Author Topic: Surfactants  (Read 3191 times)

andy graham

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 162
  • Thanked: 2 times
Surfactants
« on: July 04, 2014, 05:40 PM »
A soil debate is NOT my intention here.......Has anyone here ever used a surfactant/wetting agent when faced with hydrophobic soil? If so, any recommendations concerning brands?

thanks,

Andy
 

Owen Reich

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 888
  • Thanked: 7 times
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2014, 08:16 PM »
No.

Hydrophobic media must be gradually brought back to holding water.  Mist foliage if species tolerates it or maybe mist it anyway.  Introduce air and water channels into hydrophobic area(s) with a soil probe, chop stick, etc.

Submerging the whole container under water and waiting for all bubbling to stop is another way to start the process, but it's just a start. 

Most products I've heard about or tried that had any pH buffers, wetting agents, etc. were for hydroponics or were heavy media full of peat and bark respectively. 

I'd test anything on a respectable number of plants (like with controls and variables) you don't care about and report findings. 

For a term project I tested 3 wetting agents on tomato crops using Fafard 3B Professional Potting Media.  Results on hydrogels were not inspiring but of the three, Soil Moist had the best dry weight of plant matter, largest tomatoes (determinant growth type),  etc.

Wetting agents to me would be good for mallsai, but the crystals do eventually stop working from what I've heard and create air-gaps in the media.  Just my two cents.
 

bwaynef

  • Administrator
  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1785
  • Thanked: 33 times
  • USDA Zone: 8a
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2014, 11:14 PM »
I've read about something that makes the water "wetter".  It was a hydroponic tonic, and I'm almost certain I found it following links from something Al posted. 
 

Larry Gockley

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2014, 09:25 AM »
Is your hydrophobic soil, what is also referred to as surface tension, where the water just runs off at first?
 

bwaynef

  • Administrator
  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1785
  • Thanked: 33 times
  • USDA Zone: 8a
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2014, 10:05 AM »
So, the product I'm recalling (linked below) isn't marketed for the rewetting of hydrophobic soil.  It looks interesting nonetheless, though I haven't been interested enough to purchase any ...yet.

http://www.advancednutrients.com/hydroponics/products/wet_betty/wet_betty_product_information.php

^^That entire line of products seems to be marketed to grow an entirely different kind of plant.
 

Leo in NE Illinois

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 303
  • Thanked: 9 times
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2014, 02:28 PM »
when I apply wettable powder pestacides, I use a few drops of Wetter-Sticker sold for that particular purpose. Its available at many nursery supply houses, and is cheap. It would work for your purposes - wetting soil. A few drops per gallon of water, mix, then plunge the bonsai in or use it to water your tree. It is basically soap. Rinses clean over time.

Plain old dish soap would work too.
 

Sorce

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 789
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2014, 03:22 PM »
I would think the amount of Dawn it takes to wet water couldnt harm roots.

I always think about the commercial where they wash the oil off a duck with Dawn when I use bubbles applied under leaves to control mites. Never had a problem.

The other day I was thinking about this and came up with a theory to use ice.
The cold could shrink your media just enough to allow for a slow release of water into the space created between.

A drop of Dawn. Only dawn though. Quack quack!

Andy,
What problem created this need?

Leo.

 when I bought my orchid, the lady told me to put ice on it to water it. I would love to know how you care for yours in our climate!
 

Leo in NE Illinois

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 303
  • Thanked: 9 times
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2014, 09:23 PM »
I would think the amount of Dawn it takes to wet water couldn't harm roots.

I always think about the commercial where they wash the oil off a duck with Dawn when I use bubbles applied under leaves to control mites. Never had a problem.

The other day I was thinking about this and came up with a theory to use ice.
The cold could shrink your media just enough to allow for a slow release of water into the space created between.

A drop of Dawn. Only dawn though. Quack quack!

Andy,
What problem created this need?

Leo.

 when I bought my orchid, the lady told me to put ice on it to water it. I would love to know how you care for yours in our climate!

Yikes, I can rant and rave for hours about the evils of ice cubes on orchid hybrids whose parents come from low elevation warm, wet rainforests. Think about it, never would a Phalaenopsis orchid ever encounter ice in nature. They go into shock at temperatures below 55 F.  >:(  They are true tropical plants, meaning; "NO ICE!".

But to be fair, the outfit that recommends ice cubes is the outfit supplying blooming Phalaenopsis to the box stores. Their goal is for you to get the plant and flowers to last 2 to 3 months. IF the plant dies after that, they figure you won't blame them and come back and buy another one. If you want to keep an orchid going long term, use water, not ice. They pot the Phalaenopsis in tightly packed sphagnum moss. The amount of water in the recommended number of ice cubes applied every week is somewhere near the amount of water they figured would be needed to keep the moss lightly damp. Of course they figure the ice won't be in large enough quantity to seriously chill the roots. They also assume equal climate in all areas, so there are no allowances for hot weather, cool weather, low humidity, high humidity. As long as the plant lives long enough that you want to come back and buy more, their job is done. Adequate instructions. Following their directions, most Phal show a failure to thrive, usually dead within 2 years.

Since you are reading this rant on a bonsai site, you have the intuitive horticultural skills to water orchids correctly. For Phalaenopsis, they want to go from wet, to barely damp, then get watered. I flush mine, either with the garden hose or at the kitchen sink, with room temperature water (not hot, not cold). I let them drain, then return to the growing space. Let grow, and repeat. The frequency will change depending on potting media. The tightly packed sphagnum the box store Phalaenopsis come in can stay moist 2 to 3 weeks after a good drenching. My preferred media is a fir bark & pine bark mix with hort charcoal, & perlite. Sifted for size. Dust is thrown out (just like bonsai) It tends to go from wet to lightly damp in about 5 days to a week. The interval will vary depending on changes in temperature, light and humidity. Majority of orchids do not want to dry out completely between watering. Some exceptions are Cattleya, Tolumnia (an Oncidium group member) and a few others. Cattleya like a day or two bone dry before being watered. I keep my moisture loving orchids in plastic pots, the ones that want to dry are in clay pots. The clay pots dry out quicker. Everyone can stay on the same water schedule that way.

Every orchid show I attend as a vendor, every orchid talk I give I end up spending a third of my time trying to explain to people that the "water them with ice cubes" is a gimmick. They came out with the "Ice Cube" instructions around 2005, and I have hated them for the time I have to waste ever since. 

I see you are local, I'm in contact with the Illinois Orchid Soc. will be giving a talk at their meeting at the Chicago Botanic Garden sometime in 2015. Waiting for them to let me know when they have available dates. I'll be exhibiting at the September 13 & 14, 2014 Show at the Mitchell Domes in Milwaukee. If you are not going to the Rochester show, swing on up to Milwaukee for the day, take in some orchids, hit the Milwaukee Art Museum and maybe hit one of the pretty good restaurants to complete the day. I'm disappointed that the orchid show and the National Bonsai Show are the same weekend. Unfortunately, I have to do the orchid thing, it is my hobby-business. I have too many orchids, and not enough space. It is the way I make room to bring the plants back inside after repotting and dividing plants, and giving them a summer outdoors. (I don't put Phalaenopsis outdoors - slugs will eat them to nothing, their leaves are too soft). Cymbidiums, some Paphs & Phrags and a few others get summered outdoors. They are not particularly attractive to chewing insects or slugs.
 

Sorce

  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 789
  • Thanked: 1 times
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2014, 05:22 AM »
Sincere thanks Leo!

I never did use the ice method. I figured they like to dry out so I repotted it into large bark and aquarium gravel in late spring. Closest match to Orchid Mix i could make.

I think I can water more than the once every 2 weeks I have been.  ?

Let me know when you get that date! If I can make it, I would love too!

Sorce

 

andy graham

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 162
  • Thanked: 2 times
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2014, 07:04 PM »
I wasn't having a current problem with my soils, but have in the past. I've seen so much discussion of Turface and its sometimes hydrophobic properties that Just thought I'd raise the question.

andy
 

Anthony

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 282
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2014, 08:13 AM »
Andy,

from what I read Turface MVP, is - supposed - to be calcined to around 650 deg. C [1202 deg.F ] and if it were an earthenware clay [ matures, then melts after 1100 to 1130 deg.C [ 2012 - 2066 deg.F ]

BUT I couldn't find the source of the clay, so there is a good chance stoneware and kaolin clays could slip in there, and these clays will also decompose after a short exposure to 650 deg.C.
I could not find any information on how long or how the clay was exposed to the heat.

The Crushed Red Brick, used on my side is made from a hollow clay brick [ rejected ] that is smashed for re-use in tiles.
Because it is a construction block, used in house walls, it must be able to absorb a % of water from an application of mortar [ cement and sand ].
So it accepts and holds water readily.

You may have to test the Turface for hardness, and if too soft, send it to a potter for refiring. There is also red lava.

We have a large [ 3' internal height ] kiln, to re-fire a naturally fire hardened clay [ called, Porcellainite ] to the level of the crushed red brick. if needed.

Back in 1980 or so The Bonsai Farm in San Antonio, Texas was selling a surfactant, safe for plants. So you should be able to find something similar easily.
Probably easier just to check a bag of Turface MVP.

Hey our Mayo-Dama is also working well, as a mix with compost or as just m-dama and compost applied on the surface.
It is however - yellow ochre in colur.
Good Day
Anthony

Image from last year - Tamarind age unknown
 

Leo in NE Illinois

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 303
  • Thanked: 9 times
Re: Surfactants
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2014, 03:47 PM »

I think I can water more than the once every 2 weeks I have been.  ?

Sorce

It is buried in my long post. I grow orchids in several different mixes, the specifics are not real important. You can grow orchids (and pretty much any plant, including bonsai) in just about anything if you understand how and when to water.

When I use an orchid bark type potting mix, I usually water once every 5 days in "average" weather. Water maybe once every 3 days in very hot dry weather. Finally in cool humid weather, I water maybe once a week.

When I grow in 100% sphagnum, once a week in hot weather, once every 2 weeks in cool weather. It all depends on how long it takes for the moss to dry out.

Phalaenopsis - the common one found at many big box stores - these never want to get completely dry at the roots. Try to water at the point the roots are still barely moist. Dig finger at least 1 inch into  media to check for moisture. When barely damp - time to water.

Cattleya and relatives (these are the 'big corsage types') - these want to get bone dry between waterings. One day bone dry is perfect - then water.

Cymbidium - a smaller flower than Cattleya, but the plants can be much larger for the corsage types - these want to stay moist, more like Phalaenopsis. The Chinese Cymbidiums which are dwarf plants, sometimes grown in YiXing pottery by the Chinese for appreciation of foliage and flowers. The Chinese Cymbidiums are actually terrestrial, and could be grown in the same potting mix, same light and same watering frequency as a Japanese Maple. They are tender though, protect from temperatures below +29 F.

So in summary, majority of commonly available orchids do not want to get completely dry between watering. How often you water depends on the potting mix, and local climate, which will vary during the course of the year. It is what you feel and see when checking out your plant that determines the watering schedule, no label or directions could ever get it right. But, just as a general guide line, for my conditions, most orchids are watered at least once a week, sometimes more.

Orchids are easy compared to bonsai. They will forgive the occasional mistake in watering schedule. Try letting a maple go bone dry - death will ensue. Most orchids will survive days or even weeks of being bare root - if it doesn't happen more than once every couple years. So have fun with them.