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Re: Organic Mix for Hostas?

  • Subject: Re: Organic Mix for Hostas?
  • From: michael shelton <wilddog_202@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 19:16:24 -0700 (PDT)

Len  Butch says;

Let me add a couple of tricks to your pot in the
ground procedure.

Take a 5 gal pickle bucket (adjust bucket size to fit
hosta size) and drill 4-6 .5 to 1 inch holes 5 inches
up from the bottom of the pot (more and smaller holes
will work I guess). Then get the spun bonded material
used under the rubber used for making ponds, its much
stronger than landscape cloth (pond store, Home Depot,
Lowes). Cut a section that would wrap around the holes
you've drilled in the buckets. The cloth will keep the
tree roots out of your pots. The advantage of the 5
inch reservoir is for water. Now the reservoir will
catch any fertilizer runoff so you can reduce the
fertilizer and water by 75 percent. This method was
developed in the Palestine desert to grow vegetable
crops where water usage and fertilizer cost was
important. Don't maintain the same fertilizer regimen
because you don't need it and you don't want salt

If you want to get the best growth, disease and pest
control then make compost tea, add it to your
fertilizer and foliar or bucket feed. Your losing all
the value of humus found in the soil and mixing/adding
humus to the soil mix does not make up for the
organisms found in the soil. Compost tea will replace
some of what is being lost in the ground.

Don't re-pot each year because your disturbing the
soil structure being developed in the pots. Hosta are
not like trees that suffer from root girdling so the
only time they need to be re-potted is when they stop
growing in the space you've provided. They may do well
for 3-5 years without being re-potted unless you
started with too small a pot to begin with. The right
pot size may work for ever with some plants that don't
reproduce prolifically. The mix loss can be added to
the top of the pot with out re-potting.

If you would like to replicate the method used in the
desert then run small hoses to the pots. Sink the hose
down to the 5 inch water level and attach to a water
reservoir. It will require a manifold for each main
line with each small line running off the main
line(greenhouse supply company's sell the hose
system). The reservoir must be closed so the water
leaks out when level drops in the bucket(like a
chicken waterer). You can mix the fertilizer in the
reservoir or make it a compost maker. If you do that
it will need to be open at the top during composting
then closed at the top and opened to re-water the pots
then reverse the open close process.

If I haven't made myself clear then email and I'll try
to be more specific.

--- Len Phillips <lenphillips@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Bobby, I would take a completely different approach.
> I like to grow my hostas in black nursery pots. 
> That way I am able to
> keep the roots separate and provide my special soil
> mix just to the hosta
> pots and not all the soil around the tree roots. 
> The plants in pots are
> planted under the tree, and the pots should be
> tucked in among the roots
> and buried to the top of the pot so it is hidden by
> mulch or the soil
> level.  The pots can be set in a manner which
> protects the tree roots from
> being cut unnecessarily, so the tree stays healthy
> and the hostas are not
> bothered by the tree roots at all.  
> My special soil mix consists of 1/3 rich garden
> loam, 1/3 composted
> organic matter (such as your composted horse
> manure), and 1/3 gravel or
> perlite for drainage.
> Watering is less as well since the pots are buried
> and hold moisture
> longer than if they were growing in the soil. 
> Fertilizer is added to my
> special soil mix and does not get consumed by the
> tree's roots.  Another
> advantage is that the hostas can be considered
> portable so I can move them
> easily if I don't like the way they look in the
> garden, they need a
> different companion, or they aren't doing well in a
> particular location. 
> When doing some cross breeding it is easy to move
> the two plants close
> together.  Still another advantage is dealing with
> little critters.  One
> of my hosta beds is in a major vole nesting area. 
> Yet the animals have
> never (yet) gotten into the pot to eat the hosta
> roots.  They burrow
> around the pots but they never go underneath them to
> discover the drainage
> holes and the delicious treat that they could have. 
> Hostas in this same
> area, not in pots were completely wiped out.
> The disadvantage of the hostas in pots concept is
> that they have to be
> lifted or the pots rotated once a year to prevent
> the surrounding tree
> roots from getting into the pots through the
> drainage holes.  I lift my
> hosta pots with a shovel, acting as a lever, on the
> outside of the pot.  I
> lift them in the late summer to early fall every
> year.  I first remove any
> circling tree roots on the outside of the pot, then
> I check inside the pot
> to be sure the hosta still has lots of root space. 
> If need be, I re-pot
> the plant in a larger pot.  If the plant needs
> dividing, I do that at the
> same time.
> It doesn't really take that much time either.  All
> my new plants stay in
> the pots they came in, or if I am getting bare root
> plants, I pot them up
> when I get them.  During one week of effort, I timed
> my annual
> inspection/re-potting process.  It took me 30 hours
> to go through 250
> hostas.  This included the time I spent potting up
> over 200 plants for
> sale.
> Some people have asked me what size pot do you use
> and where do you get
> them from.  I like to use a pot that would cover the
> top of the plant
> without touching any leaves.  It may be a larger
> than necessary pot but
> the plants do better with more than enough soil.  I
> get the pots from
> either our local recycling center that has a "take
> it or leave it area",
> or I ask several of my landscape contractor friends
> if I can have all of
> their old pots.  They will even deliver them for
> free because they are so
> happy to not have to pay to dispose of them.
> I hope this helps you in dealing with your tree root
> problem.  If you have
> any questions, please let me know.  
> Len
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