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Properties of alternative growth media

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Aug 31, 2020
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***notice: if a thread on this exists and I somehow overlooked it, feel free to delete this and point me in the right direction***


I've seen the issue of sphagnum and peat sustainability pop up quite frequently, but I haven't seen a centralized list of alternatives and pros/cons of their use. Once my garden gets a bit more established I'd be willing to run experiments to see which species do well in various soils. I'm also willing to do experiments without plants right away. Any ideas?

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Certainly a good place to start. When things slow down a bit I'll fill some containers with the individual soil components listed in that cpuk thread. I'm slightly limited in my current test setup, but TDS and PH measurements over time would be a good place to start. I could also do some agar cultures to see what microscopic beasties are common, and compare that to the mix I currently have. I figure there'll be some regional variations. A long term goal is to get a gel electrophoresis setup going too, but that is still maybe 6 months to a year off. Optical microscopes and dead reckoning will do for now. Feel free to mention any avenues for testing I've left out.

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To add an update . . . I've been growing Cape Sundews (Drosera x 'Hercules') in a mix of ground Coco Coir and Perlite for about a year. I gave away the smaller plants but the one I kept has grown big.

So, Drosera x 'Hercules' does not need peat or sphagnum moss to live and thrive. With those results, I imagine other Sundews don't need it either and would grow fine on Coco Coir.
 
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Gadzooks

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Has anyone tried hydrogel? I have been rooting Nep cuttings in water retaining hydrogel with some success. Some gel crystal varieties do contain fertilizers so you have to be selective. I think it also outlasts other potting media because it will not rot. I have rooted a N. Ventrata cutting and have been growing in the gel for a year. It even started to put out pitchers prior to a visit from thrips. The plant is now on the rebound following systemic granules. I intend to run the experiment until the plant declines and then will shift over to a more favorable media.
 
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For what it is worth - my understanding of the argument against coir is that it often contains salt. Perhaps some sources do and some don't?
I've heard that too, but also that it depends on how far inland the processing facility is, so it may vary widely by brand. Also salts can be flushed out.
 

bluemax

Lotsa blue
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I've heard that too, but also that it depends on how far inland the processing facility is, so it may vary widely by brand. Also salts can be flushed out.
'Seems reasonable. I have seen from personal experience, with non-cp plants, that it is more durable than peat and also seems to breath better. I would welcome it as an alternative.
 
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For what it is worth - my understanding of the argument against coir is that it often contains salt. Perhaps some sources do and some don't?
I believe this is outdated information that has been passed around for a while. I imagine that when coco coir was first on the market, it was not washed as thoroughly as it is now. All of the coir I've used has resulted in good results for a variety of plants. I've used it with carnivorous plants in the past, but not in such a pure form as I recently used it. I'd also imagine that higher quality would have better purity. I often use coco coir meant for starting seeds or for reptile/amphibian bedding, with the thought that for such sensitive young plants and animals, the coir would be washed salt free.
 
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