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Re: Potting Mixes

  • Subject: Re: Potting Mixes
  • From: Marge Talt mtalt@HORT.NET
  • Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 23:51:48 -0500

> From: Sandy Connerley <sandy_connerley@SBCGLOBAL.NET>
> Does anyone add clay to their potting mix?

I have, on occasion, but only to large pots or where I feel the plant
in question would benefit from the mineral content and trace elements
and then only in very small proportion to the other ingredients.   I
normally figure my compost has enough clay content to provide some of
these nutrients.  If I do use clay, I add even more grit to the mix
to assure sharp drainage.

In general, clay soil, with its fine particles, does not drain well
enough for plants confined to pots.  It tends to compact down even
more under normal pot watering regimes so that the necessary air
spaces in the soil are lost and plant roots die.  Usually, you will
be more successful with potted plants with a gritty, very
free-draining mix because slow draining mixes tend to promote root

You want your potting compost to retain sufficient moisture for plant
needs but not to the point of waterlogging.

I make my own potting compost, knowing I will be pulling weed
seedlings out of my pots.  If you don't want to deal with that or the
possibility of soil born fungi or diseases, you are much better using
a good quality bagged soiless mix or even bagged fine chip pine bark
with sand and providing nutrients via added fertilizers.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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