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Alternative growing substrate?


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While searching for fired clay granules for one of the components in my Mexican Pinguicula mix, I came across this article: http://bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basicscatlitter.htm. I've purchased a bag of the Tesco Premium cat litter lightweight and have made a mix consisting of 2 parts Tesco premium cat litter lightweight, 1 part vermiculite and 1 part perlite. I have potted two of my Mexican Pinguicula in this mix and I will report back on the progress. I must point out that I'm not a big growers of this species so I don't have enough plants to perform a controlled experiment.

The Tesco Premium cat litter lightweight is scented. I found that this rapidly dissipates if the cat litter is soaked in boiling water prior to use.

Edited by mobile
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Do let us know the results Carl, I remember someone else mentioning cat litter but thats about as far as my memory stretches. I hope the stuff they scent it with doesnt cause any problems, hopefully you've managed to get rid of it all though.

I do have a cat (and therefore litter readily available) so would certainly be interested to hear how your pings get on.

Heather

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The type of cat litter is important. There are many different types, most of which would not be suitable, including wood pellets, paper pellets, fullers earth, sepiolite, calcium silicate, etc, etc. The only UK brands that I have read that bonsai growers use are Tesco premium cat litter lightweight and Sophisticat pink, which both appear to consist of the same clay. I was tempted to try the calcium silicate type for one of my pings as I know that it grows on tufa rock, which is calcium carbonate, in the wild but I chickened out :sun_bespectacled:

As for the scent, I'm not too concerned as the bonsai growers do not report any ill effects from it plus soaking it in boiling water removes all of the smell.

I guess that time will tell. So far the plants have only been in the mix for a week but they are not showing any sign of stress yet.

Edited by mobile
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  • 11 months later...

Hi Mobile,

Sorry to drag up an old post, but I was just wondering: how did your Pinguicula plants get on in the mix containing Cat Litter? I have just bought some Tesco "Low Dust" cat litter as a Seramis substitute to use in a mix for Mexican Pings (I will probably use equal parts Perlite, Vermiculite, Cat Litter, Sharp Sand and New Horizon Organic Peat-Free Multipurpose Compost).

Many thanks. :(

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Hi Mobile,

Sorry to drag up an old post, but I was just wondering: how did your Pinguicula plants get on in the mix containing Cat Litter? I have just bought some Tesco "Low Dust" cat litter as a Seramis substitute to use in a mix for Mexican Pings (I will probably use equal parts Perlite, Vermiculite, Cat Litter, Sharp Sand and New Horizon Organic Peat-Free Multipurpose Compost).

Many thanks. :(

I tried it in a primarily non-organic mix, consisting of perlite, vermiculite, Tesco Premium cat litter and a pinch of John Innes. While the plants were okay in it, I have a much better growth rate using Levingtons multi-purpose compost with some added perlite. My P. "encantada" has taken on a massive growth spurt since being in Levingtons/perlite and has been flowering for months. The cat litter is great for Cacti and succulents though.

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I tried it in a primarily non-organic mix, consisting of perlite, vermiculite, Tesco Premium cat litter and a pinch of John Innes. While the plants were okay in it, I have a much better growth rate using Levingtons multi-purpose compost with some added perlite. My P. "encantada" has taken on a massive growth spurt since being in Levingtons/perlite and has been flowering for months. The cat litter is great for Cacti and succulents though.

So you are saying that the results were pretty sh1t :biggrin:

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As a matter of fact, most Pinguicula are not picky about the substrate. And there are many growers that chose mineral over organic media and vice versa. I do not know why some people tend to use fertilizers/nutrient enriched soils though, but thats maybe just me.

I prefer mineral media because especially in the case of Pinguicula its just closer to the "real thing", although of course they do grow on a small layer of compost, and because i like avoiding using peat.

A good alternative is also Akadama, you might want to take a look at it.

You can find a lot of information on mineral media if you look at forums of succulent plants, bonsais and Pinguicula (like Erics site) etc.

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As a matter of fact, most Pinguicula are not picky about the substrate. And there are many growers that chose mineral over organic media and vice versa. I do not know why some people tend to use fertilizers/nutrient enriched soils though, but thats maybe just me.

My P. "encantada" sat for over a year in a mineral mix and hardly put on any growth. As soon as I put it in Levingtons it flourished. I know that people have success with an all mineral mix but it just doesn't work for me with the particular cultivar above. I have got a P. gypsicola x moctezumae growing in an a primarily mineral mix and it does well so maybe it's dependant on the particular ping? I only grow a few Mexican Piinguicula so I'm certainly no expert, just know what works for me.

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All but P. moctezumae (LFS) are in a mineral mix of perlite, sand, crushed coral, and egg shells. Nearly all of them seem to be thriving in it. The moctezumae slowly died in the mineral mix.

Picture005-7.jpg

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I'm starting to think that environmental conditions come into play. If I get opportunity I will take some P. 'encantada' leaf cuttings and grow one in a mineral mix and the other in Levingtons multi-purpose/perlite mix in the same conditions. I know for certain that mine did not like a mineral mix in my conditions but it would be interesting to do a more controlled experiment.

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