Okay, I’m not going to say where I found it, until I have it in my hands, but I’ve ordered some horticultural grade Pumice and the supplier assured me there would be no hiccups. Fingers crossed! And of course, if it arrives as promised, I will share where I found it 🙂
On a side note, I’ve been tirelessly researching alternative substrates (the pumice situation was looking hopeless) and have discovered some interesting substitutes that many people seem to swear by!
The Ottawa Bonsai Society uses the following mix (I would omit the CPM for Lithops but otherwise, it’s a nice gritty mix that is easily sourced locally). I’ve personally used this mix and it works well.
- CPM (composted pine mulch) – available at Artistic Landscape on Bank Street in Ottawa
- Turface MVP – available at Richie Seed & Feeds in Ottawa
- Chicken grit – available at Richie Seed & Feeds in Ottawa
Another Bonsai grower I contacted uses ‘Qualisorb’ and buys it from Canadian Tire. I bought a 20 lbs bag for $13 dollars. It’s a 99.999% calcined diatomaceous earth product that is rumored to be very good in gritty mixes if you can’t find Pumice. It has less than 1% silica in it, but if that bothers you, it is easily sieved out. Just be careful not to breathe in the dust of this product.
And finally, can you believe ‘Tidy Cat’ offers a fired clay litter for a fraction of the price of fired clay soil mixes and growers are using it with great success?! I was impressed! You can find it at your local pet supermarket. I would have bought a bag but the one my local store carried was 40 lbs and I wasn’t keen on lifting it into my shopping basket; and besides, I had just purchased the Qualisorb from Cdn Tire so I didn’t *need* it, but it’s a great option for those who are struggling to find suitable substrates at a decent price.
So what exactly is gritty mix? Well, it’s a mix of gravely substrates that works well for Lithops, Cacti, and Bonsai. It is fast draining enough to prevent your Lithops from rotting away, but holds enough moisture to keep the Lithops fat and happy for a reasonable period of time. The simplest gritty mix I’ve seen was 100% Pumice (or substitute). More frequently, I’ve seen Pumice (or substitute) mixed with cactus soil mix at a ratio of 1:1. I’m up in the air about that one but so many people have great success with it – I would feel confident using it. Then I’ve seen the three part mix mentioned above. If I were building the three part mix, I’d replace the CPM with the cactus soil mix. Ooooooo…and I’ve also seen a whole bunch of different gravely bits from various sources tossed together and it seems to work too. I think the moral of the story is that as long as the mix is well draining but some of the pieces still manage to hold onto some moisture, you are doing okay.
I’m going to do a little more research and will hopefully have worked out a gritty mix that I’m comfortable with before my new L. Fulviceps arrive 😀