not making fun, but even a 20 year old maple is a rather young tree.

Another good question about the soil. Yes, the soils I advocate have a price in the form of a need for more frequent watering and fertilizing. However, you will have great flexibility in how/what you feed. For trees that I wish to develop quickly, I am able to fertilize weekly or bi-weekly. My normal supplement program is: A) Water the trees well. B) Apply a full strength solution of 20-20-20 or other balanced soluble mix. C) One week later, water well & alternate with a full strength application of 5-1-1 fish emulsion. D) Return to the 20-20-20 at next 1 wk interval. If you have a tree that is the size you want, you would be able to increase the intervals between fertilizer applications to every two weeks & still keep the tree healthy and happy.

When I mix my soils, I add Micromax granular micro-nutrient blend. I buy it in 50 lb bags & it's expensive (about $75), but 50 lbs will last me 10 years. If any of you are interested in obtaining this product in smaller quantities, let me know. I have a friend that has a bonsai business & sells it for $5 for a half pound. You can also use seaweed extract/emulsion as a source of the minors with good results (Earthjuice, too). You do need to give consideration to your plant's need for the minors - nearly all container soils are deficient. Please do not use compost in hopes it will provide the minors.

I think I got all your questions?



clipped on: 02.02.2014 at 02:12 am    last updated on: 02.02.2014 at 02:13 am

RE: Root Pruning/ Repotting (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: schusch on 12.15.2005 at 11:19 am in Maples Forum

Hello, Al-
thanks for this elaboration. i was looking for info like this, since it also helps with the initial planting of containerized trees, and the type of analysis one should do of a rootball.
I have a few questions: the first concerns the larger roots which you write are practically speaking useless in container culture. In larger container - I have 40 gallon types, with an 80 cm (31 inches) - wouldn't they help steadying the tree against the wind, for instance? I understand you prune mostly underneath the trunk - and hence not upper roots: would these then hold the tree?
I also have two questions not directly related to pruning, but the frequency of repotting: you say slow growing trees can be repotted every 5 years, vigorous ones every 2. You then talk about the different requirements for the media with slow growing trees needing more inorganic matter to help keep the structure. Does this mean you advocate more inorganic matter, and lesser repotting for older trees versus younger (less than 10 years?) trees, or is this strictly an species/cultivar related issue? You do say that older trees tolerate rootpruning less than younger trees - why is that? How about specifically maples in this respect?
Finally, if it's not too much to ask in one posting, and keeping in mind this has to do with pruning: you underline the need for the fine roots for water and air purposes, and suggest with rootpruning the right type of soil. What about nutrients besides water: if the media drains too well, does this not deplede the soil too quickly of nutrients?
Thanks again. I realize not all my questions pertain to rootpruning.


clipped on: 02.02.2014 at 02:12 am    last updated on: 02.02.2014 at 02:12 am

Root Pruning/ Repotting

posted by: tapla on 12.14.2005 at 11:09 pm in Maples Forum

In other threads, I have made my best case for why it is important to prune roots and do a full repot (not to be confused with potting-up) on your containerized Acers - regularly. Root-pruning is the systematic removal of the largest roots in the container with emphasis on removal of rootage growing directly under the trunk and at the perimeter of the root mass.

Root pruning should start immediately with year-old seedlings by removing the taproot just below the basal flare of dormant material, repotting, and treating the plant as a cutting. This will produce a plant with flat rootage that radiates outward from the base and will be easy to care for in the future.

Young trees (under 10 yrs old) are nearly all dynamic mass and will tolerate root-pruning well. The entire genus of Acer is extremely tolerant of root work. Acer buergerianum (trident maple) is routinely reduced to a main trunk with roots pruned all the way back to the basal flare and responds to the treatment with a fresh growth of fine, fibrous roots and a fresh flush of foliage each spring. The point here is, you don't need to be concerned about the pruning if you follow a few simple guidelines.

First, undertake the root-pruning and repot while the plant is quiescent (this is the period after the tree has met its chill requirement and has been released from dormancy, but has not begun to grow yet because of low soil temps). The ideal time is immediately before buds move (swell) in spring. Next best time is at the onset of budswell. Next best time is anytime late in the quiescent period.

For plants that have not been root-pruned before: With a pruning saw, saw off the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the root ball. With a hand-rake (like you use for scratching in the garden soil) or a wooden chopstick, remove all the loose soil. Using a jet of water from the hose and the chopstick, remove the remaining soil - ALL of it. This should be done out of sun and wind to prevent the fine roots from drying. 5 minutes in the sun or wind can kill fine roots & set the tree back a week or more, so keep roots moist as you work. After the soil is removed, remove about 1/2 of the remaining mass of roots with a sharp pruning tool, taking the largest and those growing under the trunk. Stop your pruning cuts just beyond where a smaller root branches off the root you are pruning. Be sure to remove any J-roots, encircling roots, or others with abnormal growth.

The first time you root-prune a tree will be the most difficult & will likely take an hour from start to finish, unless the tree is in larger than a 5 gallon container. When you're satisfied with the work, repot into a soil that you are certain will retain its structure until the next root-pruning/repot. Tree (genetic) vigor will dictate the length of time between repots. The slow growing, less vigorous species will likely go 5 years between repots. For these slow growing trees, it is extremely important that soils retain aeration. For these trees, a soil of 2/3 inorganic parts and 1/3 organic (I prefer pine or fir bark) is a good choice. The more vigorous plants that will only go 2 years between repots can be planted in a soil with a higher organic component if you wish, but would still benefit from the 2/3 inorganic mix.

Before you begin the pruning operation, be sure you have the soil & new container ready to go (drain screens in place, etc). The tree should fit loosely inside the walls of the container. Fill the container with soil to the desired ht, mounded in the center, & place tree on the mound. Add soil to cover roots & with the chopstick, work soil into all voids in the roots, eliminating the air pockets and adding soil to the bottom of the basal root-flare. Temporarily securing the tree to the container with twine or small rope, even staking, against movement from wind or being jostled will speed recovery time by preventing breakage of newly forming fine rootage. Place the tree in shade & out of wind until it leafs out and re-establishes in the container.

Most trees treated this way will fully recover within about 4 weeks. By the end of 8 weeks, they will have caught & passed a similar plant, that was allowed to remain in its container, in both development and in vitality.

When root-pruning a dormant plant, you needn't worry about "balancing" top growth with rootage removed. The plant will only "activate" the buds it can supply with water. It is, however, the optimum time to undertake any pruning you may wish to attend to.

This is how I treat all my deciduous material. Yes, I have quite a few growing in bonsai pots, but more of my plants are in nursery containers or terra-cotta and look very much like your trees as they await the beginning of training. With a little effort at developing a soil from what's available to you and some knowledge and application of root-pruning and repotting techniques, I'm absolutely sure that a good % of those growing trees in containers could look forward to results they can be pleased with. This is the repotting technique that allows bonsai trees to live for hundreds of years & be passed from generation to generation while other containerized trees that have not had their roots tended to, only potted-up, are likely to be in severe decline or compost before they're old enough to vote.

I hope you're bold enough to give it a chance and I hope what I've written makes sense - it's way past my bedtime.



clipped on: 02.02.2014 at 02:10 am    last updated on: 02.02.2014 at 02:10 am

RE: Pruning Ficus Lyrata (fiddle leaf fig) (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: petrushka on 11.06.2008 at 01:59 pm in House Plants Forum

i waited till early aug to do what ronalawn suggested and it worked beautifully. i made a nick above an existing dormant bud about mid-trunk and it sprouted in a week! after that i cut off the branch. also now, 3 months later i see sev buds that formed at the tip of cut branch.
on the other branch - 3 buds appeared and sprouted within 3 weeks - they all have sev leaves now. from the 4 cuttings that 1 took only 2 rooted so far: 1 in water after sev weeks, second with rooting hormone in soil (after sitting in water doing nothing for 3 weeks). i did feed the tree with superthrive and also bound the multiple trunks with plastic coated wire about a year ago to give it some shape. i noticed recently that there are more buds around 'the wire constriction' - may be it is working similar to bark nicking? but there is no trunk thickening yet. i am planning to remove the wires when the trunks merge. i had to bind them since the tree was getting top heavy and branches were going too wide. i braid/bind my other ficus benjamina too. but i never saw bound/ braided ficus lyrata, but i decided to try anyway. it seems to like being more stable too.


clipped on: 02.01.2014 at 11:33 pm    last updated on: 02.01.2014 at 11:33 pm

RE: Pruning Ficus Lyrata (fiddle leaf fig) (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: ronalawn82 on 01.19.2008 at 09:46 am in House Plants Forum

erich60660, I wanted a rubber plant, Ficus elastica, to branch half way up its four-foot tall single stem. I carefully nicked the bark just above two leaves, pointing in the desirable directions, at the chosen height. The two shoots sprouted as did a couple of others. I had to remove those quickly so as not to cause objectionable scarring. The selected shoots grew nicely but a few leaves in the 'zone' died. Apparently when the bark is nicked, the (lateral) bud below is fooled into thinking that the terminal bud has been removed or otherwise died and this is its own signal to develop and 'take over'. This is why hedges 'bush out' when pruned and in a converse manner, when a plant starts to sideshoot for no apparent reason, it can indicate that the terminal bud may be dying.


clipped on: 02.01.2014 at 11:31 pm    last updated on: 02.01.2014 at 11:31 pm

RE: Why root-prune when you repot? (Follow-Up #27)

posted by: tapla on 11.17.2013 at 03:25 pm in Maples Forum

EW - The best time to repot F lyrata is around mid-Jun if you're N of the equator, and mid-Dec if you're south of it. If you're less than 25-30* N or S latitude, it's not particularly important when you repot.

If you want to achieve that look, and especially that look combined with that ht, you'll need to make some sacrifices. Trees thicken and trunks strengthen in a direct relationship with foliage mass, The more leaves, the faster the tree grows, thickens, and strengthens. To replicate that look, your job would be to try to make sure the terminal bud on the main stem doesn't get damaged or removed until the plant is about 3/4 as tall as you want it in the end. In the meantime, you should only tip-prune any branches that occur, so you maintain as much foliage on the tree as possible. As the tree approaches the desired ht, you'll start removing the lowest branches and working your way upward over time.

If you allow any secondary branching (branches of the main stem, to grow 2 - 3 leaves, then remove the apex (growing tip), more branches will be forced to grow from the leaf axils. You can then keep those oriented toward growth that flatters the plant, and remove those that spoil your vision for what you'd like it to be.

Often, growing is a catch 22. If we maintain a plant so it always looks its best in the immediate, we might be destroying its future. If we're serious about having our plants grow into something that is going to be pleasing to the eye at maturity, we usually need to make some sacrifices and stick with a plan as the plant moves through the formative stages. I realize how much that is to ask of a grower because of how long it took me to develop the ability to look ahead. The good news is, though, I didn't have anyone to help me learn to see into the future or explain all this to me, you do. ;-)



clipped on: 02.01.2014 at 01:34 pm    last updated on: 02.01.2014 at 01:35 pm

RE: Why root-prune when you repot? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: tapla on 12.14.2005 at 06:06 pm in Maples Forum

The root framework of in situ trees is comprised of a network of large perennial roots and increasingly finer secondary and tertiary roots. The perennial and secondary roots make up nearly all the root biomass/weight - usually more than 90%. In length measurement, the >90% of large roots accounts for normally less than 5% of o/a root length. This ratio is impossible to maintain in containers w/o some attention to pruning of roots.

It's rare that we would ever get to see what goes on under the soil. Most of us would be very surprised. Most of the stringy roots we call hair roots actually do little of the absorbing of water and soluble elements - nutrients. They are primarily channels for the translocation of water & the nutritional building blocks plants use to make food and keep their metabolism running smoothly. The real workhorses are the microscopic thread and hair roots attached to and branching off of these visible roots.

Important: Fine rootage is in a constant state of flux. Fine roots are short lived, and if they live, they quickly becomes suberized and less efficient at water absorption. A more likely scenario is that they will die as a result of some unfavorable cultural condition. Heat, cold, too much water (lack of O2), too little water, are a few of the things that kill fine roots. The two things we need to guard against most diligently is too much water and its accompanying O2 deprivation, and heat.

If you use a soil that doesn't require daily watering, you are killing more roots than you need to. It's physiology. Roots deprived of O2 die within hours. If the soil is saturated and dissolved O2 is used up in root metabolism, fine roots begin to die. The longer the roots are deprived of O2, the larger the roots are that succumb. This is why I said that roots are in a constant state of flux. They die regularly & regenerate when cultural conditions return to favorable. This seesaw death/regeneration is taxing to plants & calls mightily on the plants energy production or reserves each time the roots regrow. This is also why I continually preach that use of an open soil along with more frequent waterings will be so much superior to a peat soil that goes days w/o drying. The more often your plants require water, the healthier they will be. Each watering pushes the trapped CO2, methane, and other gasses from the soil and brings in a fresh charge of air. This O2 rich root environment does wonders for evening out the seesaw effect of root death/regeneration from O2 deprivation.

I hope you can see why the preservation of the fine rootage and minimizing the seesaw effect by providing a root friendly soil environment allows energy that would be used in root regeneration to be directed to other plant parts. Your trees will have more reserve energy, will over-winter better, and will resist insects, pathogens, and other biotic and abiotic stresses more effectively.

I mentioned root-pruning/repotting in the opening paragraph. The procedure is simply a way of maximizing the amount of fine rootage and assuring cultural conditions that are conducive to their ability to function efficiently. I'll turn to the procedure in another thread.

I really hope those reading this found something they could use. I know I wish I would have had someone to encapsulate some of the info I put down here. I introduced a good number of trees to the compost pile while paying my dues & this knowledge might have reduced the mayhem I spread among our forest friends.



clipped on: 02.01.2014 at 01:19 pm    last updated on: 02.01.2014 at 01:20 pm

Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XIII

posted by: tapla on 03.17.2011 at 04:06 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I first posted this thread back in March of '05. Twelve times it has reached the maximum number of posts GW allows to a single thread, which is much more attention than I ever imagined it would garner. I have reposted it, in no small part because it has been great fun, and a wonderful catalyst in the forging of new friendships and in increasing my list of acquaintances with similar growing interests. The forum and email exchanges that stem so often from the subject are, in themselves, enough to make me hope the subject continues to pique interest, and the exchanges provide helpful information. Most of the motivation for posting this thread another time comes from the reinforcement of hundreds of participants over the years that the idea some of the information provided in good-spirited collective exchange has made a significant difference in the quality of their growing experience.

I'll provide links to some of the more recent of the previous dozen threads and nearly 1,800 posts at the end of what I have written - just in case you have interest in reviewing them. Thank you for taking the time to examine this topic - I hope that any/all who read it take at least something interesting and helpful from it. I know it's long; my hope is that you find it worth the read.

Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention

A Discussion About Soils

As container gardeners, our first priority should be to ensure the soils we use are adequately aerated for the life of the planting, or in the case of perennial material (trees, shrubs, garden perennials), from repot to repot. Soil aeration/drainage is the most important consideration in any container planting. Soils are the foundation that all container plantings are built on, and aeration is the very cornerstone of that foundation. Since aeration and drainage are inversely linked to soil particle size, it makes good sense to try to find and use soils or primary components with particles larger than peat/compost/coir. Durability and stability of soil components so they contribute to the retention of soil structure for extended periods is also extremely important. Pine and some other types of conifer bark fit the bill nicely, but I'll talk more about various components later.

What I will write also hits pretty hard against the futility in using a drainage layer of coarse materials in attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the total volume of soil available for root colonization. A wick can be employed to remove water from the saturated layer of soil at the container bottom, but a drainage layer is not effective. A wick can be made to work in reverse of the self-watering pots widely being discussed on this forum now.

Since there are many questions about soils appropriate for use in containers, I'll post basic mix recipes later, in case any would like to try the soil. It will follow the Water Movement information.

Consider this if you will:

Container soils are all about structure, and particle size plays the primary role in determining whether a soil is suited or unsuited to the application. Soil fills only a few needs in container culture. Among them are: Anchorage - a place for roots to extend, securing the plant and preventing it from toppling. Nutrient Retention - it must retain a nutrient supply in available form sufficient to sustain plant systems. Gas Exchange - it must be amply porous to allow air to move through the root system and gasses that are the by-product of decomposition to escape. Water - it must retain water enough in liquid and/or vapor form to sustain plants between waterings. Air - it must contain a volume of air sufficient to ensure that root function/metabolism/growth is not impaired. This is extremely important and the primary reason that heavy, water-retentive soils are so limiting in their affect. Most plants can be grown without soil as long as we can provide air, nutrients, and water, (witness hydroponics). Here, I will concentrate primarily on the movement and retention of water in container soil(s).

There are two forces that cause water to move through soil - one is gravity, the other capillary action. Gravity needs little explanation, but for this writing I would like to note: Gravitational flow potential (GFP) is greater for water at the top of the container than it is for water at the bottom. I'll return to that later.

Capillarity is a function of the natural forces of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion is water's tendency to stick to solid objects like soil particles and the sides of the pot. Cohesion is the tendency for water to stick to itself. Cohesion is why we often find water in droplet form - because cohesion is at times stronger than adhesion; in other words, water's bond to itself can be stronger than the bond to the object it might be in contact with; cohesion is what makes water form drops. Capillary action is in evidence when we dip a paper towel in water. The water will soak into the towel and rise several inches above the surface of the water. It will not drain back into the source, and it will stop rising when the GFP equals the capillary attraction of the fibers in the paper.

There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .100 (just under 1/8) inch. Perched water is water that occupies a layer of soil at the bottom of containers or above coarse drainage layers that tends to remain saturated & will not drain from the portion of the pot it occupies. It can evaporate or be used by the plant, but physical forces will not allow it to drain. It is there because the capillary pull of the soil at some point will surpass the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is said to be 'perched'. The smaller the size of the particles in a soil, the greater the height of the PWT. Perched water can be tightly held in heavy (comprised of small particles) soils where it perches (think of a bird on a perch) just above the container bottom where it will not drain; or, it can perch in a layer of heavy soil on top of a coarse drainage layer, where it will not drain.

Imagine that we have five cylinders of varying heights, shapes, and diameters, each with drain holes. If we fill them all with the same soil mix, then saturate the soil, the PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the container is where roots initially seldom penetrate & where root problems frequently begin due to a lack of aeration and the production of noxious gasses. Water and nutrient uptake are also compromised by lack of air in the root zone. Keeping in mind the fact that the PWT height is dependent on soil particle size and has nothing to do with height or shape of the container, we can draw the conclusion that: If using a soil that supports perched water, tall growing containers will always have a higher percentage of unsaturated soil than squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. From this, we could make a good case that taller containers are easier to grow in.

A given volume of large soil particles has less overall surface area when compared to the same volume of small particles and therefore less overall adhesive attraction to water. So, in soils with large particles, GFP more readily overcomes capillary attraction. They simply drain better and hold more air. We all know this, but the reason, often unclear, is that the height of the PWT is lower in coarse soils than in fine soils. The key to good drainage is size and uniformity of soil particles. Mixing large particles with small is often very ineffective because the smaller particles fit between the large, increasing surface area which increases the capillary attraction and thus the water holding potential. An illustrative question: How much perlite do we need to add to pudding to make it drain well?

I already stated I hold as true that the grower's soil choice when establishing a planting for the long term is the most important decision he/she will make. There is no question that the roots are the heart of the plant, and plant vitality is inextricably linked in a hard lock-up with root vitality. In order to get the best from your plants, you absolutely must have happy roots.

If you start with a water-retentive medium, you cannot improve it's aeration or drainage characteristics by adding larger particulates. Sand, perlite, Turface, calcined DE ...... none of them will work. To visualize why sand and perlite can't change drainage/aeration, think of how well a pot full of BBs would drain (perlite), then think of how poorly a pot full of pudding would drain (bagged soil). Even mixing the pudding and perlite/BBs together 1:1 in a third pot yields a mix that retains the drainage characteristics and PWT height of the pudding. It's only after the perlite become the largest fraction of the mix (60-75%) that drainage & PWT height begins to improve. At that point, you're growing in perlite amended with a little potting soil.

You cannot add coarse material to fine material and improve drainage or the ht of the PWT. Use the same example as above & replace the pudding with play sand or peat moss or a peat-based potting soil - same results. The benefit in adding perlite to heavy soils doesn't come from the fact that they drain better. The fine peat or pudding particles simply 'fill in' around the perlite, so drainage & the ht of the PWT remains the same. All perlite does in heavy soils is occupy space that would otherwise be full of water. Perlite simply reduces the amount of water a soil is capable of holding because it is not internally porous. IOW - all it does is take up space. That can be a considerable benefit, but it makes more sense to approach the problem from an angle that also allows us to increase the aeration AND durability of the soil. That is where Pine bark comes in, and I will get to that soon.

If you want to profit from a soil that offers superior drainage and aeration, you need to start with an ingredient as the basis for your soils that already HAVE those properties, by ensuring that the soil is primarily comprised of particles much larger than those in peat/compost/coir.sand/topsoil, which is why the recipes I suggest as starting points all direct readers to START with the foremost fraction of the soil being large particles, to ensure excellent aeration. From there, if you choose, you can add an appropriate volume of finer particles to increase water retention. You do not have that option with a soil that is already extremely water-retentive right out of the bag.

I fully understand that many are happy with the results they get when using commercially prepared soils, and I'm not trying to get anyone to change anything. My intent is to make sure that those who are having trouble with issues related to soil, understand why the issues occur, that there are options, and what they are.

We have seen that adding a coarse drainage layer at the container bottom does not improve drainage. It does though, reduce the volume of soil required to fill a container, making the container lighter. When we employ a drainage layer in an attempt to improve drainage, what we are actually doing is moving the level of the PWT higher in the pot. This simply reduces the volume of soil available for roots to colonize. Containers with uniform soil particle size from top of container to bottom will yield better and more uniform drainage and have a lower PWT than containers using the same soil with added drainage layers.

The coarser the drainage layer, the more detrimental to drainage it is because water is more (for lack of a better scientific word) reluctant to make the downward transition because the capillary pull of the soil above the drainage layer is stronger than the GFP. The reason for this is there is far more surface area on soil particles for water to be attracted to in the soil above the drainage layer than there is in the drainage layer, so the water perches. I know this goes against what most have thought to be true, but the principle is scientifically sound, and experiments have shown it as so. Many nurserymen employ the pot-in-pot or the pot-in-trench method of growing to capitalize on the science.

If you discover you need to increase drainage, you can simply insert an absorbent wick into a drainage hole & allow it to extend from the saturated soil in the container to a few inches below the bottom of the pot, or allow it to contact soil below the container where the earth acts as a giant wick and will absorb all or most of the perched water in the container, in most cases. Eliminating the PWT has much the same effect as providing your plants much more soil to grow in, as well as allowing more, much needed air in the root zone.

In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they suffer/die because there is insufficient air at the root zone to insure normal root function, so water/nutrient uptake and root metabolism become seriously impaired.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and how effective a wick is at removing it, try this experiment: Fill a soft drink cup nearly full of garden soil. Add enough water to fill to the top, being sure all soil is saturated. Punch a drain hole in the bottom of the cup and allow the water to drain. When drainage has stopped, insert a wick into the drain hole . Take note of how much additional water drains. Even touching the soil with a toothpick through the drain hole will cause substantial additional water to drain. The water that drains is water that occupied the PWT. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick or toothpick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper than it is, so water begins to move downward seeking the "new" bottom of the pot, pulling the rest of the water in the PWT along with it. If there is interest, there are other simple and interesting experiments you can perform to confirm the existence of a PWT in container soils. I can expand later in the thread.

I always remain cognizant of these physical principles whenever I build a soil. I have not used a commercially prepared soil in many years, preferring to build a soil or amend one of my 2 basic mixes to suit individual plantings. I keep many ingredients at the ready for building soils, but the basic building process usually starts with conifer bark and perlite. Sphagnum peat plays a secondary role in my container soils because it breaks down too quickly to suit me, and when it does, it impedes drainage and reduces aeration. Size matters. Partially composted conifer bark fines (pine is easiest to find and least expensive) works best in the following recipes, followed by uncomposted bark in the <3/8" range.

Bark fines of pine, fir or hemlock, 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 nature's 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 - it retains its structure.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, as most of you think of it, can improve drainage in some cases, but it reduces aeration by filling valuable macro-pores in soils. Unless sand particle size is fairly uniform and/or larger than about BB size, I leave it out of soils. Compost is too fine and unstable for me to consider using in soils in any significant volume as well. The small amount of micro-nutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources that do not detract from drainage/aeration.

My Basic Soils ....

5 parts pine bark fines (partially composted fines are best)
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime (or gypsum in some cases)
controlled release fertilizer (if preferred)

Big batch:
2-3 cu ft pine bark fines
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
2 cups dolomitic (garden) lime (or gypsum in some cases)
2 cups CRF (if preferred)

Small batch:
3 gallons pine bark
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
4 tbsp lime (or gypsum in some cases)
1/4 cup CRF (if preferred)

I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all container soils are highly organic) container soils are productive for up to 5 years or more. I disagree and will explain why if there is interest. Even if you were to substitute fir bark for pine bark in this recipe (and this recipe will long outlast any peat based soil) you should only expect a maximum of two to three years life before a repot is in order. Usually perennials, including trees (they're perennials too) should be repotted more frequently to insure they can grow at as close to their genetic potential within the limits of other cultural factors as possible. If a soil is desired that will retain structure for long periods, we need to look more to inorganic components. Some examples are crushed granite, fine stone, VERY coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface, calcined DE, and others.

For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a superb soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.

1 part uncomposted screened pine or fir bark (1/8-1/4")
1 part screened Turface
1 part crushed Gran-I-Grit (grower size) or #2 cherrystone
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil
CRF (if desired)

I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts (MgSO4) per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize if the fertilizer does not contain Mg (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg. If I am using my currently favored fertilizer (I use it on everything), Dyna-Gro's Foliage-Pro in the 9-3-6 formulation, and I don't use gypsum or Epsom salts in the fertilizer solution.

If there is interest, you'll find some of the more recent continuations of the thread at the links below:

Post XII
Post XI
Post X
Post IX
Post VII

If you feel you were benefited by having read this offering, you might also find this thread about Fertilizing Containerized Plants helpful, as well.

If you do find yourself using soils you feel are too water-retentive, You'll find some Help Dealing with Water-retentive Soils by following this embedded link.

If you happen to be at all curious about How Plant Gowth is Limited, just click the embedded link.

As always - best luck. Good growing!! Let me know if you think there is anything I might be able to help you with.



clipped on: 01.22.2014 at 04:45 pm    last updated on: 01.22.2014 at 05:11 pm

Tapla's 5-1-1 Container Mix in More Detail

posted by: goodhumusman on 02.26.2009 at 12:44 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I recently joined the forum and discovered Al's 5-1-1 Mix, but I had several questions that Al was kind enough to answer by email. I also found the answers to other questions in several different threads. I thought it would be useful to organize all of the info in one place so that we could have easy access to it. 98% of the following has been cut/pasted from Al's postings, and I apologize in advance if I have somehow misquoted him or taken his ideas out of proper context. The only significant addition from another source is the Cornell method of determining porosity, which I thought would be germane. I have used a question and answer format, using many questions from other members, and I apologize for not giving them proper credit. Thanks to all who contributed to this information. Now, here's Al:

Tapla's 5-1-1 Mix

5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime
controlled release fertilizer (not really necessary)
a micro-nutrient source (seaweed emulsion, Earthjuice, Micro-max, STEM, etc,)

Many friends & forum folk grow in this 5-1-1 mix with very good results. I use it for all my garden display containers. It is intended for annual and vegetable crops in containers. This soil is formulated with a focus on plentiful aeration, which we know has an inverse relationship w/water retention. It takes advantage of particles, the size of which are at or just under the size that would guarantee the soil retains no perched water. (If you have not already read Al's treatise on Water in Container Soils, this would be a good time to do so.) In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they starve/"suffocate" because there is insufficient air at the root zone to ensure normal water/nutrient uptake and root function.

I grow in highly-aerated soils with the bulk of the particles in the 1/16"-1/8" size, heavily favoring the larger particles, because we know that perched water levels decrease as particle size increases, until finally, as particle size reaches just under 1/8" the perched water table disappears entirely.

Ideal container soils will have a minimum of 60-75% total porosity. This means that when dry, in round numbers, nearly 70% of the total volume of soil is air. The term 'container capacity' is a hort term that describes the saturation level of soils after the soil is saturated and at the point where it has just stopped draining - a fully wetted soil. When soils are at container capacity, they should still have in excess of 30% air porosity. Roughly, a great soil will have about equal parts of solid particles, water, and air when the soil is fully saturated.

This is Cornell's method of determining the various types of porosity:

To ensure sufficient media porosity, it is essential to determine total porosity, aeration porosity, and water-holding porosity. Porosity can be determined through the following procedure:

* With drainage holes sealed in an empty container, fill the container and record the volume of water required to reach the top of the container. This is the container volume.

* Empty and dry the plugged container and fill it with the growing media to the top of the container.

* Irrigate the container medium slowly until it is saturated with water. Several hours may be required to reach the saturation point, which can be recognized by glistening of the medium's surface.

* Record the total volume of water necessary to reach the saturation point as the total pore volume.

* Unplug the drainage holes and allow the water to freely drain from the container media into a pan for several hours.

* Measure the volume of water in the pan after all free water has completed draining. Record this as the aeration pore volume.

* Calculate total porosity, aeration porosity, and water-holding porosity using the following equations (Landis, 1990):

* Total porosity = total pore volume / container volume
* Aeration porosity = aeration pore volume / container volume
* Water-holding porosity = total porosity - aeration porosity

The keys to why I like my 3-1-1 mix:

It's adjustable for water retention.
The ingredients are readily available to me.
It's simple - 3 basic ingredients - equal portions.
It allows nearly 100% control over the nutritional regimen.
It will not collapse - lasts longer than what is prudent between repots.
It is almost totally forgiving of over-watering while retaining good amounts of water between drinks.
It is relatively inexpensive.

Q. Why do you use pine bark fines? 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 nature�s 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.

Q. What is the correct size of the fines? In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they starve/"suffocate" because there is insufficient air at the root zone to insure normal water/nutrient uptake and root function.Pine bark fines are partially composted pine bark. Fines are what are used in mixes because of the small particle size. There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .125 (1/8) inch, so best would be particulates in the 1/16 - 3/16 size range with the 1/16-1/8 size range favored.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, as most of you think of it, can improve drainage in some cases, but it reduces aeration by filling valuable macro-pores in soils. Unless sand particle size is fairly uniform and/or larger than about � BB size I leave it out of soils. Compost is too unstable for me to consider using in soils. The small amount of micro-nutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources.

Q. Do you use partially composted pine bark fines? Yes - preferred over fresh fines, which are lighter in color.

Q. I found some Scotchman's Choice Organic Compost, which is made of pine bark fines averaging about 1/8" in size, and, after adding all ingredients, the 5-1-1 Mix had a total porosity of 67% and an aeration porosity of 37%. Is that all right? Yes, that is fine.

Q. What kind of lime do you use? Dolomitic.

Q. What amount of lime should I add if I used 10 gal of pine bark fines and the corresponding amount of the other ingredients? @ 5:1:1, you'll end up with about 12 gallons of soil (the whole is not equal to the sum of the parts when you're talking about soils), so I would use about 10-12 Tbsp or 2/3-3/4 cup of lime.

Q. What grade of coarseness for the lime? Most is sold as garden lime, which is usually prilled powder. Prilling makes it easier to use in drop & broadcast spreaders. The prills dissolve quickly. The finer the powder the quicker the reactive phase is finished. Much of the Ca and Mg will be unavailable until the media pH equalizes so the plant can assimilate the residual elements. Large pieces of lime really extend the duration of the reactive phase.

Q. Does this mean that I need to make up the soil in advance? Yes. 2 weeks or so should be enough time to allow for the reaction phase to be complete & residual Ca/Mg to become more readily available from the outset .

Q. During those 2 weeks, do I need to keep turning it and moistening it? No

Q. Can I go ahead and fill my 3-gal. containers, stack them 3-high, and cover the top one to prevent moisture loss during the waiting period? Something like that would be preferred.

Q. The perlite I use has a large amount of powder even though it is called coarse. Do I need to sift it to get rid of the powder? Not unless it REALLY has a lot - then, the reason wouldn't be because of issues with particle size - it would be because you had to use larger volumes to achieve adequate drainage & larger volumes bring with it the possibility of Fl toxicity for some plants that are fluoride intolerant.

Q. What about earthworm castings (EWC)? I think 10% is a good rule of thumb for the total volume of fine particles. I try to limit peat use to about 10-15% of soil volume & just stay away from those things that rob aeration & promote water retention beyond a minimal perched water table. If you start adding 10% play sand, 10% worm castings, 10% compost, 10% peat, 10% topsoil, 10% vermiculite to a soil, before long you'll be growing in something close to a pudding-like consistency.

Q. Do you drench the mix with fertilized water before putting in containers? No - especially if you incorporate a CRF. It will have lots of fertilizer on it's surface & the soil could already be high in solubles. If you added CRF, wait until you've watered and flushed the soil a couple of times. If you didn't use CRF, you can fertilize with a weak solution the first time you water after the initial planting irrigation.

Q. How much of the micronutrients should I add if I am going to be fertilizing with Foliage Pro 9-3-6, which has all the micronutrients in it? You won't need any additional supplementation as long as you lime.
Q. Just to make sure I understand, are you saying I don't need to use Foliage Pro 9-3-6 until after the initial watering right after planting even if I don't use a CRF? And no additional micronutrients? That's right - on both counts.

Q. Do I need to moisten the peat moss before mixing with the pine bark fines? It helps, yes.

Selections from Notes on Choosing a Fertilizer

A) Plant nutrients are dissolved in water
B) The lower the nutrient concentration, the easier it is for the plant to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in the water - distilled water is easier for plants to absorb than tap water because there is nothing dissolved in distilled water
C) The higher the nutrient content, the more difficult it is for plants to absorb water and the nutrients dissolved in water
D) To maximize plant vitality, we should supply adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients w/o using concentrations so high that they impede water and nutrient uptake.

All that is in the "Fertilizer Thread" I posted a while back.

Q. Do you use the Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro 9-3-6 exclusively throughout the life of the plant, or change to something else for the flowering/fruiting stage? I use lots of different fertilizers, but if I had to choose only one, it would likely be the FP 9-3-6. It really simplifies things. There are very few plants that won't respond very favorably to this fertilizer. I use fast soils that drain freely & I fertilize at EVERY watering, and it works extremely well.

If you are using a soil that allows you to water freely at every watering, you cannot go wrong by watering weakly weekly, and you can water at 1/8 the recommended dose at every watering if you wish with chemical fertilizers.

Q. What about the "Bloom Booster" fertilizers? To induce more prolific flowering, a reduced N supply will have more and better effect than the high P bloom formulas. When N is reduced, it slows vegetative growth without reducing photosynthesis. Since vegetative growth is limited by a lack of N, and the photosynthetic machinery continues to turn out food, it leaves an expendable surplus for the plant to spend on flowers and fruit. There are no plants I know of that use anywhere near the amount of P as they do N (1/6 is the norm). It makes no sense to me to have more P available than N unless you are targeting a VERY specific growth pattern; and then the P would still be applied in a reasonable ratio to K.

Somewhere along the way, we curiously began to look at fertilizers as miraculous assemblages of growth drugs, and started interpreting the restorative effect (to normal growth) fertilizers have as stimulation beyond what a normal growth rate would be if all nutrients were adequately present in soils. It�s no small wonder that we come away with the idea that there are �miracle concoctions� out there and often end up placing more hope than is reasonable in them.

What I'm pointing out is that fertilizers really should not be looked at as something that will make your plant grow abnormally well - beyond its genetic potential . . . Fertilizers do not/can not stimulate super growth, nor are they designed to. All they can do is correct nutritional deficiencies so plants can grow normally.

Q. Should I use organic ferts or chemical ferts in containers? Organic fertilizers do work to varying degrees in containers, but I would have to say that delivery of the nutrients can be very erratic and unreliable. The reason is that nutrient delivery depends on the organic molecules being broken down in the gut of micro-organisms, and micro-organism populations are boom/bust, varying widely in container culture.

Some of the things affecting the populations are container soil pH, moisture levels, nutrient levels, soil composition, compaction/aeration levels ..... Of particular importance is soil temperatures. When container temperatures rise too high, microbial populations diminish. Temps much under 55* will slow soil biotic activity substantially, reducing or halting delivery of nutrients.

I do include various formulations of fish emulsion in my nutrient program at certain times of the year, but I never rely on them, choosing chemical fertilizers instead. Chemical fertilizers are always immediately available for plant uptake & the results of your applications are much easier to quantify.

Q. Should I feed the plants every time I water? In a word, yes. I want to keep this simple, so I�ll just say that the best water absorption occurs when the level of solutes in soil water is lowest, and in the presence of good amounts of oxygen. Our job, because you will not find a sufficient supply of nutrients in a container soil, is to provide a solution of dissolved nutrients that affords the plant a supply in the adequate to luxury range, yet still makes it easy for the plant to take up enough water to be well-hydrated and free of drought stress. All we need to do is supply nutrients in approximately the same ratio as plants use them, and in adequate amounts to keep them in the adequate to luxury range at all times. Remember that we can maximize water uptake by keeping the concentrations of solutes low, so a continual supply of a weak solution is best. Nutrients don�t just suddenly appear in large quantities in nature, so the low and continual dose method most closely mimics the nutritional supply Mother Nature offers. If you decide to adopt a "fertilize every time you water" approach, most liquid fertilizers can be applied at � to 1 tsp per gallon for best results.

The system is rather self regulating if fertilizer is applied in low concentrations each time you water, even with houseplants in winter. As the plant�s growth slows, so does its need for both water and nutrients. Larger plants and plants that are growing robustly will need more water and nutrients, so linking nutrient supply to the water supply is a win/win situation all around.

You can tell you've watered too much (or too little - the response is the same - a drought response) when leaves start to turn yellow or you begin to see nutritional deficiencies created by poor root metabolism (usually N and Ca are first evident). You can prevent overwatering by A) testing the soil deep in the container with a wood dowel ... wet & cool - do not water, dry - water. B) feeling the wick & only watering when it's dry C) feel the soil at the drain hole & only water when it feels dry there.

Soils feel dry to our touch when they still have 40-45% moisture content. Plants, however, can still extract water from soils until they dry down to about 25-30%, so there is still around a 15% cush in that plants can still absorb considerable moisture after soils first feel dry to us.

Q. When you water/fertilize, do you give it enough that 10% leaches out the bottom each time? Yes, I try to do that at every watering. Remember that as salts accumulate, both water and nutrient uptake is made more difficult and finally impaired or made impossible in severe cases. Your soils should always allow you to water so that at least 10-15% of the total volume of water applied passes through the soil and out the drain hole to be discarded. This flushes the soil and carries accumulating solutes out the drain hole. In addition, each thorough watering forces stale gases from the soil. CO2 accumulation in heavy soils is very detrimental to root health, but you usually can't apply water in volume enough to force these gases from the soil. Open soils allow free gas exchange at all times.

Q. Should I elevate my pots? The container will not drain the same % of water if it's sitting in a puddle, but the % won't be particularly significant. What will be significant is: if water (in a puddle) is able to make contact with the soil in the container through surface tension and/or capillarity, it will "feed" and prolong the saturated conditions of any PWT that might be in the container. However, if water can soak in or if it will flow away from the containers, there's no advantage to elevating when you're not using a wick.

Q. I like a pH of about 5.7. Is that about right? That's a good number, but you won't have any way of maintaining it in your soil w/o some sophisticated equipment. I never concern myself with media pH. That doesn't mean you should ignore water pH, though. It (water pH) affects the solubility of fertilizers; and generally speaking, the higher the water pH, the lower the degree of nutrient solubility.

Q. How do you repot? Some plants do not take to root-pruning well (palms, eg), but the vast majority of them REALLY appreciate the rejuvenational properties of major root work. I'm not at all delicate in my treatment of rootage when it comes time to repot (completely different from potting-up). Usually I chop or saw the bottom 1/2-2/3 of the root mass off, bare-root the plant, stick it back in the same pot with ALL fresh soil, use a chopstick to move soil into all the spaces/pockets between roots, water/fertilize well & put in the shade for a week to recover. I should mention that this procedure is most effective on plants with woody roots, which most quickly grow to be inefficient as they lignify, thicken, and fill the pot. Those plants with extremely fibrous root systems are easier to care for. For those, I usually saw off the bottom 1/2 - 2/3 of the roots, work a chopstick through the remaining mat of roots, removing a fair amount of soil, prune around the perimeter & repot in fresh, well-aerated soil.

I find that time after time, plants treated in this fashion sulk for a week or two and then put on a huge growth spurt (when repotted in spring or summer). Growth INVARIABLY surpasses what it would have been if the plant was allowed to languish in it's old, root-bound haunts. Potting up is a temporary way to rejuvenate a plant, but if you look ate a long-term graph of plants continually potted-up, you will see continual decline with little spurts of improved vitality at potting-up time. This stress/strain on plants that are potted-up only, eventually takes its toll & plants succumb. There is no reason most houseplants shouldn't live for years and years, yet we often content ourselves with the 'revolving door replacement' of our plants when just a little attention to detail would allow us to call the same plant our friend - often for the rest of our lives if we prefer.

Q. Is there any rule of thumb as to how often to root prune? I'm going to answer as if you included 'repotting' in your question. There is no hard, fast rule here. Some of you grow plants strictly for the blooms, and some plants produce more abundant blooms in containers when they are stressed in some manner. Often, that stress is in the form of keeping them root-bound. I'll talk about maintaining a plant's vitality & let you work out how you want to handle the degree of stress you wish to subject them to, in order to achieve your goals. Before I go on, I'd like to say that I use stress techniques too, to achieve a compact, full plant, and to slow growth of a particularly attractive plant - to KEEP it attractive. ;o) The stress of growing a plant tight can be useful to a degree, but at some point, there will be diminishing returns.

When you need to repot to correct declining vitality:

1) When the soil has collapsed/compacted, or was too water-retentive from the time you last potted-up or repotted. You can identify this condition by soil that remains wet for more than a few days, or by soil that won't take water well. If you water a plant and the soil just sits on top of the soil w/o soaking in, the soil has collapsed/compacted. There is one proviso though: you must be sure that the soil is wet before you assess this condition. Soils often become hydrophobic (water repellent) and difficult to rewet, especially when using liquid organic fertilizers like fish/seaweed emulsions. Make sure this effect is not what you're witnessing by saturating the soil thoroughly & then assessing how fast the water moves downward through the soil. The soils I grow in are extremely fast and water disappears into the mix as soon as it's applied. If it takes more than 30 seconds for a large volume of water to disappear from the surface of the soil, you are almost certainly compromising potential vitality.

I'll talk about the potential vitality for just a sec. Plants will grow best in a damp soil with NO perched water. That is NO saturated layer of water at the bottom of the pot. Roots begin to die a very short time after being subjected to anaerobic conditions. They regenerate again as soon as air returns to the soil. This cyclic death/regeneration of roots steals valuable energy from the plant that might well have been employed to increase o/a biomass, and/or produce flowers and fruit. This is the loss of potential vitality I refer to.

2) When the plant is growing under tight conditions and has stopped extending, it is under strain, which will eventually lead to its death. "Plants must grow to live. Any plant that is not growing is dying." Dr. Alex Shigo Unless there are nutritional issues, plants that have stopped extending and show no growth when they should be coming into a period of robust growth usually need repotting. You can usually confirm your suspicions/diagnosis by looking for rootage "crawling" over the soil surface and/or growing out of the drain hole, or by lifting the plant from its pot & examining the root mass for encircling roots - especially fat roots at the container's edge. You'll be much less apt to find these types of roots encircling inner container perimeter in well-aerated soils because the roots find the entire soil mass hospitable. Roots are opportunistic and will be found in great abundance at the outside edge of the soil mass in plantings with poor drainage & soggy soil conditions - they're there looking for air.

3) When the soil is so compacted & water retentive that you must water in sips and cannot fully flush the soil at each watering for fear of creating conditions that will cause root rot. This isn't to say you MUST flush the soil at every watering, but the soil should drain well enough to ALLOW you to water this way whenever you prefer. This type of soil offers you the most protection against over-watering and you would really have to work hard at over-fertilizing in this type of soil. It will allow you to fertilize with a weak solution at every watering - even in winter if you prefer.

Incidentally, I reject the frequent anecdotal evidence that keeping N in soils at adequacy levels throughout the winter "forces" growth or "forces weak growth". Plants take what they need and leave the rest. While there could easily be the toxicity issues associated with too much fertilizer in soils due to a combination of inappropriate watering practices, inappropriate fertilizing practices, and an inappropriate soil, it's neither N toxicity NOR the presence of adequate N in soils that causes weak growth, it's low light levels.

Q. Is there any rule of thumb as to how often to remove and replace the old soil? Yes - every time you repot.

As always, I hope that those who read what I say about soils will ultimately take with them the idea that the soil is the foundation of every container planting & has effects that reach far beyond the obvious, but there is a snatch of lyrics from an old 70's song that might be appropriate: "... just take what you need and leave the rest ..." ;o)


clipped on: 01.22.2014 at 05:08 pm    last updated on: 01.22.2014 at 05:09 pm

RE: Fertilizer Question (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: loveplants2 on 10.27.2011 at 01:00 am in Plumeria Forum

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to say that i have tried all different fertilizers too! I have used Superbloom, Bills Perfect fertilizer, Seaweed Extract, Fish Emulsion, Superthrive, B-1. I actually like them all, but i have to say that i really do like the Foliage Pro the best! It does have all the great ingredients that all of the trees and other tropicals love as well as all of the nutrients and minerals that they need. My DR's love this Fertilizer as well!!!

In the spring i will add some FE and Seaweed extract to the rainwater as well as Superthrive and B-1 to my Plumies that are waking up. Smells terrible, but it does work.

I do feel like the Foliage pro is the easiest way to fertilize tho. Easy and very effective for the trees and is really easy to use.

Thanks AL for the "short " version!! LOL...we do enjoy the added experience that you offer to us all here on the forums!!! Im sure others would be interested in the long version as well!!! It's always interesting in what you have to say and why things work. I have learned so much from you in the way i make my soil and mixes, and my trees show how happy they are as well as my DR's C&S Citrus etc.

You always give a great informative post...Thank you!!!

Thank you for always taking the time to answer others question on all of the other forums that i visit. You go over and beyond what you need to do to help people, and it shows that you love to help people understand the basics of what soil amd water and Fertilizer and light all play a part in the equation of the healthy growth in the plants and trees. But the most important part of all plants and trees is what the roots look like.!!! : ) i finally got that!!! LOL after reading some of your long post and finally understanding the whole process!!

Whew!! Its a great feeling when the light turns on and we finally figure out what is really going on with our beloved trees!!! Thanks for so unselfishly taking the time to answer everyone questions. Especially on the other forums!!! We appreciate all that you do!!!

Thank you AL!!!!

Glad to call you friend!!!

Take care,

Laura in VB

Thanks Jen for the link to this post...i missed it and wanted to say that i do like the Foliage Pro!!!
I did have to find it on line. Now i have to locate the Pro-tekt too. I want to start to add this to my fertizlizer program. Has anyone found it here in VA? i guess it would be just as easy to order on line.

Take care ,

Thanks again AL!!!

Laura in VB


clipped on: 01.13.2014 at 04:18 pm    last updated on: 01.13.2014 at 04:18 pm

RE: Fertilizer Question (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: tapla on 10.26.2011 at 04:24 pm in Plumeria Forum

Do you want the long answer or the short version? ;-) The short:

Foliage-Pro (FP) 9-3-6 provides nutrients in the same ratio as the average of what all plants use. It has all nutrients essential to normal growth, including calcium and magnesium, which are missing from most soluble synthetic fertilizers. It (and similar ratio [3:1:2] fertilizers) allow you to fertilize at the lowest fertility levels possible w/o nutritional deficiencies, a decided advantage because the lower the fertility level (EC/TDS), the easier it is for plants to take up water and the nutrients dissolved in water.

There is a technical difference between a fertilizer (Miracle-Gro) and a soil amendment (feather meal), but even that point eventually becomes moot from a strictly nutritional perspective. Plants take up elements that are dissolved in the soil solution and in ionic form. What they take up are salts. The large molecules that make up hydrocarbon chains in organic fertilizers/soil amendments cannot be taken up by the plant unless the hydrocarbon chains are broken down into elemental, soluble form by soil organisms. At that point, the elements from soluble fertilizers are exactly the same as the elements from organic sources, which is why the plant could care less. At the point in time where nutrients are assimilated, they are ALL soluble and in elemental form, regardless if they came from a dead fish, compost or a hose-end sprayer.

The problem with organic nutrient sources for container culture is, the populations of soil organisms required to break down the organic molecules mentioned aren't stable. They are greatly affected by temperature, moisture/air levels in the soil, pH, fertility, and other factors, so their populations tend to follow boom-bust cycles depending on how favorable conditions are. Delivery of nutrients is as unreliable as the populations required to make them available, which is why soluble synthetic fertilizers are much more reliable, easier, and take most of the guesswork out of fertilizing - you know exactly how much of what and when your plants are getting it.

I would use any brand of granular soluble fertilizer in 24-8-16. Several manufacturers package that particular NPK %, Miracle-Gro, Peter's, Jack's ...... Miracle-Gro also has a 12-4-8 liquid that works well - same formulation as the 24-8-16, except it's half as concentrated. Foliage-Pro makes the best I've found so far. All 3 NPK %s (24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6) are 3:1:2 ratios and excellent for containerized plants, but Foliage-Pro has ALL the nutrients; plus, it gets about 1/3 of its N from ammoniacal sources and 2/3 from nitrate sources. This tends to produce bushier plants with stronger stems/branches and shorter internodes.

For plants growing in the ground, there is no one BEST fertilizer. The BEST fertilizer program would depend on what is already in the soil and the most appropriate way of adding whatever is required to eliminate any deficiencies w/o creating excesses of other elements, because an excess can be as limiting as a deficiency. To determine or to be able to define what is truly best for plants growing in the ground, a soil test is required.



al's fertilizer advice
clipped on: 01.13.2014 at 04:16 pm    last updated on: 01.13.2014 at 04:17 pm

RE: soil for adeniums (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: tapla on 12.29.2013 at 05:59 pm in Adenium Forum

I think your ingredient mix is very likely a recipe for trouble because the fine ingredients are certain to ensure excess water retention. Look for ingredients that are coarse - very few or NO fine material at all is best. All of my succulents, houseplants, and woody material I use for bonsai are grown in a soil that looks like this:

 photo 5yearsold106.jpg

Because of the coarse particles, it holds no (or very little) water between the particles. It holds all its water inside particles and on their surface, which makes for a very healthy root environment. A healthy plant is impossible w/o a healthy root system, so choose your soil wisely. Soil choice is the foundation on which every planting is built.

If you want more info about soils so you can get a better understanding of the big picture, just ask and I'll link you to something more in-depth.

Keep CHCs or coir to a small fraction of the o/a mix if you must use it. Because of high pH issues that preclude the use of dolomite as a liming agent (for Ca/Mg), and a very high K content, professional growers usually limit coconut products to less than 10% of the o/a mix. They can also be very high in soluble salts, which could easily create problems on several fronts.



clipped on: 12.30.2013 at 12:52 pm    last updated on: 12.30.2013 at 12:54 pm

RE: Socal caladium care (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: holedigger on 09.04.2008 at 04:44 pm in Tropicals Forum

I have planted 1-2 dozen each year for the past 3 years. Some come back, some don't.Some have skipped a year. They will rot if they get too much moisture in the winter. They will not come back until the soil temperature is in the high 60's to 70's. For the best results they shouldn't be planted until the soil is warm or they may rot, or fail to thrive. I treat them as annuals. It may be the cultivars I chose, the location, or some other factor, but the older ones are slow to return and much smaller than the current year's acquisitions. I try to withhold water during dormancy.


clipped on: 12.13.2013 at 05:39 pm    last updated on: 12.13.2013 at 05:39 pm

RE: Caladium (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: ellen_inmo on 04.05.2006 at 12:51 am in Far North Gardening Forum

Shauna, I am not in your zone or anything, but I thought I might put in my advice for the Caladiums, as I have learned to grow them from making all the mistakes! I currently have 400 Caladiums, have purchased 100 more (they wont ship them to me until late spring)for this year, and just bought 120 more bulk Caladiums from a garden shop, and that is not counting all the "babies" that I start also. Last year, I almost lost every one because I started them in an unheated room and set them out too early.

Caladiums should not be exposed to temps below 60 degrees, and I found this out the hard way last year, so dont even be tempted to set them outside until then. Also, if you pot them up in 4 inch or larger pots, and then dont provide any bottom heat (or a heated room), all that moisture in that pot will cause the soil temp to drop below 60 degrees. If your Caladiums sprout at all in these temps, they will just SIT THERE for weeks on end without growing at all, that is if they dont rot first.

The very best Caladium advice I ever got was to use a standard flat with moist peat moss and put your Caladiums in there, barely covered. Put this flat on a heat mat, or definitly in a heated room. They do not need any kind of artificial lighting, just regular light will be fine. About once a week, root through the flat and see if your Caladiums have sprouts or roots or not. If you see that they do, then it is time to pot them up. I use 4 inch pots exclusively (nothing larger) for large bulbs, and smaller pots for smaller ones. You may even want to wait until you see roots coming out before potting them up. You should only just barely cover the bulbs when you have potted them up.

The issue of how long it takes. Well,I can say from experience that newly purchased bulbs can take several weeks to sprout, whereas "dug up and stored" bulbs will sprout almost immediately. I store my Caladiums in my unheated but still room temperature basement in flats, after making sure they are bone dry all winter. I planted my Caladiums a month ago, and I already have 4 or 5 flats with their first couple leaves opened up. I think I read somewhere that newly purchased Caladiums have been dehydrated and that is why it takes so long.

So, if you have a spare heat mat (yeah right, at this time of year!), or a regular heating pad then your Caladiums should do great! Just dont let them dry out.

I have never posted on your Far North forum but I come here frequently becuase you all have the best photos on Gardenweb! Who would've thought that such great gardens would come from the Canada area! Keep up the GREAT work!!


clipped on: 12.13.2013 at 05:17 pm    last updated on: 12.13.2013 at 05:17 pm

RE: Caladiums spadix NOT forming pollen..!!! (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: exoticrainforest on 06.09.2010 at 10:01 am in Aroid Forum

There could be several reasons. One is the plants are likely tissue cultured and may have yet to outgrow all the chemicals used in the "stew" they were created in. Although the inflorescences look good they may still be malformed due to the process of tissue culture. Eventually they should out grow this. A possible solution is to buy tubers from another grower that has grown naturally in the ground.

Caladiums are like Philodendron in they are unisexual and have imperfect flowers containing only one sex. The female flowers develop first but they are hidden inside the "globe" at the base of the inflorescence. On the first day the inflorescence opens the female flowers develop hidden inside this female floral chamber. These are fertile for only a single day. The next day the male flowers develop on the upper portion of the spadix and should produce pollen, which appears like a fluffy "fungus". In between the two, and still inside the female floral chamber can be found the sterile male flowers that produce the pheromones used to attract natural insect pollinators. The female flowers are receptive for a short period of time and the male flowers produce pollen for a limited period of time before the inflorescence collapses. If the female flowers are pollinated the female floral chamber will remain on the peduncle that supports the inflorescence and the berries and seeds will develop inside.

In order to pollinate this species you must first collect the pollen once it appears and unless you have many inflorescences still developing and can use it right away put it into a sealed vial that also has desiccant in it to prevent the pollen from being destroyed by moisture.

When you realize a new inflorescence is beginning to open mix the pollen with sterile water to create a thick mixture known as a slurry. Use an eyedropper to drip it into the female floral chamber. Before doing so place a piece of tape over the overlapping edges of the chamber to prevent it from dripping out too quickly. After about 15 minutes remove the tape and if you are lucky the female flowers may have been pollinated.

My friend Julius Boos wrote a great article a few years ago explaining how both bisexual and unisexual inflorescences develop. You may want to read his article, which is illustrated before attempting to pollinate again.

If there is simply no pollen being developed there is likely a reason that is causing this natural part of aroid reproduction to not occur. Without seeing the plants that may be difficult to determine but aroid pollination expert LariAnn Garner who often frequents this site may have a better answer.

The link below is where you can read Julius� article.


Here is a link that might be useful: Aroid pollination


clipped on: 12.13.2013 at 04:33 pm    last updated on: 12.13.2013 at 04:33 pm

RE: Saving Caladiums/begonias/cannas (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: julie_mn on 09.27.2007 at 01:55 am in Minnesota Gardening Forum

Caladiums should be dug before the hard frost- left to dry out a bit before storing- removing leaves and stems, all to prevent rot- and kept warmer than most overwintered tubers. I am still trying to find the best place for them in my house which is kept pretty cool through the winter. I think the most important thing for these is that the are susceptible to rot- so I try not to let them touch each other during storage. I have used crumpled paper inside paper bags- and have looked in on them every once in a while to make sure they are neither rotting away or drying out.
Good advice was given with the cannas- I do not clean real well- nor divide any stored tubers till spring just before planting time. The cannas can be started early like dahlias- indoors a few weeks before frost date- if you can give them both warmth and light- otherwise, just plant out after frost date.
Caladiums on the other hand need heat to get them going in the spring! I have tried to start mine early by using a heating pad under the tray of pots. Some respond to this- and others, I have found, will just wait till July to get going.
Ming, if you have an attic- that is insulated but not heated, you could try to overwinter some tubers there- although- it still might get too cold. Out side corner walls- especially on the north side of the house- or an inside wall of an attached garage- or a cold unheated basement floor are the best bets.



clipped on: 12.13.2013 at 04:27 pm    last updated on: 12.13.2013 at 04:28 pm

RE: Tell me about keeping Caladium bulbs for next year. (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: keriann_lakegeneva on 02.28.2010 at 10:16 am in Bulbs Forum

I would plant them in pots for the season. You could even use plastic garden containers set in your garden, the foliage will hide it. Once frost has hit, lift them out and let them dry for a few hours before storing them in a paperbag in a cool, dark place for the winter.

Just remeber the bulbs can not be stored in soil, they must be dry or they will rot.

If you are planting them in the ground, same thing, just make sure you get to them after your first frost when you can still see the foliage.

Does that help?


clipped on: 12.13.2013 at 04:10 pm    last updated on: 12.13.2013 at 04:11 pm

RE: Walmart Hawiian Umbrella (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: tapla on 08.21.2012 at 04:32 am in House Plants Forum

For a time, the plant can live, even thrive as roots permeate the featherstone, sort of like rock wool, if you're familiar with that soil amendment/horticultural product. Eventually though, the plant is going to perish.

Essentially, you have a situation something like this one that I created intentionally to get rid of the old root mass on this plant and replace it with an entirely new root system.

The little zip ties wrapped around the trunk provide the same constriction the rock is imposing on your plant. The trunk will swell above the ties from the carbohydrate/growth regulator (auxin) build-up, and roots will occur immediately above the bands after the plant is repotted deeply in the soil so the area stays continually moist but not wet. In order to make the roots emerge at the same level and evenly spaced around the trees base, something highly coveted for bonsai, I helped the tree along like this:

The little holes were drilled with a brad-point drill I just spun with my hands until it cut through the cambium. I then filled the holes with a little rooting gel (Clonex CLO100) and repotted.

In a year or two, I'll end up with a root system like you see on this plant, on which I used a thick wire to 'girdle' the trunk.

If you look closely, you can still see the wire and you can notice the swelling that occurred prior to or in conjunction with new root formation. Your plant should root fairly quickly if it makes it.

To root your plant, you'll need a pot deeper than the bonsai pot and barely large enough to accommodate the size of the stone, and a bag of perlite. Drilling the holes and the rooting aid are optional, but they will speed up the process and allow you to choose where the roots grow, instead of having them occur randomly. There is a lot to be said for having roots grow where you want them so they clasp the rock nicely, but you can decide .... put a wick in the bottom of the pot, then an inch or two of pure perlite that has had the fines screened out and has been rinsed well. Set the stone on top of the perlite and settle it gently. Then fill in around the stone with a mix of about 85% screened perlite + 15% MG potting soil so the soil is even with the top of the rock and settled around the roots. Then, add enough MG soil mixed 50/50 with screened rinsed perlite to cover the top of the stone by about an inch or slightly more.

Your soil is VERY water retentive, and that's normally not something you want to use for rooting cuttings or for this application, so the operative words are gong to be 'DAMP - not wet'. After you get your planting put together, return it to the plastic bag with a good-sized opening at the top for air circulation. Use a spritzer bottle with distilled water to barely keep the soil on the top 1" moist (NOT SOGGY). You may not need to water more than once or twice before it roots. When you water, remove the planting and spritz only the surface of the soil, gently, and don't mist the plant. The bag will provide the humidity needed and the opening in the bag will provide enough air flow to keep the fungaluglies at bay. Keep the planting in very bright but indirect light. Outside in open shade would be best, but poke holes in the bottom of the bag in case it rains.

I'll let you know right now that Miracle-Gro soil is wholly unsuitable as a bonsai soil, and I'd say the majority opinion holds that it may well be unsuited, as it comes from the bag, as a soil for any plant. Given the modifications I suggested, it will work ok for you for now, but if you really want to be a good provider for your new charge, I suggest you read this thread, that provides a general overview of growing in containers, followed by this one that explains in detail why your soil choice is so important to the health of your plant(s). An understanding of the information in the later you will find to be critical to successful growing in shallow (bonsai) containers and something that will save every fledgling bonsai artist a world of grief.



clipped on: 11.21.2013 at 09:16 am    last updated on: 11.21.2013 at 09:43 am

RE: Walmart Hawiian Umbrella (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: tapla on 08.20.2012 at 07:39 pm in House Plants Forum

Now I see what's going on. I'm sorry to say that the plant can't survive as it is now. If the roots are growing below the rock, the plant will continue to lay down layers of cells on the outside of the vascular cambium, while the cells on the inside of the cambium die. The notable swelling that is occurring in the trunk immediately above the rock is a clear indication that the constriction of the cambium where the trunk enters the rock is blocking the downward flow of carbohydrates, and they are accumulating there. The bad part of that news is the roots can't survive much longer with their food supply cut off. (Plants make their own food in the leaves & then translocate it to roots and other parts. Fertilizer isn't plant food - sugar, made during photosynthesis is.)

There is good news though. What you CAN do, is convert your plant into a root-over-rock bonsai.


The pictures above are just taken so I can review my plants' progress. I'm not saying they're masterpieces, only that you can get the roots to grow over the rock & end up with something like the above if you like. No matter what you do, getting roots to grow from the trunk ABOVE the rock is imperative if your plant is to survive.



clipped on: 11.21.2013 at 09:15 am    last updated on: 11.21.2013 at 09:42 am

RE: root training (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: teyo on 11.15.2013 at 06:04 am in Adenium Forum

what you see are adeniums that have been cut to remove all of their roots. usually at the widest point of the caudex, or the point before it starts to branch of into twists and bends. these plants will now be dusted with fungicide and hung somewhere in the shade (but warm) and left for a few weeks or even a month or two to create a callus on the cut site. From this callus new roots will develop once the conditions become favorable (when the plant is potted).
When new roots are formed the grower can then arrange them in the desired form, usually a sprawling one. these new roots will be very uniform in size and shape and therefore look nicer when arranged, in comparison with the original roots which will grow this way or that, be thick,thin, straight, twisted etc.
Root training is a sort of sculpting, and in my opinion this method right here works much much better than the usual "cut the taproot" on a tiny seedling and then hope it works out ok. these plants have a lot of reserves in the caudex and will recover and grow much faster,while seedlings will often rot or stagnate for a long time.


clipped on: 11.21.2013 at 08:58 am    last updated on: 11.21.2013 at 09:41 am

RE: Advice needed on broken branch (Follow-Up #29)

posted by: somalenese on 11.16.2013 at 04:43 pm in Adenium Forum

double congratulations heather

timely advice rick

but i have a question......

the rooted cuttings will they flower ?

i guess the rooted cutting don't have a good caudex but the caudex can be trained by lifting & replanting that makes it bigger (my guess)

but will the cuttings flower ? ????
that is the main question

because i've asked people and they all said they dont flower but they can be used as root stocks

kindly update me on this.

i have 3 cuttings sitting in 3 pots since last 45 days don't have the heart to check weather it is rooted or not.
but seem to be alive.

i cut them 'off season' precisely fearing the same events as mentioned by heather

fortune favors the brave heather...... great job

correct me if i'm wrong
but wouldn't it would have been more prudent to try for graft also on a small root stock, just wondering , as the plant seems to be precious with a beautiful flower , an extra experiment on a cheaper plant wouldn't have harmed...


clipped on: 11.16.2013 at 04:45 pm    last updated on: 11.16.2013 at 04:47 pm

RE: Well... It Just Happened...tonight!,, ;-) (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: loveplants2 on 11.15.2013 at 02:29 am in Adenium Forum

Seed pods opening in the house....


Good luck!!!


clipped on: 11.16.2013 at 03:45 pm    last updated on: 11.16.2013 at 03:46 pm

RE: karyn1 (Follow-Up #135)

posted by: somalenese on 11.14.2013 at 01:39 pm in Rate & Review Exchanges Forum

hello karyn
where can i converse with you
tried some links but no luck
have been using your advice
from the forum discussions
dont know much about forum
and how to use it but whenever i see agood advice
7 out of 10 times it is karyn....


clipped on: 11.14.2013 at 02:48 pm    last updated on: 11.14.2013 at 02:49 pm

RE: What is the best fertilizer (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: karyn1 on 05.04.2012 at 05:59 pm in Adenium Forum

In addition to fertilizer I use CalMag Plus and Pro-Tekt. I use some Osmocote at the beginning of the growing season but I also use water soluble fertilizer (various brands) throughout (except while dormant) and B1 and/or Superthrive when I transplant, prune and at the beginning of the growing season to help them "wake up". I treat them similar to my plumerias but I feed my plumerias more.


clipped on: 11.14.2013 at 01:25 pm    last updated on: 11.14.2013 at 01:26 pm

root training

posted by: somalenese on 11.14.2013 at 01:14 pm in Adenium Forum

hello everybody,
can someone tell me what is root training ?
i'm new to this forum
have been reading some interesting discussions
thoroughly enjoyed
thank you garden web
and thank you all................


clipped on: 11.14.2013 at 01:16 pm    last updated on: 11.14.2013 at 01:16 pm