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January 11, 2009


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Thanks for the information. I would like to try this with a soil-less medium such as perlite. I've seen you have some of yours in the expanded clay pellets. How do you do the nutrients?


Sorry to have overlooked your question Cassie. I have used a constant feed method for the past 10 years or so. I use Dyna-Gro (both Foliage Pro and Bloom) at the rate of 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water. Dyna-Gro is widely used in the interior plantscaping industry.


When you describe how to determine how much water to use, you say that if the resivor is empty you should add as much water as the change in weight. What if the resivor isn't empty, should you wait until it is empty before adding more water?


Good question Jessica. Suppose I added 8 ounces of water at the last scheduled watering day (let's say 7 days ago for this example). If there is still some water in the reservoir (let's say 1 ounce) it means that I added too much water. Perhaps it's been a week of cloudy weather.

I simply dump the remaining water and probably add only 7 ounces this time. I have been watering on a fixed schedule this way for going on 15 years now. It works!

Did I understand your question correctly? If not, ask another question.


How do we compensate the weight of the plant. Growth produces more biomass, the plant itself gains a few ounces. In time we must correct the "ideal startpoint weight". Right?


Had the same question.


I believe he responds to this issue on an other page by pointing out that you are growing plants small enough that the extra weight due to new growth is negligible compared to the weight of the growing media(soil).

Simon Green

Normally I would check to see if the soil is dry around the plant itself, I haven't considered trying a moisture indicator.


Your explanations are the most helpful I have found regarding subirrigation. I wonder if you could do a series on vegetables? I started looking into this subject because I have used a "self-watering" seed starting tray with good results, but then transplanted my tomatoes into 4" pots and wondered what the difference was between the constantly moist soil the seedlings were in when sitting on a capillary mat (with water always in the reservoir) and the constantly moist soil they would be in if I left the larger pots in 1/2" of standing water (which everyone says emphatically not to do).

Anyway, these are not houseplants and they are not in low-light conditions (they're under a grow light). I wonder if I can get away with leaving some water on them all the time, but I am curious what your knowledge and experience says about this situation. I'm mostly interested in finding an effective way to keep the plants watered without having to pour from above every day or two, but it can't be too complicated when I'm dealing with dozens of transplants.

Thanks for the information you have already shared!


With some bottles i have a hard time guessing what the ideal weight is.
I Cant clearly see if 1/2 inch from the top is dry or if it is more. I think i presses the soil to tight in these bottles, it was very hard to distribute the soil evenly around the ficus roots. I was afraid that any place without soil would prevent good Capillary action.

Is there an aprox ideal weight you could give for a small ficus benjamina in a 1,5 liter soda bottle? It currently weights 322 grams or 11.4 ounces. I think its a little bit to dry allready and the ideal weight should be heavier but i cant really tell.

Thank you.


Okay, I've been trying to find where I could order (or purchase if there is a local store that sells one) the aluminum soil probe shown in this article with the T-handle and notches. I like things that last and am a big believer in "you get what you pay for" (ergo I don't want the plastic probe ... LOL). Can you advise as to where this probe can be purchased? I've been doing so many searches today that my eyes are becoming crossed. ;)

Thanks in advance,
Michael in Dallas, TX

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