Tag Archive: potting soil

  1. Mounding For Succulents

    cross slope

    These linear plantings of agave and cacti are aligned perpendicular to the slope to check the speed of runoff.

    Love succulents but hate your clay soil?  Solve it by creating a simple mound of quality soil that ensures your finicky succulents will be happy with perfect drainage.  Under these conditions your plants won’t suffer waterlogged roots, and rotting will be a thing of the past, if you irrigate with a slow drip system.

    A mound with all the mistakes: Pointed top, steep sides and dry sandy soil with no cohesiveness that will melt in the first hard rain.

    A mound with all the mistakes: Pointed top, steep sides and dry sandy soil that will melt in the first hard rain.

    Incorrectly constructed mounds become failures for a variety of reasons.  Most importantly, the soil won’t stay put and soak in when you water, and improper irrigation can leave conditions way too dry, even for succulents.  These problems are due to the shape of the mound; if made too steep on the sides, the water runs off before it can penetrate. Effective succulent mounds need to rise up gradually, provide that flat place on top, and drop down just as gently on the other side.

    Sizing Your Mound with Math

    A mound is composed of three plains: The up slope, a level zone along the top, and the down slope on the other side.  How high you go is dictated by how much space is available.  The slope is governed by the angle of repose, which for traditional plants must be no more than 30% if water is to penetrate.  That’s a one foot “rise” in elevation for every three feet of length or “run”.

    Example:  6′ upslope distance + 3′ top of mound + 6′ downslope distance = 15 linear feet


    To create a stand out succulent mound, use a wide range of colors, sizes and textures to give it endless visual appeal.

    This equation limits the width of your hypothetical mound to 2 feet in height. Once you calculate its dimensions, do the same for the length.  Then use length x width x height to find the overall volume of the proposed mound in cubic feet. The largest bag of Black Gold Moisture Supreme Container Mix contains 2 cubic feet of material, so either make the whole mound out of this mix or blend it 50-50 with natural soil. Aggregate can be added to increase drainage.


    Where soils aren’t heavy clay, the container mix is an extender and to better integrate local soil flora into the mound.  Mix very well with a tiller or fork, then gently grade the mound into a graceful shape without broken curves or undulations. When grading out your mound, keep soil damp and lightly compact the surface so it holds together.  Use boulders where conditions are irregular or create fields of smaller attractive pebbles to hold ground or control runoff.

    Planting Strategy

    angle of repose

    Planting on this slope features larger agaves and masses of small succulents to hold soil against erosion.

    Water flows downhill picking up soil particles with speed. To keep this from happening plant against the direction of the water flow.  (This is what wheat farmers do to minimize erosion; they align their planting rows perpendicular to the natural flow of water.)  Use small, densely planted succulents for steeper spots then irrigate with microspray irrigation to allow roots to create a network better able to hold the slope.  Larger succulents, like aloes, further guide runoff away from more vulnerable locations with a single drip emitter.

    A mound for succulents doesn’t need to be as high as those for plants with deeper root systems.  In most cases they are fine with just one foot of elevation to keep plants and root crowns high and dry.  When the mound is in and fully planted, finish it off with a fine layer of stone or pebble that blends in with your cobbles and boulders for a perfectly designed display garden you’ll be proud of.

  2. Cool Grasses for Container Garden Simplicity

    hair grass2

    Dynamic pots of Mexican hair grass had a simple yet striking accent to this patio garden.

    “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”  Longfellow penned this well over a century ago, yet it’s more relevant than ever today.  If the stark white room with its Spartan decor and tactile organic accents seems like heaven to you, then perhaps its time to take it all outside.  Blend the new look of minimal organic contemporary or country with just the right plants to create the ultimate experience – not of color – but of texture.  Eschew big and bold for fine-textured foliage that is not only carefree but incredibly dramatic.  Explore the animated character of the grasses and reeds that come alive in a breeze and speak in the language of spiky shadow when lighted after dark. (more…)

  3. Get That Swanky Rogers Gardens Style At Your House

    Nestled into opulent coastal southern California is a nursery where I go to find out what’s hot in the world of container gardening. Decades ago Rogers Gardens was founded on flower-filled hanging color baskets so fabulous they draw tour buses daily. I worked there in the early 80s and today I return to see how they display every hot trend in container gardening. Most of what I see can be recreated using Black Gold specialty potting soils to make your home garden just as exciting this year.


  4. Reusing Old Potting Soil is Bad

    1-DSC_0169Reusing old potting soil is a bad idea. Would you risk your crop to save $25? Of course not, so why would you reuse growing media that may prove less than ideal for your valuable plants? This is the question every grower weighs after harvest: Whether to replace the growing media or reuse it another time.

    If you’re still not sure, consider the triple threat: Three very important reasons why fresh Sunshine Advanced soilless media will always perform.


  5. Proof of Life: Mold in Potting Soil

    If you find white mold in potting soil, don’t think it’s spoiled like moldy bread. Consider this white webby material the ultimate proof of life. It is an undeniable sign that our potting soils are perfectly blended to create a bio-active root environment. Even while that bag sat at the garden center, a great deal of activity was going on in our living soils, and the mold proves it. This is a rare opportunity to actually see one of the invisible organisms that contribute so much to organic plant health. Such tiny living things are literally a web of life key to all fertile soils.


    Molds appear only when the bag is warm and moist inside. Such conditions actually make the mold grow on the surface of the soil because it thinks it’s underground. Once the bag is opened, sunlight and drier air forces them back to their invisible subterranean status.


  6. Build Organic Garden Soil with Black Gold

    Building organic garden soil is the same as working the soil for any other kind of garden except for one thing: you must feed the soil with OMRI Listed products for organic gardening. The ground below your feet is not just dirt but a whole living breathing universe unto itself. Within those soil mineral particles are populations of microscopic bacteria, fungi, yeasts, protozoa and algae. They are collectively known as microbes, which feed on the remnants of dead plants, also known as organic matter. Organic gardens depend on high microbe populations to make plants grow strong naturally, resist pests and diseases, and produce a bumper crop of food or flowers.


  7. Better Results All Season Long with Black Gold®

    Black Gold All Purpose with Multicote Potting SoilWith the advent of Black Gold® All Purpose, you are now able to enjoy the benefits of a premium quality potting soil with a fertilizer that will feed your plants for up to six months. Sun Gro sells this same fertilizer product to professional growers. By incorporating Multicote® into your potting soil, your plants will have a consistent supply of nutrients throughout the entire season.

    Multicote®, a controlled release fertilizer, has been coated with a polymer that slowly breaks down to release the nutrients over time. Unlike other controlled release fertilizers in the marketplace, Multicote® will not release excessive nutrients in higher temperatures, thus ensuring your plant will thrive no matter what the weather. This baseline of fertilizer allows your plants to grow all season long, not just when you remember to fertilize. Additional fertilizations with a liquid fertilizer, starting a couple weeks after planting, will ensure your plants get all the nutrients they need, particularly if your plants are heavy feeders.

    Ideal for all types of plants, Black Gold® All Purpose with Multicote® is a great choice for house plants, patio containers and hanging baskets. Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss with earthworm castings, forest humus, compost and pumice combine to provide your plants with both moisture retention and good drainage. Since this potting soil has a higher amount of peat moss, it is ideal for gardeners looking to reduce their fertilizer and water usage.

    Think of all the benefits – you start with a premium potting soil; add a controlled release fertilizer that will lessen the frequency of fertilizing; and you get improved plant performance by using Black Gold® All Purpose Potting Soil with Multicote®.

  8. Fresh Potting Soil is Better

    Everything is better fresh, whether you’re talking about donuts, cut flowers for your dinner table, or the potting soil for your patio container. That’s why we sell only fresh potting soils at Black Gold. After potting soils or amendments are manufactured they become a living entity. The fertilizers and wetting agent start to react in their moist organic media environment. As part of our commitment to quality we put a date of manufacture on all Black Gold® potting soils, amendments and peat moss. The products are stamped with production codes.
  9. Why Buy A Premium Potting Soil?

    Black Gold Award Winning PackagingWhy buy a premium potting soil? The reasons are many. As each of us begins a gardening project, we all have the end result in mind: a bountiful vegetable garden, an overflowing flower covered basket or perhaps a thick and rich new lawn! At Sun Gro, we believe that the key to these and many other gardening successes is directly related to the quality of product that we, as a manufacturer, put in a bag. We hope the following chart will illustrate the advantages of Black Gold® made by Sun Gro Horticulture, North America’s largest producer of professional growing mixes – over the competition.



  10. Products for Fall Planting and Winterizing Your Garden

    BG-Fert-Citrus-Avocado-Vine-OMRI-120608Fall is a wonderful time to garden. You can look over this year’s accomplishments and start developing your plans for next year, but it is also the perfect time for working in your garden.

    Planting garden beds, color bowls and hanging baskets with fall annuals is a wonderful way to extend the joy of gardening throughout the remainder of the year. Be sure to add some Black Gold® Garden Compost Blend, Soil Conditioner and garden amendment or planting mix to your soil with either Black Gold® Rose & Flower or All Purpose Fertilizer to ensure a flower-filled display. Color bowls and hanging baskets with Black Gold® All Purpose Potting Soil or Black Gold® Natural and Organic Potting Soil make good choices for fall plantings.

    Moving your outdoor herbs inside can be a very worthwhile fall activity. All you need to do is repot them in an indoor container and place them on a window sill that gets about 6 hours of sunlight. Those fresh herbs will be particularly flavorful, and it can be as easy as planting your favorite herbs in a container with Black Gold® Natural & Organic or Black Gold® All Purpose Potting Soil.

    Fall is the best time of year to over-seed an existing lawn or start a new lawn from seed because the temperatures are cooler and the rain patterns are more consistent. Black Gold® Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss is a crucial ingredient in the lawn enhancement process. When you spread the peat moss on top of the lawn seed, it will keep the seeds moist and you will have quicker and more uniform grass seed germination.

    Tree and shrub planting in the fall is natural for most plants. At this time of year the plants are starting to go dormant while the soil temperatures are still warm in comparison with the air. Both of these factors promote root development. After you start with the appropriate Black Gold® fertilizer, add your choice of Black Gold® Garden Compost, Soil Conditioner and garden amendment or planting mix to amend the soil. Simply follow the instructions on the back of the fertilizer box and amendment bag to add a new tree or shrub to your garden.

    Planting spring-blooming bulbs in the fall can be a wonderfully rewarding activity. Black Gold® Garden Compost, Soil Conditioner and Garden Amendment or Planting Mix are great choices to improve the soil structure and enrich the soil with organic matter. Try using Black Gold Bone Meal to fertilize your bulbs so they will develop a good strong root system before they appear next spring.

    Summer bulbs need to be dug up and stored in the fall after frost has blackened their foliage. Dry Black Gold® Peat Moss is a great choice for storage of most bulbs. However, a pre-moistened Black Gold® Peat Moss is the right choice for dahlias. Black Gold® Perlite can also be used to store bulbs that need to stay dry.

    After raking up your garden’s leaves and plants, why don’t you put them in your compost pile instead of having them hauled away to either a landfill or a commercial composting site? If your compost pile becomes overwhelmed with the leaves, bag or pile them up separately and gradually add them over the winter as you add kitchen waste to your compost pile. Be sure to add Black Gold® Fertilizers to start the composting process.

    And last but not least, be sure to add Black Gold® Garden Compost , Soil Conditioner and Garden Amendment or Planting Mix to any open location in the garden in preparation for planting next spring. May your fall gardening be full of joy and satisfaction when you garden with Black Gold® potting soils, amendments and fertilizers.

  11. Perlite and Pumice in Potting Soil

    BG Perlite frontHave you ever wondered what those little white things in your potting soil are? In most instances they are perlite and/or pumice. Perlite is a mined siliceous rock that is heated and expanded, or “popped” like popcorn, into a white lightweight material, while pumice is a soft, insert-mined stone that often comes from Oregon. What makes Black Gold® Perlite and Black Gold® Pumice particularly desirable is that both are screened for uniformity, with the finer particles removed.

    Both perlite and pumice are porous aggregates, meaning they are added to a potting soil to improve aeration and drainage. The addition of perlite and pumice in a potting soil will also increase the moisture and nutrient retention of the potting soil. Just like peat moss, they act like reservoirs in retaining water and nutrients and release them when they are needed by the plant.

    Due to its weight, pumice provides bulk density to a potting soil. This trait is valuable when you are growing outdoor containers and you don’t want them to blow over in the wind. Pumice is often the aggregate choice for specialty potting soils (cactus, bonsai) because it provides great aeration and helps anchor roots.

    In addition to being a potting soil mix component, perlite is an excellent neutral medium for starting seeds and rooting cuttings. It can also be used to store bulbs and as an essential hypertufa planter ingredient.