Cacti and fat plants are succulents that have the distinct feature of having fleshy tissues rich in water. Their ability to store water in their cells makes them resistant to dry and arid climatic conditions. It is possible to grow them in a container to decorate your home provided you know the appropriate maintenance techniques. These include, for example, accommodating the plant to a new environment in regard to sun exposure or watering frequency.

The varieties of cactus are made up of, among others, nopales, cereus and orchid cacti. Concerning those that have more significant water needs, we can cite, among the best known fat plants, aloes, agaves, crassulas and echeveria. Succulents attract pollinators by developing flowers of beautiful colours and of specific smell.

General information on cacti and succulents

Native to America, cacti, which are part of the fat plants category, are plants that were introduced in Europe in the seventeenth century. Used as defensive hedges or food in their region of origin, cacti and succulents have become ornamental plants in interiors, on patios or in gardens, as is the case of the French Riviera, where you can admire the beautiful plants. The period of dormancy, essential for proper growth and flowering, is equivalent to these plants’ winter rest. For this purpose, the plants are kept in a bright, cool and dry environment, with temperatures not exceeding 54 ° F (12 ° C). The acclimatization of plants occurs in the middle of May by gradually placing them outside and is essential to prevent leaf burns. Lack of acclimatization results in the appearance of yellow spots after the plant is exposed to sunlight. Wintering of plants at night temperatures of 41 ° F (5 ° C) is necessary for beautiful blooms.

Cultivation and maintenance for beautiful plants

The propagation of fat plants is done either by seeds or by cuttings. Depending on the timing of culture, the ideal time for planting is in spring with a substrate predominantly made up of minerals. The seeds are spread evenly on the substrate before being covered by a layer of sand. Watering is done regularly until the the start of germination and the plants in containers are then placed in a ventilated area to dry the substrate. Watering should be done in a rational way to prevent the seedlings from rotting or drying out completely. The second technique is the taking of cuttings which involves taking cuttings from a mature plant with a knife. The best season to do so is spring or summer, planning for a repotting the following spring. The cuttings will be put to dry in a cool, dry warehouse sheltered from the sunlight. Drying time varies depending on the size of cuttings and can range from one week to one month and sometimes more. Cuttings are placed in a substrate to which coarse sand will be added, followed by regular watering to ensure proper root development. Maintenance procedures include watering, dusting the leaves and fertilizer supplies. Watering is done every 15 days from spring to autumn, which is the period of vegetation. This frequency is limited to one monthly watering during the winter months. The elimination of dust with a soft brush is useful to facilitate the penetration of light and heat through the leaves. Supplies of liquid fertilizer are recommended during the flowering period that lasts from April to September. NPK fertilizer granules are suitable for mixing with the substrate used for repotting procedures.

Tips for planting succulents successively

To have a good seedling germination rate, it is advisable to use fresh seeds. Every three years, it is recommended to repot plants by replacing their substrate. The goal is to provide the plant with a richer substrate composed of soil and sand to allow the roots to thrive. To this end, it is best to line the container’s bottom with a layer of gravel or clay pebbles before adding the substrate to stimulate drainage. To complete the whole, a layer of small stones covering the substrate’s surface favours the storage of heat and allows for better dispersion of the irrigation water. When replanting, the collar is the fleshy part which should not be buried. For gardening enthusiasts in search of originality, growing cacti and succulents is an experience worth trying to decorate one’s home with beautiful exotic plants.

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Published in Succulent plants by Alexander on 26 Jul 2011