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Under natural conditions, the root system of plants occupies a large space. In a pot culture, the plant is forced to develop its root system in a small soil volume. Therefore, this soil usually needs to be especially nutritious. One of the conditions for growing indoor plants is the ability to make the necessary soil mixture.
Green meadow where you can collect turf land.
It is enough to cut off the sod, and sift the accumulated soil from the roots of meadow plants.
Houseplants do not grow equally in alkaline or acidic soils. Some plants require slightly acidic soils; others prefer acidic soils; still others grow well on slightly alkaline, neutral or slightly acidic soils; the fourth only on alkaline soils.
There are plants that require large amounts of lime in the soil (heliotrope, calceolaria). On the contrary, an excess of lime acts extremely unfavorably on azaleas, heather, camellias. It should also be taken into account that for young plants, as a rule, a lighter soil mixture is prepared than for old ones.
What soil is needed for flowers
Soil mixtures must meet the following conditions: contain nutrients in quantities required by the plant; do not retain excess water; let air through to the roots; have the acidity required for a given plant; be disinfected from pests and pathogens.
To grow indoor plants, sod, leafy, dung-humus and peat soil are used, and you also need to have clean river sand, you may need moss (sphagnum) and bark and other components:
- Sod land from clay soils is classified as heavy soil; leafy, soddy from sandy loam soils and dung-humus - to the lungs. Sod land is very nutritious. It is obtained from the re-heating of cut layers of turf, piled up, grass to grass, with layers of cow dung. Usually one year is enough for the turf to melt (pH 5-6). Sod land is used in a mixture with other lands and sand. A light turf soil can be improved by adding clay to it, and a heavy one by adding sand.
- Leafy soil - the top layer of soil under deciduous trees: birch, linden, ash, beech. Very loose, breathable and permeable, but not very nutritious. This land is also obtained from the overheating of an old leaf gathered in a heap in autumn and spring (except for oak and chestnut), which is periodically shovel and watered with Baikal EM-1 preparations or analogs for faster fermentation. It takes 1-2 years to get leafy land. This land is not as nutritious as sod, but looser, lighter (pH 5-6). Leaf humus (soil) can be used neat for planting many indoor plants.
- Humus earth or compost - rich in nutrients, not used in its pure form. It turns out it and the waste greenhouse manure as a result of its decomposition within 2-3 years (pH about 8). We bought a car of manure, put it in storage in the garden, earthworms will work on it in three to four years, the excess nitrogen is eliminated, and humus can be used to compile soil.
The sand from the sandbox near the house is in no way suitable for flowers: it is fine, sticks together, and may contain impurities. River sand is crumbly, coarse, but it must be washed.
Pine bark can be cut from pine trees in the forest. The bark pieces are then boiled for 30 minutes. In this case, the resin settles on the sides of the pan, and the bark becomes soft and can be cut with a knife.
Zeolite granules can be purchased in cat litter, for example, "Pussy-cat" (blue bag), "Barsik-effect", "Barsik-standard", etc. Washed can be sieved from small crumbs.
- Peat soil, which is friable and lightweight, is used to improve other lands; it is easy to provide balanced mineral nutrition of plants on peat mixtures. It is obtained from peat that has decomposed for at least one year. Peat is taken from high-moor or dark transitional peat (pH 3.5-5.5), you should not take low-lying fine-structured peat (pH 6 or more). The quality of the selected peat depends on how good the soil mixture will be. Almost all peat-based substrates with mineral additives are on sale. High moor peat is immediately visible there - fibrous reddish pieces, lowland or transitional peat is dark and not fibrous. If there is a lot of high-moor peat in the soil mixture, it is very poorly and unevenly wetted after drying, if there is too much low-lying peat, on the contrary, it holds water for a long time and does not breathe well, therefore it is better,when the proportions of both types of peat are optimal, in approximately the same quantities. Ferns, aroids, philodendrons, etc. grow well in pure peat soil. Peat soil is good for sowing seeds and growing rooted cuttings.
- Coniferous soil is the lower layer of the litter of coniferous forests, it is better to collect it in a pine forest (you need to remove the upper layer of not rotted needles and collect the upper surface layer 5-10 cm). This land is loose, nutrient-poor and acidic (pH 4-5).
- The bark of conifers (pine, larch, spruce) is used as a baking powder in soil mixtures, as a basis for orchids, arrowroot, ferns, aroid and other plants. The bark is crushed into fractions of 1-1.5 cm (pH 4-4.5). In its pure form, the bark is used for planting orchids and some bromeliads. In this case, you can prepare the bark yourself - you need pieces of bark 2-4 cm in size, no less, you can up to 5 cm, about 2 cm thick, which need to be boiled in boiling water for at least 30 minutes to get rid of the resin (choose the bark without resin drips).
- Moss (sphagnum) gives the earth looseness, lightness and hygroscopicity. The moss is pre-dried and finely chopped - if you add uncut moss, it will gather into a lump and will not mix with the ground. Moss is also used to cover the trunks of plants that form aerial roots and to cover pots and soil to keep them from drying out. Moss is one of the main components of the soil mixture for epiphytic plants (pH about 4). The addition of sphagnum moss to the soil increases the moisture capacity of the substrate, if watering too often there is a high probability of acidification and waterlogging of the soil.
- River coarse sand imparts looseness and porosity to soil mixes. For use in soil mixtures, take the largest river sand, wash it well and pour boiling water over it. Particle sizes should be from 3 to 5 mm - this is actually pebbles, all grains of sand, which are smaller - we throw away.
- Coconut fiber and substrate is used in shredded form, in the form of fibers or briquettes. Coconut improves soil air permeability, does not rot. These fibers or substrate can be added to soil for ferns, bromeliads and terrestrial orchids up to 20%. Crushed into fine crumbs, dried and briquetted with the need for subsequent moistening, coconut fibers are sold as a substitute for peat, as they also retain water well. Coconut fiber and coconut substrate can have different acidity - there is a neutral reaction, there are slightly acidic and alkaline ones, read the information on the package.
- Fern roots are one of the main components of the substrate for epiphytic orchids. It is added in the amount of 30% of the total volume of the substrate. But it is almost impossible to get this component, so it is replaced with pine bark.
- Perlite is an elastic silica in the form of very light white or gray granules. Due to its small mass, perlite is most often used in ready-made potting mixes, instead of sand in the amount of 10-20%.
- Vermiculite is a mineral from the hydromica group. Vermiculite has a high coefficient of water absorption of 400-530%, while it easily absorbs water and gives it away easily. Use it instead of sand for forcing seeds or rooting cuttings. Cuttings rooted in vermiculite breathe with roots and do not rot like in the ground, because there are air spaces between the lumps and plates of wet vermiculite.
- Expanded clay is obtained from clay by firing in the form of balls with a porous structure ranging in size from 0.5 to 3 cm in diameter. Expanded clay very weakly retains water, therefore it is used mainly for drainage, or as an integral part of soil for growing in hydroponics.
- Zeolite granules are crystalline minerals that are used as cat litter. But they also found application in floriculture. They are an adsorbent, retain water, but at the same time the soil with the addition of zeolite chips does not stick together. Before using in soil substrates, it must be thoroughly rinsed in running water. Read more about this component of the substrate: Zeolite for plants
- Charcoal has antiseptic properties. It is added to the water where the cuttings take root. Charcoal prevents water from rotting, and charcoal crushed into powder can be added to a substrate intended for plants with thick roots (especially for orchids and cacti) to avoid rotting in case of waterlogged soil.
When compiling soil mixtures for indoor plants, its acidity must be taken into account. To increase the acidity of the soil, coniferous soil and pine bark, peat, sphagnum moss are used. Sod and leafy land in most cases has a slightly acidic or neutral reaction. If the soil is obtained with a very low acidity pH <5.5, then for planting some plants it is necessary to shift the indicator to the alkaline side, close to neutral, then liming is used. In other words, "the soil is deoxidized" - for garden plants, chalk, lime or ready-made preparations are used, for example, the deoxidizer "Lime - Gumi with boron" (consumption rate: 500 g per 2.5 sq. M of soil). Houseplants usually do not need to reduce acidity, but if the soil is composed of very acidic components,then add lime at the rate of about 10 g per bucket of earth.
You can easily check the acidity of the soil at home using a litmus test.
- Acidic soils (pH = 4.5 - 5.5) require, for example, azaleas, hydrangeas, calla lilies, camellia, monstera, rhododendron, fuchsia, anthurium, ferns.
- Slightly acidic soils (pH = 5.5 - 6.5) are needed, for example, asparagus, abutylene, amaryllis, aralia, begonia, calceolaria, pelargonium, primroses, tradescantia, elastica ficus.
- Neutral soils (pH = 6.5 - 7) require, for example, levkoy, rose, saxifrage, chrysanthemum, cineraria.
Corey sticks out of the drain pot, but very little, most likely they just reach for moisture, but there are not many of them inside the pot.
And here the roots have grown very strongly, coiled into a ring at the bottom of the pot, because drainage holes were small.
The green color indicates the optimum acidity of the soil, at which the absorption of nutrients from the soil occurs.
When preparing plants for transplanting, you must first determine its need. A transplant is used when:
- the earthen lump is completely braided and permeated with roots;
- the roots are rotten;
- the soil in the pot is acidic, although the earthy clod is not braided by roots;
- signs of a general weakness of the plant appeared, indicating the depletion of the land;
- the roots of the plant have made their way through the drain hole (as shown in the photo).
To clarify the need for transplanting, a heavily watered plant is knocked out of the pot. The plant with the right hand is overturned on the palm of the left hand, passing the stems between the fingers, and the pot is removed. If the pot won't come off, try tapping on it. If upon examination it turns out that the transplant is not needed, then the earthen lump is tightly put back into the pot.
How to transplant flowers
By the amount of land to be replaced, the following types of transplants are distinguished:
- Complete transplant - when all the old soil is removed, this is done when the land is completely unusable and has lost all nutrients.
- Incomplete transplant - when more or less of the earthen coma remains in the roots.
- Renewal of the top layer of the earth - when part of the land is replaced by humus soil, since during irrigation, nutrients are leached from the top layer.
Transferring plants is a technique close to transplanting, with the difference that a clod of earth should remain mostly intact, and the plant is transplanted into a larger pot. This technique is suitable for young herbaceous, fast-growing plants that cross several times during the spring-summer period. Transshipment, in contrast to full transplantation, does not slow down plant growth. In young plants, the formation of a felt-like layer of roots should not be allowed, but transshipment should be carried out when the roots have not yet filled the entire pot. Transfer also applies to plants that do not tolerate transplanting due to possible root damage.
Sometimes, when transplanting Dutch plants, you can see just such a basket, braiding the roots near the base (the plants were grown in greenhouses from seeds). Do not try to remove or cut it, otherwise you can damage the roots growing from it.
The transplant is usually carried out in the spring from March to May. Delicate plants are transplanted a little later. Plants blooming in spring are transplanted at the end of flowering. If you transplant a plant at the time of flowering or bud formation, then it can shed both flowers and buds. In the summer, after spring flowering, conifers are transplanted. Plants that were in warm rooms are transplanted later than those that were in cool ones. Bulbous plants are transplanted at the end of the dormant period.
When transplanting plants, after the plant has been removed from the pot, carefully clean the soil from the roots with your hands or a stick and unravel the intertwined roots, being careful not to damage them. The root felt is removed with a sharp knife. Also remove all rotten roots, if any. The cuts of the thick, juicy roots are sprinkled with crushed charcoal to prevent decay.
Even if the pot has good holes, drainage won't hurt.
At the bottom of the pot, good drainage is arranged: one or more shards are placed on the drain hole, hump up, expanded clay 2-3 cm in height, and pieces of foam plastic can also be used as drainage. Good drainage has not prevented any plant, even if it says somewhere that the plant does not need drainage, do not be lazy and still drain it. On top of the drainage, earth is poured into which pieces of charcoal are added, and the plant is lowered so that the root collar is at the level of the edges of the dishes or slightly lower, but is not covered with earth.
The gaps between the pot and the roots are covered with earth, which is pushed through with a stick. Tapping lightly on the side of the pot also helps the soil to fit more tightly into the pot.
When transplanting a plant with thick or slightly branched roots, it is not recommended to prune them, since such roots do not tolerate pruning and damage well. Acacias, some conifers, orchids, bulbs and many other plants with a weak root system do not tolerate root pruning. Plants such as cyclamen, calathea or spathiphyllum also require careful handling when transplanting.
The entire transplant procedure must not be stretched for a long time, since the roots of the plant removed from the pot quickly dry out and become injured. In general, it is better to prepare for transplanting in advance - choose the right tool, pick up and process pots, water for watering, charcoal, drainage, sticks for tying plants, a root formation stimulator, a spoon for adding earth, scissors, etc., i.e. everything that may be needed not to rush around the apartment during the transplant process, when all hands are in the ground.
Plants should not be transplanted in hot weather. When transplanting, plants are well watered and sprayed. But in the following days (a week or two), watering is limited. (After transplantation, cacti are not watered for 6-7 days at all.) In addition, after transplantation, the plant is shaded and protected from drafts.
If rotten roots are found during transplantation, then they are removed with a knife, the old earth is thoroughly shaken off from the roots, the roots are washed with water. The cuts are sprinkled with charcoal and the plant is planted in fresh soil. If most of the roots are removed, then the plant is transplanted into a smaller pot. Such plants, which had rotten roots, are watered especially carefully after transplanting.
Review article "Soil for plants"