Attractive and easy to care for, cactus and succulents are very popular plants to decorate any home, office or garden. The name "cactus" comes from the Greek word "Cactus", which means "thorny plant". Cactus comes from North and South America and some species thrive in Africa.
All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti! Succulents are known to be moisture packed due to storage of water. Succulents store water in their leaves, stems or roots and so they can survive quite a while without being watered. Cacti have small, round, cushion-like structures called areoles in which flowers, thorns or even young shoots grow. Areoles usually look like small, fluffy, cotton like lumps on the body of the cactus. Because they do not have leaves, photosynthesis is done by their stalks.
These plants have the unique ability to grow in hot and dry areas and have been adapted to survive and grow in these conditions.
There is a variety of cactus that we find in most houses and gardens. The range of cactus is enormous, including small and distinctive plants, as well as large species.
Let's see below what we need to know about the care of these beautiful plants to keep them full of colour and vitality!
Most succulents and cacti like bright light, but not intense, direct sunlight, especially in conjunction with high temperatures. When your plant is getting too much light, it can appear off colour or turning yellow. Too little light also affects the growth habit of succulents and cacti. They will try to reach for light, often growing long and spindly. Note that in most cases, it is quite normal for a plant to slowly grow toward the light.
Regardless of the material the pot is made of, it must allow good drainage. It is very hard to grow cacti/succulents successfully in a pot that lacks drainage holes. If you know the species of cactus you have, you can make a better choice as to what style of pot to keep it in. For example, many species of cacti have fibrous roots that remain close to the surface of the soil. Such a plant has no use for a narrow, deep pot. A shallow pot with a relatively large diameter would suit it much better.
Ideally, your plants should be re-potted 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.
Move the plant into the new pot, which should be a little larger than the old one, and in pleasing proportion with the plant. First, cover the drainage holes and then place the plant in the pot with fairly dry, fresh mix. Don't water the plant right away. Instead, allow the plant to rest out of direct sunlight for a week or two before watering it. This allows any roots that were damaged to heal, as unhealed wet roots are very susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections.
One of the most dangerous things for succulents and cacti is watering them incorrectly. Too much water is deadly to these plants. But they still need to be watered in order to survive and thrive. Leaving them too dry for too long can also cause their roots to die. The best way to determine when to water is to examine the soil and feel for moisture. Do not just touch the surface of the soil, but the top inch of the soil needs to be dry to the touch before you water your plant.
During the dry season or growing season, plants need more water. During the inactive growing season or when it’s cooler, water less frequently. The size of your container also determines how often and how much to water. Smaller containers hold less moisture than larger containers.
Outdoor succulents have slightly different watering needs as indoor plants because they are exposed to different conditions outdoors.
Cacti are very easy to care for. To bloom successfully every year, it's best to give them more water in the summer and less in the winter. This depends partly on the type and size of the plant. Remember that they do not need much water and let the soil dry before the next watering.
Succulents and cacti are adapted to live in soils that are poor in nutrients. That’s one of the reasons they tend to grow slower than other plants. Fertilize at the beginning of or just before the start of the growing season. The growing season for most succulents begins in the late spring or summer. Because of this, mid to late spring would be the best time to apply a fertilizer. For succulents with a winter growing season it is best to apply fertilizer in the fall. Fertilizing just once a year is just right for most cactus and other succulents. If it does not appear to be enough then you can fertilize again in 2-3 months.
Most succulents and cacti prefer a dry and warm climate and they are well suited to cold night time temperatures, because they come from desert climates. Especially in winter, cold temperatures encourage blooming in some kinds of these plants. However, low temperatures can be problematic indoors, because they tend to go hand in hand with high humidity. When you water your succulents and cacti in winter when temperatures are cool, the soil is going to stay wet much longer than it would in the heat of summer and get root rot.
Succulents and cacti are tough plants. They are, however, not without their problems. Some of the common pests that can leave their mark on the plants are:
Mealy bug. Dab these tiny cottony-covered insects with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. For a widespread mealy bug attack, try a systemic insecticide. If you can’t see any mealy bug on a cactus that appears sick, root mealy bug might be to blame. To eliminate wash off as much of the soil and bugs as possible, soak the roots in a systemic insecticide and re-pot.
Scale is miniscule insects that appear brown spots on plant sap and can be treated similarly to mealy bug infestations.
Spider mite is almost invisible. Infected plants often develop yellowish spots which later turn rusty brown, scarring the plant. As both cacti and spider mites hate being wet, try overhead watering or misting.
Note that if there are children or pets at home place the plants in a safe place.
If your home needs a little green boost without much bother, try cactus and succulent plants. They can stand with dignity in your garden, at home and even at your workplace. Enhance your home with a wide selection of cacti arrangements from www.anthemionflowers.gr. Even for a gift is a good choice, since these plants will remain on your recipient’s place for a long time. Visit our online shop and get to know our gift arrangements.