Making your own soilless mixes for your brugmansia and other garden plants can sure save you a lot of money. And with the economy the way it is, saving a dollar or two for some other needed item is worth striving for. Whether you need a mixture good for tomatoes or tulips, you can do it on yourself and always have it on hand.
Match Family To Soil Mixture
Cactus call for sandy, light soils, whereas brugmansia will enjoy a somewhat light soil that drains well. Seed starting uses another soil∼less mix. Bromeliads and orchids use another. Be sure when you are potting up your plants, that you use the proper soil for each type. I have seen a plant die because someone used a potting soil too rich or heavy for it, thinking that they were doing the plant a favor by giving it the 'extra good stuff.' Not so. Plants have developed over millions of years and over thattime, have become adapted to a specific soil type that is perfectly suited to their growing requirement.
Brugmansia Soil Mix
This is the Soil Mix I use with my Warm Group Brugmansia and Iochroma. They grow quite well, and I suffer no root rot with this concoction. The plant is well fed, anchored in the pine bark, and the mixture stays aerated well. When repotting, I have noticed that the brugmansia has really enjoyed being fed the pine bark. It breaks it down well, and seems to love wrapping it's onto (and into) it.
Thoroughly wet all except Osmocote the night before. Check it for moisture daily. This mix does not hold excessive water in the 'soil,' so the plants breathe through their roots much better and transpiration takes place faster.
Brugmansia cultivars such Culebra seem to like a little more sand in the mix than the bagged compost supplies, so if you have that one, add a cup to the below mix.
Peat has little to no real value to soilless mixes except as a lightening agent and place holder. It also dries out quickly. But it is essential to hold the plants in place, and keep the mixture oxygenated when flooded by watering. And peat is acidic, which is good for most plants. It is important to know peat has no nutritional value, so you understand why these things must be added, like bone and alfalfa meals, and a touch of lime. Osmocote will balance the whole thing out perfectly. You can replace peat with coir if you can find it. It is more sustainable than peat, and works just as well. Same deal though, nothing but a space holder, or soil lightener, so the other things are needed to balance out the mix and feed the plant's root system.
Soils and even soilless mixes tend to compact over time, a very bad thing for plants whose roots need oxygen and water exchange underneath the soil surface. Ligtening the mixture with things like peat, perlite, and humus can help lessen soil compaction. The pine bark will eventually break down, and become good humus and useable food for the roots. By that time, you will be ready to repot the plant anyway, receiving a new soilless mixture in which to grow and thrive.
If you live in a tropical or subtropical area, and are able to get your hands on dead, well rotted and termite free palm trunk and the coir that sometimes surrounds it, it is a fantastic addition to a soiless mix. If you have access to it, use it as previously mentioned in replacement of the peat.
Brugmansia and Iochroma Soil (less) Mix 1
- 5 gallons Pine bark nuggets, well chipped, not dust
- 3 gallons Humus or:
- *3 gallons well rotted Compost, minus sand, only organic material
- 1 gallon Loam
- 1 cups lava sand or clayey sand
- 1 gallon Perlite
- 1 & 1/2 gallon Peat, thoroughly moistened
- Handful lime
- 2 cup bonemeal
- 2 cup alfalfa meal or soybean meal
- 1 cup Osmocote Time Release Fertilizer
- *12 to 13 heaping tablespoons corn meal
- Rock Dust if available, 8 cups
- 2 cups bunny poo, dried and crushed (optional)
Here's a link on a tutorial I made up of how to do this easily, and save your back: Make a Brugmansia Soil Mix and Save your Spine
Seed Starting Mix
To start seeds, use a light an airy soil mix. Below is a simple soil (less) mixture that many gardeners use.
- 1/2 gallon peat, milled
- 1/2 gallon perlite or vermiculite
- 1 cup clayey sand
- *1/2 gallon well rotted compost or Humus
- 3 tablespoons Osmocote Time release fertilizer
Mix all together very well. Make sure to dampen the appropriate amount of soil mixture, in the pots, before adding the seeds.
Don't be afraid to use your own judgement. Make sure the mixture is light and airy, easy to lift with a shovel. A fluffy, light mixture when you place your hands in it, is what you are shooting for. Your brugmansia and seedlings will love you for it.
* Buy a very good compost, not the cheap bag of stuff. Or use some you have made yourself. The cheaper bags of compost are about 80 percent sand, so clog up the mix instead of aerate it. It should be loamy, with fine wood chips and bark, very dark, almost black, and just a little bit of sand. Even the more expensive compost Black Kow, has of late (early 2013) been nothng but cow manure and sand. Avoid this! You may need to go to a real garden center to find what you are looking for.
* Corn meal is a natural, proven fungus killer. Using it in your soil mixes will help deter plenty of pests, including root knot nematodes and dreaded fungus and fungus knats and their larvae. If I were you, I would not skip this additive to my brugmansia soil mixes.
Do not add corn meal to Seedling Soil mixes! It has been shown to deter the growth of seedlings. Rather, wait until the seedlings have made a trunk at least 1/4 inch in diameter, and then sprinkle it on the surface to deter fungus and fungus gnats. When repotting seedlings to larger pots, do use it as directed for the standard brugmansia mix. If you want something to help control the gnats right away with seed flats or pots, use sand instead. It does help hold them off.