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BellaOnline's Container Gardening Editor

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Potting Soil Specialized Recipes

Guest Author - Jessica Carson

If plants growing in the ground don't receive all the water or nutrients they need they can send their roots out farther than normal in search. Container garden plants don't have that luxury. We have to give them all they need in their potting soil and the water and nutrients added throughout the season. For many plants, a good-quality generic potting soil will do. However, certain plant types have specific needs and they will flourish only if those needs are addressed.

For container gardening always start with a good-quality potting soil. Not all potting soils are created equal. Be sure yours is made with well-composted ingredients and holds water while at the same time proves good drainage. If you have a type or brand of potting soil you like you can use it as a base for the recipes below, or start with the basic potting soil recipe if you prefer to make your soils completely from scratch.

TOOLS/EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR ALL RECIPES
Wheelbarrow, large bin, or heavy plastic tarp in which to mix materials
Large trowel or small shovel for mixing
Bucket for measuring (size depends on amount of soil you make)

BASIC POTTING SOIL
2 buckets good-quality fine compost, any large sticks or clumps removed
(this should smell very fresh and earthy)
bucket fine coconut coir (substitute peat moss if you want an acidic potting soil)
bucket coarse sand (builders sand)
bucket perlite
Optional: add bucket vermiculite for added water retention

For every 5 gallons of mix add 1 cup of mineral powder (Calcium, Phosphorus and Potassium) and 2-3 Tbs of Kelp Meal. If you cannot find a good mineral powder, mix bone meal with a potash source such as greensand.

Mix well and store any unused portion in plastic bags or covered buckets. Do not allow to dry out! The beneficial organisms in the compost need moisture to survive. If your mix is getting dry, spray with a little water to keep the beneficial bacteria alive.

ACIDIC POTTING SOIL
This mix is excellent for Azaleas, Camellias, Rhododendron, Hydrangeas, Evergreens, Blueberries, Raspberries, Potatoes and Strawberries
2 parts potting soil mix
1 part coarse sand or perlite
1 part peat moss
part well composted manure

POTTING MIX FOR BULBS
Great for Daffodils, Glads, Dahlias, and all bulbs. Add a little lime to raise the pH for bulbs which prefer an alkaline soil, such as Bearded Iris.
2 parts potting soil mix
1 part coarse sand
1 part fine coir fiber
Bone meal (follow package directions according to quantity)

POTTING MIX FOR CACTUS AND SUCCULENTS
Great for all plants which require a well-drained, coarse soil.
2 parts potting soil mix
2 parts coarse sand
1 part perlite
For additional nutrients add:
Worm castings, 1 cup per 5 gallons of mix
Bone meal (follow package directions according to quantity)

POTTING MIX FOR ROSES
This mix is excellent for all types of roses. If you have a large bush or vigorous climber be sure to give extra feedings throughout the growing season.
2 parts potting soil mix
1 part well-composted manure
part good compost
part peat moss
1 part perlite
1 cup alfalfa meal and cup bone meal for every 5 gallons of soil, or according to package directions.

POTTING MIX FOR TERRESTRIAL ORCHIDS, BROMELIADS AND FERNS
This mix is great for Cymbidiums, Lady Slipper Orchids, Terrestrial Bromeliads, and Ferns.
1 part potting soil mix
part peat moss
part perlite
1 part coconut husk chips or medium orchid bark
optional:
part charcoal (approximately inch chunks)

SEED STARTING MIX
This mix works well in seed starting trays, six-packs, or peat/coir fiber pots.
1 part potting soil mix
1 part vermiculite

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ALL MIXES:
Mix all ingredients well and store any unused soil mixes in plastic bags or covered buckets. Do not allow to dry out! The beneficial organisms in the mix need moisture to survive. If your mix is getting dry, spray with a little water to keep the beneficial bacteria alive.

Gardener's Supply and Gardens Alive have good selections of supplies and soil amendments for your Container Gardening success:
Gardener's Supply Company


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Content copyright © 2013 by Jessica Carson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Jessica Carson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lestie Mulholland for details.

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