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soil and soil-less mixture

Use this forum to get advice on growing succulents and keeping them healthy

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soil and soil-less mixture

Postby tarev » Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:25 pm

I have always planted our cacti and succulents in the traditional cactus mix with added perlite and stuff, and so far has been successful with it, although recently with this changing weather patterns, even with this traditional ways, some of my plants are really suffering. I have been reading lately about using soil-less aggregates like hydroton or leca. So I was wondering has anyone ever planted their cacti/succulents in just pure hydroton or leca (lightweight expanded clay aggregates. I know this media is used in passive hydroculture, but with cacti and succlents, to lessen problems of root rot, would the use of pure leca, no sand or soil at all work?
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Postby iann » Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:34 pm

Hydroton and LECA are for hydroponics, not pots.

You are already growing 100% soil-less because commercial "cactus soil" doesn't contain any soil, but you can ditch even the wood and peat products and grow in pure rocks if you want. Forget the sand. Use something like decomposed granite, pumice, calcined diatomaceous earth granules, that sort of thing. You'll have to fertilise regularly because those ingredients have no capacity to hold nutrients (well maybe the clay granules have some, but it won't sustain your plants). I've never managed to get it to work properly.

I really wish someone would bag up something that was actually remotely usable as a cactus soil instead of rebranding tomato growbags with a handful of perlite :( It would make your life so much easier and perhaps stop a lot of people abandoning the whole hobby after some bad experiences.
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Postby iann » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:19 pm

Nobody else?
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Postby Dmyerswny » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:01 pm

viewtopic.php?t=16558

lee tried it with pumice...
Thirsty for knowledge. Please water me more than your cactus!
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Postby DustBunny » Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:02 am

There is a member on another forum (can we name other forums here?) that has an extensive collection of C&S growing in Semi Hydroponic medium that is similar to hydroton. She has a wide variety of plants growing this way such as pseudoliths,lithops, Albuca spiralis, and A.obesum to name a few.

I am experimenting with S/H and currently have a Hatoria growing happily. It has been in there since fall and has really taken off. I am going to branch out and try some different haworthias. I tried one species that did not take to it so well but I don't think I acclimated the plant correctly.

Here is a link about S/H http://www.firstrays.com/semi-hydro.htm

If we can link to other forums I will put a link to the other board.
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Postby Buck Hemenway » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:12 pm

If you have the time, it looks like any plant can be grown hydroponically. Take a look at this ferocactus in Hong Kong.

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Postby iann » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:34 pm

I've seen Lithops grown the same way with their roots dangling in water.

Just in case you don't already know, I don't grow "semi-hydroponically" or any other term for just aggregate. I use soil, that being the stuff you find in the ground. Technically this is a mixture of clay, silt, and sand which I then mix with coarser material to maintain aeration.

Many cacti and succulents, including the difficult ones like Ariocarpus, Turbinicarpus, and Lithops are often found in incredibly dense clay soils but I can't really mimic that in my climate. I feel that "just the rocks" is a poor substitute for actual soil, perhaps in the same way that Ariocarpus used to be kept alive by not watering them; it works but it is far from ideal :lol:
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