Growing cacti and succulents: seasonal care and what needs to be done during the year

I have discussed in various articles on this site of the basic factors for growing cacti and succulents, particularly those collected in the Cultivation category. This post intends to be a kind of summary “map” organized by seasons (seasonal care), indicating what you have to do at each time of year. In the following article, I review everything that needs to be done in terms of watering, fertilizing, repotting, exposure, etc. – season by season, to best grow cacti and succulent plants in general. This guide is thought to be a practical “vademecum” at a glance (but each topic can be explored in depth thanks to the appropriate internal links) of what is useful and recommended to do in spring, summer, fall and winter.

In short, a kind of handbook to keep in mind every time to organize work, whether you have a greenhouse or a terrace, a balcony or even only a windowsill.

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Compositions with succulents: how to choose plants and what is important to know

Better to set the record straight right away: the topic of compositions has very little to do with the spirit of this site. In fact, we are just the opposite: on the one hand, the spartan approach that aims to obtain plants similar to those in habitat and that is the basis of my cultivation method; on the other hand, cultivation for aesthetic purposes only, which I do not practice but which we know very well is widespread. But life, as you know, is never all black or all white; some nuance must always be there…. So, here is an article accompanied by a video of mine on how to make a simple succulent plant arrangement. After all, an eye for aesthetics never hurts, and even I, who love “lived-in,” nature-like plants, do not disdain a well-done composition, as long as it is no-frills and made with respect for the needs of the individual plants. Warning: the theme may seem obvious and the subject matter very simple, but it’s not so and you will understand why in the next lines. 

Assuming that in plant compositions everyone is free to do what they want, this is just an aesthetic field, that is, related to personal taste, if you want to make compositions that will last over time and that will not make the plants suffer or die quickly, it will be wise to choose the right essences judiciously and place them in the correct substrate.

Let’s see in this article how to correctly choose the plants for our compositions (…)

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When the cactus “spins”: what is etiolation, how to prevent it and contain the damage

Who hasn’t happened at least once to observe in some office, apartment or even non-specialized nurseries (or garden) those cone-shaped cacti with thin spines and pale green stem? Cacti with a rounded base and an elongated apex, tapered to the point of giving the plant an almost pyramidal shape. The novice grower may think that is the normal bearing of the plant, but the grower with some experience – or even just a critical mind – usually is horrified at such plants. If anything, he or she may be saddened, because he or she knows full well that that is not the normal bearing of the cacti at all, but simply the outcome of what is technically called “etiolation” or, commonly, “spinning.” By the way, the photos above and those accompanying this article are of plants in a nursery and not mine, I want to make that clear right away!

Why does this fate happen to some cacti? How to avoid etiolation and how to distinguish it from normal growth or from growth that is simply dissimilar to normal? Is it possible to remedy the damage caused by spinning on a cactus? We answer these questions in the following article. (…)

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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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