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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The distribution of cacti and succulents in the world: maps with the states where they grow

Have you always wondered what part of the world your cactus or succulent plant comes from? From the Americas or maybe from Asia? From Africa or Europe? The topic of succulent plant distribution is vast and very intricate. However, to begin to simplify, we can say that all cacti are native to the Americas, while succulent plants in general (i.e. non-cactaceous succulents) come from different parts of the world.

In this article and in the two large maps attached, we see how cacti and non-cacti succulents are distributed around the world. We see in particular from which geographical areas the succulents originally evolved.

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How to cultivate Euphorbia: tips to best care for these succulents loved by all the cactophiles

The succulent species belonging to the Euphorbia family (Euphorbiaceae) are appreciated and cultivated by many cacti lovers. The variability in the forms and some cultivation affinities with cacti make these plants an excellent alternative to “vary” the collections of succulents. However, it is essential to know the primary main needs of Euphorbias to grow them successfully.

Euphorbiaceae is the fourth largest family of angiosperms, i.e. flowering plants. The Euphorbiaceae are divided into 5 subfamilies, 300 genera and 6.000 species, many of which are succulent. These plants have a very variable bearing: they can be in the form of small grasses, or in the form of real shrubs; they can be columnar or caespitose, very thorny or with a perfectly smooth stem. Also, they can hold leaves, but they can be devoid of them. Euphorbiaceae, unlike Cactaceae (exclusively originating from the Americas) come from almost every part of the world, except, of course, the Arctic and Antarctic areas. Some species come from Africa, others from the Americas or from Asia.

You can deepen the knowledge of Euphorbiaceae in the following article, with description, images, curiosities and cultivation techniques specific to this plant family.

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Schlumbergera, the “Christmas cactus”: how to make it bloom in all its abundance

As every year, between the end of November and the first half of December, my Schlumbergera blooms. As always, the blossoms are very abundant, with inflorescences on every “article” of the plants. These are very common, thornless cacti that I consider a classic “houseplant”, but no less interesting, than other genera. Let’s start by saying that Schlumbergera are for all intents and purposes cacti (family Cactaceae). They are epiphytic succulent plants that in nature live leaning on other plants that simply act as a support (epiphytes are therefore not parasitic plants). This genus, also commercially known as “Christmas cactus” because they bloom at this time of year (actually they bloom from November), is very beloved even among non-succulent enthusiasts.

In this article, we’ll learn how to cultivate the “Christmas Cactus”, for obtaining its abundant blooms without any problems.

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