Lava Rock For Plant Drainage | How Drainage Works In Pots, The Perched Water Table & A “drainge Hack” That Doesn’t Work!

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How Drainage Works In Pots, The Perched Water Table & A "drainge Hack" That Doesn't Work!


Plant friends. We are getting nerdy about drainage today on blue mangrove Youtube show. Okay, planned friends so every care guide. I feel like we ever read about potting up house. Plants says that you need to have them in well-draining soil. But what the heck does well-draining soil mean? I remember when I was starting out with my journey. I didn’t know if I could use garden soil in my house plant pots. I didn’t know what drainage meant. I didn’t know what Perlite was, and recently I just took Soil Science 101 at the New York Botanical Garden virtually and it was unbelievable. It blew my mind. I learned so much and part of a presentation that I had to give to my class. Was talking about drainage for house plants. I learned so much through the process of taking this course and putting this presentation together and figured why not show it to you too? Let’s learn together so plan friends. Watch this entire video. I’m doing several experiments as you see that I’ve concocted and put up for you today. Um, but we really explore several different things. We’re going to talk about what drainage is and why it’s important not to use garden soil in house plants and how to understand the different components of soil, then we’re going to do an experiment about the purged water table. If you walk away with one thing today, you’re going to want to know about the perched water table, and then I talk about my drainage solutions for my house plants, so watch all the way through, and if you like the video, make sure you subscribe below and leave me a comment and tell me what the most interesting mind-blowing fact you learned today, or if you have a drainage hack, you want to share with us so before we talk about containers and drainage? I think it’s important for us to pay our respects to nature and where plants that we love and care for indoors really should be so if you think about it. Plants grow outdoors and essentially have an in an infinite volume of soil in which their roots can grow into. Um, this allows their roots to stretch. It allows more it allows more surface area to actually absorb water and nutrients, and that’s where the plants really want to be so by putting them in containers and keeping them indoors, which is not like the temperatures outdoor in nature and the conditions outdoor nature, our plants aren’t necessarily set up for success, but we have to understand that in order to understand why it’s so important to have great soil for our plants in our containers because all of a sudden these plants that could usually have their roots grow everywhere are really only able only able to grow in containers like this, so I found it interesting that most of the plants that we grow in our apartments are tropical plants, which many of them are actually epiphytic plants, which means that they have very shallow roots and they can actually grow on trees, but it makes sense that we’re caring for plants that actually have shallow roots because a lot of our containers are so short that you know, they don’t have crazy tap roots. We don’t have space for, you know, containers. That are this tall in our apartment. You can’t even see my hand in the video. That’s how tall it is. So because plants are living in containers, They’re probably going to need to be watered more frequently than they would be outdoors and also we have to be very careful about the drainage of our soil because sometimes too much water gets stuck up in here and then our plants, roots, rot and plant root rot is really hard to come back from. If you want, you can check out a video in which I resuscitated a watermelon pepperoni from root rot, but it wasn’t cute and ideally, we’re avoiding that something interesting that I learned in this class is that in general soil outdoors should be comprised of 45 minerals 5 organic matter, and then the other 50 is divided between water and air so 25 water, 25 air so plant friends think about that 25 of the soil that our plants would be happy growing in is air, and I think that’s why everybody is always talking about Aeration. So soil Aeration is the supply of oxygen 2 and the release of carbon dioxide from the roots, and it is essential for plant health, root growth and root health. So knowing those things why is soil important soil not only is the medium that holds our plant’s roots in the container or in the ground that then allows our plants leaves to flourish and stand up strong and tall above the ground, but soil is responsible for the storing and the supplying of water and oxygen to the plant. It doesn’t get more important than that. The soil is where those roots are absorbing the water and absorbing the nutrients so important for plants to thrive. So it’s important to have some good stuff going on in there. That’s where we come to drainage in a container. It’s important to have fast draining soil because the container is so small, the water is going to go through the soil pretty quickly and needs to trickle out of the bottom, so the soil can be damp and allow for the roots to absorb what it needs, but you cannot have roots sitting in wet, soggy, not draining soil. That’s where the root rot is going to set in so. I thought that we would conduct a little experiment to show what I’m talking about. Okay, we’ve changed up the view because I want you to be paying attention to what’s going on here in the experiment that I’m going to show you. So this is to illustrate different types of drainage. We’ve got the same volume of perlite, organic potting soil and garden soil that I just dug up from outside the tree outside my apartment, so I’m going to pour the same amount of water through each one and let’s notice the different time that all of the water exits the pot so as you can see. Obviously, the perlite drained almost immediately. Um, it also doesn’t have any organic matter in it, so it would never be good to just plant a pot, a plant, a plant only in perlite unless you were providing extra nutrients. Um, also the soil. The perlite drains so quickly that the plant’s roots probably won’t actually be able to grab that water and absorb it, Um, and the perlite won’t retain it between the garden soil and the potting mix. They’re both still dripping a little bit, but we could run this video forever. The garden soil. I’ve done this experiment. Several times for my soil class is going to drain much slower and garden soil is there’s more clay in garden soil and clay has the, um, is the most holds a lot of water. It’s extremely absorbent, so this soil is also going to dry out a lot slower than this lighter area mix. If you take a look this garden soil, I mean, I can feel the water in my hand. There’s so much, clay in this that even though it’s drained, there’s so much water that’s going to take a long time to drain out of that. You can see the reflection of the water, whereas the potting mix is much lighter. It’s a little moist, but there’s no saturation of water in my hands. That’s the difference you can also see in the potting mix. There are pieces of perlite. They’re pieces of bark. Um, to help water drain through, okay to our next experiment. Oh, this is slimy and wet. Okay, planned friends, bring it in, let’s get into it as we continue to explore drainage, so we learned that quick draining soil is important to remove water from the potting medium, so our plant’s roots do not sit with water, not get enough of that air we mentioned and suffocate and die. It’s important to pot our indoor plants up in potting soil and not garden soil because that stuff does not drain fast enough and retains way too much water. That is a easy way to kill your plants. If you want to kill your plants, put them in garden soil. And now I want to talk about the biggest thing that blew my mind. The perched water table, the theory of it, why it’s important and why it is often a garden myth that putting pebbles in the bottom of your pots actually is going to help the drainage of your soil for your plants. So the perched water table in every container of potting medium anywhere. There will be a perched water table, which will be the same size for each medium. The perched water table theory is when water drains from a growing medium as its draining gravity gets most of the water out but capillary action, which is actually when you bottom water. A plant capillary action is what’s responsible for actually, the the soil be able, um, being able to absorb the water upwards. There’s that, um, dissonance between gravity and capillary action and there is going to be a layer at the bottom of each pot of saturated soil. No matter what you do, no matter how great of a plant water you are because of this, the pot size that you’re putting your plants in is crucially important, so before we go into that to demonstrate the perched water table. I have a sponge. I’m dipping it in a bowl of water and here we go so as you can see. The water is draining out of all of these pores. However, it is collecting in a perched water table at the bottom of the sponge. If you can see right here, there’s still an area of saturation here now. When I flip the sponge over water will drain out so the perch water table will be the same height as it was the other the horizontal way. That’s the perched water table and in every container that shows up. So why is this important plant? Friends, let me tell ya. So there’s a common myth that if you have a pot with no drainage holes or even a pot with drainage holes, you put rocks or semi-hydro balls or whatever at the bottom of the pot to create drainage. Now, the theory behind this makes sense because you’re thinking, okay, The majority of that water is going to drain through the soil and collect in the rocks, therefore keeping the water away from that soil where the precious roots are living. So yes, you’re getting the majority of the water out of the soil and into the rocks, however, if you’re like a house planned parent and you’re planting most of your plants in four or six or even eight inch pots, you really have to think about where that purged water table is lying and that perched water table is going to sit at the bottom of wherever your growing medium is, it’s not going to be at the bottom of the rocks so to illustrate this. I have two pots. One filled entirely with soil one filled with half lava rocks. No, sorry, these are semihydro balls and half soil. So what happens is when I water these plants. Yes, we’re going to get drainage because we’ve got beautiful, organic soil happening, but as the water continues to drain, this is where the water table is going to be when sitting on all of these semi-hydro balls and this is where the perched water table is going to be when just in a full pot of growing medium, so say, I have a plant and the roots are about this long and it’s going from the top of the soil. This plant is hopefully avoiding the majority of the perched water table, where this plant’s roots are definitely going to be in the perched water table and exposed to that saturated level of soil and like we discussed before there’s going to be no available air and the plants root, the plant is going to be highly susceptible to root rot. So if you have large containers, I totally get why this method might make sense putting something at the bottom, however. I think you should be super mindful. If you don’t have large containers know where that perched water table is going to be or at least understand that the perched water table is going to be there. So if you have stones in the bottom of a pot, that’s totally okay. I actually have plants that are potted with in pots with no drainage. I’m trying to shy away from that now as I bloom and grow as a plant parent. But I did it a lot when I was starting off, I’m just super mindful when I water those plants not to over water them because I know that that perched water table is going to be there, and those plants are just going to be a little bit more susceptible to root rot. So for beginners Here are my suggestions for how you should pot your plants. The ideal situation, especially for beginners. I can’t stress. This enough is to just get a plant look. How adorable this oxalis is. Check that out! Oh, my God, pot your plant all soil all potting mix in the pot with a pot with a drainage hole. You’re going to water this puppy? The water is going to run through. It’s going to go into the saucer. You could either dump the water out or sometimes I actually keep the water in the saucer and then later trust that the plant due to capillary action will wick up the water that it needs so this is ideal. I also love terra cotta pots for me. The terracotta just really works for me. Number one. They’re really affordable and I have a lot of plants number. Two, the terra cotta helps wick some of the water out of the soil and it just helps with over watering. I have had a lot of over watering issues in the past. I still struggle with it. So this is very this. All of this is so interesting to me. Here’s the hack. If you have a gorgeous cash po like this, that has no drainage hole in the bottom. Simply pot your plant up in a nursery pot. I keep many. I use most of the nursery pots that I get plants in. I save them! I don’t recycle them And then when I get a beautiful cash Po like this, which I bought. When I was in Maine with Billy. I find a matching pot. That slips right into this. I pot the plant up in this. When I water it, I’ll either water it in here and kind of use the cash pole like a saucer like the water will collect there, or I’ll actually take this out of its pot water it in my sink. Let the water drip through and then put it back. That would definitely be the ideal way to do it, but if you’re lazy, sometimes that’s what I do. So these are my two recommendations like I said, this is really a choose your own adventure thing, but after I learned about the purged water table, I’m really thinking about drainage differently and how I’m potting my plants. I think there are plenty of people that use the stones at the bottom. Use the semi hydro balls at the bottom. The lucka balls at the bottom marbles. Whatever, and it totally works for them and more power to you, that’s great. Um, I am just a mindful plant parent who likes to water my plants, and I find that that’s just giving me that extra edge to potentially kill my plants. So this is what I’m sticking to plant friends. I will continue showing you things that I learned in all. These courses I’m taking with the New York Botanical Garden. If you want to check out all the amazing courses that they offer, I’m going to put the link in the show notes, they’re going completely virtual for all of the summer, which is pretty cool. I will be in class. Maybe I’ll see you there. And until next time plant friends keep looting and keep growing radio.