Preparing cacti and succulents for spring: exposure, fertilizing, here’s what to do

Bright blooms, fleshy and brand-new leaves, sparkling spines sprouting from the vegetative apices: for succulent plants, spring represents a real rebirth. Here in Europe, the vegetative stasis that characterizes the winter of most succulent families ends between the second half of February and the beginning of March, when the plants gradually resume vegetation and reactivate the root system. For some families, the restart is evident: this is the case of Cactaceae, which already in February show new spines and often the first flower buds (genera such as Stenocactus, many species of Turbinicarpus, some Mammillaria, etc.). Also, leafy succulents such as Crassula, Echeveria, Portulacaria, Aloe, Adenium are well-known for producing new shoots, new branches and leaves. For other species as the Agavaceae family, the recovery is less evident: it slowly forms fresh sprouts at the centre of the apical rose, destined to be noticed only in a few months, when the separation of the true leaves will take place.
Whether the recovery is sudden and flashy or slow and hidden, in March it’s essential to devote some extra care to succulents: in this way, it will be possible to obtain healthy and robust plants that show their full potential development and flowering.

Now let’s see everything we can do at this time of the year, especially if we don’t have a greenhouse and we grow on the windowsill, on the balcony, on a terrace or in the garden. With a warning: whatever you have to do, with succulents and cacti, you must not be in a hurry: hurry to water, hurry to treat, hurry to move the plants… Getting caught up in the rush, the anxiety, the fear of doing something wrong, is the best way to run into mistakes. So let’s see how to avoid them. (…)

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Spontaneous sowing: when cacti do everything by themselves, just like in Nature

Why damn yourself with sterilized soil, perfectly clean pots, fungicide, transparent bags and so on, when you can let our plants do everything related to sowing? Exactly as it happens in Nature, in short. Jokes aside, those who have many plants know well that finding themselves with perfectly formed seedlings inside the pots, next to the mother plants, is far from rare. Generally we notice it during repotting, when we can observe our succulents with particular attention, because the spontaneously born seedlings are small and tend to “camouflage” themselves with stones and aggregates in the substrate, or they are found so close to the stem of the mother plant to be invisible to a superficial look. Over the years, in the pots of my plants, I have often found germinated and autonomously grown seedlings, in particular of genera such as Astrophytum, Epithelantha, Thelocactus, Mammillaria. A couple of years ago I even found a small plant of Euphorbia obesa already well formed, grown among the pebbles outside the greenhouse, in the shade of a large pot containing an Agave. Today the Euphorbia is in a 5 centimeters pot inside the greenhouse and continues to grow regularly. I had to reluctantly remove it from the outside and place it in a pot to prevent the cold and damp winter in North Italy from killing it, otherwise I would have gladly let it grow where it was born.

In these days, during the repotting of some Astrophytum capricorne of my sowing, I have found many seedlings and various seedlings born and grown independently in the pots of the mother plants (you can already see some of them in the cover photo, above). Hence the idea of ​​documenting and analyzing “spontaneous sowing” in the following article. (…)

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