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SilverDragon

Homemade palm soil recipes?

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SilverDragon

I want to move away from the horrible miracle grow soil and start making my own soil mix. Does anyone have any recipes that work for them? I was thinking using a mix of perlite, Coco choir, and sand, but I don't know what would make up the organic base. Any tip are appreciated.

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Mr. Coconut Palm

I make my own potting soil out of the Hapi Gro (I think that's the name of it, but not at home right now to look at the bag) 100% Organic Compost from Lowe's, mixed with the Topspil from Lowe's in the red and white bag, and sand out of my backyard from fresh gopher mounds.  I mix it at a rate of 5 handfuls of the compost to 4 handfuls of the topsoil to 7 or 8 handfuls of the sand.  This seems to work great for all my palms and other tropical plants as well.  And I went ALL ORGANIC with everything I grow as of seven and a half years ago, and my palms and other tropicals are doing much better than they ever were with all the synthetic chemical fertilizers and synthetic chemical pesticides!  And they are more cold hardy and more drought tolerant when you go ALL ORGANIC!!!  Trust me, I have a degree in Agriculture, 35 years of horticulture experience, and over 15 years of landscaping experience!

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SilverDragon
1 minute ago, Mr. Coconut Palm said:

I make my own potting soil out of the Hapi Gro (I think that's the name of it, but not at home right now to look at the bag) 100% Organic Compost from Lowe's, mixed with the Topspil from Lowe's in the red and white bag, and sand out of my backyard from fresh gopher mounds.  I mix it at a rate of 5 handfuls of the compost to 4 handfuls of the topsoil to 7 or 8 handfuls of the sand.  This seems to work great for all my palms and other tropical plants as well.  And I went ALL ORGANIC with everything I grow as of seven and a half years ago, and my palms and other tropicals are doing much better than they ever were with all the synthetic chemical fertilizers and synthetic chemical pesticides!  And they are more cold hardy and more drought tolerant when you go ALL ORGANIC!!!  Trust me, I have a degree in Agriculture, 35 years of horticulture experience, and over 15 years of landscaping experience!

What size grade would you say the sand from your gopher mounds is?

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Mr. Coconut Palm
10 minutes ago, SilverDragon said:

What size grade would you say the sand from your gopher mounds is?

The same as the beach sand here.  If you are familiar with the South Central Texas Coast (Coastal Bend area), east side of Corpus Christi to be specific in Flour Bluff, then you know our sand here is pretty fine, but probably not as fine as the sand in Clearwater or St. Petersburg Beach, Florida.

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SilverDragon
Just now, Mr. Coconut Palm said:

The same as the beach sand here.  If you are familiar with the South Central Texas Coast (Coastal Bend area), east side of Corpus Christi to be specific in Flour Bluff, then you know our sand here is pretty fine, but probably not as fine as the sand in Clearwater or St. Petersburg Beach, Florida.

Well I live in NE Ohio and I only have access to pre-packaged sand, not natural stuff, so would play sand work?

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Silas_Sancona
39 minutes ago, SilverDragon said:

Well I live in NE Ohio and I only have access to pre-packaged sand, not natural stuff, so would play sand work?

:greenthumb: Coir is a great alternative to peat.. also like using small amounts of Mushroom / good compost also for certain things.  If you use sand, find the largest particle size possible ( ie: something like chicken grit, course river sand, perhaps decomp granite fines, if available there ) avoid sand thats really fine. Small garined sand can cause more issues than it might solve ( can compact, cause too much water to sit in the mix thus poor air circulation. )  With some exceptions for certain things, I myself try to keep the amount of sand, of any size, in my mixes on the lower side in comparison to other ingerdients i also use.  

Would also look into Pumice over Perlite, if available up where you are.. and Turface, a branded form of Calcined Clay.  Both ingretients are less  likely to wash up out of the soil mix compared to Perlite ( horrible stuff, no matter what anyone says.. ), and make the soil mix nice and chunky which improves the amount of oxygen that can circulate thru it.  Many others have used stuff like bark chips in their mixes also with great results. 

 

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zoli
44 minutes ago, Silas_Sancona said:

:greenthumb: Coir is a great alternative to peat.. also like using small amounts of Mushroom / good compost also for certain things.  If you use sand, find the largest particle size possible ( ie: something like chicken grit, course river sand, perhaps decomp granite fines, if available there ) avoid sand thats really fine. Small garined sand can cause more issues than it might solve ( can compact, cause too much water to sit in the mix thus poor air circulation. )  With some exceptions for certain things, I myself try to keep the amount of sand, of any size, in my mixes on the lower side in comparison to other ingerdients i also use.  

Would also look into Pumice over Perlite, if available up where you are.. and Turface, a branded form of Calcined Clay.  Both ingretients are less  likely to wash up out of the soil mix compared to Perlite ( horrible stuff, no matter what anyone says.. ), and make the soil mix nice and chunky which improves the amount of oxygen that can circulate thru it.  Many others have used stuff like bark chips in their mixes also with great results. 

 

I second the Turface, though it is a bit on the expensive side. The same goes for bark chips, which I use. They're great for soil aeration and have excellent water retention capabilities without sacrificing drainage.

I use 1/4" pine bark chips, but fir bark will also do in a pinch. If you're growing in pots and especially indoors, organic soil-based stuff can be problematic. From fungus to insects and everything in between. A good fertilization program can substitute a lot of the benefits of organic soils. It's from perfect, but given your growing conditions, that's what I would recommend.

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Allen

20% palm/cactus miracle grow soil (Lowes/HD)

20% Fine Pine bark (Soil conditioner found at Lowes)

20% coarse perlite (Amazon)

10% peat moss (Anywhere)

30% Turface MVP  (Or pumice (ebay) or perlite)

pinch dolomite lime

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OC2Texaspalmlvr
10 hours ago, zoli said:

I second the Turface, though it is a bit on the expensive side. The same goes for bark chips, which I use. They're great for soil aeration and have excellent water retention capabilities without sacrificing drainage.

I use 1/4" pine bark chips, but fir bark will also do in a pinch. If you're growing in pots and especially indoors, organic soil-based stuff can be problematic. From fungus to insects and everything in between. A good fertilization program can substitute a lot of the benefits of organic soils. It's from perfect, but given your growing conditions, that's what I would recommend.

Im using turface mvp @50% with plain ol garden soil. I found turface at a local irrigation shop for way cheaper then perlite at the BB stores so im happy with that and so is my palms. 

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Merlyn2220

I had mediocre results with my initial "no-knowledge" mix, some of them loved it but others just sat there and didn't grow at all.  That mix was about 50% Miracle Gro "Moisture Control" potting mix, 25% coarse sand, 25% perlite.  The Moisture Control version of MG was a lot better than their regular green bag potting soil, it didn't compact down into sludge after a few weeks.  However, this was great on things like bananas and swampy-loving palms or ones that like staying wet 24/7.  It did NOT work well for any of the drought-tolerant types and was marginal for pretty much everything else.  This is partially because we get torrential downpours on a daily basis, so there's no way to easily keep my seedlings from getting drowned every afternoon.  If I had a greenhouse where I could control the water, then even a heavy mix might work fine.  So what I'm using now is:

20% red-white bag "topsoil" from Lowe's (which appears to be mostly finely shredded tree bark)

30-50% perlite (from the big bags at HD)

20% local sandy soil from my backyard

Remainder expanded clay pebbles (Amazon), chicken grit (Tractor Supply), expanded shale (Amazon)

Some people complain about perlite "rising to the top" or washing away, but I haven't seed that to be an issue.  For cycads and desert palms like Butia and Jubaea crosses I've been using more like 60% perlite (or more) to make sure they stay relatively dry.

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palmsOrl

I remember reading in a similar thread on here years ago that the common denominator for a successful palm soil mix is a substantial proportion of sand.  Therefore, I always try to mix at least 25% sand in my palm soil mixes and much more for certain species.

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Tom in Tucson
On 8/14/2019 at 7:27 PM, Silas_Sancona said:

:greenthumb: Coir is a great alternative to peat.. also like using small amounts of Mushroom / good compost also for certain things.  If you use sand, find the largest particle size possible ( ie: something like chicken grit, course river sand, perhaps decomp granite fines, if available there ) avoid sand thats really fine. Small garined sand can cause more issues than it might solve ( can compact, cause too much water to sit in the mix thus poor air circulation. )  With some exceptions for certain things, I myself try to keep the amount of sand, of any size, in my mixes on the lower side in comparison to other ingerdients i also use.  

Would also look into Pumice over Perlite, if available up where you are.. and Turface, a branded form of Calcined Clay.  Both ingretients are less  likely to wash up out of the soil mix compared to Perlite ( horrible stuff, no matter what anyone says.. ), and make the soil mix nice and chunky which improves the amount of oxygen that can circulate thru it.  Many others have used stuff like bark chips in their mixes also with great results. 

 

Coir is superior to peat in many ways such as wetting and moisture retention. Pumice is good for aeration, but can be hard to find and often needs to be sifted to remove the powder like portion.

Try to avoid perlite in any mix. The powder component is harmful if inhaled and it will always float in water. Good alternatives to pumice are:

synthetic pumice which is made from silica or glass

diatomaceous earth absorbent such as Napa floor dry

calcined clay such as Turface

I like to buy coir in ready to use form which is often called coco peat. Coir can be reused many times and mixes well with the aeration ingredients I mentioned above.

Hi 109˚, Lo 74˚

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Silas_Sancona
1 hour ago, Tom in Tucson said:

Coir is superior to peat in many ways such as wetting and moisture retention. Pumice is good for aeration, but can be hard to find and often needs to be sifted to remove the powder like portion.

Try to avoid perlite in any mix. The powder component is harmful if inhaled and it will always float in water. Good alternatives to pumice are:

synthetic pumice which is made from silica or glass

diatomaceous earth absorbent such as Napa floor dry

calcined clay such as Turface

I like to buy coir in ready to use form which is often called coco peat. Coir can be reused many times and mixes well with the aeration ingredients I mentioned above.

Hi 109˚, Lo 74˚

Agree w / you Tom,.. almost forgot about the Pumice alternative, aka Gro-Stones. Great stuff if you have access to it. Worked very well when i used it though some might find it to be a little chunkier than they might prefer. Easy to crush a little more if needed though..  Admit i've been trying to save / re-use as much of it as possible.  Not sure if i just luck out when i buy it but it's rare i see alot of dust in the bags of Pumice i buy. 

Coir peat is great also though, for me at least, have noticed it dries a bit too fast here thru the summer. Holds the right amount of moisture once the weather cools though.. 

  Years ago i used to use Jungle Growth as a base for my mix for what palms / other stuff that like more organics i were growing. Not sure why but it was apparently discontinued, or so it seems. Stuff was the best " soil " i have used ever. An added bonus,  ..no added fertilizer either to mess up getting Mycros going in the mix.. or burn roots. I personally avoid any bagged soil mixes with added chemical fert like the plague. On the lookout for something just as good as it was.  Lots of re potting lies ahead in my future:D

As for cost for specific ingredient stuff like Turface, Gro-stones, Coir /  Coir Peat, etc..  not something i worrry about much .. the results thus far have been worth every extra penny spent on quality ingredients.  

Edited by Silas_Sancona
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