Can You Grow A Flower Bed With Only Blended Soil Using Clay Pebbles In The Bottom Of Pots

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Using Clay Pebbles In The Bottom Of Pots

Clay pebbles can be a very economical alternative for those with home gardens. Although they may not be recommended for use in large pots due to their poor nutrient lifting properties, they can be very effective when used in small pots and containers. Unlike other fillers, clay pebbles can also be rinsed and washed for an unlimited time, they are usually pH neutral, and their round shape allows sufficient ventilation of the entire pot, aerates the roots and prevents them from rotting.

Ideally, you should use clay pebbles with mesh pots, especially for flood-drain hydroponic systems, as the pebbles allow water to flow freely through the plant roots and allow for better nutrient circulation. However, many gardeners also use clay pebbles along with soilless potting mixes. Although it may seem like an easy option to place permeable materials such as clay-based pebbles in the bottom of the pot to ensure more efficient water drainage. While this may seem like a “trivial” choice, it doesn’t necessarily work that way due to the characteristics of the potting mixes themselves.

Whether they are placed in grow pots or in the ground, a very important factor that soil and potting mix have in common is the fact that when the consistency or properties of the soil suddenly change (for example, from potting mix to expanded clay) , a circumstance called groundwater occurs. This usually happens at the bottom of your container or pot, but if there’s clay there, you’ll essentially be putting in an artificial bottom. Typically, the soil that sits on top of the clay pebbles after watering will stay wet to a certain level on top of the clay pebble layer in the same way it would if it were the bottom of the pot.

As soon as you water the pot containing the clay pebbles and potting mix, you need to completely saturate the potting soil before the excess water starts to circulate through the potting soil and into the pebbles themselves. And when you do, the nutrient solution has filled all the pores in the soil or potting mix that was once filled with air. Depending on the type of soil or mix you are using, the saturated zone can take up a significant portion of the soil/mix. Therefore, the actual effect of including clay pebbles will be to decrease the amount of growing medium by which you increase the percentage of saturated to unsaturated in your potting mix or soil.

In any potting medium, the groundwater will have a depth that is very similar for that medium. For example, a saturated bottom layer 1 inch deep inside a tall thin container will occupy only a small fraction of the total soil mass. However, if you place the exact same amount of the same type of medium in a wide, shallow pot that is only a few inches deep, it will take up fifty percent of the medium.

Needless to say, there are a lot of technical details that affect the overall performance of potting liquid, but in general the only real reason to put a really shallow level of pebbles in the bottom of the pot is to prevent soil from building up in the potting mix or potting mix before being flushed directly from holes to drain water every time you irrigate (and even this is no longer necessary in some cases).

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