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Watering - How do you prepare the water?

Discuss repotting, soil, lighting, fertilizing, watering, etc. in this category.

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Watering - How do you prepare the water?

Postby Gypscoprotheres » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:16 pm

I am wondering if I'm doing things right here...

-I live in the The Netherlands and that I know, our water is kind of hard. Can use water from the sink just like that or should I do something to "make it less hard" ?

-Should I use fertilizer each time I water my cacti or just once in the few times?

Then I one other small question about my Lophophoras: in their natural habitat they live (if I'm right) on a very poor soil. Should I feed them or just give them water without anything added. (my Lophophora stands on 100% Seramis and is looking very healthy at the moment. I DO use fertilizer right now...)
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Postby CaesiumFluoride » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:06 pm

Hard water doesnt really affect cacti. I also use hard-water, and my plants have been thriving for years.

The only problem you may have is a limescale crust that can form on the top of the soil - the same as in your kettle! This can be unsightly but its no cause for concern.

Fertilise Lophoporas only twice during the growing season. Over-fertilising them can cause them to crack.
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Postby iann » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:39 pm

Never use too much fertiliser on cacti, but growing in pure Seramis you will have to use some. Use a very dilute soluble feed, perhaps a tenth of a normal dilution, every time you water.

I don't have hard water. I prepare my water as follows:
1. Wait for rain
2. Place bucket at the end of the greenhouse gutter
3. Pour collected water on plants

Or this spring:
1. Wait for rain
2. Give up and get soft water from the tap
3. Pour water on plants

:roll:
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Postby Gypscoprotheres » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:04 pm

Thanks again for the advise. :)

I'll try to collect rain-water and water the Lophophora(s) twice with fertilizer during the growing-season. :)

("1. Wait for rain 2. Give up.." :lol: )
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Postby TimN » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:53 pm

I try to use rain water too, but I only get it once or twice a year!

The water here is very hard and alkaline (400+ ppm and 8.3+ ph.) I can't do anything about the hardness right now, but it's not a huge problem. Alkalinity is definitely a problem, cactus water should be acidified to a ph of 5.5-6.0.

I use a fertilizer that uses an Ammonium Sulphate form of Nitrogen as well as the other two elements balanced. I mix this stuff up myself.

I put my water in a 32 gallon trash can (only used for this). I usually let it sit for a few hours or overnight to let the Chlorine dissipate. I add my fertilizer to about 300ppm, all in. Then I adjust the ph to 5.5-6.0 using citric acid.

I have a medium-sized fountain pump attached to a hose that I stick in the trash can to water the plants. Right now, my plants use a little more than 32 gallons for one watering.

I use digital ph and ppm meters to make adjustments.

Over feeding doesn't make L. willies split in my opinion. I've had lots of plants split (usually after a hard rain) but not any L. willies.

I keep my plants cranked up pretty hard with water and fertilizer. If you could split them with water or fertlizer I'd be knee-deep in L. willy parts!
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Postby widea » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:10 pm

I also live in the Netherlands, in The Hague to be specific.
Here the water from the tap has a pH of about 8.3.
To be sure I lower the pH to 6.0. Therefore I add 15 drops of white vinegar ('cooking vinegar') to half a litre of tap water.
I just started with this method, watered them a few times. Maybe it is too early to tell but I have the idea my plants are happy with this soft water :)
Some years ago I always gave my plants rain water and they grew very well. Now I cannot collect rain water anymore so I have to use this method.
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Postby Tony » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:29 pm

My tap water is not nearly as hard or alkaline but I use the same method as Tim and I highly recommend it.
I grew many different plants for many years with straight tap water and had OK results but some started to decline after a few years instead of thriving.
But with the addition of acidified water and fertilizer they all, even the plants that were in decline, are growing and blooming like weeds.
Forget the dog...Beware of the plants!!!

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Postby widea » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:48 pm

Interesting, it somewhat confirms acidifying water is a benefit to cacti.
Another interesting link on acidifying water: http://cactiguide.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=178568&sid=0994a9088ff5fb723840aa417fc0ccb5
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Postby Pricks » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:42 pm

I would limit the amount of fertilizer you use on a cacti. I might even suggest doing as little as once a week or 3x every 2 weeks. Cacti are somewhat low maintenance plants. I guess that's what happens when you learn to survive in the desert. I water mine about 4x per week with my shurflo sprayer and fertilize a little bit over once per week and they seem to do well.
Last edited by Pricks on Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Gypscoprotheres » Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:20 am

Do you water your cacti 4 times a week??? Isn't that way too much?

I water mine once in the fourteen days.
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Postby TimN » Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:50 pm

Gypscoprotheres wrote:Do you water your cacti 4 times a week??? Isn't that way too much?


It depends! Local heat and humidity, soil mix, and pot construction all have an impact.

When it's really hot I usually water every other or every third day. In winter that goes to about once a week or less.

Another watering strategy is to water the plants multiple days in a row, then leave them for a while. This simulates multiple days of rain. I use that method when I've let the plants go for a little too long between waterings and I need to get them re-hydrated.

I'm very fortunate to live in probably the most forgiving climate for over-watering. With high heat and single digit humidity the water just gets sucked out of everything.
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Postby tudedude » Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:24 pm

Can adding vinegar and fert to the water cause sunburn damage ?
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Postby iann » Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:33 pm

tudedude wrote:Can adding vinegar and fert to the water cause sunburn damage ?

Yes, don't add too much of anything soluble. You shouldn't really be adding anywhere near enough to cause problems, but just one more reason to keep it dilute.

Strangely, hard water can be packed with far more minerals than you'd dream of adding as fertiliser, but no problems.

There is a measure called the salt index that indicates how likely a substance is to cause burning to plants. The salt indexes for most fertilisers are widely published, but it would be possible to calculate for other substances too.

Salt indexes for most calcium salts are very low because of their low solubility, so even extremely hard water doesn't cause burning. Likewise, salts such as calcium acetate formed by neutralising hard water pH should not be a big problem. I'll see if I can find numbers. Salt index of Calcium Carbonate is about 5, compared to 100 for Sodium Nitrate. I can't find a published value for Calcium Acetate, but it seems to calculate out around 25.
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Postby tudedude » Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:08 pm

Ok thanks. I looked up the salt indexes of the chemicals in my fert and one was in the 70s. Got to be careful i guess. Maybe follow up my waterings with a misting of plain water.
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Postby iann » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:22 am

tudedude wrote:Ok thanks. I looked up the salt indexes of the chemicals in my fert and one was in the 70s. Got to be careful i guess. Maybe follow up my waterings with a misting of plain water.

Fertiliser is the dangerous stuff, but if you dilute more than the label amount then you shouldn't have any trouble at all. Avoid spraying fertiliser (or anything else!) onto the bodies in strong hot sun.
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