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by James Cooper

I recently created a frame in which to house succulents, that can then be hung on the wall. The frame is a box frame with chicken wire over which the succulents then sit on, and root through.

The compost is a vermiculite and house soil mix and is hardly watered but the succulents seem to be rotting from underneath. They’re not kept by draft, extreme heat or other plants so I cannot understand this… please help!

Hi James, I wonder if your mix is causing the plants to rot; house soil mixes are not all created equally, and if it’s got added fertilizer, or is contaminated with some pathogen, this could be the issue.

The key here is that you’ve said they seem to be rotting from underneath, I’m taking that to mean that where they’re in contact with the soil. I hate to suggest this, but it might be worth trying some different soil mixes.

It’s important to use a sterilized or pasteurized mix, to prevent any pests or other critters being in there, but also depends on what kinds of plants you’re growing.

The manufacturer of the soil mix could have added other things to it, such as lime – if you’re trying to grow Echeveria, they don’t like an alkaline soil.

Personally, I wouldn’t grow anything in vermiculite, because the problem with it is that it tends to hold too much water, and breaks down too quickly.

My favorite soil mix for crafts is Sunshine Mix #4, which has added aggregate and also a water holding polymer, so the water is released slowly.

If you can find something like this, it might work better for this craft.

Hope this helps,