When using this medium, it is recommended to wear gloves and avoid creating dust. Prepare your vermiculite in a well-ventilated, outdoor area and avoid bringing dust particles into your home. Many people think of perlite as a form of styrofoam but it is actually a form of intensely heated volcanic glass. Once it is mined, it is heated until it pops into the small, round, white balls that we recognise throughout the horticultural industry.
We commonly use Perlite to lighten soils. It allows more air to gather in the soil, aids in the soils water retention capabilites, reduces compaction and improves drainage properties. Being a lightweight material which is cheap to produce, buy and transport, it is no surprise that we see alot of Perlite added to compost mixes.
There are a few negatives of this product though.
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When watering, the perlite balls do have a tendency to float up through the soil to the top of your pot, which is not helpful. Perlite can also be quite messy to work with and may be more susceptible to growing mold and moss when used for root cutting practices and seed starting. Pumice is a mined, lightweight volvanic rock which is a natural and unprocessed product. They also release moisture slowly into the growing medium and are naturally rich in micronutrients. In horticulture Pumice is commonly used as a suitable substrate for growing cacti and succulent plants.
Coconut Fibre or Coco Coir, as it is sometimes known, is a completely natural product consisting of course coconut husk fibres. It is produced as a by-product in the coconut harvesting industry and is a very recommended organic medium to use for soil amendment. The course husk fibres are super-absorbant with great drainage abilities.
Unlike Peat, which we spoke about earlier, this coconut fibre material easily accepts water when it is very dry, which is a perfect quality for a succulent and cacti planting medium. Being course in nature, the product also lasts for a long time, compared to Peat which will disintergrate quite quickly. I give coir thumbs up for all eager plant enthusaists out there! I have been making alot of plant terrariums lately and have been getting through quite a hefty amount of fine horticultural gravel.
This medium has many benefits and uses — I have listed these below:. These are lightweight, expanded clay aggregate pellets which are made by heating clay to around 1, degrees C, 2, degrees F , in a rotary kiln. The result is thousands of small, round-ish, honeycombe textured pellets full of bubbles. Clay pellets are mainly used within horticultural industry as a soil improver or a hydrophonic growing medium.
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When blended with other mediums such as peat and loam, you are left with a highly oxygenated growing soil, which is not only well-draining, but will also retain water during periods of drought. This improved soil has also been shown to have better insulation properties against frosts and inclement weather. Clay pellets are widely available nowadays and are seen to be an attractive and invaluable to the dedicated grower.
This is an organic material which has the same qualities within a compost mix as the Coconut fibre. Shredded bark is a fibrous material which can be used for soil amendment and mulching. This is a porous, though free-draining medium which can aid in soil aeration, give protection against frosts and provide essential nutrients for your soil. With such a low porosity, this medium will make no difference to the water retention properties of the soil. Pumice is commonly used as an alternative to crushed granite and tends to dry out quicker than the granite chippings. Many gardeners believe that a mixture of both Pumice and Granite are the most beneficial mineral compounds for using in succulent and cacti soils.
In horticulture, we tend to use Decomposed Granite as a mulch material. Sphagnum Moss is an organic product which is harvested from natural wetlands of the Nothern Hemisphere called peatlands and peatbogs. Sphagnum is a mixture of over species of moss, all which have a fibrous structure and are grown on the surface of peatbogs. This is an invaluable medium which can be used for soil-less planting and has the benefit of being extremely light weight.
It is perfect for the direct planting of succulents, especially when you are making wall-hanging planters, terrariums and wreaths, as there is no weight issue.
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Sphagnum moss is often used for soil conditioning on clay soils to counter-act the alkaline pH value. It it quite an acidic medium and, in time, will acidify its surroundings. Sphagnum moss comprises of both alive and dead plants and has the ability to reserve water within the plant cells, until such a time that water is needed. The acidity of this product serves another useful purpose in that the growth of funghi and bacteria is largely inhibited.
Peat is actually dead sphagnum moss which has sunk to the bottom of the peatland or bog and is later harvested. It is a much better idea to fertilize your plants during their growing season and leave them nutrient weak throughout dormancy when they require very little in the way of water or nutrients. I hope that I have sufficiently explained what each substrate is, where it comes from and how it is made.
Maybe some of you will feel a little more confident about choosing which substrate elements to use when making your own cacti and succulent compost mix? There is nothing quite so satisfying as watching your plants grow — knowing that you are giving a plant a happy and healthy life. Degree level horticulturalist and freelance writer with experience in the Home and Garden sector. Remember me Log in.
Sometimes, you might not be able to have a garden outside. Thankfully, you can grow some of these succulents inside in containers with no problems.
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Most succulents do very well in hot weather with full sun. If you are interested in growing a succulent or cactus inside your house, here are some of the below species that you can choose from. Their temperature and light requirements make them ideal for decorating your indoor spaces. This is a very variable taxon that has several forms. They have many flower colors and spine sizes.
This well-known plant originates from the Arabian Peninsula. It usually grows in tropical climates and is cultivated for medicinal and agricultural uses. Some people use it for decorative purposes and grow the plant indoors very successfully.
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This is a tree-like cactus common to South America. Usually, it has white flowers with a specific spiny ovary and fruits. This cultivar has fewer tubes, but they are fat, rounded at the apex, and very broad. It is quite a large tubercle compared to other species.
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This plant has some different characteristics from similar plants of this type - the A. Five ribs bishop's Cap plant looks like A. But it has different fruits, seeds, embryos, and flowers.
This is a barrel-shaped cactus that has a medium size, green-blue skin, and is usually solitary. When the plant ages, it produces a couple of heads. It can form a large mound. This is a cactus species that forms erect clumps. It is moderately branched. It can grow up to 30 centimeters or even more, and up to 15 centimeters in diameter.
This is a small, clustering cactus. It branches at a low level to form mounds or groups that are up to 15 centimeters wide. It has softly spined stems and rose-pink flowers. This cactus usually develops a depression on the crown. This might cause a distortion when it ages. It has pale yellow spines. You can also find wavy edged forms, but those are usually grafted.
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This plant branches up to 30 centimeters, sometimes even 60 centimeters in clumps of height and up to 1. It is also a small prickly pear. This plant can have branches. It is solitary at first, but it clusters at a very young age. It forms clusters that can be up to 15 centimeters in diameter.
This plant generally develops deep magenta flowers, but pink or white colors and sometimes multicolor flowers can grow. This is a spineless cactus plant. It is almost always solitary, but sometimes it has very few branches. A section of the body reveals a form of a perfectly shaped star.