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Succulent life for cacti


Apart from grass, the most commonly grown plant today would have to be succulents, followed by cactus.

Common is certainly the best description as they are so easily propagated and shared with other gardeners, which once was the case with plants such as geraniums.  

Succulents and cacti have far exceeded their popularity, mainly because of apartment living, which provides little space other than for potted plants.

I am a little derisive about these unimaginative plants, which are easy to cultivate and not very challenging to a real gardener, but still they serve their purpose.

Admittedly, they can look great when different varieties and colours are planted in a large bowl requiring little attention.

It is often thought that cacti and succulents like to grow in a hot spot, which is true but also, with a little acclimatisation, they can be grown inside in a well-lit position.

It is commonly thought that these plants don’t require regular watering; certainly, this does apply to cacti, but recently in the nursery we displayed trays of succulents outside and along came days of rain and they loved it.

One good example is ‘String of Pearls’ – some find it difficult to grow, me included, until I decided to grow it in a glass of water, no soil at all and it is thriving. The plant world surely can be an enigma.

If potting cacti and succulents, it is essential to have a free-draining mix, which are now available as these plants have become so popular.

Look for Searles Cacti and Succulent Mix. Succulents and cacti require nutrients just like other plants. Feed them twice-yearly with a pant food low in nitrogen, as in the mix Searles have now developed, a designated Flourish specified for succulents and cacti.

Most cactus prefer a winter rest requiring little water during this period – if growing in the garden, remember winter winds can be drying and a little water may be necessary.

This week

  • Plant out strawberries and rhubarb, if available.
  • Use white oil to wipe dust of hard leafed indoor plants – this discourages insects as well as adding shine.
  • One of my favourite plants, hippeastrums will soon be available. If you have them growing in the garden, pot up a low bowl (terracotta looks great) and display them inside when in flower.

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