When and how fertilize cactus and succulent plants to have aboundant blooms

First of all: why should we fertilize our cacti and succulent plants? Let’s say right away that fertilization (or fertilisation, or manuring or mineral nutrition) is necessary for any plant grown in pots, since the amount of soil available is limited and, sooner or later, nutrients will begin to run low. Fertilizer nourishes the plant, enriching the soil of those elements which, through the time, are absorbed by the plant or washed away by the waterings.

Succulent plants should be regularly fertilized to ensure that the right quantity of nutrients is always available during the growing season. For cacti and succulents, however, generic fertilizers should not be used. In other words, a fertilizer commonly used for ornamental, leafy or fruit plants is not at all appropriate for a cactus plant. It is necessary to resort to specific fertilizers, specially balanced for the succulents. Otherwise, the risk is to irreparably compromise the growth and the physical appearance of the plant, making it weak and radically different from the specimens of the same species that grow in the wild.

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Substrate, loam, soil mix: which is the best soil for cactus and succulent plants?

I may look like a mordant, but I want to clear the field of misunderstandings and false myths: the right soil for cacti does not exist. There are many types of soil (or composts, substrates, mixtures, the question does not change) and there are genera that prefer certain substances and others that require more. Established this and removed one of the first Faq (Frequently Asked Questions) by cacti enthusiasts to the first arms – “Which is the best soil for my cactus?” – it can be said on the contrary that on the one hand there are the characteristics that a good soil for cactus must necessarily have; on the other hand the needs of the single plants.

The question was simple and the related answer was given by italian cacti expert Giuseppe Lodi, who, after observing “the butts of roots of certain imports” and having noticed how these were encrusted with clay loam, suggested a base soil absolutely natural and versatile: “You can start from a mixture of common clay loam (field or garden), coarse sand and leaf soil, in equal parts. Of these three components none of them can be enough, alone” (Giuseppe Lodi, “Le mie piante grasse” – Edagricole).

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Diseases and pests of cactus and succulents: how to recognize them and how to prevent their attacks

As much care as we can give to our cacti and succulent plants, some drawbacks with parasites, pests, infections and fungi can always happen. Unfortunately, it must be considered, particularly if you have many plants. With proper cultivation, however, the problem can be significantly reduced and the number of losses caused by animal parasites and bacteria can be considerably reduced.
It may seem obvious, but the first and most effective tool for the fight against pathogens and harmful insects is prevention. Prevention is done through a cultivation regime as natural as possible that respects the cycles and times of plants without forcing their growth. Just in this way cacti and succulents grow healthy and robust to the point of being able to cope with adversities on their own.

In the last few years, thanks to natural cultivation and treatments based on pesticides reduced to a minimum, I have no longer observed any attack on my plants by animal parasites. Sometimes I may have some losses due to Fusarium, but they are single specimens, never large scale infestations.

In the following article, we will see in detail what consists of prevention; which are the pests and diseases that can affect cacti and succulents; such as the symptoms of their action on plants, and how to carry out treatment and care in case of problems.

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How to make cactus and succulent plants bloom: what you need to know and what tricks to use

Colourful, flashy, ephemeral. Cactus blooms are sudden bursts of energy. Often the buds develop in a few days to open within few hours, amazing the newcomers to the cultivation of these plants and, above all, those who are not familiar with succulents. In these last few years, I have noticed that there is a lot of misinformation about cacti, in particular about their blooms. Those who do not cultivate these plants can even be surprised that they can bloom, no more or less than the specimens of all the other plant families, forgetting that the flower is the basis of the reproduction of almost all plants. Others are impressed to learn that even cacti can bloom in abundance and several times during the growing season, thinking perhaps that the flowering of a cactus is an exceptional event, almost unique. Nothing could be more wrong: all the cacti regularly bloom, and if there are relatively stingy species, that can produce few flowers for limited periods during the year, there are also really generous species, able to give blooms several times for entire months (for example Echinopsis, Astrophytum, Strombocactus, Gymnocalycium, Trichocereus).

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How often and how much to water cactus (cacti) and succulent plants

Watering is still one of the most debated themes among those who approach the cultivation of cacti and succulents in general. How much water do cacti want? When should succulent plants be watered? How often should succulents be watered? These above are just some of the most frequent questions – and I fly over, for obvious reasons, on another question that I have often heard asked: But should cacti be watered…?

Like any living thing, succulent plants need water. How, how much and when water depends on many factors, such as the time of the year, the place where you live (North or South Italy, for example?), temperatures, environmental humidity, the substrates you use, the size of the pots, and more… Before going into the details of watering, let us sure to definitively put aside false convictions legacy of who knows what experiences at the edge of the absurd. For example, let’s get the fact that cacti and succulent plants have to be watered with droppers or watered once in a blue moon.

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