Seramis, an alternative material for growing cacti and succulent plants: pros and cons

Recently, on the social channels connected to the site, I published a short video in which I repot an Astrophytum asterias in a substrate composed solely of Seramis. Following that video, many asked me for information on this particular material with its characteristic orange colour, in fact little used in the cultivation of succulents and not easily available in small nurseries. I have had the opportunity to use Seramis in the past in the cultivation of some cactaceae and my experience has been decidedly positive (although, as a porous inert material, in my opinion pumice remains the best material ever) and it is also for this reason that I recently employed it for the Astrophytum subject of the video (video that you can also find at the end of this article).

Answering many questions received in recent weeks, let’s see in the following article what exactly Seramis is, what are the strengths and weaknesses of this material and what can be its use with succulents and, in particular, with cacti. (…)

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A good cactus potting soil with materials readily available in any nursery? Here is how to do it

Surfing the Internet shows how easy it is now to find retailers of plant-growing materials. It is also true specifically for cacti and succulent plants: online, from skilled nurserymen to businesses that deal only in materials such as potting soil, pots, labels, etc., it is easy to get everything you need to grow. But what to do if we don’t want to buy online? If we need large quantities of materials, and shipping can only go up to a certain weight? If we prefer to provide directly by buying potting soil (everyone may have their reasons for this or that choice)? Do we rely on the ready-made potting soils usually offered by any well-stocked nursery or garden? Or is it better to do it ourselves, assembling the various materials as peat, pumice, and sand, based on our needs?

In this article we see how to make a proper substrate for use with any genre of cactus and, with appropriate adjustments, with succulents, in general. We will make it, and this is the point of this article, with materials that anyone can now easily find in any place (…).

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Cactus without roots: how to save the plant and which soil to use to get it back to full health

Cacti can be capricious plants, expecially because of their roots. It can happen, in fact, that despite all the cares we dedicate to one of our succulent plants, it stops growing, stops producing thorns and flowers and, in the space of a few weeks (or months, in some cases), begins to deteriorate, deflating and turning yellow. At the origin of this phenomenon, not always a pathology exists, as a bacterial attack that can cause the rot. In the same way, the cause may not necessarily be due to a parasitic attack. If you look closely at the plant, for example, you might not find any traces of spider mite or mealybug, the two main pests of succulents. With experience I have learned that when a plant, even apparently healthy (i.e. not affected by parasites or bacteria) and grown in the best conditions (light, air, watering, soil, etc..) begins to deteriorate deflating and yellowing despite watering, it is always better to remove it from the pot and check the health of the root system. More often than we might think, the problem can hide just there, below the collar.

In this article we will see everything we can do to save a cactus or a succulent plant in evident difficulty or when, after having flared it, we realize that it has lost all or part of its roots. (…)

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Targeted repotting: sowing identical plants in different soils to test the substrate

It’s time for… testing. Between the end of December and the end of February, as soon as I have time, I dedicate myself to repotting the plants in the greenhouse. Obviously I only repot plants in stasis, with very dry soil, postponing the change of pot to spring for the plants that I keep in vegetation in winter, perhaps outdoors (but still in pots and not in the ground, of course). Today I flared and planted about fifty plants that I obtained by sowing in natural light and heat. Some of them were born in 2014, others in 2016 (but already large enough to be repotted). It was an opportunity to start a useful test on various types of soil to understand how this affects the growth of some specific species of cacti.

Let’s see in the following article what exactly this experiment on the substrate consists of and let’s see, thanks to the photographic update two years after repotting, how the plants have grown. (…)

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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. (…)

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