Oops perennial soil mixture

Spring City, TN

OK, so I made my own "soil" and potted up 30 ornamental grasses and coneflowers so they have another year growing before they get in the ground, easier to maintain them potted and closer to the house, etc..... Only my printed notes on the proportions got wet in the first 30 seconds and I could read it so I didn't need to come back into the house and look at my computer...

Oh, no. I should have come back into the house and looked at my computer.

Instead of 5-1-1:
5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sp. peat moss
1 part perlite

I mixed 5-5-1.....

Help... how bad is it to have that much spaghum peat moss in the soil mix? Should I water more or less? Should I repot ALL of them with a better mxture (please say no, please say no!)


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

When peat moss is wet, it holds a lot of water. When peat moss gets dry, it is hard to re-wet. Which is why I prefer coconut coir.

If it were me, I would either be very careful not to over water them in the pots, or I would start over.

Spring City, TN

Thanks, Honeybee. Always wondered do you get the coconut coir locally or have to order it?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I buy coconut coir online from Worms Way. You might find it cheaper elsewhere, but I've read that some of it is full of salt. What I buy is by "Sunleaves" and I've never had a problem with it being too salty.

If you purchase coir, be sure to rehydrate it with HOT water. For some reason, cold water never quite makes it rehydrate!

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

I checked out the Worms Way site and the coir is definitely cheaper than the site I usually use (Gardener's Supply Company) but when I put in the shipping I had to gasp. If I double the order for coir bricks (10 pack x 2) they almost triple the shipping price! So in the end I am better off with the Gardener's Supply Coir bricks with which I have been most satisfied for the last few years. They are now selling a new brick which I can't speak to but it looks fine:

I think buying the larger 5k brick is the better deal at Worm's Way because Gardeners Supply doesn't appear to offer it. I am having trouble equating the smaller bricks with the larger one. I think 7-8 small 650 bricks equals one 5k brick. But my local hydroponics store sells the 5k for about $18 with tax so it all seems to come out the same in the end. Shipping has to be really killing some of these Internet sites!

Do you buy the smaller or the large brick usually?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)


Do you buy the smaller or the large brick usually?

I purchase both sizes. The smaller bricks I use with a homemade potting mix to start seedlings indoors under lights. The larger ones I use outdoors in raised beds mixed with whatever else I have on hand.

The smaller ones dehydrate much easier than the larger ones.

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

I notice that there are two different kinds of coir - one coarser than the other and offered in both the small and the large 5k brick. I am interested in the finer and can understand that that would dehydrate faster than the coarser. But I am a little confused why one brick would dehydrate faster than the other if it is the same composition. If I combine 6 small bricks it should be the same as the larger one. Do you buy the finer or the coarser? I use mine in coir bags and my Earthboxes as well as mixing it with compost for starting seeds.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

gardadore - when I purchase coir from Worm's Way I order "Classic Coir" which is the finer kind.


I don't know why the larger brick is harder to rehydrate than the smaller ones, but that has been my experience.

This is my seed starting recipe, It drains well, so I don't have a problem with overwatering seedlings.

1 brick classic coir soaked in 4qts hot water makes a little over one gallon
1 gallon worm castings, keep bag closed after each use to prevent drying
2 gallons coarse perlite
1 gallon vermiculite
2 tablespoons bone meal with iron
teaspoon trace elements
4 tablespoons dolomite lime
cup soil moist
cup Numus
1 cup crab shell
1 tablespoon phosphate

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

Like your recipe but what is Numus? In fact I see I have copied it from another forum.

I use all your ingredients in mine except the Numus and Crab shell. Tend toward the Perlite although I have some vermiculite I could use. If I remember correctly you grow your seedlings on in this rather than transplanting into a better soil.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Numus is a concentrated form of compost.


I start seeds in the recipe, and then transplant directly to the garden after hardening off for a few days on the covered porch.

Although garden compost is wonderful stuff, I don't use it in a potting mix because I feel it has way too many pathogens that could cause damping off.

I always sprinkle a very light coating of vermiculite across the top of the soil in which I've sown seeds to avoid damping off.

Also, I dampen the soil before sowing seeds. After that I only water from the bottom.

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

Thanks, good advice especially about not using your own compost. I buy the Fafard brand and mix it with the coir and worm castings. Like the idea of putting the vermiculite on top of the soil to prevent damping off - hadn't thought of that! I like Aggrand products for liquid fertilizers. Sounds like you have this all down to a science!!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

gardadore - thank you :) My recipe has evolved over the past twelve years. I actually started with a similar recipe when I grew African violets for resale. They are such Divas! If the soil is not just "right" they drop dead!

Be cautious when adding vermiculite on top of the seedlings - if the layer is too deep, the seeds don't sprout. Don't know why, but that has been my experience.. Just a very light sprinkle is all that's needed.

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

Will note that, thanks!

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