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Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Posted by gigim 8A (My Page) on
Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 13:53

I repotted my TC using bagged orchid bark (mix of bark, perlite and charcoal) with a small of potting soil to bind (per suggestions given here). It had been potted in regular potting soil with a large amount of perlite. I used to water it when I noticed it looking "wilty" perhaps every other week or so. I am concerned that with the new "soil" it will not be holding water well enough to keep to that (irregular, I know) watering schedule but do not know how to figure out when to water. Cannot really put my finder down into the "soil" to check for dryness as there is very little "soil" and more small chunks of bark, perlite and charcoal. Have searched here for watering info and see that most people seem to water about once per week. Should I just start there and see how it goes? How will I know if it is not getting enough water (without killing it)?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

I water mine about every 6-8 days using that similar mix you mention but its been pretty hot here the last several months. I too am a little uncertain exactly when to water mine. Whether my watering schedule is enough...I've been growing it this way for several months and so far the plants are still alive,lol...If I see some slight wilting before my usual schedule I go ahead and water it right away...I also fertilize mine about half strength once a week or so...

When my weather starts to cool off I'll probably taper off to about every 7-10 days depending on how warm the weather is?

Maybe Josh can shed more light on the subject...


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

I moved mine to a bark mix this past spring and had to, like you, try to figure out a new watering schedule. I've found my TC, CC and EC can take a lot of water in the warm months - nearly impossible to over-water. I don't even worry if the saucer fills for a couple of days.

This is the first summer I have them outside to bright shade. Oh, what a difference! Good water with a bit of fertilizer and they couldn't look better.

In the very end, I think you just need to pay attention on what works under your conditions. I found, as I became more experienced, to pay attention to rain/water, temperature and appearance of the plant. You'll do fine if you do the same.

If you're still concerned, could you use a wooden dowel or a skewer to get down into the mix?
Gail


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

OOPs I posted something on the wrong thread. Sorry

This post was edited by wantonamara on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 22:17


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Hey!
Yes, indeed, use a wooden skewer as Gail suggests.
This will help you to see the amount of moisture in the mix, and the drying time. I water my CC's every 4 - 7 days, depending on the size of the container. Water and fertilize frequently during the growing season.

Josh


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

I have an Easter Cactus , 4 types of epiphylums and 2 ripsalis that are in a fast draining bark mixture and I water them twice a week, but it is hot as hell in Texas and the evaporation rate is off the charts.. They are JUNGLE cactus where rain is plentiful but the soil is fast draining since they are used to being in trees. I cut down in winter quite a bit. But in the summer, they get lots of water.I don't do the skewer thing because the epis don't like their roots messed with.


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

  • Posted by andy_e SF Bay CA 9/14 (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 1:30

I use 60% potting soil and 40% pumice, and I water when the soil is getting dry, but I don't let it dry out completely like I do for cacti. As wantonamara said, these are jungle succulents and they do well with regular watering.

I'm not sure what problem the bark is intended to solve, but if you live in a hot area it will contribute to the soil drying out faster.


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Bark helps with drainage and it also helps keep the soil light. It is more like the soil that they would grow in up in a tree in the jungle like an orchid. Pumice is hard to get a hold of in Texas and other areas of the country. I substitute lava sand or expanded shale in my cactus mixes sometimes.The expanded shale is my idea , so it might be way off base. No one has ever commented on it as appropriate or inappropriate.


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Andy,
the use of a bark-based media solves/mitigates a number of issues - primarily excess moisture retention and, thus, overwatering. Most of the "problems" that folks ask about are directly related to choice of potting mix...either from the nursery, or after-market.

During the Summer, yes you will be watering more often....but that's a good thing from the plant's perspective. Watering brings oxygen into the root-zone. During the Winter is when the bark-based mixes really shine by ensuring that the root-zone does not stay saturated for weeks at a time. This is especially important for those growing in cold, gloomy, northern climes.



Josh


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Thanks everyone for all the comments. However, I still dont know how to tell if my plant needs water. IT is not outside but sits on a north facing window of glass blocks. It is planted in a pot that is about 8 inches wide at the top and about 6 inches tall. For the skewer suggestion- how will I know if the plant needs water by using the skewer since the planting medium I am using really doesnt hold much water. It seems like the skewer would come out dry no matter what. Right now it has many new (purplish) "leaves" , is that a sign of good health?


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Thanks for the above info.

I was wondering when you say Charcoal do you mean the type that you use for Barbecue? Could I use burnt up wood peices that have already been smoked in my fireplace or else BBQ charcoal in my mis or at the bottom of my pots?


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Let me just add that being able to water as often as you want and see your TC respond so well without fear of rot is an awesome feeling..
Mine THRIVE in this kind of mix waterd very often...

MIke


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Gig,
It seems we mentioned the tool (skewer), but didn't tell you how to use it. If your medium is course, insert it deep into the mix for several minutes. If there's moisture you should be able to feel it on your fingers when you pull it out. Test it on your cheek, if you're doubtful. For a fine mix, you'll feel moisture (or not) right away via your finger tips.
Gail


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Yes, Gail is correct.
Insert the skewer, and leave it in the pot. You will readily see where there is moisture in the container. Bark holds more moisture than you might think.

Yorkie, Horticultural charcoal (think filters, fish tanks) is what you want. No barbecue charcoal, which will turn to black mush.



Josh


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Also A lot of commercial charcoal has chemicals in it to burn longer and light quicker. You never know.

This post was edited by wantonamara on Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 22:39


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

This is a jungle cactus, not a desert cactus, so waiting for it to dry out is not necessary. With that airy mix, it would be really hard to "overwater" a TC. Some of mine are thirsty every evening from AM sun heating them up. The chunky mix does not cause the roots to rot. The lack of excess moisture, even right after watering, alleviates that risk.


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Now I feel much more confidant - thank you everyone for your guidance. I will try the skewer but I will also be more confidant about watering a bit more often knowing that my bark mixture will not hold water like potting soil would.

One final question (I think) are the small purplish "leaves" at the ends a sign of new growth or a sign of a problem?


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Do they look like these, (on the plant behind Columnea?) Those in my pic are new leaves.


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Tiffany..SO pretty!

By the way, you can drown a CC up here in our stupid cold weather..lol been there and done that, as soon as 2 weeks ago..In a mix that I did not think to make coarse of course....lol The whole thing rotted while all the others around it thrived..
In the cold, especially, forget it..They get limp and die of rot faster than you can blink your eye......

Hoping youare doing great..I still owe you:-)

Mike


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Yes they look just like those in the photo - good, I will take that as a sign that what ever I am doing - my TC is growing!


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RE: Thanksgiving Cactus-Watering

Sit back and relax


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