Table of contents:
- Benefits of adding zeolite to the substrate
- Where to get zeolite for plants
- What cat litter to use for flowers
- How to prepare zeolite for planting
- Method of using zeolite for plants
On the pages of iplants.ru, we have repeatedly mentioned such a component as zeolite in the composition of soils for indoor plants. Let's take a closer look at what it is.
Zeolites are a group of minerals, aqueous calcium and sodium aluminosilicates, capable of releasing and reabsorbing water depending on temperature and humidity. From physical properties, they are characterized by a glass or pearlescent luster. Zeolite is of natural origin - it is a product of volcanic lava and rock crushed by gas and steam, as well as ocean water. Zeolite has found a very wide application: it is used in household water filters, in cat litter, as well as in medicine and construction.
Benefits of adding zeolite to the substrate
- Zeolites are capable of ion and cation exchange, and therefore, when added to the composition of the soil for flowers, they contribute to the preservation of Mg2 +, Ca2 +, K + cations for 2-3 years.
- Zeolite contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, silicon in the form available to the plant.
- Zeolite granules, mixed with the soil, increase its porosity, prevent particles from sticking together (soil cementing), and, therefore, increase oxygen access to the roots. Due to the high drainage of the soil, better root formation is ensured.
- Zeolite in the composition of soil mixtures for cacti and succulents allows the structure of the soil to be as close as possible to the requirements of these plants.
- It regulates the moisture content of the soil, reduces the frequency of watering and prevents overdrying (to a certain extent).
- The acidity of zeolite is optimal for plants, pH 5.5-5.6.
Why not vermiculite and sand?
Of course, we used to do with other loosening agents, such as: coarse sand, fine gravel, fine expanded clay, broken red brick, agroperlite and vermiculite. But zeolite has advantages against them:
- river sand is too fine, particles less than 2 mm cement the soil, reduce root respiration, i.e. you need to sift it, select larger particles - in fact, small pebbles, 3-5 mm in size
- vermiculite is more moisture-absorbing, since it is very heterogeneous - there is a lot of dust, medium and large particles in one package, substrates based on it dry out longer, it is more expedient to use it only for sowing and picking seedlings, perlite and even worse - it is washed out over time to the soil surface
- broken brick is good, but requires preparation: chop, sift, and as a result, a lot of waste in the form of dust
- fine gravel is difficult and time consuming to collect and is heavier
- zeolite in fillers of the size we need, it remains only to rinse it - the least fuss
Coconut, peat and bark are components of a completely different purpose and cannot be compared with zeolite, but if you got a good, large, calibrated vermiculite (without dust), it is in no way worse than zeolite, perhaps only more expensive.
Where to get zeolite for plants
Zeolite for plants can be purchased as:
A ready-made component of the substrate, for example, ZeoFlora produces moisture-saving soil ZeoFlora, as a natural soil conditioner, a plant growth stimulator. Its advantage is that the zeolite, created on the basis of natural zeolites of the Khotynetsk deposit (Orlov zeolites), is already prepared for planting - the particle sizes are calibrated, there is no debris, impurities, dust. Price 2.5 kg for about 250 rubles (price 2016):
Filler for cat litter, for example, the most affordable and popular Barsik Standard and Barsik Effect. Their advantage in price - a 4.5 liter package costs about 70 rubles (price in Auchan in 2016). But the filler for toilets must be washed and the particle size in it can be from 1 mm to 5 mm:
Let's say right away that comparing zeolite granules, we give undoubted preference to Barsik! It will be discussed below.
What cat litter to use for flowers
The most common and inexpensive ones are Barsik Standard in green packaging and Barsik Effect in orange. Considering that there can be a lot of flowers at home, and the consumption of zeolite is 1 / 3-1 / 5 of the volume of soil, we may need more than one package, and in this regard, Barsik's efficiency is captivating.
But if not Barsik, then which one? Buy any cat litter that clearly says "zeolite is a natural volcanic mineral" and will not clump! There should be no more additives in the composition. But before you apply it, make sure to buy exactly what you need. Let's remember - the volcanic zeolite has luster, in a dry state it is covered with dust and shine is not visible, but it is worth rinsing it and the zeolite becomes similar to river stones, only sharp, faceted.
We need a volcanic zeolite that is not of oceanic origin (not marine) - it is insoluble in water. No matter how much you rub it under water, it does not get wet or dissolve. But there are similar fillers, for example, "White friend" - the marine filler is written, also non-clumping and light granules are painted on the package, but the word zeolite is absent, or oceanic zeolite is mentioned. Such fillers, upon closer inspection, look like small lumps of light clay, if you pour water in 2-10 minutes, most of them soak into porridge. Oceanic zeolite is not suitable for plants - it dissolves. Therefore, if the package says volcanic mineral rock zeolite, as well as the word "Oceanic" - do not buy it for plants. Not suitable for us and one where it is written: "zeolite clay - large granules."
Therefore, if you have any doubts, check any filler for solubility: fill with water, wait 5-10 minutes, rub in your palms. If the granules continue to prick their hands - great, if they are saponified, become smooth - they cannot be used for plants.
Zeolite analogues for plants
Aside from zeolite, you can also see box based cat litters. Opoka is an ancient sedimentary rock formed from the skeletal parts of organisms (diatoms, radiolarians and spicules of flint sponges). Example: filler "Siberian cat" effect, "Kuzya", etc. The flask is also practically insoluble in water, differs from zeolite in color - it is lighter and usually of a larger fraction. The flask filler also needs to be rinsed. The price is about the same as for Barsiki.
The Lechuza production line specializes in the manufacture of self-irrigated pots and landless substrates. They have two soil options: LECHUZA-PON, composed of: zeolite, refined pumice, volcanic rock + slow release fertilizers; Lechuza Terrapon (LECHUZA-TERRAPON), consisting of: organic humus and mineral components (pumice and expanded clay). These substrates are of high quality, their flower pots are simply gorgeous, but the price is very high: Lechuza Pon 25 l - 2622 rubles, Lechuza Terrapon - 15 l - 1560 rubles.
For comparison, for 1 liter of zeolite Lechuza Pon will cost you 105 rubles, and Barsik Standard - 15 rubles. For many, this difference is very significant, so we will continue the story about zeolite for plants from Barsik.
How to prepare zeolite for planting
Zeolite made from cat litter looks like normal chipped stones, only very dusty. It contains a lot of sand, small particles, the size of grains of sand - we don't need them. Therefore, the filler must be rinsed. Care is required here - the zeolite from the filler gets dusty when you pour it. You don't need to breathe this. To reduce spraying, take a large bowl or basin, fill with water, and pour the zeolite from the bag, tilting it as low as possible towards the water. At the same time, a cloud of dust still rises, and a hiss (small) is heard, but the dust cloud is much smaller than when you fill in a dry filler with water.
So, we poured zeolite into the water, and now we pour it into a colander. All particles that are smaller than the colander hole must be thrown away. It is practically cement dust. For the entire package of filler, with a volume of 2.5 liters of dusty fines, there will be a little, a maximum of half a glass. That is, there is not a lot of waste.
It is better to rinse the zeolite until it brightens, leaving glossy sharp-cut stones. Do not worry, the roots are not injured about them, we throw out the sand from washing.
Method of using zeolite for plants
Zeolite can and should be added to the earthen mixture for all indoor and garden plants, including for growing seedlings of vegetables, as part of a substrate for sowing seeds, can be added to containers or planting pits with fruit trees and shrubs. The only plants that do not need zeolite are epiphytes: orchids and bromeliads, which are grown not in a substrate, but in the bark or with an open root system (on a block). Terrestrial orchids and bromeliads grown in the ground (vriezia, echmea, etc.) should also be sure to add zeolite.
But the application rates depend on the type of plant, its needs for moisture and airiness of the soil. So, for succulents (Kalanchoe, aloe, adenium, stonecrop, etc.), as well as forest cacti (Decembrist), you need to add zeolite as part of 1/4 of the volume of the soil. For all other cacti, zeolite can be added in an amount of 1/3 of the volume of the soil. Indoor plants and flowers, as well as in the soil for seedlings of vegetables, zeolite should be added in an amount of 1/5 of the volume of the soil (pot).
Thus, if you plant monstera, dieffenbachia, dracaena, palm, ficuses, ferns, gardenia, pomegranate, lemon, croton and other popular indoor plants, then zeolite should be taken 20% and the remaining 80% is an earthen mixture, which can consist of turf or leafy soil (in varying proportions), garden soil or store soil.
Zeolite completely replaces such a loosening component as river sand (or small pebbles, gravel chips). But zeolite and earth do not always remain the only components of the substrate: in addition to them, coconut substrate, pine bark, humus can be added to the soil mixture.
For example, if you plant anthurium, then the soil mixture for it may have the following composition: 1 part of zeolite, 1 part of leaf humus (universal soil), 1 part of pine bark.
Also, the composition of the soil mixture depends on what kind of land will be the basis of the soil. So in shop soils, the composition is almost always the same: high-moor and low-moor peat in a mixture, sometimes only high moor peat. And the garden land can be sandy loam, loam, black earth or peat.
- If the base is sandy loam soil, we take 2 parts, you need to add a little zeolite, 1 part is enough, but be sure to add 1 part of leaf (or peat soil) and 1 part of humus.
- If the base is loam, we take 2 parts of it, you can add 1-2 parts of zeolite by volume (the more clay component in the ground, the more zeolite you add) and 1 part of leaf earth or coconut substrate.
- If the basis is peat soil, we take 2 parts, add zeolite in the amount of 1 part and 1 part of humus.