Spring is here, what to do with cacti and succulents? All out or is it better to wait?

Spring, the so-called beautiful season, has now begun: what to do with cacti and succulents? Should you take plants kept indoors outside during the winter? Remove covers or layers of non-woven fabric? Resume watering? Fertilize plants?

Spring is the season of recovery for all plants, and succulents are no exception. Many species are already in full bloom, such as Stenocactus, Strombocactus, many Turbinicarpus and several Mammillaria. Be careful, however, there is a difference between flowering and vegetative growth: a plant can flower even if it has not fully resumed vegetating. Simply, this is its flowering period and the plant respects it even if it is still coming out of the winter “dormancy” state. As regards temperatures, obviously there is a big difference based on the area in which it is grown, so in some regions of the South the night-time minimums can already be above 10 degrees, while in the North we still have relatively low values, around 2 or 3 degrees. This factor is fundamental to understanding whether we can move our plants outside or not. Equally important is the time to resume watering. Can we start watering cacti and succulents these days or is it better to wait a little longer? Finally: with the start of the summer, is it necessary to carry out some treatments with plant protection products or can this practice be avoided?

Let’s see everything in detail in the following article, so as to move correctly and avoid problems or rot damaging the plants. (…)

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Grafting cactus: when a succulent plant can be grafted and what is the correct procedure to follow

In cacti as well as in many other botanical families, grafting is a common practice, usually adopted to grow delicate plants more easily and to speed up the growth rates of the plants themselves. In short, it consists of combining a delicate plant with a robust plant, which will provide the former with nourishment and encourage its growth.

Those who follow this site know well that the “philosophy” underlying the cultivation of cacti and succulents adopted by me is based on obtaining plants as similar as possible to those in the habitat. My approach to cultivation is essentially simple and spartan and is inspired by the so-called “wild” cultivation method, which precisely has the aim of obtaining cacti with a natural, lived-in appearance and, overall, as similar as possible to what plants have in nature. It is for this reason that it is not my habit to practice grafting cacti, which can certainly be a useful technique in many cases but which does not lead, from an aesthetic point of view, to obtaining specimens similar to those that grow in their habitat. This is not only due to the very fact that one plant grows grafted onto another, but also due to the fact that grafted plants tend over time to take on very different characteristics from those of plants grown naturally. In fact, grafted plants can have much more swollen stems, sometimes deformed compared to the norm and even the thorns can grow differently.

However, given the high number of growers who practice grafting (also useful for speeding up the growth of cacti and making them flower so as to be able to pollinate them to have seeds with which to reproduce them) or who do not disdain the cultivation of grafted plants and considered many questions that they reached me over time via email, here, for completeness, is an article that deals with this practice and explains how to graft cacti (…)

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Severely dehydrated Astrophytum asterias: here’s a rescue attempt with… hydroculture!

Hydroculture and succulent plants sound, in some ways, like a conceptual oxymoron. Plants that have naturally evolved to cope with drought, rainfall concentrated in short periods of the year; plants that grow in extremely dry soils, in short, how can they get along with hydroculture? In other words, how can they be grown with a technique that requires the roots to be in constant contact with water? The answer is simple: they can’t. However … however in certain cases and following precise precautions, the constant contact of the roots of a succulent plant with water can be used to save that plant. Even if that plant is a succulent. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do these days to save two Astrophytum asterias of my sowing in conditions of extreme dehydration, on the verge of dying of thirst (which would be very strange for a cacti!). But let’s go step by step and see exactly what happened to these two plants and how (and why) I’m trying to save them through a kind of “temporary hydroculture”.

I explain everything with lots of photos in the following article, which I consider – in fact – the description of an experiment that is perhaps risky and certainly unorthodox but at the same time not devoid of logic. (…)

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A repotting… monstrous! How to choose a cactus well and what to do immediately after the purchase

I’m not particularly fond of crested succulents, but at the same time I’m not entirely indifferent to their charm and every so often some “monstrous” specimen ends up in my greenhouse. Small digression: if you don’t know what a “crested” or “monstrous” plant is, there is an article on the italian version of the website (you can find it here and use the internal translator). Having said that, in the last few weeks I bought a crested Cereus peruvianus monstruosus from a nursery specialized in succulent plants. The plant is in excellent health and well formed, but the substrate, as almost always happens when buying cacti, is excessively peaty, at least for the type of cultivation I’ve been using for years now. I then took the opportunity to describe the repotting operation of this Cereus, so as to be able to speak of “monstrous” plants, of repotting, of simple substrates and within everyone’s reach from the point of view of realization and of good practices to follow when buying new plants.

Here then is the report – accompanied by photos of the individual steps – of this repotting, with some useful considerations, precisely, regarding soils, new purchases and crested cacti. (…)

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The cacti, the spring that doesn’t come and the rain that doesn’t stop: should we be worried?

A spring that is struggling to establish itself, temperatures that fluctuate continuously with sunny and very hot days and gloomy days with the thermometer plummeting. Above all, heavy rain almost every day for at least a week, at least here in the North Italy. Many of us have already moved their cacti and succulents outside, or have removed the winter protections (non-woven fabric or transparent sheets). Many are worried, some run for cover by bringing the plants indoors, others are undecided about what to do… Is it really the case to worry about the combination of low temperatures and persistent rain?

In this article, here are some reflections and the answer to the question that many of you are asking me these days, as always based on what I have learned in years of cultivation (…).

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