Cactus and the gritty mix - Questions

MikeO55(9)May 29, 2014

I have a few cacti that need re-potting from their nursery pots and I would like to put them in the gritty mix. I am just wondering if there is anything special I should be doing or just treat them just like any other plant.

I have FP for fertilizer and some of the other plants will start getting some Pro-Tekt for the summer. Should I use the same for my cacti?

Thanks
Michael

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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

The gritty mix is just about right for cacti, probably the only plant I would grow it it. I use DE instead of turface, it holds more water, and has larger pores that plant roots can actually utilize. Cacti like an acidic environment, don't use any lime. Here is one of mine in regular potting soil. A Gymnocalcium. I have had this one for about 30 years.

For fertilizer I use Ammonium sulfate and Miracle Grow when it's growing. Never added trace elements in 30 years.
It's already in most potting soils that are really soil, and not soilless. I was never much of a fan of dead soilless mixes.
I do use beneficial fungi and bacteria. The AS fertilizer maintains an acidic environment. I use 1/4 teaspoon of both at most watering times. Mixed in 2.5 gallons. Sometimes when I can't water frequently due to cold or cloudy weather I will give a full dose. I like to give one full teaspoon a month of both fertilizers from April through September.
Dose was determined from a scientific study done on cacti.
Schultz All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food 20-20-20 is actually the exact dose required with AS. I'm using MG right now as it is on hand.

I have had this one for 41 years.

But feel free to listen to people whom never grew a cactus in their life.Tell you what you should use. Each plant has specific needs. None of my plants are treated the same. Soil, PH, and fertilizer all vary. I have about 10 fertilizers I use. Most requirements were determined from experience and research of scientific studies.
Having said that the fertilizers you mention are very good products and will work fine. But I would find a way to maintain an acidic environment. You could use sulfuric acid, citric acid even vinegar in your water to maintain that environment. You would need a PH meter though to acidify water properly. A PH of 5.5 in the water would do fine.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Fri, May 30, 14 at 2:30

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 1:44AM
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aztcqn(10)

Hi!
Just happened upon this thread and became intrigued.
Drew51 that gymno is so beautiful!

If I may ask, what is:
FP fertilizer
AS fertilizer
and MG?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 2:43AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

FP is Foliage Pro, a decent fertilizer.
MG is Miracle Grow
AS is Ammonium Sulfate pure nitrogen with sulfur which makes it very acidic 21-0-0. Easy to kill plants with this stuff, but very useful for cacti and blueberries. I use it to drop PH quickly, and it works great! It can be used on brambles too (raspberries, blackberries) but better more balanced organic fertilizers make more sense there.Like Hollytone. I use it on young brambles that are actively growing to get them up to size quickly. On mature brambles I would not use it. They grow fast enough already!
Here's one of three bramble patches I have

Yeah that Gymno is great, you rarely see any that big, it is really old!

This post was edited by Drew51 on Fri, May 30, 14 at 4:52

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 4:47AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

BTW if you used diatomaceous earth instead of turface you would not need Pro-Tekt. Since DE is full of silicon.
I would use it in 5-1-1 too! Not the food grade though. Optisorb oil absorbent is 100% DE and has about the right size particle.It amazes me how inefficient the gritty and 5-1-1 mixes are.
If you screen the optisorb the powder can be used as a pesticide, and in 5-1-1 it is cheaper than perlite. it's a win, win, win situation. A 3-1-1 mix is much better if you ask me. Where a mask and gloves when working with perlite or DE.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 5:07AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Drew, you have no idea about the efficiency of the Gritty Mix or the 5-1-1 as you have never used them.

With so many folks growing successfully in these two mixes, it's hard to take your aggressive and bitterly jealous comments with a straight face.

Try sharing your ideas without the vitriol.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 11:11AM
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MikeO55(9)

Nice, so my thread went to ....and no info on the questions I had. Oh, well...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 11:36AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Mike, you'll notice that any mention of Al's mixes draws ire from this one person in particular...which isn't helpful in the least.

That said, you are on the right track. Proceed just as you planned. When fertilizing, just reduce the strength of the dose, 1/8 to 1/4 strength, depending upon how frequently you are fertilizing. Pro-TeKt is not needed, but I do have a bottle that I use every once in while.

When you make your Gritty Mix, wet it thoroughly. Saturate the bark and re-pot with the mix moist. Then, wait 3 - 5 days to water again.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 5:24PM
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MikeO55(9)

Thanks Josh, that sounds very good. I usually fertilize once a week, so maybe 1/4 strength would be good. I feel a bit more confident now. :)

Michael

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 5:34PM
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Joe1980(5)

Mike, I can assure you that you'll do great. I was quite skeptical in the past about growing in what looks like pea gravel, but it seemed to be all the rage, so I took the plunge. Not to mention Al has some very good explanation and science behind his mixes and why they work. Well, I can attest to the fact that the gritty mix does indeed work, for both succulents and tropicals. I will not take away from Drew's abilities, as it is quite impressive to have kept any sort of plant alive for 40 years, but going on the attack before anyone responds, at least for me, makes me take take his response with a grain of salt. I can assure you though, that Al (Tapla), and Josh (greenman28) will lead you down the right path, as they both have done for me. I, like Josh, am a jade enthusiast, and my jades are doing excellent since putting them in the gritty mix. I have a few tropicals in gritty mix that are thriving as well.

Joe

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 7:25PM
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MikeO55(9)

Joe,

Thanks for encouraging words, I truly believe the gritty mix and the 5-1-1 work and it all makes sense to me. That's why in the original question I mentioned the gritty.

I've been reading quite a bit for the last month or so about all the mixes and gathered all the ingredients, so yesterday I re-potted a couple of plants and today I am staring on my succulents. Just received a bare root Agave Potatorum and potted in the gritty. Again, thanks, I appreciate all the encouragement I received and all the help.

Michael

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 8:20PM
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jodik_gw

I use various renditions of the Gritty Mix for ALL my indoor plants, with great success... from orchids to cacti!

It's true... Al and Josh will lead you down the right path, with lots of help along the way!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 7:49AM
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MikeO55(9)

I wanted to take a picture of my first succulent in the gritty mix. So here it is. Agave potatorum potted on Friday.
First wattering tomorrow morning. The mix was wet when i potted it.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 8:44PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Mike, the bark looks a bit large (or perhaps the Turface small?)....did you screen the bark to 1/4 inch?

Josh

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 11:31AM
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MikeO55(9)

Josh, I screened the bark thru 1/2" screen but most pieces are smaller. I read on one thread that the pine bark is OK thru 1/2" screen.

here is a picture of it:

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 1:29PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I feel that Al's gritty mix holds a bit too much water for cacti. Succulebts are a different story though. For cacti I start with straight pumice and then depending on the species will add some turface if it needs a little extra moisture retention. DE could serve that purpose as well. I also have a bunch in pea gravel with a bit of turface and that works well too. Sometime you just need that extra bulk density that gravel provides on windy sites. Now jungle cacti are a different beast altogether.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 2:10PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Mike, you must have conflated the two mixing instructions.

The Gritty Mix calls for 1/4 inch bark. I would resift the bark for sure.

Jsoh

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 8:53PM
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MikeO55(9)

Oh man...I will end up with maybe 20% of a 2 cubic ft bag.
I can use the bigger pieces in the 5-1-1 right?

Here is a picture of the barked screened thru 1/4", is this good? Also, should I re-pot the Agave?

Thanks for all the help Josh, I really appreciate it.

Michael

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 9:50PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Looks much better! And, yes, I would re-pot the Agave....it won't hurt it or even set it back, really. Tough plants.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:18AM
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MikeO55(9)

Thank You Josh, I will.

Michael

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:30AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

My goal is to grow robust healthy plants. Use the best possible amendments, amendments that make sense. Broken glass will work, but not ideal. I see the gritty mix as compromised, sure it works, but far from ideal. But to each his own. Experience is a great teacher. This brain cactus is in my own mineral mix. Pumice, DE, river rock, lava rock, pine fines. My wife can't find enough places for her frog statues!
It's become so big, it broke up a little when putting outside this year. Hard to move it! A quarter added for size comparison.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:49AM
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MikeO55(9)

OK, Drew51,

So "my own mineral mix. Pumice, DE, river rock, lava rock, pine fines" What is so diiferent between yours and the gritty?

So you add pumice, DE (in the gritty), river rock (granite in the gritty), pine fines (in the gritty). Your mix will retain a bit more water...it is still basicaly gritty mix.

Sorry, I don't get it.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 12:07PM
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MikeO55(9)

Josh,

I have about four Epiphyllum cuttings that I need to start and two Huernia zebrina cuttings. Can I start them in the gritty or the 5-1-1? Any tips on how to go about it? This is going to be the first time I attempt to start from cuttings.

Thanks
Michael

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 12:13PM
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