Best startup substrate?

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by Mangrove_man, Jun 22, 2007.

  1. Mangrove_man

    Mangrove_man Member

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    Central CT, USA
    This year I will hopefully be bringing back several seedlings (future bonsai) from Puerto Rico, of the following species (success yet to be determined with each, except for grapefruit): grapefruit, mango, lemon, lime, orange, malay apple, malphigia glabra (acerola), avocado, guava, papaya, passion fruit, cocao, and coffee.

    Species by species difficulties aside, i need some help on choosign substrates for the seedlings.

    From what i can gather, the best all-around substrate for this group must be well draining.

    Here's the issue: after consulting witht he USDA, i am limited to the following substrate choices.

    Agar or other translucent
    tissue culture media
    Buckwheat hulls
    Clean ocean sand
    Exfoliated vermiculite
    Ground cork
    Ground peat
    Ground rubber
    Polymer stabilized cellulose
    Quarry gravel
    Shavings—wood or cork
    Sphagnum moss
    Tree fern slab (approved
    only for orchids)
    Vegetable fiber (free of
    includes: coconut
    and osmunda
    excludes: cotton and

    I was thinking along the lines of a peat moss/vermiculite/perlite combo, any thoughts?

    Thank you,
  2. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Tom--please clarify. Are you starting these seedlings down in Puerto Rico and need to know what to be sprouting/growing them in? Or are you trying to bare-root and transport some existing seedlings?

    Many mailorder folks ship basically bareroot, packed in moist peat. Just need to keep the roots happy while transporting.

    If you're starting from scratch, peat and perlite should work with the right added nutrition until you bring them home...that should work better as they might stay in their starting containers for the journey?

    I guess we can all support the USDA in their work to keep pests from the tropics making their way north, on soil or anything similar.
  3. Mangrove_man

    Mangrove_man Member

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    Central CT, USA
    I was hoping to plant them straight in the substrate, then simply change the old substrate out for a new batch of the same kind (as dictated by the USDA). I would normally go bare root, but I'm not sure how 4 hours of those conditions would affect fragile seedlings.

    Yes, there is an importance to obeying the government guidlines. All to often, people will disregard the rules and regulations, and that often leads to needless banning or limitations on the species. While Puerto Rico isn't as bad as, say Hawaii, "there are some things in Puerto Rico we'd [USDA] like to keep out of the U.S.". It is my understanding that another current issue they are dealing with is red palm mites.


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