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Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

Posted by meyermike_1micha 5 (mikerno_1@yahoo.com) on
Thu, Oct 7, 10 at 16:01

The reason I ask is because I never have, and they seem to do very well anyways..My two huge jades, have never seen one ounce of fertilizer at all..I was going to buy a cactus fertilizer, but held off..

I attended a C&S Society club and show, and a majority of the members said that the poorer the soil, meaning no nutrients, the better they do. Is this so? Many I know have never fertilized their jades for fear of green growth on their hummels..

Isn't it true that by nature, most of these plants grow in stone, crevices, sandy soils and grow perfectly fine without someone fertilizing them in the wild?

Just curious how you all feel about this..If you do, or do not, what benefits do you recieve doing it your way..

Thank you..

Mike


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

I don't fertilize my potted plants. I tend to repot a good number of them each year into new mix (richer, looser soil in the mix). This really allows the roots to spread and slowly uptake nutrients from the fresh organic material.

The plants in the wild grow 'harder', meaning in a tighter, fatter form as opposed to leggy and loose in cultivation, and therefore slower as well. You can partly achieve that effect in cultivation by cutting back your plants, such as the jades.

Plants in nature also get more acidic water which improves nutrient breakdown, as opposed to our alkalinic tap water. In the Cactus & Succulent Journal, Jul 2010 : Volume 82 Issue 4, Elton Roberts & Malcolm Burleigh write about using acidic water to improve xerophytic plant growth. Elton also gave us a presentation to our club on this topic. It's something worth exploring--but I'm not sure how that would affect variegates.


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

I wonder about the need to fertilize if your growing in a mix that lacks any form of nutrient. I am now growing jades and a few of my cacti in 100% turface. I am sure that these plants would get some form of nutrition if they were grown in any other medium.
Andrew


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

I don't feed either. To add to what philo said hard grown(limited water and food) plants in full sun are hardier specimens. They can handle the temperature extremes without damage, whether it's very cold or hot. This is how I can get plants that are not to go below 50deg to be able to withstand sub freezing temps.


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

caudex1: Have you made a comparative study, i.e. tried both hard grown plants and plants well watered + fertilized (during the growing period) in subfreezing temperatures?


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

Agreed to all of the above, that is why my Jades were able to put up with 20F temps. for 5 nights, and no damage, and my Schich hybrids loved it by showing me a mass of flowers in the months of April-until the end of October in the ground of course and not in pots. If you grow in pumice only then they will need food after every watering diluted way down of course during the growing season. Norma


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

I've learned the hard way over the past 20yrs. Whenever I purchase plants from private collections or nurseries that pump up the their plants with food and water they inevitably succumb to the cold. The plant cells being full of moisture and epidermis stretched thin from being well watered the plant will freeze. By restricting water and food the plants become tough and can tolerate the low temps. (have 3 plants I'll have to watch closely this winter)

In anticipation of the oncoming cold I stop watering at the beginning of Oct, this way the plant will loose some of its moisture reserves and be able to withstand 30deg (or lower). This does not work on every species, but it is surprising seeing what has survives year after year since I've been treating my plants this way.


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

It depends on what you're trying to accomplish and what you are growing.

If you want your Ariocarpus to have tight, authentic growth then fertilizing is minimal. But if you take a different cactus, say a hybrid Echinopsis that is grown primarily for flowers, then some extra nutrition will help create a better floral display.

Small, compact succulents tend to do better with minimal added nutrition. Anything growing in a confined space is better off with less. Anything that is more desirable with shorter internodes or anything where you'd prefer stem mass vs. leaf mass, is better off with less nutrition.

Anything in the ground needs little supplementation because the soil tends to have enough.

But if you want your Pachypodium lamereii or Adenium to put on fast growth, some extra fertilizer will help. It seems that additional nutrition works best for tropical varieties.

The bottom-line: over-fertilization may increase growth, but it won't be "quality" growth. Many succulents do not respond to fertilizer in the same manner as other plants. They don't grow that much faster, they just end up looking weaker and less natural. Most succulents by nature are slow growing and the extra fertilizer won't change that. They're not like Musa, Colocasia or Brugmansia which are nutrient hogs.

More important is that micronutrients are present if you are growing in a predominantly inorganic mix.

x


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

As asked: Isn't it true that by nature, most of these plants grow in stone, crevices, sandy soils and grow perfectly fine without someone fertilizing them in the wild?
Take a look at Sedonia Valley and see how well cactus can grow with out human intervention. However with millions of bats flying over there tops on a nightly basis and other wild life, insects and such living in this area I would say that there would be some level of NPK for them to use.
It doesn't take much for things to grow in, on and even in between the cracks of rocks. Roots have a habit of finding what they need to survive and grow.
It's people like us who try to replicate the ideal growing conditions of the things we grow. I assume that if one where to use fertilizers of the right type would provide a better ideal container growing condition. I also think there are far to many fertilizers that are for the better part highly over promoted and often over used.


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

Isn't it true that by nature, most of these plants grow in stone, crevices, sandy soils and grow perfectly fine without someone fertilizing them in the wild?

Actually, not really. Wild plants rarely look as perfect as we try to make our pampered domesticated plants. Life in nature is hard. Most don't survive, and those that do are often scarred, beat-up, and damaged.

It's people like us who try to replicate the ideal growing conditions of the things we grow.

The 'ideal' growing conditions for any plant are an idea, not something that actually occurs in nature very often. It is the way environmental elements like temperature, season, latitude, humidity, elevation, cloud cover, rain, soil type, nutrients, etc. interact with a plant's genes that results in a 'perfectly' grown plant. These conditions are probably found somewhere between the extremes of conditions that actually occur in habitat, but on any given day, things are rarely ideal.

Growing hard in cultivation produces more 'normal' looking and tougher plants, but our babies will still probably look a lot better than most plants found in habitat. There are so many factors involved that growing well is more of an art than a science.

Brad


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

Some food for thought, along the lines of what Brad is pointing out:

Just because a particular species grows in a niche environment, doesn't mean that it prefers this environment.

It is probably more likely that such plant survives the niche, and other species haven't...so it appears as if such plant only grows in a specific niche or microclimate. That same plant may not fare well in a more "ideal" situation nearby because other species are in competition.

For example, Dorstenia gypsophila is found in an area where the soil has a high gypsum content. A grower might want to replicate this. In reality, however, the plant may be better off in a more "normal" soil mix. It grows here not because of preference, but by default.

x


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

xerophyte_nyc said:
>Just because a particular species grows in a niche environment, doesn't mean that it prefers this environment.

>It is probably more likely that such plant survives the niche, and other species haven't...so it appears as if >such plant only grows in a specific niche or microclimate.

This is all true. So the question we, as growers, have to ask ourselves: Am I going to try to duplicate that niche as well as I can, and strive for plants that look like they do in the wild?

Or...

Am I going to give my plants the best conditions so they will grow lush and green?

Commercial growers obvious go for the latter.

I try more for the former, but in the end, it's impossible, because there are so many variables (temperature ranges, moisture, substrate, etc.)...but I still think it's worth trying.

-R


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

Well said, X, Brad, and X! ;)

Mike, I'm just starting to experiment with fertilizer on my succulents.
I've dribbled some very reduced Foliage Pro 9-3-6 onto the soil mix, and then watered it in.
With my Jades and Christmas Cactus, I'm using an 1/8 (or less) of a teaspoon per gallon.

For my more vigorous succulents, like Portulacaria afra, I'm mixing 1/2 teaspoon per gallon.

In the Spring, I'll fertilize again around May.


Josh


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

*** paracelsus ****The 'ideal' growing conditions for any plant are an idea, not something that actually occurs in nature very often.

HUH ?????????????
Apples or Oranges ? I guess what doesn't happen in nature very often means I'm good at hallucinating.

Photobucket

***** xerophyte_nyc said: This is all true. So the question we, as growers, have to ask ourselves: Am I going to try to duplicate that niche as well as I can, and strive for plants that look like they do in the wild?

Or...

Am I going to give my plants the best conditions so they will grow lush and green?

I'm going to step out on a frail limb here and say it seems a bit obvious at times. As read a few times from Al(We as growers) We should do whats right for the plant and not for us.


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RE: Do you fertilize your cactus, or succulents, or euphorbias?

mrlike2u, would you care to elaborate? Your post didn't make much sense.

-R


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