Succulents are those plants that somehow have the capacity to store water (moisture) in special tissues. Stem succulents do this in a thickened stem or stem (most cacti and Euphorbias), leaf succulents do that in thickened leaves (Crasulla, Echeveria, Agave) and root succulents naturally do this in their underground parts (Pterocactus tuberosus).
All cacti form the catus family (Cactaceae). We usually call the non-cacti succulents, although we should actually say sap plants, these occur in various families such as the midday flower family, the thick-leaf family (Crasullaceae), the silk plant family and the euphorbiaceae family.
Where do the succulents come from?
They can be found all over the world. Many think they all come from arid desert regions, but sometimes they are in places where there is more rainfall per year than in Belgium. However, this precipitation does fall in a relatively short period of time, during which these plants absorb enough water to overcome the next drought period.
All cacti come from America. They come from Canada to Argentina and Chile, from the high mountains to the sea level. It may be clear that within such a distribution area there are enormous differences in climatic conditions and soil conditions. The cacti found in other areas (Mediterranean) have all been introduced.
Many succulents also come from the new world, Agave, Echeveria, Dudleya and Lewisia to name a few. Africa supplies us with the afternoon flowers, many bait flowers, aloe-like and euphorbia-like. Asia and Australia only supply a few varieties.
A sunny window sill or bay window provides a good location for cacti and succulents. Since a lot of light is needed, a location on the south, southeast or southwest is the ideal solution.
Garden and balcony
A small proportion of the succulents are hardy and can therefore be used in the garden. Many enthusiasts place their cacti and larger succulents during the summer in the garden between the border plants or on the balcony.
But as a true enthusiast, who has the place for it, a conservatory is of course the place to house his or her collection.
Growth and rest times
Most cacti and many succulents have their growth period in our summer. This means that growth will gradually start during the spring months. The main growth is then in the summer months, sometimes with a short rest period in the heat of the summer, and then slowly decreases and finally stands still in the late autumn and winter. Winter rest is essential for most plants. They are then sufficient at a temperature of 6 to 8 ° C. Many species can tolerate even lower temperatures, provided they are sufficiently dry, while other species such as Melocactus and Uebelmannia must have higher temperatures around 15 to 18 ° C.
The following combinations of factors always belong together:
- Winter: tranquility, no water, low light, low temperature.
- Summer: activity (growth and flowering), more water, lots of light, higher temperatures.
Giving water is one of the most difficult things in cactus enthusiasts. Here are a few tips:
- pour only during the growth period
- only pour when necessary, so when a plant is dry
- pour more when the temperatures rise and less when they fall. So little pouring in the spring and autumn and more in the summer.
- it doesn't matter much whether you give water from the top or bottom. White-haired and white-frosted plants, however, should not be poured over the head
- in the summer it is best to thoroughly wet the entire collection.
- if you have a lot of lime in the tap water, don't overflow too much. Better to go with rainwater or well water at the right temperature
- during the rest period little or no (small species) is poured, so most plants (cacti) are dry from November to about mid-March.
- spraying is always possible in preparation for the real casting.
In nature, the plants can develop their roots unhindered. They look for food in all directions, even if they grow in cracks, they still have plenty of opportunities to find food.
In a pot, however, the roots cannot go away so that they fill the pot completely or even grow out after a while. Moreover, after a while the soil will become saturated with lime or residues of fertilizers.
When to repot?
In principle, this can be done all year round, even in winter, but then the soil must be dry and have the same temperature as the old soil. However, the best period is from March to September. However, never transplant plants that are in bloom. I transplant myself when I have the time.
Cacti and succulent cuttings are generally very simple. Cuttings are best done in warm and dry weather. Cactuses and succulents that form side shoots can be used to cut a shoot with a sharp knife, often they already have roots, and are then planted in a cutting soil. Certainly not in water because then they are guaranteed to rot away.
When you have made a wound you must first let it dry until a wound tissue has formed. If the cutting is sufficiently dry, it can be potted.
Certainly do not pour if a cutting has just been potted.
If the plant looks tense and new growth occurs, the cutting is rooted and you can re-water it and can also tolerate some nutrition. Succulents can even grow further from a leaf that you simply lay on the ground. And in my conservatory they even grow in the dirt between the grates at the bottom of the corridor. You see, apparently everything should not be so sterile. As long as the plants are strong and healthy enough.
To get more plants quickly, you can cut the head of a larger plant and have it rooted. Shoots will then be formed on the remaining piece, which you can put on later.