Succulents are plants that are able to store water (moisture) in special tissues. Stem succulents do this in a thickened stem or trunk (most cacti and euphorbias), leaf succulents in thickened leaves (Crassula, Echeveria, Agave), and root succulents in their underground parts (Pterocactus tuberosus).
All cacti belong to the cactus family (Cactaceae). We usually talk about the non-cactus fruits, although we should really call them sap plants, they come in several families such as the afternoon flower family, the thick-leaved family (Crassulaceae), the silk plant family and the Euphorbiaceae family.
Where do succulents come from?
They can be found all over the world. Many think that they all come from arid desert regions, but sometimes there is more rain per year than in Belgium. However, this precipitation falls in a relatively short period of time, during which these plants absorb enough water to survive the next drought.
All cacti come from America. They come from Canada to Argentina and Chile, from the high mountains to sea level. It should be clear that there are enormous differences in climatic conditions and soil conditions in such a distribution area. The cacti found in other areas (Mediterranean) have all been introduced.
Many succulents are also from the New World, Agave, Echeveria, Dudleya and Lewisia to name a few. Africa provides us with the afternoon flowers, many carrion flowers, aloe and euphorbia-like. Asia and Australia only supply a few varieties.
In the House
A sunny windowsill or bay window is a good location for cacti and succulents. Because a lot of light is needed, a southern, southeastern or southwestern location is ideal.
Garden and balcony
A small part of the succulents are hardy and can therefore be used in the garden. Many enthusiasts place their cacti and larger succulents in the garden between border plants or on the balcony in summer.
But if a true enthusiast has the space, a conservatory is of course the place to keep his or her collection.
Growth and rest periods
Most cacti and many succulents have their growing season in our summer. This means that growth starts gradually in the spring months. The main growth then takes place in the summer months, sometimes with a short dormant period in the heat of the summer, then slows down and finally stops in late autumn and winter. Winter rest is essential for most plants. After that, they are sufficient at a temperature of 6 to 8 °C. Many species can tolerate even lower temperatures, provided they are sufficiently dry, while others, such as Melocactus and Uebelmannia, require higher temperatures around 15-18°C.
The following factor combinations always belong together:
Winter: Rest, no water, little light, low temperature.
Summer: activity (growth and bloom), more water, lots of light, higher temperatures.
Watering is one of the hardest things to do for cactus lovers. Here are a few tips:
Only water during the growth phase
Only water when the plant is dry
Water more when the temperature rises and less when the temperature falls. So give little water in the spring and autumn and more in the summer.
It doesn't matter if you water from above or below. However, White Hairy and White Frosted plants should not be overwatered.
In summer it is best to thoroughly wet the entire collection.
If you have fur lime in the tap water, you should not overflow with fur, but spoil rainwater or well water with the right temperature
Little or no water was given during the dormant period (Little Artes), so that most plants (cacti) are dry from November to about mid-March.
Watering can be done at any time in preparation for the actual watering.
In nature, plants can develop their roots unhindered. They search for food in all directions, even if they grow in cracks they still have opportunities to find food.
In the case of a pot, however, the roots cannot be changed, so that the pot can be completely filled or even grow out over time. In addition, after some time the soil will become saturated with lime or fertilizer residues.
When to repot?
In principle, this can be done all year round, even in winter. Then the soil must be dry and the temperature equal to that of the old soil. However, the best time is from March to September. But never plant flowering plants. Transplant when I have time.
Cacti and safe cuttings are generally very easy. The cuttings were best cut in warm, dry weather. Cacti and succulents that form side shoots can be coddled to cut the graft with a sharp knife. Often they already have roots and were then covered with cuttings. Certainly not in water, because then they are guaranteed to rot.
If you have made a wound, you must first dry weld until a wound tissue has formed. When the cutting has dried, it can be potted.
Never water if a part has just been potted.
If the plant looks strained and new growth appears, the cutting is rooted and you can water it again and also start feeding a little more slowly. Succulents can even continue to grow from a leaf, that is, a thing on the ground empty. And in my conservatory they even grow in the dirt between the bars at the bottom of the hallway. You see, not everything should be so sterile. As long as the plants are strong and healthy enough.
To get more plants faster, you can cut off the head of a larger plant and weld the root. Shoots will then form on the remaining part, which you can apply later.