Gritty mix problems
Hello all, thanks in advance for reading this.
I have been caring for plants for years and have recently been utterly convinced that my plants would benefit from Al's gritty mix (I'm a scientist, it all makes perfect, lovely sense). I posted my issues below elsewhere, and it was suggested I start a new thread and that I include many details, so here we go.
I went and bought all three ingredients. I used cherrystone poultry grit, Napa Oil Dry (there's no Turface to be found around here), and bark fines (Reptibark from a pet store). I screened all three components as per Al's instructions, and rinsed them all very well once they were mixed together. I also bought Foliage Pro to use for fertilization.
I moved my large 10-year old jade into the gritty mix along with about 10 Christmas cacti (all are fairly small, about 10-leaf starters), and a big lemon dracaena. Only one of these transplants has not suffered immensely.
I planted the jade in barely moist gritty mix and watered it about a week after transplant. Please note, I did a decent amount of root clipping to get the root ball healthier and break out the old compacted soil. About two weeks after moving it, it started looking very droopy and when I went over to look at it the big branches fell off with the slightest touch. I quickly dumped out the mix to check out the plant roots and the bottom 1/2 of the plant was all mush. I have never had a problem with this jade before; it has always given me new healthy growth, and I used to use a regular cactus soil mix and water it once every 4-5 weeks or so.
The Christmas cacti are a weird story. As they were immature starters (plants of only about 10-12 leaves in size) I did not have to do any root clipping. I moved them into slightly damp gritty mix, and watered them a bit almost immediately since I know they need more water. About a week after transplant I watered them with some Foliage Pro added in to give them nutrients. Shortly after that, all leaves that were under the gritty mix soil line became almost liquified... they turned a deep green color, and when you squeezed them green pus oozed out.
I have now lost all but about 3 Christmas cacti leaves; all the rest of the plants died. My large jade is now down to about 20 leaves and about 4 3-inch segments. They are the only pieces that have not turned into mush.
The lemon dracaena is doing well and has a new roots growing in (I checked it after that other plants had collapsed to see if I might need to intervene here).
Anyone have any clue what is going on? I whole-heartedly believe that the gritty mix works, and that I can get past this stumble, but seeing my jade that's been with me for 1/3 of my life almost completely die has scared me a bit. Could this be an issue with the fertilizer? I did not directly fertilize the jade, but I did use the same watering can... so maybe it contaminated - I know jades can't handle strong fertilizer.
Anyway, any help would be great. Or encouragement to stick with the gritty mix. I'm so disheartened by the loss of about 4/5 of my plants :(