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Thread: watering repotted & new arrival cacti/succulents?

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    swords's Avatar
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    watering repotted & new arrival cacti/succulents?

    I've just potted up my first cacti specimens (ouch!) - all Gymnocalyciums but I think I'll only keep the purple/black striped G. mihanovichii for the long term it meets my criterion of alien looking & colorful. I order most plants off ebay and just about every cactus from every seller is sent bareroot for some reason. I was wondering if I SHOULD or SHOULD NOT "water in" cacti, lithops, succulents, etc. after potting? Various sources seem to say various things about watering & not watering.... Should I mist the cactus to supply it some water for reestablishing if not watering the soil direct?

    I mixed their soil dry and planted them dry, "packing" the soil in around the roots with a sharpie marker and I have not yet watered. I'm curious about this as I am very new to cacti & succulents. I've tried to grow succulents before but must have kept them wet cos they soon dropped their leaves and "melted". So this time I'm trying not to overwater and have this idea that if I water every 3rd of the month after I take my dad out on his SS check day errands I won't be prone to over watering. Is watering once a month a good general rule for everything from lithops to trichocereus or is there no general rule that can be made for cacti/succulent watering and each is as finicky about water as they can possibly be? All my plants will be under a 125W horticultural Power compact from now until warm outdoor weather and then back under the lamps for next winter.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I would say it depends on how well-drained your mix is. With houseplants and cacti I like to make the pot up in advance and water it down thoroughly, but I'll usually let it dry out some before putting a plant in. I got a bunch of cacti and succulents from someone on here bareroot, and when I potted them up I just put them in dry and misted around the base a little to help the finer parts of the mix settle in with the roots. The once-a-month watering sounds like a good idea to me - I think with succulent plants it's always safer to err on the side of too dry. If you think about it, plants in desert environments, even if they're accustomed to relatively frequent rainfall, have to be ready to handle the occasional extreme dry spell/heat wave/drought. It's dramatically more unusual to have weeks of soaking rain in a desert than it is to have a months-long drought.
    Good luck! If you want to unload a few cacti don't forget your old buddy Joe - I can even swap you for a few of my oddballs. I've still got those awesome Neps you sent me... fusca x veitchii and eymae are both pretty massive now.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    swords's Avatar
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    My mix is a 25/25/25/25 mix of peat, pumice, perlite and orchid bark.

    I misted them lightly today and went to work - I just couldn't help myself! Now all the spines have "expanded" and started to stick out and some of the wrinkles went away (the spines were flat earlier this afternoon and skin wrinkly) so it seems they liked it. The only cactus book I have says to wait a week before watering the soil to allow the roots to heal after repotting so I'll do that. It's so different from growing orchids and Neps who get misted daily and watered all the time to trying NOT to water.

    When you water a cactus or succulent do you flush the pot like an orchid (allowing it to pour out the bottom and drain freely) or is there another method for watering them?

    I'd love to do some trades as I don't have much space and don't wanna devote it to something that's nice but well, not exciting. What I've got for trade is:
    Thelocactus hexaedrophorous
    Gymnocalycium horstii (I ordered one and got 4 extra 1" - 1 1/2" plants that must've offset themselves. They're all on established root systems and small tubers so I have 4 of these to trade out)
    Gymnocalycium bodenbenderianum
    "Gymnocalycium sp." this was sent as a bonus plant so it's likely nothing too rare, greygreen with spines...

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I mist my cacti lightly to help protect against dry-loving pests like spider mites. Actual waterings kind of vary - during winter I don't do much more than moisten the soil surface as I mist. In spring and fall I'll water a little more, but I stop short of soaking the soil and usually use just enough water to get a little draining from the bottom of the pot. In the summer I put most of my cacti and succulents outside and let them get as much water as they want from rain. I was wary of this at first and used to pull my cacti inside for stormy weather, but I discovered, quite by accident (or laziness,) that with plenty of bright light and warm temperatures, the succulents in my collection don't mind continuous moisture at all. I actually had one plant that had been through a bout of scale (or the relatives of scale that are all fuzzy) and became all wilted and wrinkled after treatment with insecticides. I tried heavy watering, light watering, sunny windows, fertilizer, but nothing would make it perk back up. I had it outside in the early fall this year and it got totally drenched for over a week. When I remembered to check on it, I was sure it would be mush, but much to my surprise it had straightened up and stood a good five or six inches taller than it was a month before. I'm pretty sure it's more of a tropical succulent than a real desert-dweller (I'm certain it's not a true cactus, at least) but it still goes to show that, when conditions are otherwise good, temporary dampness is not a problem.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    swords's Avatar
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    How often do you mist? Will both cacti & succulents appreciate a light daily misting?

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I'm not sure about all of them, but I think most appreciate a little bit of moisture in the mornings, like morning dew. I'll skip it sometimes - like I said, I water less in the winter - but I don't worry about how often I mist so long as the soil surface doesn't start soaking much of it up.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    swords's Avatar
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    See I never would have thought about misting to simulate dew condensing before dawn. I guess I didn't know if that happened in the desert too or not. I suppose technically that's still watering even if the soil is not getting soaked. If misting LIGHTLY once every day or two is OK then I won't "miss" the activity of watering them.

    Most of the plants in my Anole terrarium basically survive on HEAVY misting alone and they're from the wet tropics.

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