Erosion can bring success or break down houseplants | Duluth News Tribune

The right clay soil makes the difference between a struggling plant and a healthy rich plant. The term “pot soil” is misleading because there is no longer any soil in the mix for indoor plants. The best outdoor garden soil is limited to fast, hard-packed, easily watered and oxygen-rich houseplants.

Prior to today’s soil-free clay mix, indoor growers used one-third of their own garden soil, sand, and organic matter as peas or manure. There are many recipes for cleaning the mixture in the oven or microwave, as the rooms often contain weeds and pathogens.

If I had lived in dusty days, I would say that life is better now. Quality clay mixtures are readily available in garden centers, and are a great improvement over homemade mixtures.

Today’s ceramics are scientifically supported. A.D. In the 1960s, gardeners from Cornell University studied the necessary drainage and ventilation systems, with support and nutrition. Their study yielded pet-based clay mixtures that we use today.

What makes a good clay pot? Such a mixture retains the right amount of moisture and makes it flow more easily. It should be drilled for root ventilation, oxygen exchange and good drainage, but it should also maintain proper moisture and nutrients. Indoor plant roots are entirely dependent on the mix we offer, as they are limited to pots and cannot find suitable soil.

Today’s clay blends include ingredients such as peas, peas, coconut, vermiculite, and perlite. Slow-release fertilizers are added to many mixes, as most of these soil-free parts provide good ventilation and create a well-drained environment, but have no natural nutrients.

Universal clay mixes are good for almost all houseplants. Some plants, however, require adaptive combinations such as substitutes, cactus and orchids to meet their specific needs and can be found in locally owned gardens.

Garden centers sell special blends such as orchids.  Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Garden centers sell special blends such as orchids. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Is there a difference in the clay mixture? for sure! Indoor plants can grow in the same mixture for years, so this is not a place to record. The cheapest clay mixtures often feel heavy in the bag and lack the nutrients needed for successful indoor growth. High quality blends are light and well-ventilated.

Domestic-owned garden centers often stock up on successful producer-type blends with national pottery mixes. Most high-quality mixtures are very dry in the bag, so rinse with water one day before use and stir to disperse. The mixture is lighter, easier to use, and more moisturizing than used dry. Pre-wetting is an important step.

When planting houseplants, make sure you fill the pot with enough mixture, leaving only half an inch of head space, which is the depth from the clay mixture to the edge of the pot. When I see sick plants, I have often seen a very deep head area, which contributes to dry soil, reduces airflow in the soil and provides a small amount of soil for root growth.

Studies have shown that in the past, pottery has a better drainage than indoor plants that do not have stone floor or gravel cover. The pebbles create a layer of change, which creates a physical property that effectively hinders the flow of water intended to be developed. Fill the pot with the finest clay mixture from top to bottom for best drainage. When quality clay mixes are used, coffee filters, diapers, or other filter materials are not needed to cover the drains.

Clay mixes can be easily attacked by fungal mosquitoes, annoying, small and black flies flying around houseplants. Adult flies lay their eggs in the soil, hatching into larvae, which in turn become adult, creating an endless cycle. Mosquito bites are a product of fungal mosquito control. The grains are sprayed into the soil and contain beneficial bacteria that kill fungal mosquito larvae, disrupting the life cycle of mosquitoes.

Mosquito bites control annoying small black flies.  Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Mosquito bites control annoying small black flies. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is a horticultural gardener with North Dakota State University, Lex County Extension. Readers can donate to

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