For soil, can I use a tiny bit of peat with lots of perlite and silica sand?
Going to break some rules in the cacti+succulent world and say yes. Here's my view: you can grow any plant in any type of soil, it just depends on what your desired level of convenience is. The most important thing to know for growing plants, but especially cacti and succulents in containers of any sort (with a drainage hole) is that particle size matters first, materials matter second. Most of the generally recommended soils for cacti have large particles. When people talk about a soil mix that drains well, they're typically talking about one that is like 85% composed of tiny rocks. Sometimes it's pumice, sometimes it's crushed granite, sometimes it's clay, but it's basically always some type of material that if you had to describe it you'd probably look at it and go, "well this is just a bunch of tiny rocks."
Large particles=large(er) pore spaces in between the rocks. Those large pore spaces allow gas exchange throughout the root zone (which is good and very necessary for arid plants) *and* it forces water to drain from the mix instead of staying waterlogged for days. Once the particle size of about 85% of a given mix is greater than 1/8", gravity becomes stronger than the capillary force of water. This means water will fully drain from the pot and you won't have a waterlogged area at the bottom of the pot, also called a Perched Water Table (PWT). The PWT is an area that's anoxic. Anoxic areas are where the bacteria and fungi most commonly associated with root rot thrive. Get rid of the PWT and you reduce the risk of infection quite substantially.
If you want to use a fine particled mix, you just need to engineer some workarounds.
- use a wick - A wick "fools" the water into thinking there is a lower place to flow to. It will draw water down, out of the pot, reducing the PWT and drawing fresh air into the root zone similar to a vacuum effect.
- use small pots, not much bigger than the current root mass - Water will sit *for days* in areas of the pot that aren't colonized by roots. Reduce the amount of space not colonized by roots and you reduce the potential for harmful microbes to proliferate.
- increase the light/heat - more light = more photosynthesis. More photosynthesis means more water utilized as a byproduct. Heat means... well you probably get that one
- increase airflow - again, probably self-explanatory
- use an airpot, a netpot, an orchid pot, a terra cotta, etc. - any pot that exposes more of the soil mix to air will aid in drying it doan more quickly. I will say, I don't have luck with terracotta pots without the use of a wick. The edges dry down very quickly but the central soil mass stays saturated so long that the roots don't grow there in my experience.
Using a fine particled mix, particularly a peat based one comes with ostensibly more challenges than a gritty one though. So it may be convenient to use what you have on hand but less convenient to try and cultivate it in such a mix for an extended period of time. When things go south in a fine particled mix, they tend to do so rapidly, leaving you with little time to salvage healthy plant material. You have a smaller margin of error than in a gritty mix. This is a tradeoff you have to consider and really what I'm getting at by saying, "you can grow anything in any soil, it just depends on your desired level of convenience."
That's all I have right now. Or should I order some of those items you recommended?
Up to you, I'd start looking for sources for some of the ingredients just to know.
Also, how on earth do you repot these?! It seems impossible with all the spikes lol.
I like using my old welding gloves. Real thick leather works alright with parodias usually. You can also use some old towels, some padded tongs or sonething like that. I ususlly just use my bare hands because I'm used to it and a bit of a masochist at this point I guess. Some cacti have unusual bacteria living on the tips of the spines that cause your body to release endorphins when they get ya. Bit of a rush.
Would you recommend I keep these all in the same pot or put them in their own?
Up to you, they'll grow fine either way. Personally I love clumps.
Do I need a bigger pot or is this one fine? I do plan to get a terracotta pot in the near future but I don't know which size.
Small particle mix --> pot not much bigger than the existing root mass. Large particle mix --> whatever you want *in theory*. I usually go about 1/2-2/3 bigger but if you do so, prepare to see minimal above ground growth until the roots have colonized the new digs. Plants direct energy to the roots first, leaves second.
The heat part worries me. Will 65-70F be ok for them temporarily? I also live in the Midwest (SE WI) so it is much to cold to have them outside.
That's fine for growth, will need lights at those temps though, otherwuse they'll stretch, looking for light. Witholding water will help them not stretch.
I have some very hot lights that I plan to grow petiolaris sundews under but that isn't ready yet and could be a while before it is.
I wouldn't bother. Hot lights sound like $$$$$ to me. I'd use LEDs and a heat mat if the goal is light and heat.
So is this dormancy required like it is for VFTs? Is it a hot and dry dormancy or a cold and wet one?
Idk much about VFTs but I thought some guy from the ICPS proved VFTs don't need dormancy, right? Doesn't matter I suppose. DragonsEye knows what they're talking about; cacti are *opportunistic* growers, they don't really need a dormancy, it's a trait that naturally came about to help them survive extreme conditions. It does seem to be integral for flower bud formation but ehhh, Parodias flower pretty freely once they reach maturity all through summer. If you're going to induce dormancy it should be cool and dry.
Hot and dry is ok
hot and wet they love
cool and dry they can handle
Cool (cold, really) and wet is a recipe for disaster
How big are these when mature? Do you have a guess at how old mine could be? Is it close to flowering size?
1. Not sure, they can get to be pretty large though. Check Llifle.com for pics.
2. Hard to say, with lots of fert, water and light they could reach that size in a year or two, maybe less.
3. Might need another year or two but they bloom from a fairly young age/small size.
Thanks for your help! I'm excited to get into cacti. My neighbor actually collected wild golden barrel cactus seeds while she was in Arizona a week ago. She said I can have some of the seedlings
No problem. Raising cacti from seed is very fun and very rewarding. Next thing you know you'll be getting into grafting