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Author Topic: Bulbs potting soil for containers  (Read 4222 times)

blagoves

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Bulbs potting soil for containers
« on: November 18, 2007, 07:50:37 PM »
Hello Guys,

I have finally joined this invaluable forum and would like to say a big "THANK YOU" to all of you for tonnes of the info unavailable elsewhere. I highly appreciate your efforts and time spent.
Now, I have a question for you regarding the composition of the potting soil for bulbs in containers.
I am very well aware of the Ian's bulb potting compost posted here a while back, but I do have a problem
when using it for filling up the big containers - heavy weight!
So, I was wondering as to whether I could replace some of the gravel or gritty sand with a lighter material such as Perlite, Vermiculite or possibly some hydroponics medium like Hydroton (clay pebbles)?
Ian, what is your take on that?
Thanks very much,
Anastasia
Anastasia

mark smyth

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2007, 07:58:06 PM »
Hi Anastasia! Make sure you tell us about yourself here
http://www.srgc.org.uk/smf/index.php?topic=12.270
Antrim, Northern Ireland Z8
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Carlo

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2007, 07:59:19 PM »
Anastasia,

Welcome to the forums! The trouble with light-weight alternatives, especially perlite, is its tendency to float out of the pots (or to the surface). This and other amendments also have a higher tendency to accumulate salts if your water is mineral rich.
Carlo A. Balistrieri
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Maggi Young

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2007, 08:06:41 PM »
Hello, Anastasia, a very warm welcome to you!
 Ian is out for a walk with Lily the Dog, so I will make a quick reply ... he will probably make his own comment later... we quite often have used polystyrene (styrofoam) chips to fill the lower portions of a trough or large pot , especially when we intended moving these containers around a lot, for displays, etc. We have found this to be very useful and have, sometimes, left such containers planted up for several years in this way without disturbance... no harm seems to come to plants from this treatment. As time goes on, the soil may tend to sink lower in the container, as the soil mixes through the polystyrene chips, so top dressing  may be needed. The sinking of some soil into the area with the poly-chips  helps to make a better atmosphere for the roots that may be searching out to those areas. If weight is of importance for any given container then I see no reason to use these chips as a way to make life easier. We have not used perlite in any great quantity for this purpose and I would think that the hydroponic granules can be quite heavy themselves. By altering the composition of the potting medium, one is risking a compost that is less well drained, so i would rather make a lighter layer below the potting medium than alter the compost itslef.

Cheers!
 Maggi
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Carlo

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2007, 08:10:23 PM »
I'd avoid using a layer of anything under the soil mix so that you can side-step the perched water table issue.
Carlo A. Balistrieri
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Maggi Young

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2007, 08:21:21 PM »
But Carlo, isn't anything growing in the artificial context of a container always subject to a perched water table of sorts ? 
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Carlo

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2007, 08:32:39 PM »
I suppose so, but your medium, top-to-bottom, eliminates an interface layer (doesn't that sound fancy!) and gives capillary action a better chance to moderate the affect of accumulated water.
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Maggi Young

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2007, 08:38:08 PM »
This is true, though , as I say, we have had success with the poly-chip layers for several years without detriment.... I wouldn't go making a habit of the method.

 Where do you live, Anastasia, what sort of weather conditions are your containers likely to face?
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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blagoves

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2007, 08:39:55 PM »
Maggie, I was inclined to go ahead and insert a lighter layer on the bottom of the container anyway.
I just cannot lift up those pots!
I do not have styroform chips but I do have a foam material called: "Better than Rocks".
Check this one out and let me know what you think:
http://www.betterthanrocks.com/how_it_works.htm

Anastasia
Anastasia

Maggi Young

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2007, 08:52:14 PM »
That looks an interesting material, Anastasia. It will likely work well for the purpose and be easier to sort out from the soil when re-potting, which can be a pest with the styrofoam pieces! I don't believe I've seen this stuff offered for sale in the UK but I would certainly try some if I found it.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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blagoves

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2007, 08:54:34 PM »
Sorry for not checking the thread before I sent my previous response.
I did not introduce myself yet as I was asked to but I will very shortly.
I live in the US Pacific Northwest, USDA 8a. It can get too wet in winter though but it is generally mild with a snow sitting for about a week each year. It has been raining non-stop for the last month or so which drives me nuts. I usually plant pre-chilled for 12 weeks at 4oC bulbs (tulips, hyacinths, crocus, daffodils, galantus and scilla) in late November/early December and place the containers outside under the carport cover so they do not get extra moisture.
Anastasia
Anastasia

Joakim B

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2007, 10:01:17 PM »
Maybe to late but Anastasia be sure to use the old style styrofoam that is styrofoam and hence do not disolve in water like the newer more environment friendly version that is often used nowadays.
An easy check is to see if they are affected by water (they should not) and if You want to be 100% sure check i they are affected by acetone (nail polish remover) and they should "melt". The "real deal" will stay fluffy in the soil else You will have them decomposing and not be of any good.

Good luck
Joakim
Potting in Lund in Southern Sweden and Coimbra in the middle of Portugal as well as a hill side in central Hungary

Joakim B

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2007, 10:04:50 PM »
Carlo with the later penetration of medium into the styrofoam layer there must be capillary effect working and hence drainage but in the beginning there might be a problem.
Hopefully that will be solved quit fast.
Kind regards
Joakim
Potting in Lund in Southern Sweden and Coimbra in the middle of Portugal as well as a hill side in central Hungary

Anthony Darby

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2007, 10:31:16 PM »
The new material is made from starch, not polystyrene so is not styrofoam. Kids marvel when I eat a piece! :P
Anthony Darby, Auckland, New Zealand.
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Ezeiza

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Re: Bulbs potting soil for containers
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2008, 02:55:30 PM »
Hi:

     To avoid the water table effect, we cut slits at the side of the 20 litre containers we grow the bulb collection in. They are 10-15 cm. tall, vertical, three per container. They are cut at the lower portion of the containers and each reaches a bit of the base as well.

      This has solved completely all aeration problems, etc., no possible water table in them this way. And the movement of gases throughout the whole of the container (including the problematic CORE) is perfectly adequate.


Regards

       
Alberto Castillo, in south America, near buenos Aires, Argentina.

 


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