Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Opinions on Succulent/Cacti Fertilizer??

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Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Jul 4, 2016 6:56 PM CST
Hello all!

I have 38 succulents/cacti in my room, I love them all. A couple months or so ago, I started to use the Miracle Gro Succulent Foaming Plant Food, using it about every two weeks.

I was just wondering about your opinions on it, I really haven't noticed any positive or negative changes in my plants since I started to use it. Or, if you have any better methods that have succeeded for you, please let me know! (:

Thank you.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier
Jul 4, 2016 9:13 PM CST
I'm not familiar with the foaming product (sounds interesting) but usually the MG recommended dosage is something obscene, way above what you would want to use on a regular basis. I was recently checking out the granulated product and the recommended dosage there is 20 times greater than what I use for my outdoor succulents on a weekly basis.

Your plants will tolerate and enjoy more fertilizer if they are in the sun. If they are indoors then you want to cut the dose to a fraction of that. Whatever you end up doing, be sure to flush some water out the bottom of the containers every time you water if possible, so the added salt does not build up in there.

If you want to figure out what kind of dosage you are delivering, it's good to have an idea about ppm N.

Or whatever works for you, but as a starting point I would say try a quarter the dose they recommend for indoor plants, or 1/10 the dose they recommend for outdoor plants, if you want to fertilize regularly. Something like that. I aim for 50 ppm N, which is on the low side, but I deliver it every time I water.

Different plants respond differently but the thing to watch out for is stretching (too much fert and/or too little light). Sometimes the positive difference you see is more in how much they flower or branch, and that tends to be more on the scale of months.
Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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Jul 4, 2016 9:18 PM CST
Hello back to you!

I do not know that specific one. I do know that for a while when I used the miracle grow cactus and succulent mix that came with added slow release fertilizer the plants in it grew a lot better than those in regular cactus mix. However it is pretty expensive compared to regular cactus and succulent mix. So these days I make up my own mix to which I add slow release fertilizer. It is about 50/50 regular cactus and succulent mix and pumice with a few scoops of slow release granules, the ones I use are the Miracle grow shake and feed rose and bloom plant food. That has worked really well for me. At certain times of the year I also then feed with a liquid fertilizer during watering, something called Dyna Bloom - I mostly give those to my regularly flowering plants and I live under the likely false impression that it helps make them bloom...

One thing I hear a lot of experienced growers say it to feed at reduced strength, but more often than the proscribed frequency. For me that is too much hassle. I have way too many plants to water to make up a fertilizer solution very frequently, watering my front and back yards, and all the potted plants probably takes me between 2.5 - 3.5 hours and am combining it with a full time job that often has me working at home after the regular work day.

This time of year with sun blazing hot and the temperatures scorching, I water about once per week depending on monsoonal rain activity - nothing beats a good drenching of rain to make heat stressed plants perk up or start another flower cycle - several cacti are blooming after last week's rainy days, but the heat is making their flowers small and often immediately wilted. In our case the rain water is better because the tap water is slightly alkali (ie. a pH of >7), whereas most plants prefer slightly acidic water, which rain usually is, not much but just enough to make a difference.

Anyway, if you are fertilizing and do not see much difference it could be useful to evaluate some of the other factors that influence a cactus/succulent's growing behavior: light, temperature, and soil. Most cacti and succulents want as much bright light as you can give them especially when growing them indoors. They never like to have wet feet for very long, so check if the soil you have your plants in drains quickly. Finally many cacti and succulents go into a dormant state if they are cool/cold on a daily basis.

Anyway, as long as your plants are not doing worse, it probably is not hurting them.

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