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Soil mix, watering and repotting questions (Newbie)

11 years ago


I am looking for some advice regarding what I can do for my houseplants. Below is a short introduction to my situation. Please skip down to my questions if you want, since this is becoming longer than I expected.. There are so many things to learn.

This is my first post to the forum, and I write as quite a newbie when it comes to caring for plants in general. I recently developed an interest in taking care of the few plants I have had at home. They were originally received from parents, and have only received spurious watering for years (some for perhaps 10-15 years).

No repotting, no nothing.

From my recent readings of this forum, I have learned that the current soil mix is quite poor indeed, and of course old. All my plants seem to have a mostly peaty soil, with very poor drainage.

Here's a quick inventory of my plants that are likely most in need of work (all are kept indoor in pots):

- 1 smaller sized ficus plant (perhaps a benjamina?), which has had the same peaty soil for at least a decade. This one I'd like to repot.

- A few succulents & cacti (Aloe, Crassula, Cereus) which also have poor draining soil which likely should be replaced.

Now, I have read several postings regarding Al's (tupla's) various mixes, and I enjoy his scientific approach and feel quite convinced by his arguments.

However, the problem is (which many others seem to have as well), is finding the ingredients. I've read both about the 5-1-1 and the gritty mix.

From my readings it seems like the gritty mix would be a good fit for my cacti and succulents, and the ficus too perhaps. Being a Swedish resident, I am having problems finding a product such as the Turface being used by many people here.

The 5-1-1 mix seems much easier to find ingredients for.


1. In my (suboptimal) situation, is there any reason not to repot my plants, including succulents & cacti, with the 5-1-1 instead?

2. In search of the gritty mix ingredients: Is there any good replacement for the Turface? Other names, other materials, anything?

3. In search of the gritty mix ingredients: The granite grit. Would any rock based gravel do? In winter we use a lot of stone gravel for treating roads and walkways against slipping hazards. It's made out of some kind of crushed grayish rock, and the granularity seems suitable. I don't know for sure what kind it is. This I can find however.

4. I have long watered by sips which seems to be strongly discouraged (I recently found out), perhaps due to the poorly draining soil. How come this combination of bad soil and bad practices has worked decently for me so far (plants are alive and seem to be doing well enough, though likely far from living up to their full potential). Our tapwater is generally considered very high quality, being very soft, and I think low in salt content, could this have contributed to why my poor watering practices haven't caused me any noticeable problems with rot or buildup of salts (or what was it)? My point being that I have never really flushed out the soil adequately, and don't seem to have had problems with buildup.

I appreciate any advice I can get.

/ Henrik

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