UK help for Al's gritty mix

hampshire_ukJanuary 21, 2014

I've been reading through past threads about the gritty mix in a bid to transfer all my succulents over from their current sad state soil but I'm struggling to find some of the ingredients and am unsure about others, as in the UK we seem to have different names for a lot of the stuff. The more I read the more confused I seem to become so I thought I'd do a post in the hope that some of you wonderful knowledgeable people could help.

From what I've read it seems that I can use vermiculite as a turface replacement. Are there better products for this task or do we have turface under a different name? I went to my local garden center but the vermiculite they stocked was in a fine powder so would not work, I saw B&Q and Homebase also sell vermiculite, has anyone bought these? Would they be a suitable size? If not where else can I get it or should I ebay it?

For Gran-i-grit is regular horticultural grit suitable? again would I be able to get this from my local B&Q or need to find a more specialist supplier? also would poultry grit be better as I can get this from ebay?

For the bark I was going to go to my local reptile shop and buy some of their substrate. Has anyone tried these and if so is there a brand that's best? Or is there something suitable that might be easier to get/cheaper (I doubt it but can only hope)?
Also I keep seeing for sale orchid bark, but never information about which tree its from. would this be suitable and is orchid bark a specific mix or at a manufacturers discretion?

For the gypsum is garden lime ok? And which fertiliser would be suitable for succulents in this soil?

Sorry for the long list of questions. I just don't want to splash out a bunch of money only to get it wrong.

Oh and all my plants are grown indoors in individual pots. Mostly I have jades and echeverias, there's also a few unknowns that i'll do another post about once I'm not embarrassed to show how they're potted.


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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello, Lucy!
Just a few quick answers:
1) Vermiculite is NOT a substitute for Turface. A substitute for Turface would be pumice, lava rock, or hard DE (diatomaceous earth).

2) Most "orchid bark" is Fir bark, sometimes Pine bark, and sometimes tree fern(?) if I remember rightly. The key is finding the bark in a fine-grade or small size so that you aren't paying for waste (bark that's too big).

3) Garden Lime will raise the pH of the mix, which is already high enough. It would be better to omit the gypsum, and simply fertilize regularly with a fertilizer that provides Calcium and Magnesium.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 7:08PM
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Thankyou for the quick response. Just a quick follow up.

I can't find any DE thats not in powder form, and all the lava rock and pumice I can find are either hugely expensive or large aquarium stones. None of these seem suitable, Where do you source these items or do you use something else?

And all the poultry grit I can find contains shell, is this ok or would the horticultural grit be better?


    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Also please let me know of any brands that could work, as that makes it far easier for me to find what you mean.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 11:59AM
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Hi Lucy

I just saw your post, I live in the UK (London) and I use cat litter from tesco. It is DE and I have been using it for a long time.

Many bonsai growers use it aswell as many members of the BCSS.

Here is the link to the BCSS discussion.

I have also attached the tesco link so you can see the one to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tesco Cat Litter

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 6:48PM
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Hi folks, I'm in wiltshire. I've been growing adenium from seed and I use 50-50 cactus compost and vermiculite which I get at B and Q or any garden centre. They are doing ok but I could do with a more gritty mix. Is the cat litter used instead of vermiculite or are both used in the mix. Sorry to have intruded on this thread
Kind regards Averil

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 4:42AM
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thank you Nikki. I was on the verge of traipsing round to different car places to find oil dry, so you've saved me a lot of faf. And the picture is a great help.

Averil- is vermiculite similar to perlite or is it absorbent? I was told in an above response that its not a suitable replacement for the cat litter but i'm not sure about the science behind it.

My understanding of the gritty mix is that you need one part organic, generally pine/fir bark. One part of something non absorbent and gritty, something like poltry grit, small granite or perlite can be used (perlite can float though so people don't recommend it) and then one part absorbent, so the cat litter or oil dry.

you can adjust that to suit your needs though. The most important thing just seems to be the size of the particles in the mix pretty uniform in size (around 1/4"-1/8") as you want to allow air flow around the roots.

Probably get a second opinion though as I've yet to test any of this and may be getting my wires crossed.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 1:32PM
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I dont use vermiculite, I was told it holds water.

In my mix I use John Innes No2 from Homebase, perlite from Wilkos and cat litter from Tesco lol :-)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 2:05PM
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I'm in Essex and very intrigued to know how this panned out for you. I'm currently on the same path, trying to source the ingredients for a gritty mix for my Jade plant inherited from my Nan (so I want to do a good job!!). Would love to hear how you got on and with what.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2015 at 6:46AM
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