Do We Have it Better?

Discussion in 'THE CROTON SOCIETY' started by Moose, Mar 28, 2015.

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  1. Moose

    Moose Esteemed Member

    Coral Gables, FL Zone 10b
    Every time a flare up of croton scale happens, I envy the old timer croton growers that they did not have to deal with this pestilence. Then it must be asked, did they have it better?

    Here are a few points that may negate that assumption.
    1. We have access to better quality fertilizers, especially time released.
    2. Mulch, municipalities did not grind up their trees, they just piled them up at the dump. While employed at a nursery in the late 1970's, we never stocked any mulch. If there was a demand, we would have sold it.
    3. Plant availability, so many varieties and species of plants that our fore fathers could of only dreamed of.
    4. Potting soil. Most old timers made their own, but it usually was just black everglades muck and sand. We have ready access to quality store bought potting soils. Or if we choose to make our own, ready access to components that aid in aeriation, water retention anf pH control.
    5. Container fertilizers, not available in the old days. They had to use very limited amounts of "hot: fertilizers and manures. Their plants did not experience the robust growth that ours do.
    6. K-Mag. Florida soils have poor quantities of Magnesium and virtually no Potassium. Their plants survived while ours thrive due to our mineral supplementation.
    7. University of Florida Agricultural Dept. - We have benefited much from their research and publications regarding horticultural remedies for plant survival in Florida. The old timers had to experiment and share their experiences by word of mouth.
    8. The internet, i.e. plant forums. The information available, although sometimes incorrect, to the home gardener at the touch of a button is amazing. Its no longer necessary to become members of plant Societies and attend their meetings to gleam information. No longer needed to acquire an extensive collection of expensive books on plant cultivation.
    9. Garden maintenance. With the array of equipment and chmicals available today, many man hours are saved. Where an individual today may be able to keep their garden looking top notch, the old timers needed help to achieve the same results.

    Do we have it better?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
    Kingdavid likes this.
  2. Pix

    Pix Well-Known Member

    Tampa Bay
    I need help with potting mix :(I keep killing my rooted cuttings with root rot, and always have fungus gnats although I try not to water too often. I bought a moisture meter. Last time I used the Miracle Gro "Palm and Cactus" potting soil and added more perlite. I believe the fungus is already in the mix. I water once-and the fungus gnats are happy.What mix do you use, Ron?
    As for your great post...I never gardened before. I take things for granted. ...but recently I was stunned to find out that my now favorite Foxtail Palm was not even discovered until 1983!

    Thank you in advance for your advice.
    ...also, where to buy K-Mag?
  3. palmisland

    palmisland Well-Known Member

    West Boca Raton 10b
    Pix, You're getting root rot because your mix doesn't drain fast enough. Fungus gnats seem to like soggy peat. I believe adding perlite just retains more moisture. I use Bushell Stop potting mix with about 1/3 pine fines or more if it's for the mist house.

    For K-mag, any fertilizer distributor should have it. Make sure it's time release & not the "greens grade". It's 0-0-22 plus magnesium. See if there's a Lesco, Howard's or John Deere lawn supply. make a few phone calls, it's worth it.

  4. Jeff Searle

    Jeff Searle Well-Known Member

    South Florida, USA
    Nice topic, Moose. Which brings me back to some memories.

    As some of you know, my father Pops, was in the croton business back in the early to mid fifties and in through the sixties. Right in my prime years as a very young, strong strapping kid that made good for some cheap labor(!!!). Ron, I would agree that when everything compared, it's a much easier time for growing and enjoying our crotons. There's so many more collectors nowadays and as you can imagine, much easier to get our plants around to one another. The only ONE big advantage to years ago was, it was extremely cheap to raise your plants. Everything from labor (if someone was hired to help out ), to pots, soil, fertilizer, spray chemicals, taxes, land payments, and you could probably include fuel to get around.

    I remember my dad's old nursery. Everything was grown in metal egg cans. There was no plastic pots from what I can remember. I also remember helping him many times with the air layers. Foil came already cut into small squares. And I still have my dad's old knife he used for skinning the bark off.

    During those days, there was an older lady that lived behind the nursery in a very old, small run down wooden shack. probably about 500 square feet! Anyways, one day my dad noticed a few of his crotons missing near the back fence. After scratching his head for a moment, he walked around some and then....low and behold, there were his plants sitting near the house behind us. My dad called the police out that evening and tried to have her arrested. After all, his plants were clearly sitting next to her house...with his "Searle Hybrid Croton Nursery" labels still on the plants! But because he could not prove she took them, all charges were dropped. Then she tried countersuing my dad for false charges. That was thrown out of court immediately.

    Some fun times back then.....
  5. Kipjanet

    Kipjanet Active Member

    Zone 10 Miami Springs, Fl
    Pix stop by any hydroponic supply store and pick up a bag of potting mix for cuttings. Comes with fertilizer, fungicide and designed for quick draining this is used for the pot growers as all plants come from cuttings not from seeds. You could try Grodan rock wool cubes I've had good luck with rock wool.
  6. Phil Stager

    Phil Stager Esteemed Member

    Sunny St. Pete, FL
    I've been using the plain old Miracle Grow potting soil in the yellow bag with fert already added for years and no problems other than price. Three gal pots gobble it up quickly.

    Perlite has low water retention and helps prevent soil compaction. See Wiki article for more uses (like filtering beer).

    Pix - where are you growing the cuttings to9 get all those fungus gnats? Better air movement will help.
  7. Pix

    Pix Well-Known Member

    Tampa Bay
    Phil, I can't say that I grow them somewhere. I do not have that many and it is my second attempt only. The fungus gnats just seem to like all my potted plants. I learned to control them, but to me their presence is a sign that something is wrong with the soil anyway. First cuttings that I rooted in the plastic bag had the gnats already in the bag. I had to spray pesticide into the bag now and then, which didn't help much. Nevertheless, the cutting came out rooted and happy, and I was babying them for a half of year ever since, but only 2 survived.
    I root the cuttings in the sand now. It is time to put them in the pots...

    Thank you to you all who answered. Two hydroponic supplies stores are pretty far from me, and the Bushell Stop is the South Florida thing...I bought a potting mix (with a lot of bark in it) in the local nursery, re-potted the cuttings, but they died anyway. And the fungus gnats were there.

    I will try a potting mix from the large store's once again, but i will sterilize it before use and will be very careful with water...

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