From above, from below, only the soil: how cacti and succulents get wet and how long we can do it

Let’s go against the trend, since the period is more suitable for talking about suspending watering than about how, how much, when a cactus or succulent plant is watered. The topic, however, is of primary importance and although already covered in a specific article published in the “early days” of this site, it deserves further study. And it deserves it, perhaps even more so, now that we are approaching the moment when (at least in Northern Italy and in Europe) it is appropriate to suspend irrigation. Knowing when to say stop wetting cacti and succulent plants in general is essential to avoid rot during the winter. Knowing in which ways it is possible to water our plants (from above, like rain, or from below, or wetting only the soil, etc.), knowing how many times to water them during the growing season, how to adjust with the various genres, how to relate watering to the substrates used and much more is equally fundamental.

This is therefore the reason for this article, which also answers the many questions on this topic – how are succulent watered, how often are they watered, in which way? etc. – placed at any time of the year by novice growers (and not only novice). Not to mention that, if we want to go into detail, there are cacti and succulents that really appreciate some winter watering. Didn’t you know? More and more this article will be for you.

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Towards summer: useful tips for taking care of cacti and succulents and avoiding nasty surprises

After an almost non-existent, anomalous and ugly spring (at least here in Italy), the temperatures have risen considerably and we are heading towards summer. In some respects, the most delicate period for cacti and succulents, i.e. the transition between the end of winter and the vegetative restart, is now behind us and the next few months will be rather “quiet” for those who cultivate these plants. In fact,  the main commitments will concern watering and fertilization, since repotting should by now be completed and treatments against pests and parasites can be given when necessary and not systematically. Even in the period of full vegetation of cacti and succulents, however, there are pitfalls and there are some elements and factors of cultivation to be taken into due consideration.

We see them in detail in the following article (…).

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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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Summer is at the end of the line: until when can we water cacti and succulent plants?

The topic is a classic and the question is among the most frequently asked among cactus and succulent growers: until when can I water my plants? In other words, given that – as even less expert growers know – it is advisable to keep cacti cold and dry during the winter months until they can be watered, when exactly should we stop watering? And again: should watering be suspended completely or will it just have to be reduced? Are there cacti that can or should also be watered in autumn and winter? Are there any non-cacti succulent plants, especially those with leaves, which need to be watered even in the winter months, otherwise the branches and leaves will wither? It is clear that part of the answer to these questions can vary according to the place where we grow plants (there is a big difference, just to give an example in the Northern hemisphere, between Sicily and Great Britain, Spain or Germany), but in principle it can be said that there are many fixed points that every grower must know and respect in order for his succulents to grow healthy and robust and to flower profusely. Above all, there are some fixed points that must be respected to avoid, quite simply, rotting our cacti and succulent plants during the winter or early spring.

And since the period in which most of the cacti and succulents will go into vegetative stasis is approaching, it is advisable to deepen these fixed points and learn to at least distinguish the macro-water needs of the various families of succulents. This is exactly what we will do in the following article (…)

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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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