Ask a Question forum: Are my pots too big?

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Mjwier
Apr 25, 2017 1:49 PM CST
I have a couple succulents and cacti and I am just wondering if the pot I have them is too big or not-- they haven't died yet (win for me) but I also feel like they haven't grown?
Thumb of 2017-04-25/visitor/cde8e3
Thumb of 2017-04-25/visitor/964dbf

Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Apr 25, 2017 2:57 PM CST
Hello Mjwier! Your container size is just okay. What I would improve is lighting and the soil mix. Make that media grittier, and if your weather permits it, bring them out gradually to more sun, then you will see better growth.

I only increase container size as needed and it may take quite a while to do it. Their root systems are most of the time so shallow and small. Especially cacti, they enter dormancy period during the cold season. So right about now it will be back to its active growth. But active growth is not the same as tropical plants, succulents take their time. Light indoors is not optimal and there is more air movement outside as well which these plants love. So when conditions allow it, best to bring them out if you can.

Mjwier
Apr 25, 2017 3:23 PM CST
Thank you! Yes I was planning on changing the potting mix-- any ideas to make it grittier? This picture is an awful dipiction-- but there is actually a lot of sunlight they sit in a south facing window and I usually open the window as long as the weather permits but on days that I am home I will plan to put outside during the day if it is better for them. Any other pointers? I am new to this and surprised everyone I planted is still living!! Thank you for your help-- much appreciated
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
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tarev
Apr 25, 2017 4:07 PM CST
I use cacti mix and add more pumice or perlite to it. But I much prefer to add pumice. Perlite is rather light, but still okay to use if you do not have access to pumice. Then I also top dress the media with poultry grit (insoluble crushed granite). Before I just use pumice or some light pebbles, but I like the color of poultry grit more, and their shape is somewhat irregular so it allows water to push thru nicely. If I have on hand akadama and kanuma, I also add those in to my soil, but these are harder to get, so pumice and perlite will be the easier choice.

I have learned to put poultry grit around the plant so during the rainy days, the base of the plant is not sitting in too much wet soil, it holds down the soil very well too. Most of my succulents are outside year round but I do bring indoors some during winter, the ones that I know will not tolerate our tandem of cold and rain. Some succulents will tolerate up to a low of 30F, but has to be kept dry. The winter growing ones, will not mind being wet and cold, but there is always a caveat, once it starts hitting the 20F range, expect cold damage. So if in doubt during the cold months, bring them in. I do not know your location, so it will be your best judgement. Cacti is dormant during the cold months, so they are best kept dry during that period. Most succulents will also slow down growing indoors, when light levels are not optimal so watering should be done with care.

As much as these plants love the warm weather, there is a point where too much heat will also push them to some dormancy once it starts going into the 95F and triple digit range. In my area we get that in summer and with the intense dry heat, some protection from the sun is also needed. In time you will be able to see it, some succulent rosettes slowly closing down as it goes dormant and tries to preserve the moisture loss. The desert cacti variety will enjoy the summer heat, they thrive in that.

Active growing for them temperature-wise is in the range of 70F to 90F. Oftentimes people think all the succulents will love to be in intense full sun..some will not, they will need protection from it by giving them some shade in the afternoon when the heat is at its highest.

This is typically how gritty my soil looks like for my succulents, there is cacti soil with pumice under those poultry grit top dressing, and if possible shallow and wide containers. I ran out of containers, so I was just using this old pastry container, just added holes below it for drainage. Some of my succulents are planted stand alone, not mixed in with other types, since I know they can grow into big specimen size.
Photo Feb 2016
Thumb of 2017-04-25/tarev/2111bc

Photo 18Apr2017
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Also be aware, some succulents are winter growers, and some go summer dormant. So I try to do repotting during early to mid Spring, or sometimes in mid Fall. Allows time for the plant to get used to and acclimate to their new set-up before the harsher weather sets in.

Then there are some succulents that will only bloom once it its lifespan, after that it will die. But it will try to make new offsets or if none then you can still try to harvest their seeds.
[Last edited by tarev - Apr 25, 2017 4:08 PM (+)]
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Mjwier
Apr 25, 2017 8:46 PM CST
So much info THANKKKKK YOUUUU!! Ordering some stuff tonight-- going to get the pumice and poultry grit. Now can I use that for all my plants?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
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tarev
Apr 26, 2017 10:27 AM CST
Should be okay, but with tropical plants, they do like to stay a bit on the moist side, so regular potting soil is what you will use, and you can still add some pumice and perlite, to maintain good air access below soil level. What you will want to avoid is making the media too compacted, which often happens in containers. Got to keep that media open and well draining, so roots can get moisture and air as well. It will be your decision later if you really want to grow bigger plants, if container size is increased gradually, then roots will have more area to grow.

So knowing the nature of the plant helps, so you can apply the correct type of soil to use, and adjusting watering and lighting needs as the seasons change. But at all times, use containers with drainage holes. Hope that helps. Smiling



Mjwier
Apr 26, 2017 7:14 PM CST
Hurray! yes thank you! You were loads of help! I'll be sure to contact you if I have any more questions-- you are the plant guru!

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