Growing Succulents

Cacti

What are Succulents

  • Succulents are a wide group of plants that have evolved from ancient tropical forests to combat the feast and famine of water supply.
  • Succus is the latin for juice.  Succulent plants have   stems,branches, roots, stalks, leaves or flowers that are juicy, fleshy or thick to retain moisture.
  • Parts of succulents above the ground act as reservoirs of water.
  • Succulents are varied plants not one or even related groups or families of plants.
  • All cacti are succulents but all succulents are not Cacti.

How do Succulents Preserve  Water

  • Many succulents including cacti do not grow leaves reducing transpiration.
  • Thick leaves have space to store far more water than other leaves such as Aloe.
  • Some plants can be pulled underground to preserve water.
  • Minimum evaporation is achieved by hairy, spiney or waxy outer layers.
  • Shapes are developed to maximise retention and minimise water loss.
  • Some plants have roots that grow in bundles on the soils surface to capture any available moisture
  • Many Cacti breath oxygen at night and photosynthesis during the day.

Common Types or Groups Of Succulent

  • Sedum and Sempervivum
  • Cactaceae are divided into 3 sub families with over 200 genera and 10,000 species.
  • Haworthia, Gasteria and Aloe are succulents but part of the Lily family.
  • Agave, Aeoniums, Echeveria, Lithrops and Yucca are succulents.
  • Many Euphorbias and Cereus are succulent.
  • Christmas and Easter Cacti,  Schlumbergera or Zygocactus

Tips for Growing Succulents and Cacti

  • Getting the watering right is the key issue. All plants need water during their growing period.
  • I water weekly in spring and early summer cutting down drastically by autumn leaving winter almost watering free.
  • Good drainage is as important as watering. Most succulent prefer a free draining sandy or gritty soil. Do not stand in water.
  • Keep most varieties free of frost.
  • Provide a weak fertiliser solution in spring and early summer.
  • Plants can be grown from seed and many root well from cuttings or grafting.
  • Insects can be a problem but most die in high heat.

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