Sunday, 17 April 2011

Caring for Your Succulent or Cactus 101

Succulent Fairy Wreath by Fairyscape
I have an Environmental Science degree majoring in Botany, hence I know how a plant works. Even so, I still manage to kill what some might say is some of the hardiest plants out there - succulents and cacti (i am going to put it down to too much love; ie, too much watering :P).

In order to keep my funky little plant friends alive, I did some research and thought I would share a few pointers (adapted from The Succulent Garden).

Like good photography, plants need light to live - it's their food! Even though succulents and cacti live in the baking desert sun, you need to introduce them slowly to direct sunlight in the warmer months (mistake numero uno for me), 1-2 days to start. Most often, good quality filtered or diffuse light is enough for your prickly pal.

The amount of watering you will need to do depends on a few factors; size and type of pot, time of year, type of plant, amount of sun etc.

Obviously, they will need more water in the warmer months and less in cool months. Try to water in the morning as leaving a plant with wet, cold roots over night isn't too good for them. If you have your cacti in a tall pot, remember that they only have shallow root systems and overwatering can cause diesease as fungus and mould grow in the bottom of the pot!

Don't be too concerned with fertiliser as these types of plants don't generally need alot. If you would like to give them a helping hand, look for one with a low nitrogen content.

Mealy Bug (appearing as small white fluffy balls on the leaves towards the inside of the plant) and Aphids (tiny black insects, often on the flowers) are regulars on succulents and cacti. A regular spraying with a plant pest spray during the warmer months will prevent insect damage.

I hope you enjoy gardening with the very beautiful and versitile family of succulents and cacti - I know I have!

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