Succulents from Florida are coming to our warehouse directly to your interior office environment, Woburn, MA.
1. Watering and Fertilizing
Many people think that cacti and succulents require a small amount of water every once in a while. While its true that these plants are tough, and can usually survive under such circumstances, most certainly will not thrive.
- How often to water and fertilize: Succulents should be watered at least once a week. Some people water more often than this. During each watering, give the soil a good soaking, so that water runs out of the ‘drainage holes’ of the pots. During the growing season, a balanced fertilizer, which has been diluted to 1/4 strength, can be added to the water for each watering. (A balanced fertilizer is one that has roughly equal proportions of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. A 10-10-10 fertilizer diluted to 1/4 strength is ideal.)
- A word about water: Tap water often can be alkaline and/or hard, meaning it contains high concentrations of dissolved minerals. Such minerals can build up in the plant’s ‘soil’ over time, causing harm. This is one good reason why your plants should periodically be ‘repotted.’ Buildup of such minerals can also cause unsightly deposits to form, especially on unglazed clay pots. Never water your plants with water that has been through a softening system that uses salt as a recharging agent, as these systems simply replace the “hardness” in the water with sodium ions.
- Rain water is preferable to tap water, if you can manage to collect and store it.
- Succulents like bright light, but not all can tolerate intense, direct sunlight, especially in conjunction with high temperatures. The intensity of the light that a plant will thrive in depends on the species.
- Too much light: When your plant is getting too much light, it can appear “off color,” taking on a “bleached out” look, or turning yellow or even orangish. Keep in mind that these signs can also indicate other stresses, such as disease or too much water, so use common sense when making your diagnosis.
- If your plant is moved suddenly into very bright sunlight conditions, or if the weather suddenly turns hot with abundant sunshine, your plant can scorch.
- Too little light: If your plant is receiving too little light, it might etiolate and/or appear to really reach for the light source. (Etiolation is the condition where a plant becomes “drawn,” for example, a cactus plant that is normally round begins to look as if it is being stretched out from the growing point at its center). Your plant will suffer if left in such light conditions for very long. When transitioning such a plant to stronger light, keep in mind that it will be especially prone to scorching, so make the transition slowly.
3. Pots and Potting
Pots come in all kinds of styles, and are made of various materials.
Pot materials: The materials used most often for pots are plastic and clay/ceramic (either glazed or unglazed). Cacti and succulents can be grown successfully in pots made of either material, and choosing one over the other is usually a matter of personal preference.
Plastic pots are lighter, usually cheaper, take up less room compared to clay or ceramic pot with the same inside dimensions, and are easy to keep clean. Plants kept in plastic pots also tend to require less watering compared, especially, to those kept in unglazed clay pots.
Regardless of the material the pot is made of, it must allow good drainage.
Styles of pots:
Some people like to use bonsai pots for their plants.
Soil: Perhaps the most important characteristic is that the soil should drain very well. The best way to achieve this is by adding horticultural-grade sand and grit to the compost component of the soil. Many believe that a good starting ratio for the mix’s components are one-third compost, one-third horticultural-grade sand, and one-third grit.
Repotting: Ideally, your plants should be repotted every year so that you can provide them with fresh soil, inspect and address problems with their root systems, and move them to bigger pots if necessary.
Old Wife’s Tale debunked: Remember your grandmother told you to always add a layer of pebbles to the bottom of a pot when repotting, to improve drainage? Your grandma might have made the best cherry cobbler in the world, but forget this advice about pebbles. The potting mix in your pots should extend all the way down to the bottom.
Cacti and succulents are, no doubt, tough plants. They are, however, not without their problems. Aphids, snails, slugs, thrips, and nematodes are among some of the guests that can leave their mark on your collection. Below is a discussion of some of the more common pests to cacti and other succulents.
Mealy Bugs: Mealybugs live their entire adult lives within their cottony fortresses, happily dining on plant sap. A plant infested with mealybugs will stop growing, weaken, and often eventually succumbs to rot.
Their cottony coverings protect them from predators AND contact pesticides.
Spider Mites: Spider mites are really, really tiny critters which are all but invisible to the unaided eye. These pests are often found in their whitish webs, which are often spun close to the plant’s surface. They dine on plant sap.
Spider mites hate being wet.
Scale: Scale are pinhead-size insects that appear as raised tan or brown spots resembling marine limpet shells. The shells are actually hard coverings that protect the insects underneath. Like many other insect pests, they dine on the plant’s sap.
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