There are a few commercial potting mixes available for growing your cactus and succulent plants in. However, if you have a lot of plants, or want to venture into seeds and propagation from cuttings, this can get very expensive. There is an alternative - MAKE YOUR OWN.
This is a compilation of information I received from some very successful succulent and cacti growers.
Please Note: When buying potting mix look on the bag at the number of ticks it has. They are in a box on the front, usually near the bottom. The more ticks the better quality it is. If it doesn't have any ticks then that is what I am referring to as poor quality - and in this case it's good!
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT MY SUCCULENTS AND CACTI NEED?
Well one good tip is to look at what your plants are thriving in now in the garden. Usually it is pretty poor soil, but with good drainage. So that's where you start. If you only need a small amount, remove soil from where your succulents and cacti are already growing in the garden. Making sure you have plenty left for the plants already growing there.
WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE ANY GARDEN SOIL OR I NEED MORE?
Then you can buy a poor quality potting mix, from the supermarket is often the cheapest, and use that. The really poor ones are often nothing more than a mix of dirt, and I mean dirt not soil, and bits and pieces of bark and the like. If you are lucky they may have some organic material in them but it won't be much. And that's what you want for your succulents and cacti. This poor mix will offer them good drainage.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
Well, you can also make your own. And this is especially good if you need quite a lot of soil for pots, etc.
HOW DO I DO THAT?
Start with some garden dirt, or poor quality potting mix. If you are buying potting mix in bags, open the bag carefully and allow the air to get to it for a few hours.
Also, collect some organic matter, like compost if you have any, or manure. You can ask someone who has chickens or other animals. Or you can buy it in bags. If you buy a bag of it, open carefully and allow the air to get to it for a few hours.
Please Note: If it is fresh then you will need to spread it out on the ground, under a tree is good, and leave it to 'mature' for a few weeks, or even better, months. The more dried out it appears the better. I don't recommend that you use dog or cat, or even human, manure - too many diseases present, too risky.
Please Note: When using bagged soil, and manure of any kind be careful not to breathe in the dust and spores that may come off it. Just before use you can spray it with a mist from a water bottle or even garden hose. You don't want it saturated, just dampened down.
NOW THE FUN PART!
Remember when you were a kid and you made mud pies, well this is similar. In a bucket, container, or for large quantities a spot on the ground will do, mix 1 part organic matter, to 8 parts dirt or poor potting mix. Stir well.
Now place a small amount in a pot, with drain holes in the bottom, and pour some water on to it. If the water soaks in and then quickly comes out the bottom, leaving the soil moist, then you have finished mixing. If however, the water simply runs out the side leaving the soil dry then you will need to add some more organic matter. Add one more part to your mix, stir it through and test again. The exact quantities will vary depending on your organic matter and soil/dirt.
Ideally, when used for plants, you should be able to water the pot, with any excess draining off immediately. The remaining soil should be damp, which dries out within a day or so. This way your plant can extract the moisture it needs and then dry out again.
No wet feet!!
I hope this helps.
MAKE YOUR OWN SUCCULENT AND CACTI POTTING MIX.
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25 April 2012
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