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Thread: soil question

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    I was about to say that Steve, highly recommends coir for CPs, but mmlr beat me to it.
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    Not a Number points out John Brittnacher's observation that Sarracenia don't grow as well in coir as in sphagnum media, which matches my own observation stated above, although I do wonder whether John desalinated the coir before using it; if not, then that was probably a strong contributing factor in the outcome of his experiment.

    Coir works well as an alternative to sphagnum peat moss for some plants including Venus Flytraps, which grow better in a coir mix than a sphagnum peat mix, although the coir must be carefully desalinated first. To theoretical naysayers, I would simply say that facts are determined by application and observation, and that practical experience often trumps theory.
    Last edited by xscd; 07-12-2011 at 07:48 AM.
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    Your results are encouraging enough that further study is warranted. Size alone is not a complete indicator of growth trends. The Roberts paper cited above measured size, coloration, flowering and seed production. In some soils plants would grow larger than the control groups but not color as well or flower or produce viable seed. Why not do a study with much more controlled conditions and submit a paper to the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not a Number View Post
    Why not do a study with much more controlled conditions and submit a paper to the Carnivorous Plant Newsletter?
    Because I am already too busy and have little interest in doing so myself. That would be a very nice project, but for someone else.

    I'm merely reporting the encouraging results of my own experience so far with coir, to add to the public knowledge and discussion of the subject.
    Last edited by xscd; 07-12-2011 at 09:11 AM.
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    Then the question, if growth is better: Why? Vfts are adapted to peat bogs, not coconut bogs. Is the ph different? What about dissolved nitrates and other nutrients? There has to be an explanation, the results of which could improve the growing ability of everyone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by silenceisgod View Post
    Vfts are adapted to peat bogs ...
    Not necessarily. I believe Venus Flytraps are adapted to sandy soil with a relatively small amount of organic matter from various (usually non-sphagnum) plants. Sphagnum moss can and often does grow among or around Venus Flytraps, but Venus Flytraps don't often live in "sphagnum peat bogs," although they can sometimes survive or thrive nearby, perhaps at a slightly higher elevation at least a few inches above the prevailing water table.

    As mentioned in the very interesting study excerpted and quoted by Not a Number on the previous page of this discussion, Venus Flytraps can grow very well in just pure sand, if it can be kept moist enough without being saturated, which is a bit difficult to do. To me this fact also seems to call into question just how important acidic pH really is to Venus Flytraps, or rather how restricted a range of pH they require.

    Regarding coir, I personally have no firm idea, but just a few personal guesses (too inconclusive to share at this time), as to why the Venus Flytraps I have planted in a coir mix generally do better than those in a sphagnum peat moss mix when everything else in their growing conditions remains virtually identical.

    Once again, I'm just reporting and sharing my encouraging personal experience with coir for others to use if or when they want.
    Last edited by xscd; 07-12-2011 at 11:15 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by xscd View Post
    Not necessarily. I believe Venus Flytraps are adapted to sandy soil with a relatively small amount of organic matter from various (usually non-sphagnum) plants. Sphagnum moss can and often does grow among or around Venus Flytraps, but Venus Flytraps don't often live in "sphagnum peat bogs," although they can sometimes survive or thrive nearby, perhaps at a slightly higher elevation at least a few inches above the prevailing water table.

    As mentioned in the very interesting study excerpted and quoted by Not a Number on the previous page of this discussion, Venus Flytraps can grow very well in just pure sand, if it can be kept moist enough without being saturated, which is a bit difficult to do. To me this fact also seems to call into question just how important acidic pH really is to Venus Flytraps, or rather how restricted a range of pH they require.

    Regarding coir, I personally have no firm idea, but just a few personal guesses (too inconclusive to share at this time), as to why the Venus Flytraps I have planted in a coir mix generally do better than those in a sphagnum peat moss mix when everything else in their growing conditions remains virtually identical.

    Once again, I'm just reporting and sharing my encouraging personal experience with coir for others to use if or when they want.
    Steve I suspect the main reason why your coir is working well is because of its porosity. Peat is often already housing bacteria and they use up oxygen too. Peat tends to clump and this means that between this clumping and the highetr oxygen demands of the bacteria that the peat would be more oxygen deprived. Whereas your coir has plenty of exposure to air. Similar tests have been run in hydroponics where increased aeration simply makes a plant grow larger. I would even wager that lots of digesting of prey increases the plants need for oxygen and thus your coir may even be making them digest better, faster because of the better aeration as well.

    As for PH, I found that it is important. I've seen VFTs grow more slowly in high PH. But does the water in your coir filled pots really have a high PH? I grow my VFTs in PH that tends to be around 4.5-5.0. Higher than this seems to make them grow more sluggishly. But I don't usually try and keep it lower because I'm concerned that many nutrients in their water will be harder to absorb since this is the case for most plants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xscd View Post
    Not necessarily. I believe Venus Flytraps are adapted to sandy soil with a relatively small amount of organic matter from various (usually non-sphagnum) plants. Sphagnum moss can and often does grow among or around Venus Flytraps, but Venus Flytraps don't often live in "sphagnum peat bogs," although they can sometimes survive or thrive nearby, perhaps at a slightly higher elevation at least a few inches above the prevailing water table.
    The Roberts paper describes the NC zones composed of sandy soils with very small amounts of organic material. From 93-95% sand. Their study showed when on 3% slope the VFTs were found in a zone where the water level was at or just reaching the roots (bearing out the observation of many growers that VFTs don't like flooded pots). The majority of seedlings were found in sphagnum filled hollows with high water levels.

    The Luken study looking at populations along the Carolina Bay found the largest percentage of the populations to be growing in Sphagnum:

    Habitats of Dionaea muscipula (Venus' Fly Trap), Droseraceae, Associated with Carolina Bays
    James O. Luken
    Southeastern Naturalist, Vol. 4, No. 4 (2005), pp. 573-584
    Microhabitats
    The coverage of different microhabitats was as follows: hollows, 38%;
    hummocks, 33%; Sphagnum tenerum, 18%; and Sphagnum molle, 11%. Seedlings and adult plants of the Venus' fly trap showed different patterns of microhabitat distribution. Seedlings were overrrepresented on hollows, but were underrepresented on the other three microhabitats (Fig. 1). In contrast, adult plants of Venus' fly trap were overrepresented on both species of Sphagnum, but were underrepresented on hummocks and hollows (Fig. 1).

    Quote Originally Posted by xscd View Post
    As mentioned in the very interesting study excerpted and quoted by Not a Number on the previous page of this discussion, Venus Flytraps can grow very well in just pure sand, if it can be kept moist enough without being saturated, which is a bit difficult to do. To me this fact also seems to call into question just how important acidic pH really is to Venus Flytraps, or rather how restricted a range of pH they require.

    Regarding coir, I personally have no firm idea, but just a few personal guesses (too inconclusive to share at this time), as to why the Venus Flytraps I have planted in a coir mix generally do better than those in a sphagnum peat moss mix when everything else in their growing conditions remains virtually identical.

    Once again, I'm just reporting and sharing my encouraging personal experience with coir for others to use if or when they want.
    As quoted before from the Roberts paper "The soil is acid with a pH range of 3.9-4.5. Although Dionaea will survive in less acid soils, growth above pH 6.5 is poor." There are numerous references indicating VFTs do better in higher acidity most of it anecdotal.

    Take Dr. Samuel Vergio Miensinompe article Growing Cycle of Dionaea Muscipula in which he states:

    "This reddish color can also be affected by the PH of the soil. If the soil can not keep its acidity, because of alkaline influences introduced to the soil by ornamental rocks or the water itself, the red colored trap plants may loose their nice reddish color" (also observed in the Roberts paper).

    He also writes:

    "Many VFT growers suggest using coarsed sand such as silica sand as a soil mixture. By checking the PH of soil mixtures, I have recently become aware that silica sand, as well as many other sands that are sold for horticulture purposes, are not acidic but highly alkaline, and when mixed with peat moss can make the soil quite alkaline.

    By making such a mixture the plant may suffer the following symptoms: growing too green, not flowering, growing weak and small, growing traps which tend to die when feed, growing very slowly, dyeing when feed too much, plant stops growing and roots die. (observed by Roberts)

    Even when VFTs grow in silver sand, which is the soil they grow in the wild, such soil is still a bit alkaline by nature. The reason why VFTs grow in silver sand and the sand is acidic is not due to the sand itself but to the highly acidic PH of the water caused by the peat moss and other factors which dominate the PH of the environment. (The Roberts paper does not specify the source of acidity, but it would appear to be an attribute of the St. John's series soils underlying the sandy layers).

    Since in a pot, this environment is not possible, in order to maintain the soil mixture to the most acidic levels so that the plant can grow healthy and colorful, the medium for the plant should be only peat moss. A good peat moss also has a bit of bark in it which provides the plant with more than enough air for the root system to grow.

    If you live in Florida, then, you can be able to go to the back yard and pick up some silver sand, wash it very good, and use it in the mixture of peat. This is the only sand that I have seen that does not affects the PH of the soil in a significant manner, for it is the sand that VFTs naturally grow in. (again the Roberts paper found the plants primarily growing in soils 93-95% sand)

    Perlite, even though it is a bit alkaline, can be mixed, half and half, with peat moss, and the peat moss will dominate the soil's PH so that it will stay acidic."(In a panel discussion at the BACPS Jan 2009 meeting: Peter (D'Amato) warned that perlite changes over time and becomes too base. Venus flytraps, which have a 3.8 pH in nature, hate perlite.)

    -------------------

    As I recall one of the observations of the Roberts paper is that the looseness of the media plays a role in growth. Looser, less compact soil - better root growth - better overall growth. Coir does not compact as much as peat moss. Adding more sand to the peat moss may yield the same results as coir with less sand.

    Both the Roberts and Luken papers are available from JSTOR. Your public library should have a JSTOR account and can download them for you.
    Last edited by Not a Number; 07-14-2011 at 08:54 AM.
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