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Sally, I don't know if it's been asked yet, but what are you using for semi-hydro? I have two hoya in a gritty mix and I don't think they are doing so well. Do you wick your violets? And have them on mats or grate?
It is the medium sold by First Ray's online. The stuff looks like little balls. It naturally wicks, you do not have to put in a wick. These are ceramic I think. I LOVE it. My plants are thriving. I just got a shipment from Rob's violets and I forgot how messy the "soil" is, ha. I will repot in the medium I use soon. We also got a big heavy box of new medium today also.
I was just changing out the bowls under each plant earlier. One had roots coming to the bottom and out of the pot already! WOW. It is actually the Silverglade Apple, in a picture above. My hubby has even commented about how they are all looking so nice.
Hi Sally, I haven't been doing the s/h for years with the african violets. Just started again and it really does work great. Don't have to worry about overwatering. I am finding that I have to keep them in bags with humidity and heat for at least a month to re-establish the roots. Just love the s/h. I have about 100 plants in it, mostly succulents and caudiciforms. Have been using it for about 10 years and just love it.
I only bagged my first batch for a week and all 7 promptly died on me. I just finished bagging 7 more for a month and that has worked. You are so lucky you don't have to bag! You must have great conditions.
The african violets are just so rewarding. I could never grow them before the s/h.
I just can't wrap my head around why Optimara won't put any catalogue numbers on their little "popsicle-sticks"... Just the other day, I found an old Optimara-stick with no number on it from a Violet that I bought at Lowe's a few years back.
I know that the average customer won't mind but it's not exactly helpful anyway...
Sally, I have about 15 in s/h now. How many do you have? You are all right in that they are Optimara's. I remember the tags now. I also wish they had the numbers or names on them. It just makes it a little more interesting.
I love not having to repot, deal with the AV soil and mess. I had to clean my shelves all the time before, but now the shelves are always clean. Having CFS, it is heaven, so much easier and going out of town is easy now too. So glad I learned about it from you.
I have a question for both Sally's. How do you water your violets that are in semi-hydro?. Do you have dishes under them with water in the dish. Sally0, some of yours are sitting a a tray. Do you keep water in the tray. My violets are all wicked and sitting on grates over water. I think I would probably save a little room by just sitting them in the tray without the grates, but I have too many, and then I would have to hand water each one.
Yes, you can try a bad. I have never done that and had no problem, but Sally O has used bags and that might be good if they are wilting. Good luck! It is so easy. I just watered mine. Need to take some pictures.
One looks like a crested Opuntia microdasys albispina. But I digress... LOL
All your plants look fantastic! What a difference a well aerated root system makes!!!
What I was curious about is this: When I lived in Germany years ago, a "puffed clay" product with the brand name "Seramis" was all the rage. The granules are about the size of medium Perlite but are made of clay. They are kind of terracotta colored.
I seem to remember that they wick better than the regular "hydroponics granules".
I wonder if this or a similar product is available here in the US.
Also, do they sell the regular clay granules in different grades?
Olaf, Sallysblooms and Sally0 use the hydroton. I was looking for stuff to make a gritty mix for some of my cactus and came across a recipie for Al's Gritty Mix on the Cactus Forum on GardenWeb. The mix I used called for Turface and two other ingredients. I couldn't find Turface locally but found Espoma Soil perfector. which is hard baked clay. I bought a bag at Ace Hardware. Plants are doing great and I'll probablly put the rest in the mix as soon as spring comes. I haven't used the hydroton yet for gessies, but maybe I'll try the Espoma clay with one or two gessie and see how it wicks. If it works out then I'll try a few more. I'll work on a few this week and will post how it works out. I just want to make sure it wicks well.
Here is a pic of the gritty mix I use. My cactus plants that are potted in this mix are not wicked. They are watered weekly during winter months when it is cooler. When the temps are up I water every few days. I haven't tried wicking any yet.
With the semi-hydroponics there are 2 sizes. I use the larger size for the AV's. I just seem to do better with them. Actually, what I use is similar to hydroton but is a little more porous. I do not know about the hydroponics granules.
Hydroton actually is the hydroponics medium that i was talking about. I just couldn't think of the name for the life of me...
The finer grade is normally used to start cuttings in a hydroponics setting. They normally use little 2" plastic "basket" pots and once the cutting is rooted, it goes into the larger grade granules - pot and all.
The large ones will provide for extremely well aerated roots and that's mostly the reason for plants doing so well in this medium. Well, also root-rot usually doesn't stand a chance...
I've seen people grow anything from Orchids to succulents of all kinds in this stuff - both hydro and S/H.
The only thing that can be a bit tricky is fertilization but it's usually not too hard to get it right.
Those plants in the center back do have a "weird" shape to them which catches your eye. Pretty cool plants, Sally!!! I would not have thought they would do so well in s/h. VERY interesting :) Where do you get your s/h material for growing??
I am sure you could find some in your neck of the woods. Even if it cost a little more for a bag you would save some money. Now my area is a different story. I am lucky to find perlite and poor Sister Lynn mailed me a bag of vermiculite because I couldn't find any here. That's pretty sad lol.
Oh, I know how that is. I grew up in a village of 250 in the middle of the country. I always had to spend a fortune and jump through all kinds of hoops just to get a small bag of Perlite, let alone Vermiculite...
The thing is, though, that I wouldn't be surprised if I had to go forty miles plus into the suburbs to get anything like that. Out there are the larger and the specialty nurseries.
I have used the primeagra for years. I have about 100 plants in it including succulents and cactus. I had grown the AV's in the primeagra for a number of years then I ended up getting a divorce. I stopped growing the AV's for a few years and have just started up again. It is actually the only way I can grow AV's and most plants as I tend to over mother everything and kill them. You can really overwater with the primeagra which is great for me. Now I have the bug again and I am up to over 20 AV's and counting. I had promised myself I would only get a few. Like potato chips. lol
Yes, I water well, fill my bowls that are under them since I mostly use reg. violet pots and they do great. No worries.
If you start, just do a few at first. I was SO afraid they would die! But I really had no choice, made it easier to decide, ha. I never bag but SallyO bags, you might try that also. I am actually shocked at how easy it has been.
Sally when you prepare your plants to go into s/h, do you clean the roots real well or just rinse the roots off? I am trying to figure out what you do that I don't. I really rough up the roots trying to get rid of as much dirt as possible. Thanks. Sally
Yes, I clean them pretty well but a little soil left is not a problem. I just potted up four more. One was potted a week ago and it has GROWN! They love it! I need to get pictures of them while they are little to compare later with dates/measurements.
It is so simple, amazing. I am not saying I never lose any. I just lost one from being too wet in the special container. I dont like the containers made for the pellets. I like using the regular violet pots. I don't keep them really wet with the water high in the little bowl below unless we leave town. They get to be less wet usually. I like to go in every couple of days and give them a little bit of water on the roots and then it drains off to the bottom. They like that. I have very few that die now.
Orchids do fine in the special container. Also, my chiritas are fine. Just the violets. Maybe just coincidence.
Beautiful Sallyblooms! I just ordered 9 more AV's and think I know what I was doing wrong with the transfer to s/h. I was being too rough with the roots. I was really working the dirt off. I was much more gentle and left dirt on if it was attached and they seem to be doing much better. So on that note, I ordered 5 more AV's. Out of control for sure. lol. Love it.
Just wanted to let you know I finally broke down last week and got a small bag of hydroton. After letting it sit on my table for a week, I just now got done putting my first plant into it - Frozen in Time. I hope it was ok to leave a little of the soil mixed in the roots (I did rinse and scrub as much off as I could) . . . oh, yeah, I left some roots . . . hope that was ok too. We shall see.
I don't take all of the soil out, impossible on some plants. Yes, leave all roots. If it looks sad, cover in plastic. I have had good luck not having to, but it helps people to cover in plastic sometimes.
Good luck! Don't over water. I love it, no soil spilling.
Several of us are experimenting with clay rocks.Have you ever grown Gesneriads that need less water,like Primulina and Streps or Hoyas. in these rocks? I saw some Cacti and Succulents in the pictures above.Does everybody just water from the top and let a little water sit in the bottom of of the tray or do you need to water some plants differently? Do you use anything for PH?
A lot of cacti and other succulents grow on almost humus free, pure mineral substrates in nature. A lot of them are difficult or impossible to keep alive in your average mixes but throw the same plants into "pop-clay" and suddenly, they become pretty easy growers.
"Desert Roses" (Adenium) can be notoriously difficult to keep alive because their roots are very prone to rot in regular mix and that's why they used to be sold almost exclusively pruned onto Oleander (Nerium). However, if you give them s/h, they thrive almost instantly.
The same is true for a lot of the truly root-fussy Aizoaceae and Stapeliads.
The list goes on and on...
Well, and with Gesneriads, it's no surprise that the ones that plants like Violets thrive in s/h as they grow in rock crevices with not much humus in nature.
I probably wouldn't put a Kohleria or an Achimenes on s/h, as they really like a somewhat heavier, humus rich mix but anything like Petrocosmea, Saintpaulia, the alpine genera like Ramonda, (at least some) Sinningia, Primulina/Chirita, Episcia, epiphytes like Nematanthus, Codonanthe or Aeschynanthus should do well.
I prefer to grow Gesneriads in mix but that's just a personal thing. I have grown succulents in s/h in the past and if I were to grow them again, it would be in s/h.