Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Looking for advice! Newer indoor cactus owner in Rochester NY

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acrocoll
Apr 20, 2017 8:24 AM CST
Hello all! I have been collecting cacti for about 2 years now, and I am starting to really get into it. I have about 20. The majority of them are still small, and 2 of them larger. I'm looking for some general advice to assure I am giving them the best care possible. I'm also looking to have some identified. I have the majority of them in clay pots with cacti soil, I recently had a HUGE infestation of flies and repotted them all once with new soil and pebbles on the soil, had no luck the flies came back almost instantly. I then had to repot them again and put a 1 inch layer of sand on the top of the soil. I have no flies at the moment. Is it OK to have the sand on the top of the soil? To make watering easier I added some rocks. I also know that each specific cacti has different guidelines for care, and unfortunately the majority of the plants I purchased came with no identification. I water them all about 1 time every two weeks .. they all have a good amount of sunlight in windows, and I do have one mini greenhouse and 1 grow light on a few. If anyone has any advice for me that would be great! I can also upload some photos if anyone is interested in helping me identify a few of them! Thank you in advance!
-Amanda
Name: Deborah
midstate South Carolina (Zone 8a)
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Deebie
Apr 20, 2017 11:32 AM CST
Welcome! Amanda, we'd love to help. Posting photos will help us better help you. We do have some cacti experts on board, who I'm sure will be happy to help you ID your plants.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Apr 20, 2017 11:35 AM CST
Hello acrocoll! We love photos! Lovey dubby
While waiting for your photo upload, for my preference with my cacti and succulents, I don't add sand, but instead I used cacti mix and further add pumice or if not available more perlite. Then I top dress them with poultry grit (insoluble crushed granite). Sand has a tendency to compact too hard overtime.

Cacti do love lots of sunshine, so it is good your plant is by a window. If you have space outside, putting them out during the warm months will be very good for them. Do it slowly, so it can acclimate well. They make their best blooms when they get lots of sunshine.
[Last edited by tarev - Apr 20, 2017 11:39 AM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 20, 2017 1:45 PM CST
Welcome!

I'm concerned about why you had a 'fly' infestation. Were they tiny flys? They could be gnats - always a sure sign you are watering too much.

I wouldn't add sand to the top either. If you want something decorative over your soil, find some pretty pebbles. The sand will not only compact but prevent you from being able to see if your plants need water. Instead of have them on a schedule, water as needed (when you can't feel any moisture in the top inch or so).

Cactus were meant to live in the desert, they appreciate being dry between waterings. In the winter, mine get watered once a month - maybe. Smiling The water should run through fairly quickly and the soil dry also fairly quickly, and then they sit... waiting for that next drink which, in the desert, may be 6 months from now.

My advice is stop repotting and water less and those flys will not be around anymore.

I would say you are doing well if you still have them after 2 years. I too would love to see some photos. We are all about picture sharing.

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Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Apr 20, 2017 2:44 PM CST

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The sand on top of the soil (esp. that thick a layer) will slow down evaporation in addition to blocking the flies. So it's probably not going to work in the long term... giving the soil a chance to dry out in between watering is important for the health of your plants.

If what you have is fungus gnats then you should look at how you water and try to avoid leaving the soil wet. But just changing how you water will not make the problem go away (I speak from years of experience).

The fastest solution for fungus gnats I've found is sticky flypaper right near the surface of the soil. It will only control the adults and never completely eradicate the bugs, but very useful if the little aviators are bothering you. Pay attention to where you deploy the flypaper (close to home, where the bugs hatch is in the soil) and keep an eye on it to see where it is most effective.

There are other solutions to a fungus gnat problem (try searching this site for "fungus gnats") including Mosquito Dunks. You will have to experiment to see what works for you, I would just advise trying to figure out where they might be coming from (in your bag of fresh soil perhaps?) to reduce the probability/severity of recurrence.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Apr 20, 2017 2:45 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Apr 20, 2017 3:33 PM CST

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For example...

Thumb of 2017-04-20/Baja_Costero/c72a74

The plants in the first picture were blasted by direct sun and recently moved to the shade for protection. That explains the red and brown hues on some of the plants (temporary) as well as the algae growing in a few pots, and the onset of fungus gnats. Smiling Interestingly the plants which took the midday sun best (and are still green) are the Mexican succulents.

Thumb of 2017-04-20/Baja_Costero/5003e8

The plants in the second picture are cuttings I have left to root. Also in a somewhat protected location.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Apr 20, 2017 3:39 PM (+)]
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acrocoll
Apr 20, 2017 7:08 PM CST
Wow thank you all so much for the replies!

I will for sure get rid of the sand and pay more attention to how I am watering. It just seemed a little more simple for me to water them all at once without paying much attention to the soil, but I will change that habit immediately!
I also just bought some yellow sticky paper so hopefully that helps!

Is it wise to have any sort of soil topper?
Also can I for sure bring them outside? If anyone here is from WNY you know how the weather is here, it's very unpredictable! I would hate for something to happen to them or have bugs or animals mess with them.

Here's a few pictures of the ones I need help identifying!! Thanks guys!
Thumb of 2017-04-21/acrocoll/5c5495
Thumb of 2017-04-21/acrocoll/39a9c7
Thumb of 2017-04-21/acrocoll/5e7d41
Thumb of 2017-04-21/acrocoll/cbd898
Thumb of 2017-04-21/acrocoll/9ac0f0
Thumb of 2017-04-21/acrocoll/d4878d
Thumb of 2017-04-21/acrocoll/a47354
Thumb of 2017-04-21/acrocoll/8cffeb
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 20, 2017 11:44 PM CST
1. Mammilaria elongata
2. Mammilaria and ? (may need to wait for flowers to ID this one)
3. Wait for flowers to ID
4. Mammillaria
5. Maybe a Ferocactus. When you run your finger nail down the top of the largest spine in each cluster, can you feel ridges?
6. Maybe a Fairy Castle
7. Haworthia
8. Opuntia monacantha var. variegata. It needs more light.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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acrocoll
Apr 22, 2017 5:49 AM CST
Thanks for the response! Will the cacti flower at any age?

And as far as the last cactus and the lighting, I have moved it around my house a few times to see where it looks the most happy I feel like I can't get it right. Should I put a light on it? If so what kind? The other grow bulb I have is a plant one from Home Depot.

Thanks!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 22, 2017 10:36 AM CST
Mammillaria bloom young - they should be blooming now. Ferocactus need to be 7 or 8 years old. Fairy Castle will never bloom. Haworthia should be blooming now. Opuntia will bloom at any age.

Grow lights would benefit all your plants. A good indicator for light for slow growing cactus is if they bloom. Opuntia grow so fast that it becomes obvious pretty fast. If they all have the same light as the Opuntia, they all need more light. Find some lights with a K rating of 6500. That is considered full sun.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Apr 22, 2017 10:58 AM CST
When indoors, south/southwest facing window is really good for them. Sorry I don't do indoor lighting here.

Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Apr 22, 2017 11:04 AM CST

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Yes. Your sunniest window (usually SE/S/SW in the northern hemisphere) will provide enough light for most of those plants, if it's unobstructed and the plants are right by the window. Sort of cliche but there is no better place to put an indoor cactus than right on your sunniest windowsill.
Name: Darcy
Reno, NV (Zone 6b)
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djinnevada
Apr 25, 2017 10:46 AM CST
I am amazed at the amount of knowledge ya'll have - am learning so much just by reading everyone else's posts. Thank you for sharing and enlightening the newbies!
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plantmanager
Apr 25, 2017 12:33 PM CST
Stick around, Darcy, and you'll learn new things every day and have so much fun here.
It looks like you're a chicken lover, so come on over to the farming forum and join some chicken threads.
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