Houseplants forum: MiracleGro Cactus Potting Mix - good?

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Boston, MA
LME79
Feb 10, 2018 10:21 AM CST
Hi - after searching online and asking around I figured out that REGULAR potting soil wasnt good for aloe vera and succulents, THEREFORE, I went to store and i was sold the product that is "designed" for aloe vera and succulents - Miracle Gro Cactus potting mix.

However, now after planting all my succulents and aloe veras with this product i am finding out that this is not so different than plain regular potting soil and that my plants wont last long. I clearly can see that this mix is staying moist for days... eventhough it actually says fast drying on the label?

Anyone agrees or disagrees that this product is not right???

Any way i can fix this other than repotting six plants?



Thumb of 2018-02-10/LME79/e141a3

Northern NJ (Zone 6b)
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LorettaNJ
Feb 10, 2018 10:27 AM CST
I just bought this mix for a lime tree. I also thought the same as you. I was expecting wood chips since I read from a few sources that chunky pieces like wood chips, perlite, etc were good for drainage but this just seemed like seed starting mix.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Houseplants Garden Sages
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gasrocks
Feb 10, 2018 10:27 AM CST
"....my plants wont last long." is a bit over the top. OK, cactus soil. How long it stays wet depends on other variables. Type and size of pot, amount of water given, temperature, humidity, sun, wind. etc. Many people use "regular" potting soil with a helping of sand added for their Aloes. Just watch how and how often you water and you should be OK for now. I do not believe wood chips are good for drainage. They tend to hold water, IMO. Gene
[Last edited by gasrocks - Feb 10, 2018 10:29 AM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator
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Baja_Costero
Feb 10, 2018 10:30 AM CST
You can compensate to some degree by watering less often, if the mix does not dry out fast enough. You can put your pots in the brightest, warmest spot available and that will help with evaporation. Or you can repot in a mix with some pumice or perlite added (better to wait until spring to do this). I like 50% pumice but various other substitutes can be made to work. If the mix is mostly organic, it will drain better when the particles are relatively large and chunky/gritty rather than fine and dust-like. Sometimes the bagged "cactus mix" is chunky rather than rocky, but it still works better than regular potting soil for this reason.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Houseplants Garden Sages
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gasrocks
Feb 10, 2018 10:33 AM CST
I have found that outside of S. Cal. pumice can be hard to find. Also costs a fair amount to ship. I know that there are many serious succulent growers that use a mix that is 50 - 100% pumice. Gene
[Last edited by gasrocks - Feb 10, 2018 10:36 AM (+)]
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Boston, MA
LME79
Feb 10, 2018 10:48 AM CST
So should i repot with the right mix 50/50 now? Or should i leave like that for now?
I am afraid it will rot and then i will loose my plants...
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 10, 2018 10:49 AM CST
The label itself is a warning. It says it is for Cactus, Palms, and Citrus. That may be very effective marketing seemingly covering a wide range of plants. But these types of plants do NOT use the same potting mixes. I suspect that this product is, as you say, not porous enough for Cacti. MIracle-gro potting mixes are notorious for harboring fungus gnat larvae.

As Baja suggested, you can probably remedy this mix by adding more perlite or pumice. Sand will add weight, but not porosity.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Boston, MA
LME79
Feb 10, 2018 11:02 AM CST
"harboring fungus gnat larvae" what??? Crazy?!?!?! Thanks for letting me know... This is the main brand out there... what should i buy then??? What brand or what type to avoid problems... i dont want pests in my condo...
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Houseplants Garden Sages
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gasrocks
Feb 10, 2018 11:09 AM CST
i dont want pests in my condo...

Then stop throwing wild parties.
Northern NJ (Zone 6b)
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LorettaNJ
Feb 10, 2018 11:14 AM CST
Yes, I agree that Miracle Gro is home to fungus gnats!
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Houseplants Garden Sages
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gasrocks
Feb 10, 2018 11:16 AM CST
I control the fungus gnats that I do get with Azamax. Gene
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 10, 2018 11:31 AM CST
You can make your own potting mixes pretty easily. Use plain peat moss, perlite or pumice, and a little fertilizer. That's all you need. Add more perlite proportionately for succulents and less for a plant that needs to stay more on the moist side.

One of the ingredients that Miracle-Gro likes to include is "forest products," which sounds terrific, but like compost and soil, it can be a source of plant pests. Gnat larvae also thrive on bark products. If you use any packaged potting mix, check the ingredients list (usually in fine print) to make sure they don't include soil, bark, compost and forest products. Ignore labels that tout its being all natural or organic or moisture controlled.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Houseplants Garden Sages
Image
gasrocks
Feb 10, 2018 11:38 AM CST
Will is correct. Read those labels. A lot of bags of what sounds like, looks like soil/dirt these days is really composted forest products. Very rude and crude stuff. Gene
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator
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Baja_Costero
Feb 10, 2018 5:27 PM CST
I am a huge fan of composted bark in potting mixes and the only reason I don't use it these days is because it's not available locally where I get my soil. Composted bark (when mixed with other ingredients like rock and peat/coir) makes a very long lasting substrate that's excellent for cacti that you may end up leaving in the same soil forever. It has the longest life of any type of compost I've used.

I have big old cacti still going strong in a mix of mostly composted bark after more than a decade. I allow that soil to go bone dry between watering, which obviously makes a difference when fungus gnats are potentially a problem. Fungus gnats can be controlled and I don't think you have to forego bark based soil mixes to accomplish that. Smiling I have no experience with Miracle Gro products, per se.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Feb 10, 2018 5:40 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 10, 2018 6:59 PM CST
I agree that when watered properly, gnats are rarely a problem with succulents, regardless of the potting mix. They are a problem for non-succulents that don't get as dried out routinely as succulents.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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