Soil ratio too rocky?

terrafoe(7b-8b)September 6, 2013

Hi all!

I have been lurking the forums for a while and decided to get started, trying my hand with an old epiphyllum plant. After some research, I found that the ratio for the soil should be about 2 parts grit, 2 parts sand, and 1 part compost/potting mix. I've just mixed it together, but it appears to be very rocky, is this normal?

As I understand it, succulents need different kinds of soil but it looks like it's almost too rocky to live in. I've attached a photo from my iPod for your consideration. I couldn't find the answer to this in the FAQ so any help would be appreciated. Thank you!

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Uh, Epiphyllums are cacti. True, but they are jungle cacti. This means rocks are not really encountered in their mix, but they don't hurt it either. The only thing is, they add a lot of weight. Epis are in the group that needs well draining, very high in organic matter soil.

To make my own, I start with a peat based soil, and mix in pieces from my other plants, and sometimes leaves from the trees. Got an Aglaonema with dead leaves? Pull them off and crumble them up. Spent flowers from the African Violet? In they go. Fronds from the Platycerium? It's in there, after a bit of dicing. Moisten it up, add maple leaves, birch leaves and a few twigs. Voila! Cheap soil for the epiphytic plants.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 8:31PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I use a pine bark, perlite , lava sand ,a tad charcoal, and plant compost mixture. One is looking for soil that is light drains, fast with some organic mater. Epiphylums grow in trees in the jungle. some pumice would be a good rock.

An easy way is to get the small grit orchid soil from Lowes. Another plant that grows in the trees in wet forests.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Ah, all right! I was told to stay away from peat moss as it could raise the chances of root rot happening. So for the ratios, I should have something more like 1 part grit, 2 parts sand, and 3 parts compost? That way it drains well, is high in organic matter, and is pretty light.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:50PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

You will need Bark also. Compost is water retentive. The bark is what helps it Drain like the pebbles and perlirte help dirt drain. Pine bark is good about not decomposing to fast. It gives the soil structure,

There was just a thread about these issues for Christmas cactus since Epis are relatives that hail from the same neighborhood.. It might be worth a read.

Here is a link that might be useful: Watering and soil CC issues

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 8:51AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

I would be more concerned by the fine sand holding water and causing rot instead of the peat.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 10:17AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

The lava sand(scoria) is very course, more gritty, is absorbent and creates drainage moving water away from pooling around roots. I used it sparingly. I am not talking about using it as a base.I would use pumice but I can'r get pumice in Texas.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 10:37AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

I was posting about the mix in the picture. The sand looks pretty fine. I've seen your plants, and the results speak for the mix you use.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 12:45PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Sand is discouraged almost universally at this point - the fine sand in the original post, Mara. I, too, would completely re-make the mix without sand and with much, much less peat-moss. In fact, I don't use any peat-moss in my succulent mixes.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 12:46PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I don't use peat moss either. In the winter, I keep them in a unheated shop and I water them VERY infrequently. I am afraid the peat moss will dry up into a brick and become hydrophobic and not wet down.I think that leaf litter, leaf mulch and bark is a much better substitute.

Be careful of the roots during the transplant process. They do not like their roots disturbed. Shake the dirt out gently but don't work at it tooo hard. A gentle hose action might be a good thing but keep it gentle. Leave the dirt that doesn't want to come off and fill around it. Hopefully your plant is not too large. I am looking at doing it to one that measures 6' across. It is like wrestling with a giant octopus. I probably won't do the hose bit. I use wood stakes jammed in the side of the pot and thick lateral blocks shoved up against the stakes to hold the plant in place on the side that wants to flop down. The loose dirt is problematic when it comes to holding an unbalanced large plant. Do whatever it takes. That was what was on hand for me since I conveniently live in a wood shop. I didn't even cut the block down so there is this large block sticking out the side. Oh well..

This post was edited by wantonamara on Sat, Sep 7, 13 at 14:36

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 1:52PM
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