Westland Cactus soil

For the discussion of topics related to the conservation, cultivation, propagation and exhibition of cacti & other succulents.
Forum rules
For the discussion of topics related to the conservation, cultivation, propagation and exhibition of cacti & other succulents only.

Please respect all forum members opinions and if you can't make a civil reply, don't reply!
CactusNovice
New Member
Posts: 3
Joined: 02 Jul 2019
Branch: SHREWSBURY
Country: UK

Westland Cactus soil

Post by CactusNovice » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:13 am

Hello, first time poster here.

Anyone tried this stuff? Full of organic matter, trace amounts of grit, hard to wet and once it is wet doesn't dry for weeks and weeks. It doesn't behave like a cactus mix at all yet its sold all over the place in UK garden centers and online.
41luG2uQxhL.jpg
41luG2uQxhL.jpg (26.99 KiB) Viewed 555 times
I wouldn't have signed up and made this thread if it wasn't such a widely available yet poor mix. I'm just looking to see if anyone-else has tried it and what they thought, I know many people here make their own mix but for people like me the convenience of ready-made mixes is a big plus.

Personally I wish I'd taken it back and not used it now, but I was just starting out at the time and thought if its sold as cactus soil then it must be cactus soil.
Last edited by CactusNovice on Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Terry S.
BCSS Member
Posts: 724
Joined: 06 Jun 2012
Branch: NORTH SURREY
Country: England
Role within the BCSS: Journal Team

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by Terry S. » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:13 am

I have never tried this, but it is interesting to see on the bag that it contains moler (Seramis) which a lot of growers are now using (cat litter etc.). For a long time, I used Westland John Innes plus coarse grit as my succulent and bulb mix. It was fine for many years, but I gave up on it after I found cacti and amaryllids loosing their roots.
CactusNovice
New Member
Posts: 3
Joined: 02 Jul 2019
Branch: SHREWSBURY
Country: UK

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by CactusNovice » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:46 am

Got some pics of the actual soil in use, this first one was repotted about 2 years ago and watered last week (still damp now).
DSC_0180.JPG
This second one was repotted in the spring using the left over soil hence it looking less compacted, its still damp below the surface. As you can see there is the occasional stone, but that's about it. When I got to the bottom of the bag I found most of the sand clumped together and the stones all at the bottom.
DSC_0182.JPG
Thankfully no plants have died but it just seems like they don't really flourish in this soil either.
User avatar
ChrisR
BCSS Member
Posts: 1906
Joined: 11 Jan 2007
Branch: SHEFFIELD
Country: England
Role within the BCSS: Member
Location: Sheffield, UK
Contact:

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by ChrisR » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:58 pm

I too gave up on Westland JI when it started to include shreds of plastics bags and other rubbish. But the only other one I can locally find is Levington but that just doesn't look or feel right of late and my plant in it aren't happy.
Chris Rodgerson- Sheffield UK

BCSS 27098

see http://www.conophytum.com for about 1250 pictures of Conophytum, 370 Adromischus and 430 Crassula in habitat & in cultivation.
topsy
BCSS Trustee
Posts: 699
Joined: 20 Sep 2007

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by topsy » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:57 pm

Hi Chris,

Have you got an outlet for Clover brand or Erin? Give it a try if you can find it, Terry and I use it as do a number of other growers in the south of England.

Suzanne
User avatar
ragamala
BCSS Member
Posts: 604
Joined: 28 Feb 2016
Branch: NORTH FYLDE
Country: UK

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by ragamala » Wed Jul 03, 2019 4:51 pm

topsy wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:57 pm
Hi Chris,

Have you got an outlet for Clover brand or Erin? Give it a try if you can find it, Terry and I use it as do a number of other growers in the south of England.

Suzanne
Hi Suzanne

I know you have mentioned Clover (/Erin) before. Can I be crystal clear about whether you recommend the hard to find Clover John Innes, or the easy to find peat-based compost?

Against my principles I have tried the peat compost, and I have to say that I found it great. A big attraction for me is it is SO wonderful to handle, apart from mixing well with stuff like perlite or vermiculite for seed mixes.

I did try some Erin peat-based compost from a local garden centre but it wasn't a patch on the Clover.
User avatar
iann
BCSS Member
Posts: 12784
Joined: 11 Jan 2007
Branch: MACCLESFIELD & EAST CHESHIRE
Country: UK

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by iann » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:12 pm

Fairly typical commercial cactus compost: peat, or more recently composted green waste, throw a handful of something coarse at it and double the price. At the very least you need a whole lot of more of the fired clay granules, or possibly perlite, to improve the drainage and reduce the sogginess. Grit doesn't work so well in these spongy organic soils, just squashes them down. Organic soils tend to be better for vigorous shrubby succulents, too rich and moisture-retentive for the really xeric and slow ones.

Growers on here use lots of different mixes, partly for different plants, partly for preference. I use a fairly common type of mixture of John Innes, cat litter, and a little grit. Good John Innes is getting harder to find. Make sure you use the right cat litter or an equivalent type of clay granule, there are threads on here about various brands. Grit is simple enough, pick a granite or quartz grit in a suitable size, probably sold as an alpine grit. Most people prefer an angular grit rather than smooth ones like pea gravel.
Cheshire, UK
User avatar
Debbie
Registered Guest
Posts: 86
Joined: 11 Jan 2007
Branch: CORNWALL
Country: ENGLAND
Role within the BCSS: Member
Location: Cornwall

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by Debbie » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:17 pm

Might be good for my Epiphyllums though .
CactusNovice
New Member
Posts: 3
Joined: 02 Jul 2019
Branch: SHREWSBURY
Country: UK

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by CactusNovice » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:59 am

Ah my post has finally re-appeared, I'd made some edits and it needed re-approving by a mod.
Terry S. wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:13 am
I have never tried this, but it is interesting to see on the bag that it contains moler (Seramis) which a lot of growers are now using (cat litter etc.). For a long time, I used Westland John Innes plus coarse grit as my succulent and bulb mix. It was fine for many years, but I gave up on it after I found cacti and amaryllids loosing their roots.
I made a mistake with the original image, looks like mine might have been a slightly older bag which didn't advertise any Seramis on the front. Maybe they added that to try and amend the mix I ended up buying from them.

Are you saying that Westland John Innes is not good for cacti anymore when making your own mix?
ChrisR wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:58 pm
I too gave up on Westland JI when it started to include shreds of plastics bags and other rubbish. But the only other one I can locally find is Levington but that just doesn't look or feel right of late and my plant in it aren't happy.
Eww plastic being sold in soil, sounds like they're using stuff from the recycling center. Or have they tried to make plastic granules to stop the soil from compacting?

Also when you refer to levington are you referring to this stuff? Its all I could find at the local Wyevale Garden Centre last time.
710qtEzfWtL._SY355_.jpg
710qtEzfWtL._SY355_.jpg (23.51 KiB) Viewed 445 times
iann wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:12 pm
Fairly typical commercial cactus compost: peat, or more recently composted green waste, throw a handful of something coarse at it and double the price. At the very least you need a whole lot of more of the fired clay granules, or possibly perlite, to improve the drainage and reduce the sogginess. Grit doesn't work so well in these spongy organic soils, just squashes them down. Organic soils tend to be better for vigorous shrubby succulents, too rich and moisture-retentive for the really xeric and slow ones.

Growers on here use lots of different mixes, partly for different plants, partly for preference. I use a fairly common type of mixture of John Innes, cat litter, and a little grit. Good John Innes is getting harder to find. Make sure you use the right cat litter or an equivalent type of clay granule, there are threads on here about various brands. Grit is simple enough, pick a granite or quartz grit in a suitable size, probably sold as an alpine grit. Most people prefer an angular grit rather than smooth ones like pea gravel.
Thanks for the tips! So it doesn't really matter which brand of ready made cactus soil you buy, many of them are going to be similar to this stuff these days?
Debbie wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:17 pm
Might be good for my Epiphyllums though .
Would my Easter Cactus count as one of those? If so I've got one planted in it, but its got other issues for another thread.
Terry S.
BCSS Member
Posts: 724
Joined: 06 Jun 2012
Branch: NORTH SURREY
Country: England
Role within the BCSS: Journal Team

Re: Westland Cactus soil

Post by Terry S. » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:05 am

Cactus Novice: You do not live too far from Ashwood Nursery that is just outside of Stourbridge. They produce their own range of composts to the original JI formulae. Nice nursery too and even better if you visited on one of John Massey's open days.

Ragamala: Topsy and I are talking about Clover John Innes composts, I don't think that either of us would contemplate growing our mesembs in peat. Having said that, the Clover multipurpose is one of the best around for growing your streptocarpus, filling your hanging basket, etc. Brighton Branch actually buys in pallets of Clover JI for its members and I get mine from the local allotment society. Speak nicely to your local allotment trading group and they might be persuaded to stock Clover.

What I don't know is what will happen next year? 2020 is supposed to be the government cut-off date for amateurs using peat-containing composts, although the pros can continue for another ten years. One suggestions that I have heard is to put a tax on peat composts a bit like the sugar tax!
Post Reply