re-soiling question

Lamora(4)October 13, 2012

Hi Everyone :) I have a fairly large Thanksgiving Cactus (thought it was a Christmas Cactus, but was corrected) that was given to me. The soil is still wet from when I recieved it a week ago, and it seems very heavy and dense.

I can't find any bark, ANYWHERE for the 5-1-1 mix,(except at the pet store for reptiles and that is very pricy right now) but I do have a special mix from a Nursery. It is what they use and seems pretty good. (they had samples)I haven't used it yet on any plants. But it seems to be good. Plus, for now, it is all I have.

My question is, Would now be a good time to re-soil it? Or would it be better to wait till Spring? It doesn't have any new starts on it. Looks kinda sad where it is right now.

here is a pic of her.

Any advice? Thanks in advance.

Marjie :)

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'm never sure what you mean by 're-soil'. Do you mean to add some new medium to the surface of the pot? Or to completely re-pot the plant with all new potting mix? Or something in between?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 11:55PM
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Lamora(4)

repot with a different soil mix~ sorry for the confusion. I will be using the same pot, just clean it out first. I'm not sure what she was using, but it sure is wet and heavy. I'm kinda getting used to the "lighter" side of soil. ;)

But that's all I meant... Usally when I do this, I keep some of the old soil around the root, trying not to disturb the root mass, I knock off what I can and put it in the new mix.

I'm a bit scared to do this tho, her being so large, plus I'm not too sure about this time of year, but like I said, she isn't getting any new growth. I don't know anything about it, age, watering/feeding scedual, last repotting, nothing. So we are starting out new with each other~ sorta speak. So any advice is welcome~~ :)

Marjie

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 12:39AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

First of all, thanksgiving cactus cant really exist, its christmas cactus. They should really be called winter cactus!
Basically there are two types, winter and spring cactus.

Just like crocus.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 7:06AM
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rina_

Greenlarry

There is lot of confusion abut Christmas-Thanksgiving-Easter cactus; maybe it's good to read about the differences:
read here

Marji was asking about repotting tips - Marji, did you try searching this forum for answers? Type subject in the search box, I am sure there will be some answers. Rina

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:09AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I could have SWORN that we've gone over this. :-) I guess it's the common names that drive this misconception about these different tropical cacti. Lemora, you are one hundred percent right in calling your plant a Thanksgiving cactus.

Those spiky looking, crab-like stem segments are very easy to identify. Schlumbergera truncata is the most common of all the holiday cacti and VERY likely to be sold as Xmas plants.

The other winter blooming cacti is S. bridgesii, the 'real ' Xmas cactus. The stem segments on this species are rounded. This one has become somewhat rare in the stores. It's simply not as pretty as S. truncata.

Yet another epiphytic tropical cactus is called the Easter cactus, Rhipsalidopsis gaetneri. It has rounded segments, too, but are decidedly bristly. The flowers are very different on this plant, and are commomly bright red.

Why have they been giving these popular plants Christian or American holiday names? That's the story of a very successful marketing ploy. These different plants, if left to their own devices, will naturally bloom in November, December, and in the spring. They are photoperiodic responsive plants.

It's probably not important to correct someone about these holiday plants...unless the actual subject of which is which comes up. They are clearly three unique and separate plants....and the Thanksiving cactus does, indeed, exist.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 9:11AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I stand corrected, well sit anyway ...going by that site mine is the ahem thanksgiving cactus.
Even tho we dont have thanksgiving in the UK...

Its like haloween, an American phenomenomenon.

Hmm haloween cactus anyone ;)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 10:32AM
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birdsnblooms

Rhizo, I believe TC have been called Christmas Cactus so long, the name stuck. Possibly since true CC were impossible locating.

Most likely, nurseries aware of the differences label them CC's. Partly, to avoid confusion, especially for those who buy holiday plants for Christmas, then discard after flowers die. In other words, non-serious growers.

At this point, if everyone here wrote to stores/nurseries/big box regarding TC vs CC, they'd ignore us.

Larry,

The closest Halloween Cactus would be a Euphorbia called Ghost Cactus..lol..Would that do? :)
Speaking of Halloween, it's 17 days away.

Larry, do they not celebrate Halloween, 'under a different name,' in UK? I could have sworn I read something similar to Halloween in England, etc.

Hi Margie...Is your TC outside? It's large enough to flower. If it was mine, I'd wait..TC's usually start budding, 'if they haven't already,' within the next few weeks. To repot now could interfere w/blooms.

BTW, your plant is really nice-looking, and good-size. Toni

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:03AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Yes we have Halloween in the UK but I personally wouldnt bother with it. Its a corruption of a pagan ceremony that was taken to the US and commercialised!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 1:17PM
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cahac(6)

GL,
The English Proper name would be "Schlumbergera Truncata Hybrid Winter Solstice Blooming Jungle Tree Cactus". Isn't it a whole lot easier to just say or write "Thanksgiving Cactus"(Cacti)
LOL
cliff

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 1:56PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I just say xmas cactus, even easier ;)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 2:01PM
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mrsgalihad(5 CO)

Marjie,
I just repotted and fully bare rooted my two smaller Schlumbergeras. They are tough plants and can handle a lot. I'm waiting on my big one but only because it's loaded with buds and I don't want it to drop any. Five years ago my son knocked over my big one and broke the pot. It was early November. It had to sit for a couple hours before I could get it repotted and it was just fine.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Lamora(4)

Thanks Toni,I wish I could take the credit fot it, but it was given to me as is. No, it is inside now, living room. I think I will wait now. Mom keeps asking if it will flower, she really likes looking at it. :) Plus if it does want to flower this winter, I do not want to interupt it. It seems healthy. Leaves are thick and strong. So something must be working. (Better to not fix something that is working)

Rina, sorry, didn't look up before asking this forum, but I will. It was very late and on the spur of the moment thing.. should NOT do that! lol. But yes, I will "try" to look. (always seem to have a hard time finding what I want)

As far as the names go, I agree with the comment about the Christians names. I believe in God, Holidays and so forth, but some may be offended by the names. That is why the first Easter Cactus I had, I announced it as Spring Cactus..(what the tag said) got called on that one too~~ I guess it is a personal thing. But as far as 2 different "Winter Cactus" goes, I have both, and they are different.(tho my CC is just starting out, not doing too well either) Maybe the TC should be called Autum Cactus?? IDK, I just don't want to get into an argument about names. I get confused with them as it is. So I am going to keep calling them TC & CC & EC~~ Autum, Winter and Spring~ who forgot Summer?? Or is there one and I don't know about it~~ ;)

Anyway, It did kinda get off subject tho~ oh well.
Marjie

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 3:08PM
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Lamora(4)

Oh and Rina- I'm sorry I forgot to thank you for that site, very informitive and helpful. Something new to study for me~~ thanks :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 3:30PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Marjie,

FYI, when re-soiling (?) it's always best to remove ALL the old mix from the roots, just crumble it off w/ your fingers; they're not that fragile & can handle it after all.

To leave bad old mix on the roots while adding good new mix may cause problems cause the 2 different mixes to drain & evaporate at different rates; this may cause lots more harm than good, pls. re-think this.

As long as the plant is able to drink, I'd wait on changing the mix 'til Spring, in case it wants to bloom this winter.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 5:04PM
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rina_

Marji

It was not ment to 'scold' you for asking...I didn't have any tips to offer myself and remembered that there were questions asked about CC-TC before, that's the reason I suggested to search.
I often ask questions & later realize that I could/should have check the forum first...Rina

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Lamora(4)

rina- np~ didn't feel like you were scolding me, just reminding me :) I do things like that tho, jump the gun, sorta speak. When I have a question, I put myself on AUTO to come here first. THEN!! I look it up~~ lol

Need to change my ways I guess. Good time of year to do it.
Marjie :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 8:06PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy, I just re-potted my Christmas Cactus, and I posted a few pics.
As the others have said, remove as much of that old soil as you can,
even if you damage a few roots. Now is not the optimum time of year;
but if it's a choice between the plant dying or surviving the winter,
then definitely do it.

Here's the Thread, which I'll "bump" as well: Christmas Cactus re-potted

Josh

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Lamora(4)

Josh~ thanks for the thread! Very beautiful plant you have there and it is very exciting to see what you did. And now I have a better idea of what to look for next Spring. She is very healthy right now, I think. She isn't droopy or saggy and her leaves feel full and strong. She isn't showing any sign of new growth yet or flowering, but it's only been a little over a week since I got her.

So, as long as she stays the way she is right now, I'm not going to do anything that drastic till next Spring. I am going to keep a good eye on the soil tho. If she was watered just before I got her, the soil is holding a lot of it and it isn't drying out. That is the main reason I wanted to re-pot her. But if she isn't showing any signs of stress or over watering, I think I will let it go for now.

Thanks so much, again, for showing me what to expect. I am always courius (sp) about how roots are. I have one Golden Potho vine in a 4 in pot. The vine is almost 3 ft long now and I am always wondering if it will get root bound, just the one vine.. DH won't let me look/see.. it is HIS! LOL but it's all good.

Thanks again..
Marjie :)

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 5:56PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

My pleasure, Lamora!
I have the plant back out on the deck now, enjoying the filtered Autumn sun and cooling nights.
Immediately, the plant perked back up and began to push new growth. As you saw from the pics,
there was some serious root-congestion...which is what happens when a plant goes 4 years in the
same pot and potting mix :-)

Josh

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:48PM
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birdsnblooms

Cliff, LOL

Marjie...agree, never fix something that isn't broken.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:01PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I agree....but waiting until something breaks to fix it isn't necessarily a wise course
of action, either. As they say, an Ounce of prevention is worth a Pound of cure :-)

Josh

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:31PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

But in this case Josh, do you agree she'd best wait on changing the mix 'til Spring? In case she might get blooms this winter?

Thanks for posting your re-pot, that's an amazing mass of roots that developed there; am guessing it's been quite a LONNGGGGG time since that was repotted. Any ideas how long? Just curious.

I've never seen one that big or that old unpotted; very educational Josh, thanks for remembering that I'd asked for pix!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 6:03PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

You bet, Karen!
I'm sorry it took me so long to get those pics ;-)
I think the plant has gone 4 years in that mix, which had more sand in it than I would ever dream
of using in my current mixes. Anyhow, I'm really glad to have it out of the old and into the new.

Now is not the optimal time to re-pot - and I should have planned better to re-pot my own plant
earlier this Summer - but with the gloomy months of Winter ahead, I wanted to safe-guard against
future problems. For me, the health of the plant is a bigger concern than the next bloom-cycle.
But I understand that others may be more interested in blooms.

What I read in Lamora's postings was this:
"If she was watered just before I got her, the soil is holding a lot of it and it isn't drying out"
And that is why I suspect that the soil-mix may prove quite problematic during the Winter ahead.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 6:18PM
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Lamora(4)

Yes Josh~ it may be a problem later on. I gave it a shower today, got a lot of dust off the leaves, and the water that did get to the soil was really soaked up! I didn't give it a lot of water tho. Was just rinsing it off like I did some other plants today. (this place gets real dusty real fast) It really seemed to perk her up some. Guess a shower makes everyone feel better..

I would like to try that "new" soil I got from the nursery.
This soil has perlite and co-conut fibers in it. Has anyone heard of that? They put all their plants in it to grow and say it is good for all types of houseplants.. I think I heard something a while back about the co-conut fibers being real good for plants. Can't find it now tho.

Anyway, I would like to try it on a small group of Bonnie Spider plants I have, put 5 in one pot. I think they are kinda out growing these small pots. Least that would give me an idea of how the soil is, drainage wise.

But as far as the TC goes, I think I am going to wait and see. and hope for the best..

Marjie~ still listening and learning :)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 9:56PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Coco fiber by itself is not a good ingredient due to its relatively high pH and its moisture retention.
Coco fiber actually has less "loft" than comparable peat-moss, and so compaction is more of an issue.

For your Jungle/Holiday Cacti, you're probably not going to find a bagged mix that performs as wonderfully
as bark (with some very minor amendment).

Josh

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:40AM
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Lamora(4)

Josh~ thanks for that imput, I was thinking the same thing about the coco fiber, but wasn't sure.

I put a small spider plant in some of that soil today, It was getting root bound anyway, so far I'm not sure I am overly impressed with it. It is supposed to be organic. But until I can get some bark/peat moss and more perlite, I'm kinda stuck. Or I should say, my plants are stuck, with what I've got.

Been thinking of just the peat moss and perlite w/out the bark~ would that work for the cacti? What would be the ratio for that? 1 moss-2 perlite? I really don't know...

I am still trying to find the soil that works for me and my plants, so far I like the 5-1-1 mix, but for me it is more like 2-1-1, and it seems to work. Problem is finding the Fir/Pine Bark. (and we live in the moutanin area! go figure)I can't seem to find anyone that carries it w/out a lot of other stuff in it. The only place I have found is the Pet stores for reptiles, and that is getting very pricy.

I am going to keep an eye on my Spider for a while, see how it does in this soil, hope for the best..but as far as the other plants go, I'm going to wait to get the mix I like.

Like I said, it is just a small plant. Sure is picky tho, one day it is white & droopy, like it is dying, next it is bright green and looking real good.. don't know what is up with that, but that is for another time and thread.. ;)

Thanks for all the info and imput on this, helps me a lot in my thinking of re-potting (since the term re-soiling is confusing-- lol)

Thanks again
Marjie :)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 5:40PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

No peat pls. Lamora, it is not good for the plants, succulents in particular. It dries up & hardens off & becomes impossible to water.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 12:52AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Peat is also bad for the environment because peat bogs are a vanishing eco system with unique plants and animals found nowhere else!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 5:13AM
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Lamora(4)

pirate_girl~ this is news to me, I have several plants with Sphagnum Peat moss and they are doing real well. They have the bark and perlite mixed with it. I would not put it alone. Seems to be ok so far. But I am willing to listen to others opinion on this subject. What would you recommend?

greenlarry ~ I tried looking up on just what peat moss is made up of, and couldn't find anything like you said.. is there a link or something you could share? I am very intrested in what it is now.

Thanks again
Marjie ~ :)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 9:31AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Peat is a type of soil, very acid, low in nutrients, and carnivorous plants grow there.
Sphagnum moss is the moss that grows in peat bogs. It is dried and sold for use in compost and hanging baskets.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 11:09AM
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rina_

Marji

Sphagnum moss is recommended as a fraction of the soil mixes (I know you read articles by Al); but it is used in small amounts.

I assume (hope correctly) that pirate girl just wanted to remind you not to use it 'exclusively' or as a very large part of your soil mix.
Most of us have problem finding just right bark fines and yes, repti bark is very expensive.
I personally would rather spend time cutting/chopping large bark pieces (that are easily available to buy in large bags & not so expensive), than potting any plants in peat - JMO.

I also bought some of the coco-fiber; it came in blocks and very inexpensive. Needed to be re-hydrated, and there were many very large chunks - not suitable for any of the mixes. (And they are not as easy to chop/break as large bark pieces). Fine particles were too fine. And I also read that very often it contains too much salt, which is bad for our potted plants. So it ended up in my garden beds...Rina
Rina

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:06PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

That coco fiber sounds like coir, which I use in my tarantulas tanks. Its the devil to wet once it's dried out! Same with pure peat.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:18PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

That coco fiber sounds like coir, which I use in my tarantulas tanks. Its the devil to wet once it's dried out! Same with pure peat.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:23PM
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rina_

Larry

Should you need to wet peat or coir (yes, coco fiber), use very hot water. Obviously, not if anything is potted in it or crawling thru it (like your tarantula)!

I ocasionally add some peat into garden beds just around rhodos & few other plants that like more acidic soil; I always wet it first with hot water - if you add it dry to any soil/mix, it's next to impossible to get it wet.

Do they (tarantulas) need to have it moist?
Rina

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 7:45PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think that if we were do do some independent thinking instead of swallowing whole what we read about peat disappearing, we might have an entirely different view about its sustainability, and even how valid that point actually is - at least in North America.

Peat is noted for being difficult to rewet once it dries down much below about 25% of its water-holding ability. Coir is noted for the ease with which it picks up moisture - regardless of how dry it becomes. IOW - it's very easy to rewet ...... and it's not a very good choice as the primary fraction of a container soil (as Josh mentions) for several reasons.

Al

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 9:16PM
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