golden ball cactus.
A spider must have woven its web in this patch of plantain… and the rain looks beautiful on it.
– Good, rich soil is the place to start. This gives your mix some nutrients and holds on to water. Topsoil, which is basically organic matter mixed with sand, clay, or a bit of both, usually works fine for this. Most stores will have topsoil that comes from within a 50-mile radius, so composition may vary. Compost, homemade or bagged, works even better and removes the need for fertilizer.
Then I supplement with a few other things:
– Bark fines. Not necessary if you use compost, but they’re great for mixing with a bit of topsoil. They’re pretty much exactly what they sound like – fine pieces of lightly composted pine bark. Water passes through them quickly and they add the organic component when compost is unavailable.
– Coarse sand to help with drainage. This is NOT the same as beach sand or play sand. It’s also not the multi-purpose sand sold in garden centers. It’s usually sold as silica sand, horticultural sand, or pool filter sand. The grains are like very small pebbles. I add a handful of this to my cactus soil. I also use this for my carnivorous plants, since it’s pH-balanced and mineral-free.
– Pumice and/or lava rock. These are porous, lightweight volcanic materials that help aerate the soil. Both provide more space for roots and help keep the soil from clumping. Lava rock doesn’t retain as much water as pumice, and can be harder to find in large quantities. Pumice is great, but can be hard to find anywhere but online. My succulent soil is at least 50% pumice, and for cacti it’s about 70%.
– Top dressing is the fun part. I use whatever pebbles or rocks I have on hand. Rocks from the beach will have too much salt, so steer clear of those. Commercially I like lava rock, pea pebbles, or aquarium gravel. I also use coarse sand if I have any extra available. Rocks from fresh-water rivers or streams are also nice. Just wash and thoroughly dry them first.
And that’s it! There’s obviously a lot of different recipes, some similar to this and some not, but this is what has worked for me. Tomorrow I will post about my preferred commercial succulent/cactus mix.
Thought I would