Identical cacti in different substrates: extraordinary results of my test and the surprise of natural gypsum

To those wondering to what extent the substrate affects the growth of cacti; for those wondering if natural gypsum (also called agricultural gypsum) can be useful in the formation of robust thorns, this article will certainly be useful. Article which is nothing but the update of a small experiment – one of the many I do with my plants – which I started in July 2020 and which gave surprising results, amazing me first. Yes, because although the test sample is limited (six plants in all) and the results are therefore to be considered indicative and far from absolute, I must confess that I did not expect such a response just over two and a half years after the start of this test. It is known that substrates can literally make the difference in the growth of cacti and that natural gypsum (at least with some species of cacti) is an exceptional element, but it is with direct evidence, with the experimental method that we can really appreciate the impact of the soil in the growth of our succulents.

In this article, therefore, we go into the details of the experiment and see, after more than two and a half years, the results I obtained, which in my opinion are remarkable. (…)

Per proseguire nella lettura dell'articolo Accedi o Abbonati
To continue reading the article LogIn or Subscribe

After one year of cultivation, the first test results on six Mammillaria in three different potting soils

The real unknown factor is represented by the two Mammillaria in the unedited soil, very rich from an organic point of view. We will see over time how their growth will be affected by this substrate. With this consideration, exactly one year ago, I concluded my article on one of the experiments that I do from time to time on cacti and succulents. In the specific case it was a test with three different substrates, in fact three types of “soil”, in which I repotted six Mammillaria hahniana obtained from a single sowing.

After the first year of cultivation, here’s how the experiment is going and here are some initial considerations. (…)

Per proseguire nella lettura dell'articolo Accedi o Abbonati
To continue reading the article LogIn or Subscribe

Six identical cacti in three different soils: a cultivation test with Mammillaria hahniana

Here is another test of mine. In the cultivation of cacti, a bit like with many other passions in life, there are two different approaches: a “static” approach, let’s say “contemplative” and “collecting”, and a “dynamic” one, experimental and inspired by an ever greater understanding of these plants. In this second approach (which is the one that has inspired my passion for years) the study of reliable texts, the comparison with other growers and, above all, the experimentation in the field, for example, working on potting media, exposure, cultivation techniques and more, are fundamental. Just growing plants – succulent or not – for years and years, in the same way, never changing the type of soil, exposure or method of cultivation is fine, mind you. Clearly, it’s perfect for those who only appreciate plants from an aesthetic or collecting point of view and have no particular demands. In short, it’s valid for those who are not interested in learning more and are not willing to take risks to improve and better understand the plants themselves.

Instead, the aim of “wild” cultivation is to obtain specimens as robust as possible, and with the same look to those that grow in the habitat (I write about this cultivation’s philosophy here). In addition to the documentation and possibly travel to observe the plants in nature, it is essential to engage in some experiments and be willing to question continuously, even if it could lose some specimens (not the valuable ones, of course). (…)

Continue reading “Six identical cacti in three different soils: a cultivation test with Mammillaria hahniana”

Strengthening the thorns of cacti: a small experiment with some Ferocactus sowings

Based on the experiences of some growers, plants of the genus Ferocactus seem to appreciate the addition of calcareous material in the substrate. Above all, the thorns would benefit from it, which would be significantly strengthened compared to those of specimens grown in more “traditional” soils, for example the classic pumice, lapillus, peat mix in equal parts. Based on this consideration, I wanted to make an experiment with some of my sowings of Ferocactus acanthodes (seeds obtained from a dried fruit taken from an adult plant during a trip to Arizona) and Ferocactus latispinus. The acanthodes were born in 2013, while the latispinus are from 2010. Except for the seedling soil, which was based on peat, pumice and gravel, these plants grew up in the traditional compost with 30% fine peat and the rest pumice and lapillus in equal parts. I generally use this mix when I want to help seedlings develop more quickly, and then pass them into what I consider my “standard potting soil” made of sandy clay, pumice, gravel and 10% peat.

In the following article we see exactly what my experiment consists of, what type of soil I decided to use and above all we see the results with the photos taken two years after the test. (…)

Per proseguire nella lettura dell'articolo Accedi o Abbonati
To continue reading the article LogIn or Subscribe

Substrate, loam, soil mix: which is the best soil for cactus and succulent plants?

I may look like a mordant, but I want to clear the field of misunderstandings and false myths: the right soil for cacti does not exist. There are many types of soil (or composts, substrates, mixtures, the question does not change) and there are genera that prefer certain substances and others that require more. Established this and removed one of the first Faq (Frequently Asked Questions) by cacti enthusiasts to the first arms – “Which is the best soil for my cactus?” – it can be said on the contrary that on the one hand there are the characteristics that a good soil for cactus must necessarily have; on the other hand the needs of the single plants. The question was simple and the related answer was given by italian cacti expert Giuseppe Lodi, who, after observing “the butts of roots of certain imports” and having noticed how these were encrusted with clay loam, suggested a base soil absolutely natural and versatile: “You can start from a mixture of common clay loam (field or garden), coarse sand and leaf soil, in equal parts. Of these three components none of them can be enough, alone” (Giuseppe Lodi, “Le mie piante grasse” – Edagricole).

Except perhaps for the difficult availability of the loam of leaves (be careful to go for the woods and get bags of decomposed foliage: there are fines for collections of this kind), the recipe provided by the Italian pioneer in the cultivation of cacti and succulents was more than sensible, as well as experienced. Considering the difficulty of finding the loam of leaves (Lodi suggested leaves of beech or chestnut), that moreover must be well decomposed (and it may contain fungi and bacteria dangerous for the plants), this element can be replaced by good quality peat, sieved fine, without lumps and filaments. Too bad that over the years we have forgotten Lodi advice to focus everything on what for many is still the standard substrate of peat, lapillus and pumice in equal parts, standard enough to fit any kind and species of succulent.

In the following article now we see which is the best substrate for growing cacti and succulent plants based on my experience over the years with proofs and experiments on various mixtures. (…)

Per proseguire nella lettura dell'articolo Accedi o Abbonati
To continue reading the article LogIn or Subscribe