Re: non-acid media

Paul Temple (
Tue, 24 May 94 09:50:51 +0100

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I can't remember if I already passed this on, if so - sorry to bore.

>It is, for me, the age-old question. How to grow mexican pings that like
>non-acid soils. I've got some new P.heterophylla (some of you know this as
>D.alfredae) and P.vallisneriifolia, both which like basic media. Think I'll
>do ok if I try these in a perlite/vermiculite mix?

>I hate the advice about crushed marble chips---that stuff is essentially

Anyone who has P. heterophylla (I kkep forgotting that's the name for
P. alfredae!) knows it is still rare and relatively difficult to grow.
This is because it doesn't seem to enjoy the normal acid mix. So I
decided I had just enough (three plants after 5 years!!!) to experiment.

I had just read (in this conference) a small chat about lime lovers and
was discussing pH >7 and pH meters. This made me rethink what i was doing.

So I mixed up the following: 50% red mountain soil (this is NOT from
Red Mountain! It's red soil that I found on the mountains in Wales,
compliments of a mole who diod all the digging for me!). This soil is
about pH 6 - 6.5 according to a meter (but I wouldn't be too convinced
of that as Ping's grow wild in it and UK pings prefer an alkaline mix.)
I added a small amount of garden lime, about a quarter of a teaspoon
per pot. Then I made up the rest with equal parts horticultural sharp
sand and crushed tufa rock. I stood these pots on my clay plant
saucers surrounded by water, to keep them damp, not wet (see my earlier
mail on this).

The results? Up 'til now, my P. heterophylla has had a few leaves (3,
4 or 5) but never looked strong and never as sinuous as when I first
saw the plant (see my photo in Carnivorous Plants, A Wisley Handbook).
Now, I've a luscious plant, VERY strong, over 10 leaves all the time,
just perfect growth.

Now I am NOT going to stick a pH meter into the soil but with powdered
lime in it, it MUST be alkaline.

So, hope this helps. Very interested to hear results of people trying
this out or other variations. I'd also love to see a proper list of
lime loving Ping's.

(and just one aside. CP beginners will generally find that the books
all suggest CPs require an acid mix. As you can see, the above proves
it untrue. MMy talks with Peter Taylor (the authority on Utricularia
before he retired from Kew) revealed he had often found aquatic species
in streams where calcium was being deposited on the stream side and
bottom and sometimes even covering the plant - hardy an acid
environbment!. So be warned - acid isn't always right!).