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Rooting and growing cactus cuttings: instructions
You will need a 4-6 clay pot and the soil mix detailed below for the best results. It really is worthwhile to mix up your own batch of specialized cactus soil. I have been experimenting with cacti soil mixes for years and this is what I have found works best for this specie, and many, if not most, other species as well. I have studied the soil types of many different cacti in their native range
And I can locate wild specimens by locating the correct soil type. This is a good potting mix:
- One part commercial bagged topsoil.
- One part commercial bagged cow manure, compost/manure, or compost.
- One part crushed limestone minus grade (This bagged limestone, available from large nurseries and landscape companies, is the finest screening from a rock crusher. It contains limestone particles ranging in size from sand to pebbles.)
- 1 cup or so of powdered or pelleted limestone (or dolomite) per 6' pot. Peter's Professional All-Purpose Plant food (hardware or garden centre)
You can substitute crushed oyster shell or crushed cuttlebone (pet or feed store) or finely crushed marble for the minus grade limestone. I just call around and pick up a bag of the crushed stone for about $3.00.
Mix the ingredients and break up any lumps, you want the soil to have lumps no larger than your rock chips. If you are rooting a bud or small stalk, fill the pot to within 1-1/2 inches to the top, packing the soil down tightly with your fist while filling. Centre your bud or cutting and pack soil mix around it to within ½ inch of the top of the pot. You want about 1 to 1-1/2 inches of the cutting in the soil, just enough to hold it stable. Make sure to pack the mix tight. Then soak the pot slowly and thoroughly with plain water. You can set the pot in a bucket and fill with water to the pot rim, let soak 15 min, remove & let drain.
Place the pot in full direct sun if possible, the more light the better. For fastest rooting and healthiest plants it helps to dig a hole in the ground in a sunny location and sink the pot in up to the lip. This provides some temperature and humidity stabilization that helps rooting and encourages much healthier growth. They neglect better and you will water less as well.
During the growing season water the pots whenever it feels dry when you press your finger into the soil surface. Rooting should occur quickly when the cactus stalks are set up in full sun, the pots are pots sunk into the ground, and the soil mix is kept cool and moist. Usually 2-3 weeks. You will see new growth on the tip when roots have begun to set. When the growth resumes, begin feeding:
Add two tablespoons of all purpose chemical fertilizer per 5 gallons (20 litres) of water for starts. This is a 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer with trace elements: Trace elements are essential for good colour, growth and potency in cacti
Blue Pedro is grown by maintaining the proper levels of: sun, feed (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus & trace), pH and water... Lots of water. In summer, when mixing feed for fully rooted and growing Pedro's, try to add some pure urea to your feed. For peak summer growing, feed with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of 20-20-20 (see above) and 3 tablespoons of Urea (46-0-0) in five gallons (20 litres) of water. Don't let the pots go completely dry during the growing season if you can avoid it. Outdoors in many areas summer feed is supplemented with rainwater, if not give the plants a break from feed about every second or third watering
Plain water or weak lime water once in awhile rinses out accumulating salts. Rinse the pots well with a hose or rainwater. And lime with a few tablespoons of powdered rock per pot every few months if you are feeding heavy. A word to the wise: don't feed any heavier or you will burn the roots and don't let the pots dry out and get hot in full sun if you feed heavy. Roots like it rich, cool, and moist.
When using the Urea formula above, add a tablespoon or two of powdered limestone or dolomite to each pot every two-three months to maintain sweet" soil chemistry. Soured pots will still grow, but the colour and potency of the cactus is second rate, and it will not grow as fast. The lowest the pH should get is 6.8, any lower and San Pedro will start to grow out pale yellow. Hit sickly or yellowed plants with: lime, hardwood ashes, sunlight and fertilizer.
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