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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fertilizer for Cactus Is Limited by the Quality of the Soil

Q. I was wondering whether you could help and point me in the right direction. I had been using a great liquid fertilizer which I was able to obtain from the 99 cents store in Henderson. They have discontinued the product and I can't seem to find it anywhere.  I have succulent plants and cacti on my patio and the liquid fertilizer really seemed to help. Could you suggest where I might obtain the liquid fertilizer or suggest some other product for my plants?

A. I know you probably got a pretty good deal with that fertilizer and that may not happen again for a while but there are some good liquid fertilizers out there. Sounds like you are into the bargain bins when you buy things so you may not like my suggestions.

Good fertilizers are nearly never inexpensive. One of the best ones you could use would be to make your own compost tea using high quality compost. I can’t compare all the products out there available in Las Vegas but one that I know about is called Happy Frog compost. Be careful when using it because it has had fungus gnats in it still working the compost so don’t use it inside the house. It is fine for making tea or using outside (our desert heat will kill the gnats).

Happy Frog products are good quality organic products to use. There are others but this is one.
You take about two handfuls of this compost and put it in about a gallon of warm water and let it soak overnight. No longer than this because you want the water to have air in it or the process will go anaerobic and kill all the microorganisms. Or bubble air through it to keep the microorganisms alive.

The soaking will leach out a lot of the nutrients and microorganisms (goodies). Happy Frog still has a lot of microorganisms in it. Many do not. Use this gallon of water to water your flowering cacti.

If you want a mineral fertilizer then any fertilizer made for tomatoes or roses will do well. Just use very small quantities. Products to look at include Peters, Miracid, Miracle Gro, Jobes, and others.

Peters makes excellent fertilizers but they are expensive.
In many cases, you get what you pay for in

Most importantly for cacti, make sure you amend the soil when you plant them with organic material such as compost or some manure based amendment. Cacti do much better in an amended soil than pure sand or our unamended native soils. If the soil was not amended, lift them during the warm months and replant using soil that drains freely and incorporating compost into it.

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