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Thread: Soil layering

  1. #1
    boomfiziks1's Avatar
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    This is perhaps a newbie question and I apologize if this is. From reading many of the posts, it seems as though many of you have very good luck with your neps. For me, 40 - 50% of the ones I receive make it. When I get a nep, I typically buy several and get them fairly young...expecting to lose some.

    I've tried following the soil mixtures that have been mentioned and sometimes try to compromise what has been suggested. I typically use orchid soil mix (by Schultz), long fibered sphagnum, coconut fibers (washed several times in distilled water), perlite, a little bit of volcanic rock, and peat moss. I put them all in a bucket, with the percentages that have been mentioned and mix them all together with some water. I then allow the mixture to sit for several hours to allow the water to absorb into the mix. I then put the mix into a large flower pot with some extra drainage holes drilled into it to allow water to pass through a little more easily. I carefully place the nep into the pot, trying to minimally disturb the roots, and gently pack the soil around the plant/roots.

    What I was wondering, do you layer the soil in any particular way or order or do you just mix them all together? I'd like to try to find a way to increase my survival rate.

  2. #2
    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    Layering medias that have a very different particle is generally a practice that is frowned upon in the horticulture community. There are of course exceptions to everything.

    Problems that can come up are extended perch layers, roots being confined, and some other water issues.

    A perch layer is the level of media in a pot that will remain almost perpetually wet due to the nature of water (adhesion, cohesion, and a large part due to capillary action.) For some plants, this is a no-no and roots will not grow in this area or will be prone to rot. In my experience, this isn't an overwhelming problem with neps (go ahead, ask me to prove it, I dare you. ) However, by layering you can inadvertantly raise the perch layer or create multiple of such layers. This can be a pain in the butt if your plant is sensitive to waterlogged condition (as Neps CAN be.)

    A similar thing can be created with air. Some roots don't like moving through air (though, once again, Neps have been fine in my experience.) So between water and air barriers, you can severely limit the amount of space that roots have to expand. This can make your life a lot harder because you'll need to get used to a precarious watering routine.

    Acceptable layers are things like a layer of shpagnum at the bottom of a pot to prevent loss of media through the drainage holes or a layer of live sphagnum on top for looks/humidity/whatever. But in general, you want a fairly homogenous mix.

    Afterall, how would you like to me running along and go through gravel, a puddle, a giant gap in the road, large rocks, a giant gap, another puddle...
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    Moderator Cindy's Avatar
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    boomfiziks1, I layer my media. Bottom and top with long fibre sphagnum. The middle is layers of perlite, cocochip/peat and sphagnum. Out of pure laziness. But my neps are perfectly fine with that. There was a discussion earlier...not sure if it's here or in another forum but a few growers were experimenting with layering and there is no harm to it...not conclusive if there is significant benefit though.
    Cindy

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    I start with a layer of packing peanuts or aliflor on the bottom of the pot and cover it with a very thin layer of loose coco fibers. The bottom of my largest Nep pot also has an upside-down, small plastic pot with extra holes to provide even more aeration. I fill the rest of a pot with LFS (very small pots) or a mix of LFS & sponge rock (most of the rest). I finish it by putting in a few plugs of live sphagnum taken from established pots. All my Neps are highlanders or intermediates, by the way, and I don't know if lowlanders would be as happy with the airy mixes I shoot for.

    By the way, even if it were a newbie question, there's no better place to ask it.
    Bruce in CT

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