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The Dude

A Frequently Asked Question

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I live in Adelaide, supposedly an awesome place for cactus growing. This is a question to all but especially adelaide folk familiar with the climate: What's a good cactus mix for growing cactus in Adelaide?

I've read this website and this one for some information.

So I figure I'm going to need potting mix, river sand, small rocks or pebbles or some shit for good drainage, perlite or pumice. Also heard good things about Peat Moss and Coco Coir. What would be a good ratio of these admixtures? I'm going to have all the larger rocks at the bottom of the mixture so the drainage is all good. and add some calcium carbonate (limestone) on the surface.

Ah I forgot about charcoal, that's good too apparently.

Also whats a good mixture for lophs? and has anybody ever planted them in the ground as I've never heard of it. Was wondering how much sunlight would be good for it. I'm thinking not too much as i've seen burned lophs but they've always been kept indoors for most of the time.

Also while I'm at it ill ask another faq, what's the best way to feed cacti? I'm thinking some sprinkling of limestone every ...3 months maybe? Seasol or Charlie Carp every... see heres some more obvious questions how often do i need to feed? I've been neglecting them for a long while and have a feeling if i pamper them some they'll boost. then i heard that neglect is good, also too much water or sunlight is not good.

So what do the seaweed style fertilisers contain? I'm guessing Nitrogen but what contains Potassium or Phosphorous and whats a good application method, and again how often? Anybody know what potting mixes contain any of these elements? and what ratios? I read in that^^ site that people have mixed different potting mixes to obtain a good balance of Nitrogen/Pottasium/Phosphorous

so theres another question, how often do i need to water them and feed them?

I usually always hear that cactus is hardy and needs no attention, fair enough, I just want to set up all the soil as perfect I can when I startup so that later i need to pay sfa attention and only fertilise and water them every so often.

Should mention that the idea is to have this on a hill with a sloping angle and plenty of hight for water drainage so I should be able to water them fairly regularly without the roots rotting, it's dry here as it is.

cheers for any replies, also maybe this should be added to the faq if theres any good suggestions.

Edited by El Duderino

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im probally somewhat sacreligious when it comes to cacti... for my trichs... I plant into potting mix (Brunnings... australian gardener) it has good drainage. I fert my trichs with fish emulsion "charlie carp" probally once a month ovedr growing season.... they dont seem to mind :) as for my lophs..... well, everyone here will think im fucking mad, but I also have them in the same brand potting mix. yes, call me mad, but they have gone off, ever since i planted them in there. I am too scared to use charlie carp on them though, so I used a cacti fert (i have only fert'd them once since ive had them, which is about 3-4 months... as I was getting them rehydrated), but I think i will add a touch of fish emulsion to the mix next time (prolly today!)not sure if i should switch from cacti fert to seasol though??? any advice... in regards to as seaweed based ferts... i bought some seasol the other day, because it was low in nitrogen, and had good potassium, and phosphorous. anyway, like i said, most here may disagree with atleast some of my methods :)

Edited by XipeTotec

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To quote one of Jonos Sig's

What kind of soil mix works for one person is a disaster for another. Watering depends on the time of the year, heat, light and your mix. I've found that the best way to know how to grow any particular plant is simply by trial and error.

But I think the most important factors are free drainage and the ability to dry out when needed

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Check out 'Nan's mix' from the nook, its got all the goodies in it, although it does look like a lot of work.

I use straight washed river sand for rooting, then move onto a more soil based mix (searls cacti mix) with about 40% WRS + 10% scoria, then on the next potting move onto 20% WRS + 10% scoria.

I have found that the lighter stuff like perlite, coco coir and peat can lead to problems with root mealy and the latter 2 can become very hydrophobic once is dries out.

I like to use a very free draining mix because we get a lot of salty humidity and storms up here, being able to dry the pots out ASAP when needed makes a big difffernce to black spot/rot etc. prvention.

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Yeah Searls potting mixes are the go. Especially the seed raising mix ! used it in combination with a little river sand for years for all my cacti and plants. Only problem is I couldn't find any last time I looked.

As for water/feed. Trichos will love basically anything you throw at them during summer and the warmer parts of the year, I water mine every day or two.

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searls definatelyseem to be ontop of their game.

their coars sharpsand is absolutelyfantastical. its all i use as propagation media.

noway ur mad shroomy, if it works for u then stick with it man!

good luck dude!!! u will suss it out! :)

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"their coars sharpsand is absolutelyfantastical. its all i use as propagation media."

Thats different to their prop mix?

Love Searles too.

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"their coarse sharp sand is absolutelyfantastical. its all i use as propagation media."

Thats different to their prop mix?

Love Searles too.

yeah man,im sure there prop mix is like a fine potting mix without any ferts in it.

to gluggy to use alone in cacti prop if u arsk me. CSS is the shiz for prop, but u just gotta keep it moist..ie cover with a coke bottle/u know just keep it humid.(if the css dries out whilst roots are forming..sayonara cuttings.(thats not for cacti though) ucan add a layer of fert pott mix at the bottom of whatever ur putting ur cuts into, so when the roots grow through the css, they hit the fert soil and start boosting, thats when u know they are ready to pot up, but its good to have ur cuttings sitting in the css as it is sterile and free draining, though the roots growing in the css will be fairly fragile, but once they hit fert pott mix the whole plant toughens up, but mostly i just do em in pure css.

For cacti i just put my cuts straight into the media they will be growing in, like i said before, dont pussyfoot urcacti cuts.

but this is only what works for me..at the moment!

Edited by jono

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I've just been using a 50:50 mix of propagating sand and potting mix, and everything is really starting to go off (in the good way).

Everytime I water them I mix in some miracle gro, about 1 small scoop in the filled kitchen sink . My peres end up growing about an inch or more within 2-3 days of watering, and it's definately sped and fattened up the growth on my trichs

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As it is now I've got a few potted cacti, the mix I used was perlite, potting mix, sand with rocks, in about equal parts. A few have most definielty rooted and some have tiny roots and could be pulled out quite easily, looks like an assymetrical rooting where half of it is stuck and the other moves - those ones haven't grown at all but the rooted ones have boosted.

So seeing as these are already rooted I guess I won't be needing a special mix for getting them started I'm just wondering what a good mix is for the surrounding soil for the roots to spread into.

here's a n00b question, wtf is CSS? also is the whole point of coco coir, peat moss and the like to have a fast draining layer? they're obviously much 'thinner' than some rich potting mix.

i always figured you mix it all together, but say i want to root an unrooted cactus would I have CSS (whatever the hell it is) or coco coir or something similar spread near the top and have a richer growing medium towards the bottom? and how well do small rocks go in terms of allowing extra drainage and that but still have enough soil for the roots to grow in, I might skip perlite and opt for pebbles and small rocks (of which i have plenty). One more thing I geuss a slow release fertiliser is a good idea to mix into the soil too.

Also heard the suggestion of Vermiculite, any experiences? and some kind of organic buffer layer, whatever that means.

I had more questions but I've forgotten for now. Cheers for the hints so far peoples, i'm going to have to figure out what's best for me though. The whole point is I don't want to buy overpriced pre-mixed "cactus mix", I want to buy bulk amounts of various soils and make my own, which i can spread over more area for less $

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If you're just starting out best not to get too complicated, Nans mix in Adelaide has always been great for me.

If you can get hold of a car just go to your local landscape supplys yard with some big bags like you can get at fodder stores and a dustpan and get some soil, washed sand, scoria and some small white metal/quartz/limestone? You'll be surprised what you can get for under $10.

Buy a big bag of aged cow manure and dolomite and away you go and don't buy Brunnings sand in bags as it's crap.

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sorry in a rush so may have missed a few responses.......however in brissie i find nothing but the best potting mix is what i use for trichs.......desert cactii etc need more drainage and specialised mixes......generally though ive found trichs(well the species i grow) respond well to good soil(potting mix...premium dont be stingy!) and lots of food........of course drainage is important but youll get that in good potting mix....i heard of a winter of solid rain in nnsw with no dramas to san pedros growing(before the drought circa 95)i think the drainage helped them but still generally winter and water and cactii dont mix........these particular cactii had no dramas with the conditions.....theres an insight to the varied conditions tolerant by the trichs.....

T.

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2mm diatomite (and shell grit or gypsum for the lophs) is all i will say.

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For my trichs I use straight poting mix. No additives. works a charm as they rocket along.

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You mean to say you lock your poor Pedro's up in POTS!?? :o

I've met some scoundrels in my time, but YOU sir.... :P

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wtf is CSS?
Course Sharp Sand, just a course rough grade of sand (not beach sand)

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Course Sharp Sand, just a course rough grade of sand (not beach sand)

ohhhhh...... i was planting mine with cascading style sheets.... this would explain a few things

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ohhhhh...... i was planting mine with cascading style sheets.... this would explain a few things

LOL! Smartarse, had a feeling it wasn't that one.

and it doesn't explain ANYTHING?

if anything it raises more questions, just what sort of growing medium is a webpage coding language thing? does it provide enough drainage and enough nutrients? How well does a virtual construct translate into a physical growing medium? any complications in the transformation?

Before I Hijack my own thread with stupid crap I'll get back on topic.

Fertiliser Question.

I'll be getting myself some Charlie Carp, maybe Ozmocote or Miracle Grow - when i've got money again. At the moment I'm just going to make do with what I got. The mum found me Nitrophoska slow release fertiliser

I haven't gotten around to searching the nook archives for nans mix, still I want to do that one since it's so hyped - always the same comment about it needing too many components though - and people can't be stuffed.

So all will change later and I might mix some slow release fert into that when i make it, for now I've just got potted cacti in 1:1:1 pottingmix:perlite:sandwithrocks. I've barley fertilised that and realised just now that with all this hot sun and ample rain and watering when needed, these should be boosting by now, all I've got are huge spines but almost no growth.

so I'm going to use Nitrophoska but I'm worried cuz it says not to use with Native plants, and then I rmemebered some fertiliser that destroyed lophs and trichs so I'm hoping this won't I'll go through the components if anyone sees something dangerous let me know.

Nitrophoska

16.0% Total Nitrogen

7.9% Nitrogen (N) as Ammonium

2.1% Nitrogen (N) as Nitrate

6.0% Nitrogen (N) as Isobutyliderndiurea

3.0% Total Phosphorous

2.2% Phosphorous (P) as water soluble

0.8% Phosphorous (P) as Citrtate Soluble

12.5% Pottasium (K) as Potassium Sulfate

7.2% Sulphur (S) as Sulphates

1.2% Magnesium (Mg) as Dolomite

0.5% Iron (Fe) as Iron Oxide

0.01% Boron (B) as Calcium Borate

0.01% Manganese (Mn) as Oxide

0.002% Zinc (Zn) as Zinc Oxide

Edited by El Duderino

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id just spend the $10 on a bottle of charlie carp.... maybe ask your mum for some pocket money :) also, i wasnt doing an impression of you regarding the CSS.

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I think there was thoery that spin length is in regrard to water. the more water the shorter the spines.

Your mixture 33% organic and 66% drainage. I think your ratio is alittle off maybe 33% drainage and 66% organic. This will let you hold some water and nutriets for some growth dude!

and before xipe says anything i know they don't add up to 100% :rolleyes:

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I though 'CSS' was Chemical Shaman's Semen. Plants really seem to appreciate a nice shot o' wad.

EDIT: Sorry, dude, you know it's not like me to hijack for some useless crap, but that was wide open and nobody hit it :lol:

Edited by FM.

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maybe ask your mum for some pocket money :) also, i wasnt doing an impression of you regarding the CSS.

wtf ask mum for pocket money? do i make the impression im a 5 year old. I got money but that is designated for the legendary godfathers of punkrock bad religion, so i must wait til monday for mo moolah. Why must i explain this situation anyway?

Point is i only have this nitro-whatever fertiliser until monday and i was asking about that as it looked like it was a nice all-round fertiliser to use, apart from the warning that its no good for natives. which is worrying.

I guess I'll just need a wad of css for now, anyone have some handy?

so I have too much drainage not enough organic nutrientish stuff eh? I guess it's too late for the pots as they're already rooted. but for the ground i'll be transplanting into could I use a small amount of compost too, I don't know about using manure though.

Anyhow i'm going to risk this Nitrophoska stuff and let you know how it all goes. I might risk a non sacred cactus first. Once I find Nans mix I'll post it up here too, and then we should stick that in the FAQ, mebbe ill ask nan 1st.

Nook has some craaaazy cactus pics btw. San Pedro Snr as they call him is a giant!

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Can't go past Seasol for some liquid fert for the cacti (and the occasional diluted urine). I've made the switch from Charlie Carp to Powerfeed for the vascular plants as well, Acacia's seem to like it, even obtusifolia (although use a little less than recommended strength).

Anyway, I think I just wanted to reply because I wanted to also say that Bad Religion are awesome and maybe I'll see you there, just look for the punk-looking fella :rolleyes::P

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and the occasional diluted urine

People pee in pots?

I heard of urea being used so why not i guess.

Here's a short run down of Nans Mix

Topsoil

Compost/Manure (organic matter)

Limestone chips

+ a cup of pelletised dolomite for every 4 litres of mix.

...Anyhow so here's the plan for an outdoor soil mix.

Topsoil - high limestone content apparently and very basic, a half metre or so under the top soil i think there should be some solid limestone, which i might dig out and crush somewhat, do add to the mix for added structure and magnesium and all that which is good - mostly for soil structure as all the dirt is pretty 'limestoney' anyway.

crushed limestone sourced from original soil and crushed by hammer or something. Crushed seashells are a possible alternative.

compost Some kind of cactus compost. Won't be using manure.

Sand - I forget the specifics, I hear beach sand = bad, desert sand = good, got NFI where river sand fits in this and wtf is loam? Anyway I think I've already got some river sand.

aerator Crushed terracotta pots (kiln fired clay) are meant to work best as an aerator as they neither sink nor float, so they wont cause soil condensation.

+ Coco Coir

other Bone Meal (or is Blood and Bone better?) Garden Lime, and Gypsum. I suppose I add the Gaden Lime as an acidifier to adjust the ph when it gets too high. [edit] realised lime is basic - duh!, i always thought it'd be more citrus acidy :P]

Here's another question, whats an effective way to measure soil pH and what should it be at for trichos?

Questions

Is blood and bone too rich a fertiliser?

What's a good slow release to add to the soil, apart from the periodic watering with Charlie Carp and/or pissing onto.

I already have quite basic soil, so I may skip crushing additional limestone into the mix, pelleted limestone/dolomite seems even more of a waste, anybody have any ideas about these two factors? These are good sources of Magnesium which is needed apaprently but so is a balanced PH and i don't want to overdo the basicity of the soil. But then I can always add garden lime. (acidic yes?)

also one more question about ratios?

I was thinking of having them equally split, with maybe half the blood and bone used? Having Crushed Pots Coco Coir and Sand seems there will be more than enough aeration I guess It won't hurt to have two lots of organic matter (compost + B'n'B). Is Gypsum used for the same purposes of aeration? I hear its good to use if you have high clay content in your soil.

any suggestions or ideas are welcome of course!

Edited by El Duderino

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People pee in pots?

In the watering can. + Cap of Seasol. The rest water.

In regards to slow release ferts, I have never seen any specifically for cacti and succulents, but that is not to say there isn't some out there. You want fertiliser with low nitrogen content. If you can't find any, then you could probably use a balanced ratio slow release fertiliser and only use 1/4-1/2 the recommended strength each year.

Edited by Kenny Blister

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