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 Some very boring beginner's questions

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Number of posts : 21
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2009-06-15

PostSubject: Some very boring beginner's questions   Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:20 pm

Hey everyone Smile

I'm new to the forum and new to cactus. I've just purchased a few very ordinary beginners cacti to start with, a couple of mammillaria, an echinocactus grusonii (Golden Barrel), a weberbauerocereus johnsonii, an opuntia subulata montrose and a rats tail cactus. I hope to buy many more when I've gained a bit of experience. I've already done quite a bit of research and bought a few books but I'm astounded at the conflicting information out there, especially regarding suitable potting soil 'recipes' and how and when to water.

Anyway I have a few really stupid questions Embarassed

I know that light is very important and my house is pretty dark during the winter so I've been putting them outside where they receive morning sun (when there is any LOL) and filtered sun during the afternoon and then bringing them in under cover at night. Is this a good idea or will I upset them by moving them around?

They are in small black plastic pots and I am thinking of repotting them into unglazed terracotta. When is the best time to do this? Also should I put crocks over the drainage holes or not, I always have done, but apparently it isn't such a good idea?

I have heard that the commercial (Debco etc.) cacti and succulent mixes aren't the best and someone recommended the potting mix from Collectors Corner in Braeside in Melbourne. Do you think this would be a good mix, it certainly looks a lot better than the Debco stuff which appears to be mostly bark? I've thought of making my own but there are just so many ideas out there and it's very confusing, coarse sand is good, coarse sand compacts, use coir, don't use coir, peat moss is good, peat moss becomes toxic to the plant, perlite is good, perlite floats to the surface and isn't worth using ...........etc. etc. affraid It does my head in Laughing

When should I start watering them, (it says no water or very little in winter) and how should I do it? A lot of books say to put the pot in a saucer containing water and leave it there for a few minutes, but others say to water from the top of the pot, which would you recommend?

I know these are very boring questions, but all the books and websites have different ideas and all I want is some basic information that will keep my cacti happy and healthy.
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Calm and Collected

Number of posts : 256
Location : Mellville
Registration date : 2008-10-28

PostSubject: Re: Some very boring beginner's questions   Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:54 pm

hi miranda and welcome, think drainage,/ size of particles is important allows drainage ,basically dont water in winter you will hurt them ,growng season is spring /summer,water then,/charcoals good perlite too but dont breathe that dust in, you need to find out whether your cacti are south american or mexican as they have different needs.full sun is okay sometimes but filtered light is best when young. mate just do a search here as most topics have been covered i have found this site very helpful lol!
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Number of posts : 733
Location : Langwarrin
Registration date : 2008-04-05

PostSubject: Re: Some very boring beginner's questions   Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:05 pm

G'day Miranda, and welcome aboard!

Don't ever worry about asking questions... I've been growing cacti in one form or another for about fifteen years, and I'm constantly coming up with questions of my own. I think everyone is continuing to learn.

As already stated, the key to growing many if not most cacti is good drainage. Some cacti will tolerate growing in "ordinary" potting mix, whilst others will thrive. Quite a few species will kark it fairly quickly in potting mix too, so really there's no hard and fast rule. Generally, cacti like soils with good drainage and really don't need much water in winter. Mamms and Opuntiads are generally fairly hardy and will do fine in ordinary cacti mix. Opuntias are often extremely hardy (some would argue you just can't kill the bloody things!) and will also do fine in the ground. Jungle cacti like Epiphylum and Pereskiopsis seem to like a richer potting mix with more organic matter, whereas the Mexican miniatures like Lophophora and Astrophytum love open, free draining mixes. If you can work out what sort of environment your plants would grow in the wild, usually you can sort out a suitable mix to grow them in yourself.
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Number of posts : 21
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2009-06-15

PostSubject: Re: Some very boring beginner's questions   Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:38 pm

Thanks very much for replying blowng and Lachy, I've decided that I'm worrying too much, probably a result of reading too many books LOL.

I'll do a good search before I ask any more questions.

Great forum BTW Smile
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Number of posts : 1824
Location : NSW
Registration date : 2008-04-04

PostSubject: Re: Some very boring beginner's questions   Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:10 pm

Hi Miranda. Welcome to the forum.


My Cacti Blog, please come visit me.


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Calm and Collected

Number of posts : 158
Location : Bendigo Victoria . Zone 6
Registration date : 2008-05-02

PostSubject: Re: Some very boring beginner's questions   Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:59 pm

HI Miranda, there are some great books for Australian conditions available through the libary, also as you are in Melbourne get along to your local cactus and succulent groups. lots of cactus are Ok with cold temps. here in Bendigo I see cactus planted out into the regular garden which I personally don't do except for a dedicated area for cactus. we dont get a huge amount of rainfall but so long as your pots arent inadvertantly left sitting in saucers after rain.look forward to seeing more posts from you.
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Number of posts : 393
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2008-06-24

PostSubject: Re: Some very boring beginner's questions   Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:16 am

Hi Miranda, welcome. There is a cactus and succulent society in melbourne which have monthly meetings at the Kew Library.
There is a wealth of knowlege there that can be taken from either their personal library or from the member's them selves. Definately worth a look.
Link below has more details.
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Calm and Collected

Number of posts : 177
Location : Victoria
Registration date : 2008-07-23

PostSubject: Re: Some very boring beginner's questions   Sun Jun 21, 2009 7:17 am

Hi Miranda, welcome to the forum. Love your question, I only started collecting cacti last year and these sort of questions still do my head in! You are lucky you are in the metro area, you can join the club meetings as suggested, up the bush I do not have that luxury, so my collection is mainly trial and error. I have sent quite a few cacti to cactus heaven!!! Good luck with your cacti and if you can stop at just a few plants, good on ya lol!
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Number of posts : 21
Location : Melbourne
Registration date : 2009-06-15

PostSubject: Re: Some very boring beginner's questions   Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:15 pm

Oh more replies! All your suggestions are very helpful, thank you so much for taking the trouble to respond. Smile
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