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Srange balls found in potted plants!
August 22, 2007 11:04 AM   Subscribe

What are these weird little balls magically appearing in my potted plant's soil?

A little while ago I noticed 2 or 3 tiny little balls in the soil of my potted plant (a money tree). I took them out and they seemed to be organic, but I had never seen them before and I've had the plant nearly a year. They were firm to the touch but when I squeezed them a bit some sort of liquid came out. The outside of the little balls was thin and almost papery.
2 nights ago I repotted some old plants and prepared a pot of lavender seeds. The very next day 2 of the little balls showed up in the pot of seeds! I know they weren't there the night before because I was very carefully layering the soil over the seeds and misting it to ensure good germination. This time I took some pictures.
One is of the balls in the pot, I circled one of them. One is of one of them in the hand to show size. You can’t quite tell from the pics but they are a pale greenish colour.
What are these things? How do they just appear? Are they in the potting soil? I used the same bag for many plants and they only appeared in two. They appeared in two different plants, months apart, in one case the day after potting and in the other case some time after.
posted by missmle to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
 
You borked your photobucket links - can you post them again?
posted by iconomy at 11:10 AM on August 22, 2007


SORRY! the links worked in preview, but not once I posted. here's the pics:

in the hand
in the pot
posted by missmle at 11:16 AM on August 22, 2007


Styrofoam pellets they add to the potting soil to make it hold water better?

I've seen them in lots of brands of soil I've used.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 11:24 AM on August 22, 2007


Looks like a time-release fertilizer to me. You can but those green pellets by the jug at any nursery.
posted by coryinabox at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2007


It's either time release fertiliser or slug/snail eggs.
posted by Solomon at 12:39 PM on August 22, 2007


I vote time-release fertilizer, something like Osmokote. The pellets seem to "appear" on their own timetable; I believe it has to do with how often the plant is watered.
posted by ROTFL at 12:59 PM on August 22, 2007


Solomon has it; those are gastropod eggs, either snails or slugs.
posted by lekvar at 12:59 PM on August 22, 2007


It sure looks and sounds like fertilizer, as coryinabox said. Does this sound familiar?

"Gardeners are often puzzled and alarmed by the discovery of yellowish-brown or bluish-green round objects, about 1-3 mm in diameter, found among the roots of newly bought plants..... When squeezed, the pellets burst in a convincing imitation of an egg."

More here.
posted by iconomy at 1:04 PM on August 22, 2007


They're vermiculite, a standard potting mix ingredient. Because they're mostly air, vermiculite particles float to the surface when you water the plant. Don't worry about them.
posted by KRS at 2:14 PM on August 22, 2007


They're slow-release fertilizer, as coryinabox said. Probably either Osmocote or Nutracote (which is more popular among growers). The white blobby crunchy things on the soil's surface are the vermiculite.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:07 PM on August 22, 2007


KRS, I think you mean the pseudo-styrofoam pellets PissOnYourParade mentions, which are actually called Perlite. Vermiculate is chunky and irregular, not spherical blobs. Both are useful in potting soil mixes.
posted by Rash at 3:19 PM on August 22, 2007


I've seen exactly those things in potted soil. They are not Styrofoam and Definitely not vermiculite (which looks like small crystals)

They are some sort of thing such that they look like little rocks until you get them wet, and then they'll expand and (I guess) release fertilizer. If you want, you can pop 'em and water will come out. I don't know exactly what they are but they are definitely included in commercial potting soil.
posted by delmoi at 4:03 PM on August 22, 2007


KRS, I think you mean the pseudo-styrofoam pellets PissOnYourParade mentions, which are actually called Perlite. Vermiculate is chunky and irregular, not spherical blobs. Both are useful in potting soil mixes.

Rash, you're right about vermiculite, but wrong about perlite- it is also chunky and irregular, only white. I have a bag for rooting cuttings.

As for the round balls, they look like slow release fertilizer. Your bag of potting soil should mention it.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:49 PM on August 22, 2007


Excellent! I looked at the potting soil bag and it does say it feeds plants for 3 months, so it MUST be that time release fertilizer. I think I was thrown by the fact that they just appeared one day. I'm curious if it has anything to do with watering as ROTFL suggested.
posted by missmle at 5:03 PM on August 22, 2007


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