Friday, November 5, 2010

the pumice experiment

While being away from the internet (all the recent entries are written from the university library) I was keeping busy lithops-wise. I read on different blogs and boards by lithops lovers that they successfully sow them on pure pumice. I wasn't sure whether it was a good idea but really wanted to try it anyway. If it happens to work out it will make the whole process easier. So, on the 23rd of October I've spread 50 seeds of lesliei ssp. lesliei v. mariae (C141) over the wet pumice stones. You can see the seeds lying upon the stones on the first picture. The seeds are large and won't fall through, I thought, and, out of 50, several should germinate even if they don't like the substrate. I understand that late October is not the best time either but I definitely wanted to try this. I put a see-through cover on the container and placed it on my south-eastern window ledge. Being covered up, pumice can stay wet for a long time so I didn't have to add much water during the next days. The result was definitely a success. They started to sprout on day 5 and on day 7 it looked like the picture below. I was especially amazed to find how nicely they took a grip between the stones (it was always a problem with soil substrate - heads down, roots up). I've removed the cover on day 9 and am watching them closely. So far they seem to develop well. What a relief! :)

PS: The seeds are from Francois Hoes. HQ stuff ;) The result after 12 days is 44 out of 50. Inspired by this I've recently sown more and will report about it later.

18 comments:

  1. Keep it up. They're looking nice.

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  2. Thank you! :) I will.
    If all goes well I'm finally getting internet connection at home next week~

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  3. Philippe Saint-JacquesApril 18, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    I am trying sowing in pure Chabasai, which is a volcanic stone from the family of the zeolites. I am having very good germination rates and can send you pictures if you like. For your plants in pure pumice, did you fertilize in some way or do you give them solely water ?

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  4. Hello Philippe,
    Chabasai looks very much like what I'm using. It is amazing how simple it is. I'd love to see pictures, thanks :)
    I fertilize the young seedling circa once in 2 months or even less frequent (because I forget). i use just the common cacti fertilizer solution. the seedlings from the end of october have already all changed into the 'adult' leaves some time ago, so this seems to work well.

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  5. Hi Rika,
    How do you normally spread the tiny seeds evenly? Mine always seems to be crowed after germinated. Also my seedlings seem to grow quite well in teh first month, then slow down and become a bit soft. I only provide them with the natural sunlight. Will it be the problem?

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    1. Hello :)
      I sometimes use a brush to spread them but it's not a problem for them to grow crowded for a while. I usually prick them out after they get their first 'real' leaves. It is also normal for the seedlings to slow down. They seem to grow in phases: slow down sometimes, then have a growth spurt. If they're soft they might be getting new leaves, but it's better if they stay firm (young seedlings need more water). I grow mine under natural light too and it works ok :)

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  6. Hi Rika,

    Pumice sounds like a great substrate to sow Lithops seeds. I want to try it. Do you still recommend it? What size pumice do you use? Can you please elaborate on your process? After wetting the pumice, and then sprinkling the Lithops seeds, do you over the seeds with more pumice or not? Thank you for your help Rika! :o)

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    1. Yes, I still recommend it, but it shouldn't be very small (stones-like, not sand-like). Just spread the seeds on wet pumice and cover the pot with something see-through, that is all. You will need to let air in once in a while and not let the pumice dry out.
      :)

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  7. Hi Rika
    After uncovering the lithops seedlings, how often do you water them?

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    1. hi :)
      It's hard to tell. I judge by their looks. If the seedlings don't have their first real leaves yet but look stable and robust like this http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kaMcOq9Y7hk/Ts5dTiS_sqI/AAAAAAAABCo/X19jtqyukYM/s1600/C308+lesliei+ssp.+burchellii_001.jpg I let the substrate dry between the waterings (maybe once or twice a week, depending on the weather)...

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    2. Also, I tend to keep the cover much longer nowadays than described above. But mostly so that I don't have to water and keep an eye on them much..

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  8. Just discovered this blog and I think it is great! I also have a tip for those (like me) who can't get hold of pumice: I am sowing directly into pure Seramis, and the results have been great. Much better than anything else I have tried, I can only recommend it! Plants are 2 and 3 years old now.

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    1. Hello Maria :) Nice to meet you and thanks a lot!
      Great advise! I haven't tried Seramis but it does look a lot like pumice and must have similar properties. This kind of substrate seems to be very suitable for sowing Lithops. Congratulation on your success! Making seeds germinate is nothing compared to growing them for 2-3 years!

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  9. Hi, do you cover the seeds under a see through cover once scattered on top of the wet pumice? Do you leave the pot in the sun or under the shade?

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  10. Yes, I spread the seeds on top of wet pumice, then pour water on it (drop by drop out of a spoon to get the seeds attached to the stones), then cover with something see-through. I don't make extra shade for them but I sow in October or February only. The sun isn't that active then.

    The construction looks like this: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-F6TKkK3PyBg/T6aauYMMX4I/AAAAAAAABZU/O1awm0TWjPc/s1600/collection008.jpg

    or like this: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-inArEhDZxbg/UHVLUnW87fI/AAAAAAAAB8o/CSW5x9dYyjc/s1600/coll001.jpg

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    1. Is that ferrero rocher box? Did you drill anu hole at the bottom?

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    2. Yes, it is a ferrero rocher box, very practical :) There are no holes in it, as it should be hermetical (basically replacing air tight lid). The pots have holes though. You would open the box once the seedlings are a little bigger.

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  11. Hi Rika, thanks for directing me to this. I am using almost 90% pumice for my growing media so this will be easy for me to try seeds on this substrate. Love the Ferrero Rocher box idea.

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