Is anyone using watersorb cyrstals in their MG pots?

Mesilla Park, NM

I ordered 15 lbs in the co-op and want to make sure they stay moist during our days away from home, but was wondering if anyone here has used them.

Thanks for any information you can provide regarding this...

A.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Light-bulb moment...so glad I saw this A!!! Didn't think about using them for the MG but what a great idea!!! I throw them in with my EE's and Cannas...but I'm sure the MG's will thank me profusely if I did the same for them!!! You're amazing!!!

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)


I'm going to use them too! sounds like a great idea in our climate!

Mesilla Park, NM

ooh, I've never used them.. so I'm a little scared.. I guess I need to put a few in a bucket to see how they react.. Thank you.. You're pretty amazing yourself..

A.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Yes I would advise anyone who hasn't used them before to hydrate FIRST then add the hydrated crystals to soil. You will me amazed at how little it takes. I added both water and MG's starter fert to mine last year...everything I used it on did well.

Whitsett, NC(Zone 8a)

I bought some in the co-op last year, but never really used them except for some smelly-jelly. But, this past weekend, I did soak up some crystals . . . 1/3 cup crystals per gallon works . . . and mixed them halfway down on a morning glory pot, and the same on a tomato pot.

Definitely what Chantell said, though - hydrate FIRST! I didn't do that last year when I repotted a plant cutting, and when the soil got wet, it was like something was alive in the soil, it piled up so high!

Mesilla Park, NM

Yeah, I heard that the pots burst too. I'll wet some tonight just to take a look at what they look like and how much space they take up. I will definitely use them in the raised beds this year, they dry up really fast with the heat here.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

I had wondered about them a few months ago, but someone told me (here locally) that they used them and they got mildewy and contributed to fungus. I wasn't sure what to think when I was told that, so figured it might not be a good idea afterall.

Does anyone have any experience using them? It would sure be nice for my pots because of the hot climate here as well. I am hoping someone here will speak up and tell us how well they worked for you.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)


I did use water retaining crystals last year in some of my pots (I had about a one pound jar of them and used half). They were great for me--kept the containers moist when I forgot to water during the dry spells. I grew salvias, zinnias, tithonia and various other annuals with it in pots.

I mixed some Watersorb crystals from the co-op into my Wintersowing containers this past month in the hopes that the crystals would keep the planting mix moist this spring when they weather warms up. The crystals do swell up a lot and there are little mounds of jelly around the surface of my wintersowing boxes. Be careful if you do that. I did not measure and maybe I should have. I didn't think I used much though! There is the chance that the constantly moist planting mix may rot some of the seeds, but I'll take that chance.

In the FLA sultry climate I can see how the constantly moist planting mix might provide a hospitable environment for molds and mildews. I would think in TX not so much.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

I did use them last year...I was pleased with them as I tend to forget to water those that need it more...ugh!! Again...it's very important to hydrant first so you have an idea of how much you're adding to your soil. I don't recall any problems except when I put too much in a pot or two and when we got a good rain well...the soil became volcano like...LOL

Mesilla Park, NM

I bet the humidity has something to do with the problems in FL and the watersorb crystals.

I still have not tried some, now that I put in some mint into pots I'm going to use a little and see what happens. So you are supposed to wet them first, then mix them in the soil, or just lay them on top?

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

NOOOOO (LOL)...don't lay them on top. :) Put a small bit in a bowl/bucket whatever you choose - add water - wait...add more...continue till they won't absorb any more. This can be an hour. Then take THOSE and mix into your soil. I always mixed it w/the soil that was at level with the roots. I'm sure there's an easier way to explain this...hopefully my goofy explanation makes sense.

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

You can save yourself lots of money by buying Always mini pads. They have the water absorbing crystals in them. Just throw a few into a bucket of water and in an hour or so they will look like sausages. Just cut one end off and squeeze!

Disposable diapers contain them too and I've been told that you can line hanging baskets with them for water retention.

Definitely hydrate them before you incorporate it into your soil.

X

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

X - Oh my! I was wondering about that ... mini pads and disposable diapers. Heck, a whole box of diapers would probably be pretty cheap for all the crystals that you would get?

Okay ... so you add water, add them to soil, and they help hydrate the soil/plants. So what happens when they dry up? Do you add more water to the soil in the hopes that they will refill or what?

Whitsett, NC(Zone 8a)

becky - that's exactly what you do. After you mix the the water absorbed crystals into the soil, water the plant as you usually would. Watering the plant will enable not only the soil to get moistened, it will rehydrate the crystals.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Nichole - Alrighty then! Thanks! I may try this in a trial plant container to see how it does. If it doesn't mildew or get moldy, it would sure be a great way to keep my plants hydrated in the summer. It gets unbelievably hot. My plants sometimes need to be watered twice a day! That would sure be helpful not to have to water them so much.

Mesilla Park, NM

X, that is great info, I have at least a dozen hanging baskets that could use lining, they dry out so fast.

One more question regarding the cyrstals..... when they dehydrate, do they dry up and become crystals again, or do they decompose? or what? or rehydrate when you wet them again.

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Since they are polymers I doubt they disintegrate/deconstruct rapidly. I've wondered though, at what point will they start removing water from the soil .. that could be a problem unless you are diligent in keeping the ground moist.

X

Mesilla Park, NM

Yes, one lady said that her chickens loved eating it. So it makes me wonder if it dries up, and if it does, then what? I certainly will try to keep all the raised bed wet and want to add this into all the raised beds, we have veggies in all of them, maybe some bulbs for color, so I' may have to take th bulbs out so they don't rott, or avoid that bed. (mostly garlic and asparagus in that one bed) and some 2 dozen asiatic lillies (don't ask) I bought too many and they were all sprouting in the box about 5 inches already so I had to put them somewhere quick.

Netcong, NJ(Zone 5b)

X - You mentioned

"at what point will they start removing water from the soil "

Thanks for posing such a valuable and relevant question(!)

Ron

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

My (liminted) experience - last year being my first with MG's was that the crystals simply allowed an extra few days of time between waterings. That said I still couldn't go for an extended period b/c as noted above that would defeat the purpose of using them i.e. they would then go ISO of moisture.

Mesilla Park, NM

I may let a couple dry out just to see what is left.. the bucket is nice and icy looking. On their site they did say that Hollywood has used alot of these in their movie productions where someone has to sit in ice in a bathtub, they use these instead of ice. (And the actors love it)..lol

Whitsett, NC(Zone 8a)

All I know about the crystals themselves, is as they dry out, they go back to their original state - until they are watered again. But, I wouldn't think they would take any moisture from the soil - it's the soil that will take moisture from the crystals. That's what I've heard, anyway.

Manassas, VA

I've experimented with some of these crystals, and they will go through numerous wet-dry cycles without any apparent degradation or problems. They start out as hard crystals, swell up to little chunks of jelly-like substance, and then, if allowed to dry out, go back to being tiny little crystals again. They rehydrate just fine, and I never noticed any issues with sending them through many cycles. The only question I would really have about them would be in regards to their change in volume as they gain and lose moisture. Yes, you're supposed to saturate them and let them grow until they won't take on any more water before mixing them into the soil, so they start out in their largest, fully-expanded state, but they lose a LOT of volume when they dry out again, and I imagine that among all the crystals in a pot of soil, this would contribute to some amount of movement over time.

All that said, I've had no problems yet with the potted morning glories that have crystals mixed in with their soil. I didn't really use a "full batch" though - just some that I had been playing with (maybe a cup's worth, fully expanded), and decided to chuck them in the potting mix as I was preparing it.

Mesilla Park, NM

I'm really ready to try them out too, hurry up Spring.!!

Mesilla Park, NM

Just checked on the wet crystals and they dried up in three days, they are the same size before they got wet..

HENDERSON, NV(Zone 9a)

When they shrink back to original size, what happens to the large hole in the soil that they filled when engorged?? Would that not make a big pocket of air the plants roots may have a problem with?? I wanted to try these for years but was nervous~ Gourd~ I responded to your other post about these as well.
fernman23

Mesilla Park, NM

Well, what i think happens is that you hydrate them first... incorporate them into the soil and water again, now after the initial first watering, those crystals basically stay hydrated, but if you cannot water, they will keep your plants alive for a couple of days, till you can water... (I think that is how it works) but i'm not sure, basically, I'm winging it.

I forgot to say that also, when it rains (each lb of crystals can absorb a certain number of gallons of water) and it serves like a storage of sorts too.

This message was edited Mar 16, 2008 2:02 PM

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

THAT'S a perfect way to describe it A!!! "Storage units" Did you see the new "thingie" I found at Walmart for MG's in my yard?

Thumbnail by Chantell
Whitsett, NC(Zone 8a)

Chantell - I bought one of those "thingies" at Walmart, too!

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

We can be the testers...LOL Hey, anything that will allow me to choose where to plant the MG's makes me a happy camper. Heck...I can put this smack dab in the middle of my front yard if I wanted to...LOL

Mesilla Park, NM

ooh, chantell, I like those.. I've got to go back to town tomorrow and I'll see if I can pick at least one up.

I make some really neat SHORT trellis looking things with wire hangers, I keep all the MG vines really short so that I can reach them to hand pollinate... they keep going in circular motion and really fill up well, when they bloom the flowers are all in a row.. when i make the next one, I'll post a photo of it.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

OH A...please do...I'm always lookin' for ideas esp. with my limited space. If you can't find any out there and you want me to pick up and ship...just let me know - ok?

Mesilla Park, NM

Oh, these unfortunately do take up top space, I make them into rings and tie the rings onto poles, they almost look like tomato cages. I make them that way to get good air circulation in there . Thank you for the offer ... you are a sweetheart..

HENDERSON, NV(Zone 9a)

wow, cool idea~! I just wanted to toss in some update info on the watere crystals.....I missed a day of watering (LLATE for work) and when i got home they plants were nowhere near as wilted as I was worried about all day! It was anormal typical scorcher as well, well into the hundreds; weather that would normally have made the leaevs droop seriously and some crisp but the damage was not there. now about location locations, locations, I just found an old baby crib made of a dark reddish wood and it'll be my next vinescape!
Cheers, Gourd!!!
:Darren

Thumbnail by fernman23
Mesilla Park, NM

Hey Darren, those pink purpureas are really tough too, all of the purps are I think.. looking good!!

Save the other side of that crib (the ends) I saw a neat back of the bench made with one.. I'll try to take a photo of one.. they look great.. you could probably still sit on the bench too, it has a really high back and the vines could still use it too..

Great Idea there.. good to hear about your plants too.. we just got a ton of rain in the last few days, so I'm very grateful here for that. I found this bamboo headboard that now has a morning glory all over it..

TTYL.
A.

Thumbnail by Gourd
HENDERSON, NV(Zone 9a)

OH, NOW THAT BAMBOO IS SWEEEEEET! I LOVE BAMBOO!
Wish the crib parts were, lol....unfortunately the ends were already scavenged, just the longer sides were left for me to grab, but, it is a beauty any how! Can't wait to see flowers on it thisis fall when my babies start going in profusion again. Right now there are only a couple of blooms a day due to the heat, and today we are getting a monsoon day here, it smells great out, w/ thunder and lightning last night to go to sleep to. It's been half a year since heard that sound. I missed it so!
:D

West Warren, MA

Thanks all, I 'forgot' to put my crystals in my new plantings!!
Will poke a hole with a pencil and try to get some to the bottom of pots!!

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Wouldn't a similar effec take place if you used some sort of moisture retaining natural product such as worm castings?

Mesilla Park, NM

ooh, you should see the bags of water crystals I 've got sitting here...

Joseph, today is the day for me to soak 500 seeds... gotta tell you, though, I not looking forward to the work involved in watering them.

Next week, another 500 so we'll see what comes up this year!

I used to raise worms in a couple of bins in CA.. till it got so hot they all dried up and I gave up, but I did use the castings in my veggie gardens.

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