Re-potting a Christmas Cactus

After your Christmas cactus has bloomed, re-pot it into a pot slightly larger than its current container. Christmas cactus roots can easily rot if the soil is too wet, so the pot must have a drain hole and be planted in a lightweight, well-drained potting mix.   You can use potting mixes for cactus & succulents, which are readily available at garden centers, or you can make your own.

Commercially made potting soils can be used for Christmas cactus soil, if they are amended. Choose a balanced pH soil mix without added fertilizers. The soil’s pH should be neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0, not too acid nor too alkaline.

Below are four suggested Christmas cactus soil recipes:

  • 1/2 potting soil, 1/4 horticultural perlite, 1/4 orchid bark.
  • 1/3 Coconut Coir, 1/3 horticultural perlite, 1/3 fine fir bark.
  • 1/3 soil-less potting soil, 1/3 horticultural perlite, 1/3 pine bark nuggets.
  • 2/3 potting balanced PH soil with perlite, 1/3 sand

Submitted by; Carlotta Lucas

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Peat Moss vs Coir (Coconut Fiber)

Both products are used as soil amendments to improve soil structure by lightening the soil and holding moisture; neither adds nutrients to the soil.

COIR

Coir

Peat moss is harvested from peat bogs which are areas of decomposed sphagnum moss in swamps and marshes. Wetland ecologists consider peat moss a non-sustainable material because its harvesting rate is greater than its replenishing rate. Plus, it is harvested from delicate endangered habitats.

Coconut fiber (Coir) is a byproduct of coconut processing; therefore it is always available and sustainable. Coir is made from fibrous coconut husks which are water processed, ground up or decomposed, then made into Coir bricks. Most COIR comes from India, or Sri Lanka.

Differences: pH and water absorption

Product pH – Peat moss is acidic with a pH of 3.3 to 4.0. Therefore, it is used in potting soils for acid loving plants, or it’s used to acidify garden soils with high alkalinity.  A neutral pH is more desirable in most planting situations, so lime is added to peat moss to bring its pH closer to neutral.  Most commercially made peat-moss based potting mixes have added lime. In contrast, Coir has a pH range of 5.2 to 6.6, which makes it more suitable for a wider range of plants.

Water absorption –While proponents of Coir state its water retention is equal to peat moss; peat moss typically retains much more water than Coir.  Peat moss holds 10 to 20 times its dry weight in water, while Coir holds 8 to 9 times its dry weight in water.  Coir does saturate faster than peat moss, thereby using less water to “activate”.  To be fair, Coir comes in various textures and coarseness, which may increase its overall water-holding abilities, but they are not equal.

When given a choice, consider Coir for its closer to neutral pH and its environmental sustainability.

Resolutions for Gardeners

Good read!

Article by Kier Holmes for Sunset Magazine

10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener

I really like #10 – Increase Gratitude: “…spend more time mingling with and appreciating the flora and fauna…”

https://www.sunset.com/home-garden/garden-basics/growing-gardens#non-toxic-garden-resolution

Food for Birds

We’ve heard it before, * “do not cut and remove perennial stems and flower heads in the fall.” These pictures clearly demonstrate local birds feeding on these valuable fall and winter food sources!

Photos courtesy of:  Suzanne Sky – Talent, Oregon

*Read AGC’s article: https://ashlandorgardenclub.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/gardening-prepare-for-winter/

 

Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas

Lenten Rose

Plant Name: Helleborus orientalis ( Lenten rose)
Plant type: Perennial 20181205_090016
Height:   12” – 15”
Bloom Time: February to April  (can start blooming December)
Flower Color: Varies – Purple, Whitish Yellow, Whitish Green, Pink, Burgundy
Exposure: Full Sun in Winter, Partial Shade Rest of the Year
Soil Requirements: Well Drained Soil
Water Needs: Medium
Attributes: Early Bloomer, Deer Resistant , Waterwise plant, Long Bloom Season
Note: Mulch to maintain summer moisture
Uses: Borders, Containers, Mass Plantings, Woodland Garden
USDA Zone: 2-10