Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: Calcined clay as a growth medium for sempervivum

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Name: Paul
southern California
Zone 8B/9A
Region: California Herbs
cahdg6891
Oct 22, 2016 12:22 AM CST
I was thumbing through my copy of "The Gardener's Guide to Cactus" by Scott Calhoun, and on page 22 under "Cactus soil mixes for containers" it has Steve Plath's Ultra-Drain growing mix. The book says, "The owner of Signature Botanica nursery outside Phoenix, Steve developed his Ultra-Drain mix after discovering that growing certain species of Mammillaria in straight calcined clay worked wonders where a normal cactus mix failed. "I could water them every day and not rot them," Steve said. Calcined clay is a clay that is fired to 1200-1400 F (650-760 C). It looks like light tan gravel but is extremely absorbent. Most people are familiar with calcined clay because it is the main (and often only) ingredient in kitty litter and bagged oil-spill absorbents."

Has anyone tried growing any sempervivum in calcined clay? Sounds like it might be just the thing, especially in areas with soil that is unsuitable or where rot is a problem.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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gg5
Oct 22, 2016 7:39 PM CST
Paul what a great idea, I'm going to try this! I tip my hat to you. Because of living in Seattle where there is so much water, I did begin using a mix of almost 50% pumice. And that seems to be doing well this year, although it is only October...if it doesn't work I'll try the calcined clay for next year Thumbs up
I tip my hat to you.

Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Oct 24, 2016 2:59 PM CST

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It would be interesting to see how semps would do in it.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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gg5
Oct 24, 2016 3:35 PM CST
Yes I know! I'm wondering if it is even available around my area. But if the pumice doesn't work, I'm going to look into it for sure! Hurray!

Name: Paul
southern California
Zone 8B/9A
Region: California Herbs
cahdg6891
Oct 24, 2016 10:40 PM CST
I'm interested to try it, too! If they take to it, it would take a lot of the worry out of watering in warm weather, especially if it helps prevent the little white roots from dying back when they have been kept dry for a long time.

I haven't been able to find it around here yet, but looking online it looks like the price is maybe around $10 for a 50 lb. bag or so, so not too bad. Neither Lowes nor Home Depot had it. Sure wish we had some good independent nurseries around these parts!
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Garden Art Birds Dog Lover Cat Lover Region: Pacific Northwest Hummingbirder
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gg5
Oct 24, 2016 11:19 PM CST
Wow Paul that sounds like a good price! Cheaper than the chicken grit for me (Living in the city the chicken grit is very pricey, but I like that it is from a local source and pink granite when they aren't out of it!)

Name: James
Kingsport, TN
Sempervivums Sedums Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents
Container Gardener Greenhouse Farmer Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Tennessee
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jkbingh
Oct 25, 2016 2:08 PM CST
Hi, I have just started using clay grow medium for my Semps and so far it is doing great. I had already been using it for my agave, Echeveria and cacti.
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I find that I have to water more often in the hot season but it's worth the extra effort for me. I hope that helps some.

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Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Garden Art Birds Dog Lover Cat Lover Region: Pacific Northwest Hummingbirder
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gg5
Oct 25, 2016 2:15 PM CST
Wow looks great!! For some reason I expected the medium to be terra cotta colored! Hilarious!
I like that it is just natural colored! Thanks James for showing how it looks and your plants seem to like it!! Hurray!

Name: James
Kingsport, TN
Sempervivums Sedums Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents
Container Gardener Greenhouse Farmer Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Tennessee
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jkbingh
Oct 25, 2016 2:24 PM CST
Thank you Greg. I just potted up about 30 or so pots to see how they do before planting all in them. If they do good then that would be a great plus for me since I have about 3000 pots in my other mix. The clay would be alot easier.
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Garden Art Birds Dog Lover Cat Lover Region: Pacific Northwest Hummingbirder
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gg5
Oct 25, 2016 5:46 PM CST
Wow that's a lot of pots!
nodding Photos whenever you'd like of your yard James please Hilarious!

Name: James
Kingsport, TN
Sempervivums Sedums Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents
Container Gardener Greenhouse Farmer Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Tennessee
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jkbingh
Oct 25, 2016 6:18 PM CST
Most of my plants are in a greenhouse. This was in the spring when I first started moving my plants in my new greenhouse.
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Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Garden Art Birds Dog Lover Cat Lover Region: Pacific Northwest Hummingbirder
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gg5
Oct 25, 2016 6:23 PM CST
Hurray! James that's amazing! Looks great! Now I know what 3000 pots of semps look like Sticking tongue out a dream come true! Love the reds in the second photo really pretty! I tip my hat to you.

Name: James
Kingsport, TN
Sempervivums Sedums Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents
Container Gardener Greenhouse Farmer Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Tennessee
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jkbingh
Oct 25, 2016 6:41 PM CST
Thank you Greg. There's not quite that many right there. Them were taken when I just got my greenhouse built. The majority of my agave, Echeveria, aloes and cacti were not in there yet. This fall I've separated the babies and potted them up as well. It has been alot of work but it sure is fun to work in there now. Lol
Name: Paul
southern California
Zone 8B/9A
Region: California Herbs
cahdg6891
Oct 25, 2016 8:49 PM CST
Wow, James! Your plants and greenhouse look fantastic! Drooling for the clay you use, what is the brand and where do you get it from?
Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Garden Art Birds Dog Lover Cat Lover Region: Pacific Northwest Hummingbirder
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gg5
Oct 25, 2016 10:48 PM CST
James are you planning to sell semps? Don't know if the other types of plants are as prolific but you are going to be having a lot of semp babies in the next little while! Hilarious!

Name: James
Kingsport, TN
Sempervivums Sedums Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents
Container Gardener Greenhouse Farmer Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Tennessee
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jkbingh
Oct 25, 2016 11:27 PM CST
Thank you Paul. The clay rock I have is called via grow. I got it online from home depot in 50 litre bags. If you order 2 or more then shipping is
free to your home. The bags equal to around 15 gallon.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Oct 26, 2016 9:33 AM CST

Moderator

Wow!!!! James that green house is amazing. What a great way to grow your succulents. And I love the looks of the calcined clay. The photos are awesome.
Name: Kate
NEKingdom of Vermont (Zone 3a)
www.LabourofLoveLandscaping.com
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant and/or Seed Trader Sempervivums Tropicals Garden Ideas: Level 1
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LabourofLove
Nov 4, 2016 5:41 PM CST
I went to the Home Depot website and could not figure out which product you were referencing as ViaGrow. They seem to have an entire line of products with that name.

I'm sure this is a ridiculous question, but if clay kitty litter is calcined clay, why not use it? Lord knows it's cheap enough and the particles seem to be a good, useful size. I understand that the item in question is unscented and non-clumping.
Kate Kennedy Butler
Glover, Vermont

life without music would be a mistake Nietzsche
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
Nov 4, 2016 7:22 PM CST

Moderator

Kate, the calcined clay used for potting/top dressing is different from kitty litter.
https://www.google.com/search?...
http://www.ebay.com/p/8-lbs-tu...

On this site you can look for a distributor near you.
http://www.turface.com/resourc...

And here is a discussion on calcined clay verses kitty litter.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral...
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
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RickCorey
Nov 4, 2016 7:37 PM CST
Great link, Lynne!

Re-phrasing, cat litter is only heated to ~500ºF, not the 1400ºF it takes to make the particles hard-when-wet. The author said that cat litter melts into something gooey when wet.

Here's the link she or he was quoting from:
http://ballfields.com/tips/moi...

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