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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Cactus without roots: how to save the plant and which soil to use to get it back to full health

Cacti can be capricious plants, expecially because of their roots. It can happen, in fact, that despite all the cares we dedicate to one of our succulent plants, it stops growing, stops producing thorns and flowers and, in the space of a few weeks (or months, in some cases), begins to deteriorate, deflating and turning yellow. At the origin of this phenomenon, not always a pathology exists, as a bacterial attack that can cause the rot. In the same way, the cause may not necessarily be due to a parasitic attack. If you look closely at the plant, for example, you might not find any traces of spider mite or mealybug, the two main pests of succulents.

With experience I have learned that when a plant, even apparently healthy (i.e. not affected by parasites or bacteria) and grown in the best conditions (light, air, watering, soil, etc..) begins to deteriorate deflating and yellowing despite watering, it is always better to remove it from the pot and check the health of the root system. More often than we might think, the problem can hide just there, below the collar.

In this article, we will see everything we can do to save a cactus or a succulent plant in evident difficulty or when, after having flared it, we realize that it has lost all or part of its roots.

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How to make the perfect substrate for cacti and succulents. Is peat really a cactus killer?

Do I use lapillus or just pumice? Is peat really a cactus-killing devil, as we hear people say? But then why nurserymen cultivate their plants nearly 100% with peat, and their plants don’t die in the greenhouse? The question about materials and elements that end up in compost for cacti and succulents is a limitless one. Firstly because the variables are endless and range from growing regimes, environmental factors, latitude, to plant type (for example, there are differences in substrate requirements between a caudiciform and a cactus). Then, because the same elements, as like the field soil, can vary immensely between them – for example, based on the area where it is picked up: it’s evident that the loam of the Po Valley, where I live, cannot have the same chemical characteristics as that one existing in Bolivia, for example.

So, how can we orient among the many elements and materials we can find – some easily, others less – to mix them and make good compost? A first answer, perhaps obvious but reasonable, is to do experience and direct observation. In a word: experimentation. Another one, trivial but overlooked, is knowledge – the knowledge of the single “ingredients” properties that create the substrate and of the individual plant’s needs.

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How much light do cactus need to grow well? The importance of sun and air and a summary table

Light is fundamental for every living being, starting with plants. This is obvious, but we cannot ignore it if we want to grow cacti and succulent plants in general. Plants, moreover, that often need many hours of light per day; in some cases direct or non-filtered light, in others not straight but equally intense daylight. In fact, there are succulent plants that, if placed in full sun, slow down growth, burn and even die. On the contrary, many succulent plants and many cacti, if they do not receive the right amount of direct light, will have stunted growth, with weak thorns and elongated stems.

In this article, we see what we need to know about the right exposure of cacti and succulent plants in general. Also, at the end of this article, you find a table summarizing the type of exposure needed by the main families of succulents.

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Succulents and cold: how to care for cactus in winter and the minimum temperatures tolerated

Do cacti resist frost? In winter, do succulent plants have to be kept indoors or can they stay outside? And what are the minimum winter temperatures they can tolerate? Even among experienced growers, the minimum temperatures of cacti and succulents are still debated today. I tackle the topic starting, as always, from my personal experience, which is my only way to have accurate data, found in the field, related to my system and my growing conditions, here in North of Italy. Let’s say right away that during winter I keep most of my plants in the greenhouse. It is a large greenhouse of 60 square meters and with a height, at the top, of 4 meters. These dimensions guarantee a satisfying volume of air, which in turn prevents moisture stagnation, the first real enemy of cacti and succulent plants in winter.

Let’s see, in the following article, the various factors that influence the resistance of cacti and succulents to cold. At the end of the article, you will also find a schedule with the minimum temperatures tolerated by the various families of succulents.

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