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Re: [Aroid-l] Let's talk commercial mixes, eh?

  • Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Let's talk commercial mixes, eh?
  • From: Scott Hyndman hyndman@aroid.org
  • Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 13:58:26 -0500


Good topic and I am sure there will be as many ideas and preferences as to the best growing mix as there are aroid growers. There was research done at the Mid Florida Research and Education Center decades ago on the best potting soil mixes for various foliage plants, many of which are aroids, and as I recall they statistically found that they could grow plants equally well in all of the commercially available mixes at the time and with just straight Canadian peat moss, with the pH amended of course. Some of that research is available at http://mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/Foliage/Resrpts/ mrec_resrpt_ndx.htm

Anyway, back to the topic: I would not recommend a mix containing either coir (coconut fiber) as it will decompose faster than peat, or composted bark (personal preference; I don't like seeing the saprophytic fungi fruiting on the surface of the decomposing bark). And use as little vermiculite as possible as it does hold water and breaks down over time too. At the USDA research station I work at we use Premier Horticulture's Pro Mix (http://www.premierhort.com/ eProMix/GrowingMixes/fGrowingMixes.htm), primarily for greenhouse grown citrus culture which requires good drainage. For tuberous aroids I like to add additional perlite to that mix by about 30%. By the way, that is not meant to be an official USDA endorsement either. I see that they do make custom mixes too. The Fafard company has some good products; no official endorsement meant there either. Their Mix #2-P looks interesting to me, but you would have to be willing to match you watering regime to the good drainage that mix should provide. I see that they do offer custom mixes as well, and with the volumes of soil you mention you will be using perhaps the price would work out for you.

Keep us all posted on your search for the perfect commercial mix for your growing conditions, and good luck with the results.

Best regards and happy holidays, Scott
Scott Hyndman
Vero Beach, Florida
USDA Hardiness Zone microclimate 10B

E-mail: hyndman@aroid.org

On Dec 15, 2005, at 1:07 PM, Ken Mosher wrote:

Dear aroiders,

We've heard from time to time what soil mixes different people use for their Amorph collections. Most of the experienced growers create a custom mix. I've spoken with several people: Dan Devor mixes by hand, Dewey Fisk mixes up a pile with a shovel. But Dan is mixing mostly for his personal collection, even though it's large and Dewey does this full-time. Ron McHatton modifies Fafard's #3B with extra perlite.

The mix I have been using just isn't working. One year it worked great - must have been a fluke of the weather that let me get away with it. I've determined that even when the top 2" are dry the lower part is actually wet - the perfect recipe for rot, especially when I wander by and add more water because they look and feel dry.

I have a problem that I imagine is like what is experienced by larger growers who are under staffed. I work full time (present unemployment excepted) and I just can't afford the time required to create my own potting mix. Nor do I have the stamina to mix up 5+ cubic yards of it all at once in the spring! (I used over 5 yds3 in 2005.) And I've no place to store that much for any length of time so I can't mix it up now for springtime use. Maybe Tony Avent has some advice for me.

I turned to the Milikowski catalog for a commercial potting mix solution. The reason I'm referring to their catalog is convenience - a new one came in the mail while the subject was on my mind.

I've put a 10-page PDF on my server that includes the commercial mix section of their catalog. When referring to page numbers I'll use 1 - 10, not 64-73 (the page numbers in the catalog). http:// dragocactoid.com/CommercialGrowingMediums.pdf is 1.6MB.

If people are interested, and will indulge me, I'll go through some commercially available mixes that seemed promising. Some of them are available in bulk, meaning very large bags (60 cubic feet). I circled the ones I'll ask your opinions about.

It would help if I told you where I'm growing; in New England, USA, specifically Andover, Connecticut. USDA Zone 5a. Mostly inside a 52 x 22 foot greenhouse but also outdoors for large specimens and overflow. Growing only during spring, summer, fall. I grow offsets and small tubers in 1/2 gal square nursery pots, larger tubers in 1 to 3 gal pots, really big tubers in 20 gal tubs.

#1 - on the first page is Sungro's Sunshine 910. Sungrow took over Scott's Coir-based line of mixes. I think #910 might not be a great choice.

#2, #3 - page 2, Sunshine bark-based mixes (hi Dan!). I point specifically to Sunshine 500 series and Sunshine PX3. (A brief note on peanut hulls; I've never seen one breakdown, they seem to last a long time in my own experience.)

#4 - page 4, Metro-Mix 380 Coir. Catalog recommends for bedding plants in mid to large size containers. Any good for my 1/2 gal pots?

#5, #6, #7 - page 6, Fafard Mix #3B, Mix #50 and Mix #52. Page 8 gives further descriptions of the mixes; I circled #3B and #52 - both of which are readily available in 60 ft3 bags.

I didn't single out anything on pages 9, 10, but I included them so people could see the entire commercial mix section of the catalog. I've dealt both with Milikowski and Griffin's Greenhouse Supply. They both have warehouses in Connecticut that I've been to.

If I can make a decision well before spring then I can find the least expensive way to get it here, such as maybe piggybacking my order with one of my neighboring nurseries.

Thank you for your indulgence!

-Ken Mosher
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