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 Repotting sodding wet cactus

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SnowFella
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Location : Sydney, NSW
Registration date : 2010-12-15

PostSubject: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:27 pm

Being somewhat of a beginner at this whole thing, and generally not gifted with a green thumb, I'm just wondering if I'm doing the right thing here or not?
Having bought some just about sopping wet cactuses from Bunnings in the last week I've to start off with been trying to dry them out by keeping them underneath the awning in the daytime heat, up untill yesterday that worked out alright with temps climbing up over 40 degrees but now as the rains have hit Sydney again I've changed plans and repotted the lot.

Most had dried out pretty well and I could easily tease the somewhat damp soil away from the roots and plant them into some more freedraining soil.
2 on the other hand were still sopping wet and there was no way I could separate the near mud away from the roots without excessive damage. Here's where my question comes in...right or wrong to gently hose the soil away from the roots, letting them dry off for a day or 2 in the shade and then replanting them into a sandy soil mix?
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region4

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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:03 am

Sounds OK. Or, just take the plant out of its pot and place it in an airy place, soil and all, for a couple of days. Just being out of the non-porous confines of the plastic pot it came in should enable the soil to dry out quite quickly. That's assuming the potting soil doesn't just come off the roots anyway when you remove the plant from its pot. 2-4 days ought to be enough time for any broken roots to heal before repotting.

Bunnings cacti being mainly sourced from Hamilton's, I've found that the Hamilton's potting soil can be slow to dry, depending on the plant. I suspect at least one reason why they don't just use a coarser grade mix is that in the greenhouse conditions in which the plants have been raised, that same mix would actually dry out quite quickly in the 40+ degree heat.
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SnowFella
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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:49 pm

Hmm...remains to be seen if I jumped the gun here then because they are now all back in the ground. The 2 I had to gently hose to get the soil to let go of the roots after just a day's rest to dry out.
And that stuff Hamilton's uses is seriously slow drying, I haven't watered them at all since getting them around christmas and even with having had over 40 degrees a few days under the awning where they live the soil was still wet.

Was only planning on doing 3 or 4 of them but once I got going I got carried away and did the lot. Probably a good thing I did to because the little C. peruvianus (or whatever it is) I have was seriously rootbound and if I had waited much longer the Astro likely wouldn't of come out of the pot...cute pot and all but who in their right mind plants something that grows in a tiny boulbous pot? With rootgrowth pushing the soil to the sides it had just about glued itself to the pot. Rolling Eyes

Also learnt a valuable lesson for the future...that it's generally a good idea to check the golves I'm wearing for wayward spines before dusting them off by whacking my hands together. Needed pliers to get a spine out of the 6 or so mm it went into my fingertip! Shocked
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fruitbat

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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:59 pm

G'day Snowfella. Sorry, but I had to laugh at your last comment regarding the cactus spines. I've only just started with a few cactus as my passion is Lithops and already I'm starting to get the feeling that cactus don't like me!

I've been trying my hand at grafting using Pereskiopsis and darn those things have nasty little prickles! It makes me feel like slicing all them off the stem before I go near them with my fingers.

As you will have gathered, I'm no expert in cactus but I can tell you that they will survive a lot longer without any soil around them than they will sitting in a pot full of mud! I guess that goes for most cacti and succeulents!
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SnowFella
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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:21 pm

Hey mate
No worries about laughing over me stapling my gloves to my hand, wife did that the instant she figured out what I was cursing about.

And the water situation is what has me worried about my experiment of planting out 6 small cactuses into a half winebarrel I have sitting in the pool enclosure. Same day I planted them out they got the soaking of the century when we got 35mm of rain in 10 minutes, and since then the soil has never really had a chance to dry out.
They seem to be growing though so I'll just have to wait and see what happens. If they do survive through the summer and winter they are among the first to be relocated to the planned cactus garden.


15 december, day of planting out

Today
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fruitbat

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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:24 am

Is that a commercial potting mix in the half wine barrel? I'm probably wrong but it looks like there's an aweful lot of organic matter in it (read crushed curbside tree trimmings!).

If it is (a commercial potting mix), did you add anything to it - like scoria, stone, sand, pumice etc etc - for extra drainage? I have always found commercial potting mix, even the stuff marketed for cactus and succulents, to hold far too much water. ie They don't drain as much as desirable.

I use commercial potting mixes (various) and add over 50% in volume of varying sizes of scoria.

Don't know if that helps you? As I said before, I'm no expert in cacti!!
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SnowFella
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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:10 pm

Unfortunately it is regular commercial cactus potting mix mixed only with alittle sand, 2 parts potting mix to 1 part sand in the top few inches and some gravel down the bottom.

Latest replanting though was in a 50/50 mix of cactus mix and coarce grade sand to make it more quick draining.
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region4

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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:31 am

Hey Snowfella

As long as your garden bed drainage is good, I'd vouch for for the E. grusonii and C. strausii from your wine barrel making it through Sydney winters just fine. I've had both growing outdoors for several years in a 2:1 coarse river sand/topsoil mix without problems. In fact one of my golden barrel cacti spent 2001-2006 outdoors in plain garden soil (albeit in a drier part of the yard, but still exposed to rain, and yes, I still have it). The E. grusonii and C. strausii at the Sydney Botanical Gardens are subjected to even more rainfall all year and they do just fine.

Water seems to 'behave' differently in containers than in open ground. The same sand/soil mix I use in my garden beds and subjected to the same amount of water as Mother Nature provides would in a pot likely rot the same plants that grow just fine in an outdoor bed.
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SnowFella
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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:28 pm

Thanks.
I've got my fingers crossed that they will make it, if they do then they are choice speciments to replant come next spring. As for the 3 little ones in that winebarrel, time will tell! Currently they seem to be growing but it remains to be seen what will happen once winter strikes.
Plus who knows, with the way things are looking right now I might just have to fabricate a few small lifejackets for them if this rain is to keep on coming down. Laughing

And it seems I have a thing for sodding wet cactuses, just picked up another 4 from Bunnings today. Stopped by to pick up some supplies to see if I can rescue a very sad indoors Happy plant (Dracaena massangeana), bottom of the rootstock has started rotting so I was forced to cut of about 2 inches of it as a hail mary pass to see if the healty wood can start sending out new roots. Feeling alittle down after missing out on 2 different San Pedro's on ebay in the last few days the mood instantly lifted when I noticed they had had a new delivery from Hamiltons in the last few days.
So add Mammilaria glassii, Mammilaria albilanata, Mammilaria bombycina and an unknown Matucana to the collection Embarassed
Already been unpotted and being left to dry out for a day or 2 before I repot them.
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cryptocarpa
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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:52 pm

Region 4, You are spot on about containers and the way water behaves in growing media. A saturated container of soil is effectively like they water table is as shallow as the container because it can't drain anywhere and the soil at the bottom is totally wet (i.e no air in the pore spaces)because of surface tension. Also wide shallow containers behave differently to tall thin ones in this regard. Think of a wet sponge on its side and compared to one on its end. the amount of sponge that stays saturated and does not drain is proportionally much greater in the one on it larger flat side. It is similar to a wide shallow container full of growing media.
Hope that makes sense.
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SnowFella
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PostSubject: Re: Repotting sodding wet cactus   Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:09 pm

Not sure if it's because it's distressed or because it's liking the environment in that winebarrel but the M. sheldonii I've got planted there is starting to throw out flowerbuds. So far I can see 4 of them forming clearly but there seems to be more going on between the tubercles aswell.




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