Summer is coming: seasonal care for cacti and succulents, watering and aestivation

Summer is a relatively quiet season for those who grow cacti. Things to do, in fact, are not that many. Preventive treatments have already been done, and repotting, although repotting can be done at any time if necessary, should be suspended at this time, when the plants are in vegetation and in full bloom.

Fertilizations should also be stopped at this time, confining them to spring and September. Overall, the bulk of the work in the weeks from mid-June through August focuses on watering, which will need to be calibrated according to the species being grown. In some cases, with certain plants, it will be appropriate to suspend them altogether to avoid stagnation and rot.

Indeed, there are plants that vegetate well even in these months and plants that slow down their vegetation. Still others, in the warmer months, such as July and August, stop vegetation altogether to resume growth at the time of September, as soon as the maximum temperatures have dropped slightly. This phenomenon, the halting of vegetation coinciding with the hottest weeks, is called “summering,” and it is good to know its effects to avoid risks in cultivation.

In the following article we look in detail at what we have to do in the run-up to summer to best prepare cacti and succulents and avoid problems. (…)

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When to pricking out cactus seedlings, how to do it correctly, and what potting soil to use

Speaking of cactus sowings, a classic question, and one not infrequently asked with a fair amount of (unnecessary) apprehension, is: after how long should seedlings be repotted? In other words, when do the young seedlings need to be repotted and perhaps divided into individual pots? Again, as with many other “cactophilies matters”, the answer depends on various cultivation factors. Based on experience, however, it is possible to give general indications useful to those who experiment with sowing for the first time.

Let’s see in detail, in this article, everything we need to know about this fundamental step for the proper growth of plants from our sowing. (…)

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Repotting cacti: a few tips on how best to do it without… donating blood!

Repotting is often one of the reasons why many people steer clear of cacti. Maybe they like the plant, but the idea that sooner or later it has to be repotted, with all those thorns, frightens those who are new to this kind of plant. Many people even decide to give up on cacti for getting leafy succulents, which are much easier to deal with when repotting. In fact, even particularly prickly plants like Echinocactus grusonii or Ferocactus are not so complicated to repot. A little experience and a few “tricks”, and you can get out of it without literally having to “give blood”.

Let’s see how to proceed and all there is to know about repotting,
especially the most challenging ones due to the plant’s size and the thorns on the stem. (…)

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Echinocactus texensis, an in-depth study of the “horse crippler”

The following is an in-depth article on the Echinocactus texensis species that I wrote some time ago and which, with my great pleasure, was published in the Cactus World magazine, published by the British Cactus & Succulents Society (BCSS). My thanks to editor Al Laius for the publication in the prestigious magazine.

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The Asclepiadaceae family: African succulents with beautiful but… smelly flowers

Although more than twenty years have passed, I still remember my first encounter with an Asclepiadaceae. A few years ago, I approached the world of succulents, and I went to visit a nursery just outside my city. I had been browsing among the succulents for quite a while when the owner of the nursery, an elderly but very chirpy lady, noticed me and my interests in plants, approached me and said: “Do you want to see a succulent plant with beautiful flowers?” I said yes, of course, I wanted to see it, so she took me down a narrow corridor cluttered with plants and pointed to a large succulent in a hanging pot. It had thick fleshy, straight green stems with reddish edges, and from one of these stems hung a big star-shaped flower with elongated, thin tips and shaded yellow petals crossed by tiny dark streaks. “Come closer, sniff how good it smells”, the lady said to me, passing from a restrained smile to an open, fat laugh, as soon as I obeyed and immediately withdrew, disgusted by the smell of rotting flesh that from that flower had entered right into my nose.

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