Portulacaria dropping leaves then growing them back

dtreesj

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I have a P. afra that keeps dropping leaves then growing them right back. I have like 10 or so P. afra growing in identical conditions and only one is doing this, the rest are fine.
 

dtreesj

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I unpotted out of curiosity and I think I found the problem. I had it set very deep in an air pruning style succulent pot and I think the roots just ran out of space. I don't see any rot or anything like that.
 

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Bonsai Nut

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Portulacaria are succulents. They do extremely well in 100% inorganic soil. Their roots are tender and easily damaged and when bruised can develop rot quickly. I would consider moving at least some of your plants into an inorganic soil to compare how they do versus having them in an organic mix. I think you will like the change. Here are two portulacaria in 100% pumice in pond baskets. You do not want their roots to ever sit in standing water.

port.jpg
 
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Bonsai Nut

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Would straight perlite work? I have a gigantic bag of it. I mean huge.

Yes it would, but perlite has its own issues, not the least of which being its weight, which causes it to blow away in a wind, or be washed away with moderate watering. It will also not anchor a heavy plant very well, and portularia, given the water weight, is pretty beefy. As long as you are working with cuttings, or small stock, it is fine, but you really want something a little more substantial longer term.
 

dtreesj

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Yeah, I have no choice but to bring them in for winter yet I have almost no space, so I'll be keeping them shohin/mame sized or even smaller.
 

sorce

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Perlite is almost too wet. And hard to tell, (without lifting) when it is.

The roots didn't run out of space. It's either too wet or too dry or pests.

Sorce
 

dtreesj

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Perlite is almost too wet. And hard to tell, (without lifting) when it is.

The roots didn't run out of space. It's either too wet or too dry or pests.

Sorce
This is one of my other Ports. Between wet and dry, I would have to say dry. With these pots I have a hard time even getting the soil wet in the first place and with full sun they are bone dry in a day or two.
 

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sorce

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What other soil media do you have?

This is one of those impossible situations for me.
You have to pay too much attention to getting water right, or either the tops will suffer, or worse, the roots without you knowing.

Sorce
 

dtreesj

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What other soil media do you have?

This is one of those impossible situations for me.
You have to pay too much attention to getting water right, or either the tops will suffer, or worse, the roots without you knowing.

Sorce

I have perlite and a coir brick. Also Miracle Grow succulent mix, which consists of mostly sand and peat, with barely any perlite and a few pieces of pine bark in it. I have my ports in that with extra perlite added in.
 

dtreesj

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That is that soil?
I don't trust Miracles.

Sorce
Eventually I'm going to get rid of it and switch to something else but I keep putting it off. The quality seems really inconsistent depending on where it was made. I've seen different bags with vastly different contents in them.
 

dtreesj

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That's what I use. I water once a week.
I do the same. One thing I do remember is my dog unpotted most of my ports this summer and some of them defoliated afterwards, but now they're mostly back to normal except the one. Maybe it's still suffering because of that.
 
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I do the same. One thing I do remember is my dog unpotted most of my ports this summer and some of them defoliated afterwards, but now they're mostly back to normal except the one. Maybe it's still suffering because of that.
I use 50% perlite sifted in I believe a 3mm seive, and 50% oil dri or turface also sifted, the oil dri both wet and dry adds enough weight for the succulent. You can buy oil dri at a car parts store or any store with mechanic/car related products and its pretty cheap. I got a huge bag for 12$ CDN. And both are inorganic!
 

dtreesj

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I use 50% perlite sifted in I believe a 3mm seive, and 50% oil dri or turface also sifted, the oil dri both wet and dry adds enough weight for the succulent. You can buy oil dri at a car parts store or any store with mechanic/car related products and its pretty cheap. I got a huge bag for 12$ CDN. And both are inorganic!
Would this work?

 
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MrWunderful

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Do you have access to a landscape supply? Because bulk horticultural lava is very cheap and makes a great substrate if a small amount of pine bark is used.
 

dtreesj

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Do you have access to a landscape supply? Because bulk horticultural lava is very cheap and makes a great substrate if a small amount of pine bark is used.
Unfortunately I don't drive and I don't know of a place like that nearby.
 

dtreesj

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Am trying the perlite + diatomite. So far it seems good, mechanically speaking. The perlite doesn't float because the pots I have are designed to collect zero water, so there's nothing for it to float on. It goes out as fast as it goes in. This does make it a problem to actually water the plant some times, but my meter says it's moist but not wet, so I think it will be ok.
 

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