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Main Banana Discussion This is where we discuss our banana collections; tips on growing bananas, tips on harvesting bananas, sharing our banana photos and stories.


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Old 07-13-2020, 09:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Soil drainage question

I recently got 4 banana pups (Musa Basjoo). I originally potted them with Miracle Gro because that's what the guy who sold them to me said to use. I noticed the soil stayed wet for many days after watering even when they were out in the sun, so I figured it wasn't draining well. One died, likely from root rot, so I repotted them all with 50% Fox Farms soil and 50% perlite, also in smaller pots than they were in (about 1 gallon). I noticed when I water them now water still isn't draining out of the bottom. Is that a problem? Maybe the soil is packed too tightly? It seems to dry out still after a couple days but I thought with all the perlite it would drain better. The plants haven't looked too happy or grown much since I got them about three weeks ago so I'm wondering what's wrong.
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Old 07-13-2020, 10:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

What I did for my smaller tissue culture bananas is to make sure drainage holes were adequate. Many of the smaller plastic pots I was using had smaller holes. I drilled them out to make sure they were good size. Then used a layer of pea gravel on the bottom. For soil I started out with cactus soil since itís fast draining. It can get expensive when you start getting larger plants so I started making a mixture of 50% miracle grow, 25% peat, 25% perlite. Many of my original plants were about 6 inch TC plants and worked well for me. Donít use the moisture control potting soils as they will hold way too much moisture and will rot your plants. There are some good posts with good soil mixtures using the search too.
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Old 07-14-2020, 08:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

How big are the plants/what size pots are they in? When you water them, does water sit on top of the soil surface for a long time, or does it drain off the surface rapidly and then return with continued watering? When you repotted them did you remove the miracle grow mix and replace it with the fox farms/perlite mix?
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Old 07-14-2020, 08:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

Sorry, just noticed they are in 1 gallon pots. Pictures might be helpful. you might also consider potting them up. I have been told, with good results, by other members that bigger pots decrease the likelihood of overwatering/waterlogging.
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Old 07-14-2020, 09:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

Quote:
Originally Posted by sirdoofus View Post
How big are the plants/what size pots are they in? When you water them, does water sit on top of the soil surface for a long time, or does it drain off the surface rapidly and then return with continued watering? When you repotted them did you remove the miracle grow mix and replace it with the fox farms/perlite mix?
Plants are about 6-8". They are in 1 gallon pots, and I had originally put them in pots that were about 4 gallons. My understanding was that smaller pots would actually help with drainage, and I did lose one to rot with the bigger pots (albeit with the miracle gro soil).

When I water it drains off the surface pretty quickly, not sitting on top. And yes when I repotted I replaced it entirely with the new mix.

Last edited by DingoBongo : 07-14-2020 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 07-14-2020, 10:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

When they're real small like that I like to go with smaller pots until they get bigger and really develop a good root system. Think I started mine in 8" pots and have had them outside since middle of May. I just repotted mine a few weeks ago. They're all about 3 feet now and have them in 5 gallon containers now. Sounds like you did well with replacing the soil and if they drain quickly after watering soil mixture sounds pretty good. I did them in smaller containers as larger ones seemed to retain moisture longer. As they have gotten larger that has definitely not been the problem! Very thirsty now for sure. I'm definitely not an expert just letting you know what has worked for me so far. If you can post some pictures I'm sure some of the more seasoned members can give you some great tips as well.
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Old 07-14-2020, 10:55 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

Quote:
Originally Posted by DingoBongo View Post
When I water it drains off the surface pretty quickly, not sitting on top. And yes when I repotted I replaced it entirely with the new mix.
That sounds like good draining soil to me, but if the water isn't coming out of the bottom, then nexmp76's advice about drainage holes would apply. If it were me at this point I would just make sure the pots also drain well and then let them mostly dry out between watering and see how they do.

Bigger pots with poor draining soil could be a problem, the caveat with bigger pots is the soil needs to drain well.

Just curiously, when you pulled the plants out to re-pot, did the roots look OK? they should be white and plump looking, not grey, black or mushy/slimy.
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Old 07-14-2020, 11:11 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

The drainage holes are pretty large, like half an inch, and there are quite a few. It's interesting that the soil absorbs the water quickly but it doesn't seem to move all the way through quickly. That said, it feels pretty dry in the bottom three days after watering now so I think we're ok.

When I repotted I would say they looked ok, not great. Pretty small. I think another problem is the sun shock they got at first, but I found a good location now where they get some morning sun but mostly in shade the rest of the day.
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Old 07-15-2020, 03:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

That's encouraging. I did have mine in a partial shade area for a couple of weeks or so to adjust then moved them to a sunnier spot when it looked like they were starting to grow. Good luck hope they start growing for you soon.
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Old 07-15-2020, 04:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

Thank you, I hope so too! I've been obsessing and worrying that they were going to die.
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Old 07-16-2020, 06:10 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Smile Re: Soil drainage question

Quote:
Originally Posted by DingoBongo View Post
The drainage holes are pretty large, like half an inch, and there are quite a few. It's interesting that the soil absorbs the water quickly but it doesn't seem to move all the way through quickly. That said, it feels pretty dry in the bottom three days after watering now so I think we're ok.

When I repotted I would say they looked ok, not great. Pretty small. I think another problem is the sun shock they got at first, but I found a good location now where they get some morning sun but mostly in shade the rest of the day.
This is an observation which could help.
Many times water flows to the edge of the soil in the container and out of the holes on the bottom of the pot giving you the false impression you have watered the plant enough or the roots are so dense water does not reach the bottom roots and pools on top of the soilless mix.

I will put a large saucer under some of my water hungry plants to water upwards towards the roots thus keeping the container evenly moist.

Many commercial nurseries use capillary irrigation mats to water from the bottom which is a great way to water plants.


Here is a photo of where I think I have watered enough but as you can see the water has not fully saturated the soilless mix.


Double click on the photo to see more pics of roots and stuff which could help

.
soilless mix

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Old 07-17-2020, 10:57 AM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

I don't know if this is helpful to anyone, but I thought I would post a link (sorry, couldn't post it directly to the site) to a quick video demonstrating what I consider a fast draining potting mix.

https://youtu.be/o4YHqyQHSqw
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Old 07-17-2020, 06:07 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Smile Re: Soil drainage question

Quote:
Originally Posted by sirdoofus View Post
I don't know if this is helpful to anyone, but I thought I would post a link (sorry, couldn't post it directly to the site) to a quick video demonstrating what I consider a fast draining potting mix.

https://youtu.be/o4YHqyQHSqw
The fella is using two pots stacked in a larger container.....Practical?

I do say pick and choose what works for you

Great YouTube find.

Last edited by cincinnana : 07-18-2020 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 07-17-2020, 06:22 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

Single pot with llooooonnnng drip irrigation running around and around and around sitting on the surface;-)
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Old 07-18-2020, 06:28 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

If they are only 6 inches tall I’d still have them in 12 cm pots for now. Using pots that are too big can make it really difficult to stop rot as some of the wet soil won’t be close to roots for a long time
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Old 07-19-2020, 09:56 AM   #16 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

I've seen this watering issue with my potted plants as well. I usually water a pot twice - that gives the top layer of soil some time to 'expand' and allow the second watering to soak in more. This may not matter if root density is the actual problem - I never thought of that!

I also plant some pots directly in the ground which might help things some. I wonder if poking holes down into the soil with a stick would be helpful.


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Old 07-21-2020, 11:46 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Soil drainage question

I never use 'miracle grow' anything, I prefer to mix my own. They sell low quality fertilizer (in my opinion) that is mostly inert (useless) filler, so I never trust any of their products, especially on my orchids. Because of that, I don't think I could advise someone that uses it. Good luck, though.
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