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Container Grown Banana Plants This forum is for discussions about growing banana plants in containers.


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Old 07-12-2013, 02:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Perlite,sand etc.

So I have my pot purchased and 4 bags of miracle gro potting mix along with a bag of perlite. I have regular play sand available to put in the mix as well. Would it be a good idea to put about an inch or so layer of rock at the very bottom of the pot to assist with drainage or will the combination of potting mix, sand, and perlite be enough?
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Old 07-12-2013, 08:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Perlite,sand etc.

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Originally Posted by quendor91 View Post
So I have my pot purchased and 4 bags of miracle gro potting mix along with a bag of perlite. I have regular play sand available to put in the mix as well. Would it be a good idea to put about an inch or so layer of rock at the very bottom of the pot to assist with drainage or will the combination of potting mix, sand, and perlite be enough?
I would not add sand
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Old 07-12-2013, 11:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Perlite,sand etc.

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I would not add sand
No rocks at the bottom of the pot either right?
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Old 07-12-2013, 11:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Perlite,sand etc.

Do not put rocks on the bottom.


There is a widely popular idea that putting gravel in the bottom of container gardens and planters is good for drainage. This isn't true and in fact, putting gravel into the bottom of pots reduces the capacity of potting soil to drain.

The problem is that water (and keep in mind here that physics isn't my strong suit) flows through similar textures and when it hits a different texture, gravel for example, the flow stops and the water backs up into the soil.

According to Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, "gravitational water will not move from a finely soil texture into a coarser material until the finer soil is saturated. Since the stated goal for using coarse material in the bottoms of containers is to “keep soil from getting water logged,” it is ironic that adding this material will induce the very state it is intended to prevent.
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Perlite,sand etc.

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No rocks at the bottom of the pot either right?
I have read that but have never had a problem with them.
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Old 07-12-2013, 12:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Perlite,sand etc.

I did have problems with a lime tree and almost kill the tree. I knew it was retaining too much water but did not knew why. Re-potted with out any rocks on the bottom and the new grow was immediate and fast, no doubt the rocks were the problem. That was just my experience.
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Old 08-09-2013, 07:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Perlite,sand etc.

I think your mix will larger depend on where you live. I live in south Florida so we get lots of rain for 8 months out of the year. If I don't cut the potting soil with sand and perlite I end up with mush in the pot. The sand and perlite allow the water to pass thru the pot. My native soil here is a very sandy loam. The banana trees love it. Just throw them in the ground, make sure they stay moist until they take hold then look out. I have to be careful what I plant because it will take over the yard. So the short answer is experiment with some to see what works for the amount of water your plant will get.
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Perlite,sand etc.

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I did have problems with a lime tree and almost kill the tree. I knew it was retaining too much water but did not knew why. Re-potted with out any rocks on the bottom and the new grow was immediate and fast, no doubt the rocks were the problem. That was just my experience.
If you bought your bag of rocks at the big-box store, you may have purchased limestone. The only problem is, limestone has a high pH (it is basic / alkali). Citrus trees prefer a low (acidic) soil pH. Chemicals tend to build up in containers and the pH can build with them, so it would be no wonder your trees became sickly. Neither is it surprising that removing the rocks and replacing the rocks with a fresh layer of well-drained potting mix made your plants better.

I'm glad you found a cure.
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Old 08-13-2013, 10:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Perlite,sand etc.

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I have read that but have never had a problem with them.
You are likely using a rock that does not break down, like granite. When you soak granite in water, almost zero of it dissolves. This is not true of limestone. When you put limestone in water, it will keep dissolving until the pH of the water reaches equilibrium. Acid rain dissolves limestone faster than pure water. Of course, pine needles are extremely acidic. As the rain leeches through them, it quickly reacts with any limestone present. Considering the sinkholes, they ought to outlaw pine trees in Florida.

After you add your (granite) rocks, if a sufficient soil volume remains in the pot for the specific plant you want to grow, the rocks at the bottom won't make any difference at all. They're not helping anything, but they're not hurting anything either.

Back to the OP's question. The use of perlite depends on the plant you want to grow. Perlite is a neutral bulk material, like sand, but is much lighter in weight than sand. Like sand, perlite does not retain water except what little clings to the outside. In container gardening, sand tends to compress and stifle roots. Perlite does not compress like sand. If you are raising desert plants in pots, use lots of perlite in the mix. Bananas are NOT desert plants.

You may be tempted to use vermiculite instead. Like perlite, it is an inert material, but unlike perlite, vermiculite absorbs water. If the water has fertilizer dissolved in it, the vermiculite will absorb the fertilizer, too. Vermiculite is light enough to not crush delicate roots. Unless you're doing hydroponics, I'd wouldn't use more vermiculite than one third of the total soil volume. At the high end of 1/3 of the mix, I'd make sure at least another third was fresh, rich (but thoroughly composted) compost, and the other third was similarly nutrient dense. The vermiculite keeps the soil light so roots penetrate quickly and easily.

You only need perlite or vermiculite for container gardening or raised-bed, square-foot gardening. I would not use either one for bananas. Why? Bananas become top-heavy as they mature. Just as the light soil mixture makes it easy for roots to penetrate, it also make it easy for roots to pull free. Your banana may topple.

Use the regular Miracle-Gro straight. Instead of rocks, I use landscape fabric to keep the potting mix from falling out of the drainage holes in the bottom. There is no fertility remaining in Miracle-Gro potting mix after the 3-4 month timed-release stuff runs out. If you're container gardening, you'll have to fertilize regularly after that. But considering drainage, moisture retention, and not breaking down over time, I love it. In my experience, the moisture control stuff is not nearly as resistant to break down over time, and I stopped using it.

Wow. Look at that. I'm a blabberfingers.
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