Shop Products
Houzz Logo Print
dissident

Question for tapla - 100% turface mixtures

15 years ago

I've read through your threads and heard you mention that you have used 100% turface in some of your house plants.

I was just wondering if you noticed any benefit from using the crushed granite and barks in the mixture, and is there any practical purpose to adding them to a mixture other then adding an organic component?

Will the plants like having the fir bark in the mixture more then 100% turface? I know it makes the soil look pretty, but meh... functionality over style for me. :)

I'm looking for a mixture that will hold water a few extra days without watering while avoiding the problems with peat and it's tendency to displace water if allowed to dry out, so my plan was just to go 100% turface MVP ... deciding whether or not it needed sifting when I purchased it.

If I didn't sift do you think it would retain too much water on it's own without anything else added? These are houseplants in 6-8 inch pots.. nothing larger then that.

Thanks. :)

Comments (95)

  • 15 years ago

    The orchid comments are interesting. I may just go over to the orchid forum and try to engage them in a soil conversation. I bet they're passionate about their thoughts, though. .... should be interesting. ;o)

    I've grown a couple of AVs in the gritty mix & they've done very well. It's only my opinion, but I think most AV growers try to squeeze too much out of the soil. IOW, they purposely try to build nutrition into the soil instead of relying entirely on supplemental nutrition. This often brings about soil collapse & soggy conditions.

    I don't think AV roots are any more tender than other roots. After all, the workhorses of all plants are the finest of roots that absorb water and nutrients. They don't come any finer than that, and obviously those roots fare just fine. ;o)

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    Hmmmmm...maybe I'll go out and see if Wal-Mart has any of the last shipment of Orchids left. I think they were $15.00, but the blooms were already on the shoddy side so I bet they've marked them down considerably and THEN I could ask for more since, "I don't know if I can rehabilitate this." Really, I probably can, but it'll most likely have to be isolated (bug possibilities) and the leaves will be yellowed with black spots (not enough light/too much water sitting on the roots). It'll take a lot of effort to save one abused so, but I bet for maybe $5.00 or less I could do a good experiment.

  • 15 years ago

    I forgot to finish my thoughts....

    The Orchid soil I bought the other day was for two Phalaenopsis and one Dendrobium. I bought the brand Better-Gro from Lowes. I am currently using Schults Orchid mix and they're doing fine, but I thought I'd see if I like this one better. The Better-Gro is endorsed by the American Orchid Society (AOS). There are three mixes on the market: Special Orchid Mix, Dendrobium Mix, Phalaenopsis Mix and, then, there's Orchid Bark.

    A few thoughts: (quoted from www.better-gro.com), "Better-Gro® products are formulated with both the hobbyist and commercial grower in mind. Better-Gro® orchid mixes provide your orchids the drainage these air plants require. Better-Gro® mixes are porous and allow air flow and ventilation to reach the roots."

    Sounds like Better Gro is trying to achieve the same thing we are porosity for better air flow to the roots.

    The Dend. Mix is new and it has lava rock in it to help meet the drainage needs of Dends.

    Another thing: the Orchid Bark...for those who are unable to find bark small enough for the "Al's Famous Soil Mix" could they possibly buy this?

  • 15 years ago

    Hi Al,

    Sure! I'd love any and all hints and suggestions. I currently use Osmocote 19-6-12 every three months. I also use stem every 3 months. This was suggested from the other forum.

    I only have 3 citrus plants, but I love each one: bearss lime, variegated pink lemon and meyer lemon. They live outside from May to October and inside during the winter. They each have their own 200 watt compact fluorescent fixture. They all flower and fruit indoors as well as out.

    The lime is doing very well thought it's potted in miracle-grow w/lots of extra perlite. The variegated pink lemon (bought from Four Winds as a 2-3 year old tree 3 years ago) is potted in old coir. It is only now started to hold onto it's lemons and has many buds on it. The meyer is tanking badly. I bought it last year at a nursery covered in flowers. Had a great crop of lemons. It is still in the original planting medium (let's call it "glop") and it stays way too wet, all new growth way too yellow and desperately needs replanting.........or burial.

    It will be the first one repotted using your method! Thanks for all your help. Stephanie

  • 15 years ago

    sjeffery-
    You are in good company. I have known of many good growers that have sent Meyers to the other side.
    I certainly expect that using the gritty mix will help me as I am sure I drowned the last one I killed.
    I have a seedling that is doing fairly well as is but will put it in gritty soon. I have heard seedlings do better as container plants as compared to grafted specimens.
    Kyle

  • 15 years ago

    I might have to give it a try. My AV mix was chosen because it is light and airy, not for any nutritive value, and it works fine for me, but I will say that it gets a bit annoying to purchase the mix all the time, as it gets expensive with shipping. It could work out better to purchase the basic elements of a mix and tweak it according what I'm growing; mix as needed, basically. I have tons of AV plantlets to experiment with.

    As far as orchids go, I'm actually trying to minimize the number of potted orchids I have by converting as many of them to mounted orchids as possible, so I'm not ready to experiment there. I guess you can't get any better aerated than bare rooted though : )

  • 15 years ago

    Hmmm, glancing over this thread more carefully, I see that it's mentioned that the Turface or Axis hold more water than is immediately obvious. How do you know when to water then? Are there visual clues, or do you judge by weight? I have no experience with this stuff, so I don't know if it's easy to tell or not. I only have Hydroton, and I'm not growing directly in it (yet).

    Just curious to know before I go ahead and order the components to experiment with this mix. Thanks!

  • 15 years ago

    "How do you know when to water then?"

    It does take a little getting used to. Here's a good hint: If you don't screen your material, you could have a little perched water in the bottom of the container. If you add a wick and allow it to dangle below your container for a minute or two after you water, it will drain this water. If you DO screen, you won't have any perched water, but the wick can still be employed as a 'tell'. IOW, if the wick feels damp - no need to water. If it's dry - water. This will get you through the transition period until you get used to the characteristics of the soil. You'll be able to tell by weight, too, with a little practice.

  • 15 years ago

    Al,
    Okay, I have the Turface/Allsport and the Gran-i-grit Grower size. I went to Home Depot today, but didn't see the orange/white bag you mentioned in a previous post. I bought pine bark mulch.....here are pix. I put a handful on a plate so you could see it spread out. Should I pick out the big shredded pieces or did I (again) buy the wrong thing? I am DETERMINED to get this right :) Thanks! Stephanie

    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l228/sjeffery/mulch2.jpg
    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l228/sjeffery/mulch3.jpg
    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l228/sjeffery/mulch1.jpg

    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:75594}}

  • 15 years ago

    For the gritty mix, it's best to have an uncomposted product like one of those around the perimeter. Disregard the soil in the center, that's a 5:1:1 mix of PB:peat:perlite.

    {{gwi:2389}}

    If you think you'll have difficulty finding it, contact me off forum for an easy solution. ;o)

    I use the prescreened fir bark shown @ 12:00 for the gritty mix.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    I had the chance to check out that Orchid Bark at Lowes last night. Most of it is too big for the gritty mix. It also looks to be composted. There weren't any orchids left at Wal-Mart. Lowes's Orchids are looking pretty shabby. Leaves are yellowed and blooms are ready to drop. No sign of decreasing the prices either. I bought three new Bromeliads instead.

  • 15 years ago

    Hi Al,
    Today's foray into the garden center..........I bought fir bark. Bag says 'Hoffman West Coast Fir Bark. The pieces look bigger than the one in the pic you posted. Can I use this stuff for the gritty mix? Thanks, Stephanie

    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:75595}}

  • 15 years ago

    You can use it, but it will increase the speed of drainage a little & decrease water retention. It also makes it more important that the other two ingredients are the right size. You're killing me with your efforts! I'll send you a small box/bag of appropriate size bark so you can make your soil & keep looking for it locally if you'd like. ;o)

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    Hey Al,
    Thanks for the quick response......yeah, my motto for learning to assemble this gritty mix should be, "never say die!" :) I appreciate your patience. I swear I'm not as simple as I may seem!

    Okay, other than equal parts of the three ingredients, anything else I should do? Rinse the turface or gravel first? Or mix all three, repot the tree and then thoroughly water? Thanks, Stephanie

  • 15 years ago

    I can tell you're not simple! - just determined. ;o) If you want the soil to be the best it can be - screen out the fines with insect screen or a 'normal' mesh kitchen strainer. Add 1 tbsp of gypsum per gallon of soil. Add 1/4 tsp of Epsom salts per gallon of fertilizer solution every time you fertilize at recommended strength, or 1/8 if you fertilize at 1/2 strength, or a pinch if you fertilize every time you water at 1/8 - 1/4 strength (depending on how robustly the plant(s) is/are growing. Any 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer is good (better than 1:1:1 like 20-20-20) for almost all plants, so MG 24-8-16 and 12-4-8 are good choices - Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 is even better because it has all the minors and gets most of its N in nitrate form, which helps to keep plants compact & bushy - a considerable advantage in the oft dim indoor light.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    I have read all the threads pertainingg the soil mixes and can pretty much understand the reason behind their usage. But I seem to not be able to understand the difference between Turface & crushed granite and the difference between Pine bark and Fir bark.
    Can someone elaborate the difference between these two elements.
    I am very interested in trying this method for my plants, but am still trying to understand the purposes of some of the items you can and cannot use in the mixtures.
    I have never had any luck with growing plants from store bought soils, therefore stumbling across this has been so intresting to me and am so willing to learn more about it here.

  • 15 years ago

    Would it also be ok then if I did a mixture using half Pine bark & half Fir bark along with the turface and grit?
    I have been able to find Pine bark, but only in mulching form and it seems to have very small fines, therefore was looking at adding the Fir bark along with it.
    Do you think this would work ok?

  • 15 years ago

    Al,

    I had my husband bring home some NAPA Floor Dry for now because I have to order in the Turface and Axis. I think I will go for Turface ultimately. I realize Axis has better water absorption capabilities, but Turface offers lower pH and that's really what I need. The bark is OK I think. Some chunks are rather large so I have to sort it. The bigger chunks are being put back in the bag so I can take a sledge hammer to break them up and sigft again.

    I sifted a bag of granite with a 2mm sifter then a 1mm sifter. I saved both the fines and the superfines. I have a question regarding the fines and superfines of all ingredients: has anyone used these in successful germination of seeds? If so, which?

    I'll show you the finished sifted products soon.

    Thank you for your awesome guidance Al! This mix is the best thing since 2-ply!

  • 15 years ago

    Since 2-ply! ;o)

    If I remember correctly, 1 mm is about 1/25 of an inch, so 2 mm would be about 1/12 of an inch. These sizes are too small for seed starting. It's VERY important that seeds are started in a well-aerated medium that will not compact (like vermiculite) and won't hold too much water (also like vermiculite). A great seed starter would be 6 parts of screened Turface or calcined DE:1 part of sphagnum peat. The peat is essentially sterile because of it's low (anti-fungal) pH, and the Turface/DE are sterile. If you want, you could use the fines to lightly cover the seeds, but if you do, you'll want to only mist to keep the soil moist until seeds have germinated.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    I have a good site that I use for orchid stuff but they have a 'select-a-blend' potting mix section, several things on here can be used with houseplants.
    They have some plastic pots for drainage too

    Here is a link that might be useful: potting mix

  • 15 years ago

    after all the research I did on turface and look what happens...

    {{gwi:75601}}

    decided to just go to hydroculture. I realize it's not for everyone but with my small collection it seemed the right route to go for me.

  • 15 years ago

    I'd like to explain quickly why I went to hydroculture... my plan was to use 100% sifted axis or turface so I would not have to water as often.. so I could go 5-7 days without watering and yet still retain the properties and benefits of the turface/axis namely better aeration to the roots, without the properties of peat and it's tendency to displace water if dried out, and collapse over time.

    However in attempting to do this mold grew on the surface of both the turface and the axis after about 3-4 days. Now if someone waters every day or two they won't get mold, as watering will collapse the fuzzy mold and it will never really become visible on the soil.

    However if one does not water every day or two, after about the third day, mold forms and won't go away, even when the axis/turface become so dry that the plant would be damaged from it.. the mold remains until the plant is watered again..then it will collapse and not become noticeable again until a few days later. This didn't sit well with me though.

    I went with hydroculture. So far the plants seem to like it and mold is not growing except on some of the side roots exposed to the light, and the plant doesn't seem to care that the mold is there, and it's manageable.

    I've found that the roots can be manhandled and trimmed way down far more then I thought possible which is interesting. The plant itself just grows new ones without a problem.

    So far everything is going well, and for me it's pretty much an idiotproof thing. I can watch the roots, and if any of the old soil roots start to rot I just pull the whole thing apart, cut them out, very easily and the plant's don't seem to care.

    I can watch the water level daily, pull the whole thing apart to clean it when needed, only takes a minute, and watering is much easier too.

    For me this seemed to be the way to go. I can very much see how doing container planting without organic components benefits the plants, regardless of the style at one decides to do it.

    If one repots every year or two I am still very much a supporter of peat as well. It doesn't seem to produce the surface mold that turface/axis does and it can go for a longer period of time without water. With that convenience of course comes consequences as Al has already pointed out. I guess ya have to balance what works best for you... regular watering vs neglect, vs ????

    Regardless of what method ya use I wish ya the best, and am very happy to learned so much about container gardening here. I think the best thing to remember regardless of what type of soil you use, is that air to the roots is important!

    cheers!

    I wish all you inorganic container planters the best, regardless of what you decide to use and do... oh and I suppose you organic types too. :)

  • 15 years ago

    Hmmm - just a note - in 15 years, I've NEVER had mold or algae growth on the surface of the gritty soils

    1 part uncomposted pine or fir bark fines
    1 part Turface
    1 part crushed granite (grower size)

    unless I was using fish emulsion or other organic soil amendments/fertilizers, in which case you should expect it to occur on virtually any soil. I've seen algae build-up so severe on peat based soils after using organic fertilizers that the soil surface remained hydrophobic (water repellent) for an hour or longer after irrigation.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    I am new to the forum. For the past couple of months I am going thru AlÂs water movement and retention.

    Now I know why all my plants die after some time. Too much water. I was hoping to create AlÂs gritty mix for my tropical plants. Jasmine, Curry Leaves, Crissandra, Citrus etc.

    I have couple of questions.

    1. Is Turface MVP same as Turface Allsports? The store person said it is the same.

    1. I got NAPA floor Dry. I screened it and I put a handful in glass and added water. After an hour when I try to press on some they turned into clay. Is that normal? I got the NAPA floor Dry part # 8822.
      3.
      Al. You have lots of patience and I thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.
      B.T.
  • 15 years ago

    I too destroyed some floor dry. Turface Allsports is not the same as MVP; it's different size, but I don't know if it's larger or smaller. Turface MVP is inexpensive. I got it for $8.95 out of MO (50lb bag).

  • 15 years ago

    Matt - Profile corporation packages the same product as 'Turface MVP', and as 'Allsport', the latter exclusively for John Deere Landscaping dealers.

    I just went out & opened a fresh bag of Floor-Dry, and this bag is calcined DE - no question. I put a little in a plastic cup & put it in the freezer (5 min ago). I'll be back after dinner to let you know how stable it is. ... same part #, too. It's normal for it to crush between your fingers if you press real hard. It's about as hard as perlite & softer than Turface.

    Thanks for the kind words, too. ;o)

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    hort-Lvr and AL:

    I ordered Turface MVP. I do not have any concept about these things other than I read Al's and others on the GW for the past couple of months. I am glad you mentioned that when I press DE real hard it would collapses. I think before adding the DE to the mix I will give it a good rinse.

    For the grit I got Cherry Stone No. 2 Medium and I sifted it too. Is this the right size?

    Now I am searching for the unprocessed pine bark fine. Hope I don't have to order that. Farad Aged Pine Bark price now is above $11.00.BFG. I ordered couple of bags for the 5.1.1. mix.

    Thanks Al. I have learnt a lot from you post. You are very prompt and courteous.
    M.T.

  • 15 years ago

    I forgot to take the E out of the freezer last night - DUH! I took it out this AM, so I'll let you know.

    Yesterday, I picked up 500 lbs of quartzite (cherrystone - 9 #2, 1 #1) I ordered from an elevator. You could use either #1 or #2, but I prefer #2, so you're good.

    If you need a little bark to get you started while you're still looking, let me know & I'll send it to you.

    It would be helpful if you included where you live in your user info. Your state, USDA zone, and a large city near you help us help you. ;o) I might be able to make a call or two to see where you can get the bark.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    Al.
    I live in Zone 5. I live around Champaign, Illinois. I looked at different nursery and Home depot, Lowes etc in Champaign with no luck. I also searched around where I live. If you know where I could buy I would really appreciate it.
    Do you know how I could change or add information to my page.
    Thanks Al
    B.T.

  • 15 years ago

    On the green bar at the bottom of the page, click on Member Pages, then go to the second option, Edit User Info, or something close to that. Log in and edit away. ;o)

    What big city or cities are you near? I'll get in touch with the bonsai folk there & find out for you. You're better off to look at nurseries or greenhouse operations than big box stores, though from time to time I have found it (hit and miss) at Home Depot and Meijer.

    Remember - I'll send you some, too. ;o) Just to get you by until you find it.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    The big city is Champaign, ( Illinois) 40 miles from me. the other big cities are Bollmington Illinois 100 miles and Indianapolis 100 miles.

    How did the DE turn out once you took it out of the Freezer? Why did you put that in the freezer?

    Where did you buy your 1/8" and 3/8" screener for swifting?
    Thanks for going out of the way to help me.

    M.T.

  • 15 years ago

    The DE was fine. If it holds up to freeze/thaw, it's very stable. There was no apparent change after it thawed.

    I made my own set of soil sieves .... two sets, actually - a small one and a large set. I have 4 screens in each set. Insect screen, 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8" hardware cloth.

    Give me a couple of days to see what I can find out about the bark.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    I've got a guy from the Pekin Bonsai Club and a friend from the Indy Club working on it. I could also direct you to the business in Carpentersville, NW of CHI, and you could get it from where I buy it - unless that's too far.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    Repotme.com has the bark and many other medium help, but it's probably more expensive than sourcing your own.

    Thanks for the crushing info on the NAPA floor dry! I was disappointed for no reason. I got turface anyhow so I gave my hubby the floor dry. We're not only a Horticulture family, but gearheads too so it all works great!

    You're such a great guy Al! It's amazing to me that you're not a professor at a university or a teacher (other than on the GW forums).

  • 15 years ago

    Where did you buy the 1/8" and 3/4" hardware cloth. I have a hard time locating a supplier. Once I get them I could make my own.

    Carpenterville NW of Chicago is approximately 150 miles and it will take 3 to 4 hrs depending upon the traffic. If that is the only source for uncomposted pine bark fine then I have to order it.

    Indianapolis will be closer and easier to reach.

    Repotme.com is way too expensive for me.

    Thanks Al.
    M.T

  • 15 years ago

    The hardware cloth can be had in many sizes (usually by the foot - call first) at any decent (real) hardware store. I have 14x14 and 24x24 sets of sieves, and I rarely use the small set .... but then I'm usually making larger batches of soil, too. ;o)

    We'll see what my acquaintances have to say about the bark.

    Thanks for the nice comment, Hort Lvr. ;o)

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    Thanks Al. I will wait for the response from you for the uncomposted Pine bark fine.

    I will call real hardware store around here for the hard ware cloth 1/8" and 3/8".
    Thanks for your help
    M.T.

  • 15 years ago

    Al,

    I have gotten the Turface MVP and the bark. I also bought grit, but it was chicken grit and have recently realized it's *too small.* It's slightly larger than...well, here - how about a picture?

    {{gwi:75603}}

    Do I need to look for Turkey grit?

  • 15 years ago

    The size looks fine. What is the material in the picture?

    No luck, Matt.

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    It's chicken grit. So I got it right?

  • 15 years ago

    It's all about size, and the size looks fine. I don't recognize it as quartzite (cherrystone) or crushed granite. I was just curious to know what it is made of. Chicken grit doesn't tell me anything. ;o) Maybe it's a trick of the light?

    Al

  • 15 years ago

    It is crushed granite...(duh - chicken grit could be anything - sorry about that). Contains: ground granite grit, Anise, red color (Iron Oxide).

    I rinse it WELL before using it in the pots.

  • 15 years ago

    Hi Al:
    I got the Turface Athletic MVP. It has too many small particles. If I screen it thru insect screen is it enough?

    I saw Oak Hill Gardens IL. is selling White Fir Bark for orchids - Fine 3Cu.Ft. bag for 17.00. Is the white fir Bark alright?
    M.T.

  • 15 years ago

    Hi, Matt. Sorry it took me a while to reply. Yes - screening through insect screen is fine and if the bark is between 1/16 - 1/4" it's fine. Size is the important thing for the conifer bark when making the gritty mix.

  • 13 years ago

    Has anyone decided if the floor dry is a reasonable substitute for turface? I know I can get floor dry locally, while I believe I will have to really hunt for turface.

  • 13 years ago

    Floor dry that is made from calcined DE and is the appropriate size is a suitable substitute for Turface. The main differences are: Calcined DE has a higher pH (7.0), better CEC, and greater water retention. Don't forget to screen it, please.

    Al

  • 12 years ago

    HI Al
    I have read and reread until my eyes are on fire. I have a few questions. I am considering venturing into the gritty zone since some of my trees may need re-potting soon.
    I have a good friend who owns a Napa store so getting the DE or turface will be easy. I found a local source for the crushed granite and pine bark shouldn't be too hard either (if I am not impressed I will just splurge on the Reptibark)

    Questions:
    1. In assembling the ratios of the gritty mix do I use weight or volume of the products to get the proportions right?
    2. Where can I get screening to get the job done? (you should be opening a screen pack distributor, your homemade ones are awesome- sign me up!)
    3. What ratio exactly should I be adjusting to make it retain more water in this HOT South Florida sun?
    4. Do you add CRF granules to the gritty mix?

    Thanks
    Marin

  • 12 years ago

    1) Volume

    2) If you're using Reptibark (or prescreened 1/8-1/4" other conifer bark), Turface/calcined DE, and grower grit (no crushed shellfish shells), all you'll need is insect screen to eliminate the fines. If you're screening your own pine bark, you'll also need 1/2" and 18" screen. Ask for hardware cloth at hardwares or big box stores. Real hardwares probably sell it by the foot.

    3) You may not need the extra water retention, but if you do you can use
    3 Turface or DE
    2 bark
    2 grit

    or the next step would be

    3 bark
    4 Turface or DE
    2 grit

    I don't, but you can if you want. When it gets really hot, you'll want to reduce the amount of fertilizer you use, and you can't do that using CRFs. If you do use one, try to be sure it's as close to a 3:1:2 ratio as possible and that it contains all the essential nutrients, including Ca & Mg - most don't. I like Foliage-Pro with the gritty mix because it has everything in the right ratio and it doesn't utilize urea as it's N source, which is a considerable plus for houseplants.

    Al

  • 12 years ago

    Thanks Al!
    I think I will get a gallon of the Foliage Pro instead of the CRF.

0
Sponsored
Art Masonry Inc.
Average rating: 5 out of 5 stars133 Reviews
Loudon County's Hardscape and Landscape Expert in Outdoor Living