Soil for indoor plants
Experienced growers know that the growth and development of indoor plants depends on the correct soil. Each plant needs its own soil mixture, which is most suitable for its composition. For example, lemon, cypress and most palm species require slightly acidic and alkaline soils. Fern, camellia, rhododendron are ideal soils with a high level of acidity. Neutral soils are good for growing primrose, Kalanchoe, pelargonium, and rocky and sandy soils are suitable for cacti. A special potting mix is required for noble orchids. It contains charcoal, moss, tree bark and fern roots.
Each type of soil has its own base. For example, chernozem soils belong to neutral soils, peat soils to acidic, and clay-soddy to alkaline soils. The permeability of water and air to the roots of plants, and hence their development, and life in general, depends on the composition and density of the soil. With timely provision and saturation of the soil with the necessary fertilizers, it also provides plants with high-quality nutrition.
The composition of soil mixtures can include natural ingredients (for example, peat, sand, ash, humus, sawdust, needles, leaves, moss, etc.) and artificial (for example, expanded clay, perlite, hydrogel). For each type of plant it is necessary to select its own optimal soil composition.
Trading networks offer a large number of different types of soil mixtures, which differ in acidity, the presence of fertilizers and various leavening agents.
Peat soils can be of two types: some consist of high-moor peat, and others of low-lying peat.
Moss that grows in the upper reaches of the bogs, in the process of decomposition, turns into high moor peat. This type of peat soil has its own positive and negative properties. Good breathability and lightness, as well as the ability to absorb moisture and retain it. The latter property is at the same time a disadvantage, since prolonged retention of moisture in the soil can lead to rotting of the root of the plant. And if such a soil is overdried, then it will be rather difficult to wet and moisten it again. Another disadvantage is the low fertile qualities and the minimum amount of minerals in the soil composition.
Peat, which is mined from the swampy lowlands of lakes, rivers and swamps themselves, is heavier, but the content of mineral elements in it is very high. This type of soil is used only as an additive to soil mixtures, since in its pure form it is always too wet and dense. In such a soil, the roots of plants do not develop, but rot due to an excess of moisture and a lack of air.
Vermicompost is a product obtained during the processing of manure with the help of earthworms. Such soil is considered valuable for plants, because it contains a large number of effective microorganisms and useful natural substances. When composing a soil mixture at home, a small part of vermicompost can replace humus and enrich its composition.
Trading networks offer a wide range of soil mixes. For almost every plant, you can choose an individual substrate, but you can also compose it yourself. The main thing is that all the necessary components are at hand.
Do-it-yourself soil compilation
When growing indoor plants, a mixture of leaf and sod land is used as the main soil. It contains the rotted leaf part of many types of trees (for example, apple and nut, linden and maple, pear and elm).
This type of soil is used most often, as it has good water and air permeability, and also contains a huge amount of nutrients. You can find such soil in meadows, forests, or unused pastures for animals.
Such soil consists of a small amount of topsoil and rotted manure. This soil is light and loose, and also contains a large amount of nutrients. Many crops are able to develop and grow qualitatively on humus soil.
Such soil is considered a rarity, as it can only be obtained in places where conifers and evergreen heather shrubs grow. Dark gray heather soil mixed with white sand has a loose structure, good air and water permeability. Its composition can be compared with a mixture of sand (one part), leaf (two parts) and peat (four parts) soil. Heather soil is most favorable for growing rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.
This soil is often found in potting mix and is intended for many plants (for example, heather and orchids). Such soil is obtained in coniferous forests. Spruce, pine and fir needles, when decomposed, turn into loose and sour soil. When collecting coniferous soil, it is necessary to remove the top layer - it is still unsuitable for preparing soil mixtures and growing plants. You only need to use the second bottom layer.
Shredded and dried fern roots are a valuable nutrient for potting soil.
Some old parts of the sphagnum bog plant die off, fall off and eventually form high moor peat. Sphagnum harvesting is carried out in September - October. First, it is cleaned of large branches and other unnecessary components. Then it is crushed, dried thoroughly and steamed. Such preparation is necessary for soil disinfection. Harmful insects die, which means that there will be no danger for the growth and development of plants in the future. After the preventive measures taken, the moss is ready for use.
Moss is a component of many soil mixtures and makes them loose and able to maintain the necessary moisture for some time.
Flower shops offer different types of sand (coarse, medium and fine), but you can also collect it on the river bank. Prepare the sand before use. First, it is advisable to sift it, get rid of various debris and large stones and clean it well from dirt with clean water.
Almost all soil mixtures contain sand, as it makes the soil breathable, prevents it from compaction and caking, and allows water to pass through perfectly, although it does not contain any nutrients.
Potting mixes with such a sand additive are necessary for growing almost all types of palms and cacti.
Charcoal or ash
Coal and ash are used to disinfect plant roots and to heal cuts on branches and stems. This component prevents the formation of rot, as it is a natural antiseptic. The most commonly used charcoal is left over from burning aspen or birch branches.
Almost every soil mixture contains at least 5% of crushed charcoal. Coal increases the permeability of the soil and its friability. Charcoal blends are essential for growing cacti, orchids, and many other indoor plants.
Prevention when preparing components for the potting mix
When preparing components for the soil mixture, you have to collect the soil in different places: in the forest, in the meadow, in the field and on the river bank. Naturally, such a land contains a large number of various insects and their larvae, fungal spores that can cause fungal diseases. So that there are no problems in the future when growing plants, it is necessary to prepare such soil before use. It is recommended to carry out mandatory heat treatment in the form of steaming.
Choose a large container, pour a small layer of well-moistened sand (about 3-4 centimeters) on the bottom, and all the components of the future soil mixture on top. Put the container on a low heat for heating and steaming. When heated, wet sand will give off steam, which will gradually warm up the rest of the mixture. It will take about one hour to warm up a ten-liter container.
There is one significant drawback in such processing - it is one hundred percent death of beneficial microorganisms, which are vital for the growth and development of plants. No organic food can be absorbed by plants without them. It will take some time and patience to fix this problem. When at least 30 days have passed after planting an indoor flower, you can begin to populate the soil with new useful "residents"
The saturation of the soil with important microorganisms must be carried out gradually and try to maintain their number. Live microorganisms are found in many special preparations and organic feedings. Specialized shops for gardeners and florists offer for these purposes to use the means "Ecostyle", "Baikal", "Vostok EM-1" and "Vozrozhdenie".
As a disinfecting procedure for the soil, you can try freezing or processing with chemicals. Chemicals will kill all harmful bacteria and fungal spores and get rid of infectious diseases. And after freezing the soil, its structure even improves.
Composition of soil mixture for specific plants
- For cacti - leafy soil, peat (high moor) and 50% sand. There should be a minimum amount of nutrients, and water permeability is high.
- For orchids - tree bark, peat, sphagnum moss, charcoal. For different types and varieties of orchids, there is a slight difference in the composition of the potting mix. For example, peat is not included in the potting mix for growing tree varieties of orchids.
- For palms - sod and leafy land, peat (high moor) and river sand. The soil should be air permeable.
- For ferns - organic soil mixture with the obligatory addition of humus or vermicompost.
- For gardenias, acidic soil mixtures are suitable, which contain the same amount of leaf and coniferous soil, as well as river sand and high moor peat.
- For azaleas - the main one should be peat soil (horse) with a small amount of needles. A prerequisite is lightness, air and water permeability.
The acidity of the soil plays an important role in the development of plants. Growth, the abundance of flowering culture, its adaptability to life and the ability to resist pests and diseases depend on its level.
For some representatives of the flora, the soil needs poor and acidic, for others - fertile and saturated with a large number of effective microorganisms, with moderate or neutral acidity. For example, alkaline soil is necessary for plants growing on rocky mountain slopes, while slightly acidic soil is suitable for most plants.
Soil pH can be determined in two ways:
- Using a special litmus test
- With a soil meter
When buying ready-made substrates, acidity is determined by digital indicators on the packaging:
- pH over 8 - strongly alkaline
- pH 7 to 8 - alkaline
- pH 6 to 7 - neutral
- pH from 5 to 6 - slightly acidic
- pH from 4 to 5 - acidic
- pH from 3 to 4 - strongly acidic
The soil acidity meter will show more accurate data on the selected substrate, and litmus paper will show the result using a color indicator. A special color scale is available. It is necessary to place a litmus paper on the surface of a well-moistened soil and press firmly for a few seconds, and then check the result against the proposed scale. In the presence of slightly alkaline soil, the paper will turn blue, with neutral - light green or blue, with slightly acidic - yellow, with acidic - pink, with strongly acidic - red.
How to prepare the right plant substrate
# 7 How to prepare the right substrate for plants
Land for indoor plants: we prepare the soil ourselves
Before everyone who starts transplanting indoor plants, first of all, the question arises: buy ready-made soil in the store or prepare it yourself.
Purchased mix is fast. Soils, universal or specially formulated for individual crops, are produced from peat with the addition of macro- and microelements. An "average" set of fertilizers, more or less meeting the needs of most crops, is part of the universal soils - they are convenient if you have "every creature in pairs" on your windowsill. If the collection is dominated by representatives of one or more species or families, give preference to special soils, balanced taking into account the characteristics of these plants.
On the one hand, peat soil seems to be the easiest to use: bought, poured, planted - and you don't need to understand anything. But it is inexperienced growers who should think carefully before making such a choice. Peat is a very water-absorbing material. Drying, it loses in volume ("shrinks") and lags behind the walls of the pot.
In addition, dry peat is poorly wetted: water rolls over its surface without being absorbed. Late watering will have no effect until you can properly soak. Is it worth explaining how plants suffer in this case? Growing plants in such a substrate is the lot of disciplined owners who do everything on time and correctly.
An alternative is the preparation of earthen mixtures with your own hands. Such a land "forgives" some maintenance mistakes, as its characteristics are more reminiscent of natural soils. If you have had a lot of failures in growing houseplants, try making substrates for them from the materials at hand - it may be better that way.
Sod land.It takes two years to prepare such a land according to all the rules. In the spring or at the beginning of summer, sod is cut in forb meadows and fields, stacked in a pile and layered with manure. Before use, the soil is sieved and stored in closed plastic bags. In recipes for earthen mixtures for indoor plants, sod land can be replaced with a well-cultivated garden one.
Leafy land.Formed from semi-decomposed leaves of various tree species (preferably apple, ash, linden). After autumn leaf fall, the leaves of trees are collected, with the exception of oak, willow, poplar, chestnut, and composted with the addition of slaked lime.
Peat.For potted plants, factory-packaged peat can be used - it is usually ready-to-eat. Freshly prepared peat, which is brought to the sites by machines, must be stored until it acquires softness, flowability and a homogeneous structure. Only well-decomposed, weathered peat is suitable for substrates.
Humus.You can cook it yourself from fresh manure (horse, cow). It is folded into a wooden box or heap, covered with a dark film and allowed to refill for two years, after which it is sieved. High-quality humus should be loose, homogeneous - without lumps and a characteristic strong odor.
Sand.Well draining and permeable material. Provides air access to plant roots. Essential in almost all mixtures. It is recommended to use well washed river sand.
Coniferous bark. Crushed coniferous bark (pine, larch). It is removed from dead trees, then boiled in water and crushed. Used for growing orchids, ferns, epiphytic plants.
Coniferous land.The bottom layer of the litter of the coniferous forest (pine or fir). You can cook it yourself in the garden by composting coniferous litter in a separate container or wooden box, layering it through 15-20 cm with a mixture of peat and sand.
Sphagnum.Possesses aseptic properties, loosens the soil and retains moisture. Harvested in raised or transitional bogs in early autumn and dried outside living quarters. You can buy dry sphagnum at garden centers.
Fern roots.In late autumn, ferns are cut from the rhizomes (aspidium, bracken, osmunda, polypodium). Used when planting orchids.
Charcoal.Birch or Aspen Charcoal can be collected in an extinct fire. Ready-made charcoal is also suitable. It is crushed into pieces of about a centimeter and mixed in small quantities with potting mixes. Promotes looseness and water permeability of the soil, prevents soil acidification.
Horny flour, shavings, horny hoofed meal.Valuable slow-acting phosphorus fertilizer. Can be found on sale in flower shops and garden centers. It is added to earthen mixtures at the rate of 1 part to 30 parts of the earth.
Wood ash.Contains a lot of potassium, normalizes soil acidity. As an additive to soil, deciduous stove ash (sometimes sold in garden centers) is suitable. Added at the rate of 1 part to 50 parts of the earth.
Practical application of the hydrogel
The hydrogel is usually commercially available in the form of granules. They come in different sizes and colors, and the volume of packaging is different. Small granules are convenient for germinating seeds, larger ones are preferable for adding to the soil. The color of a substance does not affect its properties. Before use, the gel is soaked in water.
By absorbing moisture, it significantly increases in size: for a three-liter jar, two tablespoons of granules from a 100-gram package are enough from 8 to 10 liters of gel. Excess water can be drained by discarding the prepared composition in a colander.
Unused gel is stored for a long time in the refrigerator in a closed container. And if you leave it in an open container at room temperature, after the moisture evaporates, you will see that it crystallizes again.
If the hydrogel is planned to be used for germinating seeds, it should be taken into account that by itself it is an inert substance, it does not contain nutrients that plants need for development and growth. In this case, water-soluble fertilizers (for example, Kemir's complex mixture) or growth stimulants (for example, HB101) can be added to the soaking water.
Using the hydrogel, you can create wonderful decorative compositions from indoor plants. Any transparent vessel of an interesting shape, filled with colorless hydrogel granules or colored with food dyes, can in itself serve as an original decoration of the interior. And with a plant planted in this vessel, the composition takes on an absolutely fantastic look.
Specialized soil for indoor plants
Soil for cacti and succulents
The main requirements for this soil are permeability and nutrient poverty. Such soils contain a large amount of sand (about half), the rest can be high moor peat, leafy soil. For cacti, you can add a little more coarse sand to the purchased soil.
For a group of forest cacti, a universal high-moor peat-based soil is quite suitable.
Soil for orchids
Purchased soils for orchids usually contain several components - peat, sphagnum, coal, bark. The most confusion occurs with these substrates. There is no single soil for orchids, since there are groups of different habitats among them. For terrestrial orchids, purchased soil meets the requirements, but there are epiphytic orchids that live on trees, for them such soil is categorically not suitable. For this group, it is necessary to use only bark, sometimes sphagnum moss and coal, but in no case should peat be added. It is easier to buy separately the bark of the desired fraction and, after boiling, plant an orchid in it.
Soil for orchids with the addition of high-moor peat (1: 1) is optimal for anthuriums, philodendrons, monsters, bromeliads.
Soil for bromeliads
Such soils consist mainly of high-moor peat with the addition of leafy earth and sand. For more looseness, you can add small pieces of bark, chopped sphagnum, coniferous earth, and charcoal, or prepare it with orchid soil by adding about half of the universal high-peat soil.
Soil for palm trees
All palms love loose and breathable soil, they are suitable substrates based on high peat with the addition of sand, leaf and turf soil. As the palm grows, more and more sod land is added to the substrate.
Ferns naturally grow in very loose, moist, organic-rich soil. To draw up a mixture, you can add leaf humus or soil based on vermicompost (1: 1) to the soil for succulents (peat, sand and a low content of mineral fertilizers).
Soil for uzambara violets and other gesneria
For this group of plants, an acidic substrate based on high-moor peat is optimal. It is advisable to add a little sand or perlite, coniferous earth, coal, for greater moisture capacity and looseness, it is good to add chopped sphagnum.
It is advisable to add approximately equal parts of leafy soil (or humus soil) and coniferous soil to the purchased gardenia substrate, consisting of high-moor peat and sand. It is imperative to use only acidic mixtures.
Before planting seedlings or transplanting flowers, it is necessary to disinfect the soil for indoor plants. The fact is that the soil can contain seeds of weeds and other plants that we do not need. But it is even worse if the ground has been infected with fungus, microbes, mold spores, or insect larvae.
Preparing the soil for seedlings. Soft soil disinfection.
To a greater extent, disinfection refers to the soil harvested on its own. Purchased soil, in most cases, is already sterile and does not need to be processed.
Advantages of DIY flower primer
Self-made flower soil has several significant advantages. You yourself can add to it all those components that will be optimal for your flower garden. Soils for flowers, which are sold in stores, basically contain peat, which is diluted with useful minerals and trace elements.
Such soils are often called universal; they are suitable for almost any plant. But along with these advantages, store-bought peat soil for flowers also has an unpleasant feature - peat has a high moisture capacity and, with insufficient watering (or prolonged absence of it), it simply shrinks and dries up somewhat.
These processes provoke the detachment of the soil mixture from the walls of the flower pot, dried peat mixtures are very difficult to soak later, they do not absorb water and this has a very detrimental effect on flowers. That's why primer for indoor flowers it is better to cook it yourself.
Self-prepared soil for indoor flowers will not be so picky about some mistakes in caring for such vegetation. Also soil for indoor flowers, cooked independently, its composition is closer to natural and natural soils and therefore will be softer and more unpretentious to use.
On sale there is a different fraction of expanded clay. You can buy large, medium and small. Usually expanded clay is used for laying on the bottom, which gives good drainage in a pot with a plant. Very fine expanded clay can also be added to the soil.
In any case, purchasing a ready-made soil for indoor plants, whether it is a universal soil for indoor plants or a specific soil for flowers. It doesn't matter what kind of soil, ideally it is good to add a little charcoal. Sand, perlite or vermiculite. If the soil is universal or for a certain type of plant, you can add a little peat with neutral acidity. Or with a simple solution. In a specialized soil for a specific plant, you can always add a part of the universal earth. By mixing them with perlite or vermiculite.
After some time, after planting the plants, the soil may turn white or the top layer turns white. This may mean that soil acidification has begun. You added acidic soil for planting. Sometimes the soil starts to grow moldy - a common occurrence with poor drainage.
Not all plants love such acidic soils. And it happens that the soil is not acidic enough, and you need to know how to acidify the soil. Dolomite flour or slaked lime can be added as a deoxidizer. Wood ash also helps with soil acidity. You always need to have an apparatus for measuring acidity and soil fertility at hand.
Before planting plants, prepare the flower pot, substrates and fertilizers. Some plants prefer light soil, others prefer good soil, and still others want soil acidification. Always research the requirements for growing plants.
If desired and necessary, you can add fine expanded clay. The bottom should be covered with expanded clay and the plant is planted. The main thing is to love your hobby. Approach it creatively and with patience. Soil for indoor plants plays a major role and is the foundation for successful indoor floriculture. Good luck to you.