potting soil ?

christianmeJune 29, 2007

Hi Everyone!I am repoting a large sans this weekend.I am having trouble finding cactus/succlent mix potting soil.I am finding plenty of cactus palm/citrus soil made by miracle grow.On the back of the bag it does say it includes other succlents.There is sand and perlite in the soil so I want to know if you all think this potting soil is o.k. and should I add more perlite?

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not familiar with the potting soil in question, but you really can't go wrong adding more perlite. Most bagged cactus soils are crap anyway (peat based and peat is a water sponge) and need to be mixed 50/50 with perlite or other coarse drainage material to be decent.

When in doubt add perlite or other drainage material.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 6:32PM
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mkiker(Marshall zone 8 NC)

Wal-Mart and Kmart have Schultz Cactus dirt which says to add peat moss for succulents. They don't need to drain quite as fast as cacti.

Does it hurt if the soil drains too fast? You say when in doubt but doesn't too much perlite make it hard for the succulent to absorb the water? Would you just have to water it more often?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 11:23PM
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Christian, I'd love seeing the citrus soil..never heard of it before. I'd bet it works fine, w/or w/o extra perlite though a little added won't harm your plants..Toni

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 11:46PM
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mkiker(Marshall zone 8 NC)

The "citrus soil" is standard at Home Depo in my area. My understanding is it's just more water retaining that other Cacti soils but still fastish draining. That's what I get from reading the bags. If I ad it to do over again I'd have bought that rather than the Schultz brand which says you need too add peat to keep succulents happy despite saying Succulent in big letters on the front of the bag.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 12:01AM
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Mentha(9 CA)

I make my own:

1 part potting soil without peat
1 part perlite
1/2-1 part vermiculite
1 part clay cat litter, pumice, gravel, or aquatic soil
a handful of bonemeal, if you can find it

It seems to work fine.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 1:11AM
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I've used Schultz before, and if memory serves, it works fine for ordinary tropical plants, but has a tendency to turn into a big water-repellent block if it's allowed to dry out, so it's functional but annoying. Memory doesn't always serve, though, so take with salt.

I would just flat-out refuse to believe any soil packaging that told me to add peat for succulents, unless it was pure sand or something.

Soil is often a trial-and-error thing with houseplants, like watering and humidity and, well, pretty much everything else. It can be difficult to communicate what works for you to someone else, because they may have different materials available, or they may understand terms like "a little bit" or "a generous portion" differently, or they may be less frequent waterers.

As a general rule, though, I have found that I can only use soil directly out of the bag if it's going to be for a small (4-inch or less) clay pot. Anything else retains too much water for too long, and the bigger the pot gets, the wetter everything stays.

Particularly for a big Sansevieria, I'm thinking you are going to want soil that's solid enough that the plant won't tip over (so don't go nuts with the perlite), but otherwise you need something that's going to dry out on top almost immediately -- after a big plastic pot gets watered, you'd be shocked by how long the water can linger in the middle of the soil.

Soil just out of the bag is usually not good enough to use without amending, and in this case I think it's especially important to add some additional drainage, even if the soil already has some. Sansevierias tend not to have very deep root systems, and, again, this is going to be a more serious issue with a bigger plant than with a smaller one: the last thing you need is a permanent block of heavy, wet soil under the roots.

Because the roots tend to be shallow, you might also want to try to find a clay azalea pot -- like an ordinary clay flowerpot but with shallower proportions. A clay pot will also let air in from every direction, instead of only from the top down, which will help. If you can't find an azalea pot, or you don't like clay aesthetically, use any old pot you want to, but leave more room between the top of the soil and the lip of the pot than you normally would.

There are a lot of different ways that this could be done "right," so don't feel like this has to be followed to the letter or else your plant is doomed: you don't. But the bigger the plant, or the less porous the pot, the more likely I think extra drainage is warranted, whether that be by adding some sand or gravel or perlite or pumice or haydite or little glass figurines of ducks to the mix. Anything that's going to take up some of the space in the root ball without absorbing a lot of water. Perlite is good, but in this case, with possible stability issues, I think you need to rely more on sand and gravel: perlite just doesn't bind strongly enough to anything to hold up a plant that wants to tip over.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 1:42AM
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mkiker you hit the nail on head!I am trying to decide between those two.I can't find the shultz right now to compare ingredients.I have used the schultz before on my smaller sans with perlite that I added to the mix and it seems to me the soil stays moist a long time.From the feel of the citrus soil it is the lightest that I have ever felt that is right out of the bag.I have decided to plant in a clay pot.I'll add some perlite and vermiculite also.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 7:02AM
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I have one small cactus in a non draining pot to repot, and don't really want to go out and buy a bag of cactus soil...I am taking from the above info that I could use a standard potting mix with extra perlite added? I also have sand, would that be good to add as well? If I leave this plant in the pot it is in, it will die for sure.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 12:11PM
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mkiker(Marshall zone 8 NC)

I wonder if it's different standards or if schultz has modified their soil. The bag of cactus soil I just bought is like sand with giant clumps of something else in it that I can't identify but looks like bark chips, feels like rock. It seems to drain rather well and my sans. dry out in a few days with it.

The bag says "28%-38% reed-sedge peat, sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and washed sand. It doesn't give specific quantities.

I try not to make my own soil because I'm a novice and have no clue how. I know I could learn, but I'm having success with Schultz right now so I'm just going to hope it continues.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 12:42PM
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I wish they sold citrus soil here instead of mixing my own..it'd be a heck of a lot easier.
You guys are lucky, living in warmer zones.
C&S soil here isn't much different than potting soil..you look at it and can tell it retains moisture. I too mix my own which works out fine..the heck w/their overpriced cactus mix that's mostly soil and peat..Toni

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 6:43PM
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Whatever you all do, DO NOT -I repeat DO NOT buy Miracle Gro's new organic potting soil for orchids/epiphytic type plants and use it for indoor use - the labels says organic but I did not know that at Miracle Gro, organic means "loaded with insects and the eggs of insects" Yuk. Fungus gnats galore, little red mites, long skinny black bugs with lots of legs, and many more....it was like a horror movie. I had to repot everything.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 7:16PM
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I'll add some perlite and vermiculite also.

Perlite is great for drainage, but vermiculite, contrary to how it is sometimes advertised does not.

The primary purpose of vermiculite is to be a water sponge. It holds a lot of water. If that's what you want then by all means, otherwise don't be fooled by thinking it will help drainage, it will not.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 7:25PM
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mkiker(Marshall zone 8 NC)

What I do with miraclegro, and do this at your own risk but this is a farmer trick passed on to me, is

Put pine sol in it at mopping strength. Actually not "Pine Sol" because it isn't real anymore but Kmart and some other places sell pine cleaner that is 15 percent pine oil and other biodegradable cleaners. I don't saturate the soil, just enough to let the pine sol get through it good with little or no drainage. Let it sit out for a week until it's dry (a clay pot helps greatly or spread it out). That seems to kill everything. Their moisture control dirt had gnats in it and one worm (one that I've seen) so I've been doing that with everything. I've even given some of my plants very diluted pine sol water (a capful to a gallon but that's just a wild guess at a correct dose) and it hasn't hurt them.

I will not allow bugs in my home. I'd rather the pine sol killed the plants as long as the bugs die.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 10:10PM
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