Author Topic: Guide to Growing Media and Potted Plants  (Read 31560 times)

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Guide to Growing Media and Potted Plants
« on: March 15, 2011, 05:31:09 PM »
There's more than one way to skin a cat and there's more than one way to grow a plant. This is a general guide to the common types of growing media you may encounter, their properties, contents, and techniques accompanied with their use. I would also like to cover general aspects of growing plants in pots, which in some ways is largely different from growing plants in the ground. The idea is to instill good techniques and understanding of the materials we use when cultivating plants. When you understand how the plants work and how the media and soil environment works, you can make better judgments and be more creative in your techniques to cultivate plants.

Probably the most common potting mix is the peat-based blends. Peat based mixes are primarily peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, wetting agents, pH buffers and sometimes nutrients. Composted barks and rice hulls are other ingredients used to increase the porosity of the mix. They may also contain leaf compost or other compost sources for extra carbon and nutrients, primarily nitrogen. Peat moss grows in a naturally acidic environment and the dried and harvested peat moss is natrually mildly acidic. Sometimes this is good, if we have acid loving plants, but most plants are not acid loving and will do better in a neutral mix, and therefore common amendments you will find or need when preparing your own mixes are alkaline ingredients (such as dolomitic limestone). When peat is dry it also has a hard time absorbing water quickly, therefore wetting agents are common as well which help the water penetrate the peat by reducing the cohesiveness of the water. It is generally a good idea to moisten your mix if it is not moist before working with it.
This is Sun Gro Sunshine Mix LC8

From Sun Gro:
Formulated with Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, coarse perlite & vermiculite, starter nutrient charge (with Gypsum) and dolomitic limestone.

Use Sunshine Mix #8 for bedding plants, potted plants, flower and foliage crops, bulbs, perennials and vegetable plants.

This is Sun Gro Sunshine Natural and Organic #1

Formulated with Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, coarse perlite, organic starter nutrient charge, Gypsum and dolomitic limestone.

Highly recommended for cutting propagation, bedding and vegetable plants, hanging baskets, pot crops and seed germination.

This is Sun Gro MetroMix950. This is a high porosity mix with bark and very coarse vermiculite. While barks and vermiculite can retain fair amounts of water, the large particle size increases the porosity enough that the soil will retain water well enough while remaining airy and preventing compaction. This makes it ideal for larger pots and planters, anything over 3 gallons I definitely use plenty of this stuff in the mix.

Formulated with Pine bark, Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, coarse perlite, starter nutrient charge (with Gypsum) and slow release nitrogen and dolomitic limestone.

Highly recommended for hanging baskets, interior-scapes, patio & nursery, perennials and poinsettias.

This is Sun Gro MetroMix with rice hulls. This was a custom blend that my work had made, I forget which original blend was used but its very similar in composition to the above MM950 except that the perlite has been replaced with rice hulls.

Formulated with bark, Canadian Sphagnum peat moss, parboiled rice hulls, wetting agent and dolomitic limestone.

This is Berger Germination Mix. I don't particularly care for this blend myself. The particles are too fine, and theres too much vermiculite and peat. It tends to separate very easily, and I actually usually germinate seeds in the rice hull/LC8/natural and organic mixes. Sometimes though when I have seeds that I know need to stay pretty moist, I will add some of this mix to the others, but I tend to stay away from heavy vermiculite and small particle size stuff which will be easy to keep too wet and doesn't aerate well enough for a lot of stuff.

Berger BM2 Germination Mix This mix is perfectly formulated for seed germination, either in plugs, trays, or a floating system. Composed of specifically designed particle size peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite, the BM2 mix promotes uniform germination and rapid root development. Components include 70% fine peat moss, 15% fine perlite, and 15% fine vermiculite.

This is Cowsmo Compost Potting Soil.

Field soil

Worm castings


Perlite, fine

Perlite, coarse


Peat moss

Coconut Coir, Coco Coir, fine

Coconut Coir, Coco Coir, coarse

« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 06:28:01 PM by Planter »
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