Where to keep succulents in winter? Outside, on a landing or in the house? A practical handbook


A practical handbook and an in-depth analysis on a much debated topic among those who grow succulent and/or cactus plants. Here’s what you’ll find by reading this article, designed specifically to help those who, with the first drops in temperatures, are starting to wonder where to place their succulents when the real cold arrives. Unless you have a greenhouse, perhaps equipped with a burner regulated by a thermostat, the question is in fact more than pertinent: during the winter it is better to keep the succulent plants outside (sheltered from the rain), or in a cool environment such as a landing, an internal staircase or even a garage? Or should we bring all the plants indoors? It is good to clarify immediately that the answer to these questions cannot be tranchant or “absolute”: obviously the correct winter location depends on many factors, starting from the area in which the plants are grown (North or South Italy? North or South Europe? Sea or high mountains?) to arrive at the type of plant (Cactaceae, succulent native to Africa or Madagascar? Sempervivum, Crassula, Euphorbia?). In short, the range of cases is very broad and as always there are no absolute rules. Luckily there are many fixed points and many precautions that should be respected to ensure that our succulents pass the winter securely and take advantage of the vegetative stasis to be able to flower again the following year.

The following article answers these questions, and you will also find an indication of the correct measures to be taken to ensure that cacti and succulents overwinter in the best possible way, have abundant blooms and, above all, you’ll find a practical handbook with an indication of the best location for cacti and succulents organized in alphabetical order, so as to facilitate the identification of the plant, understand in which minimum temperature range it can stay and where it can be placed (for example outside, on a landing, or directly inside the house). (…)

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How to grow cactus: the handbook with the 10 things you absolutely need to know to avoid mistakes

Full sun? But what do you want to know, the window on the landing is enough! Substrate? I buy it ready at the supermarket, it’s perfect. The pots? The smaller the better: never leave more than half a centimeter between the plant and the edge of the pot… And so on, by dint of amenities, false beliefs, hearsay phrases that rapidly becomes dogma because… because it was said by that guy on Facebook and it’s immediately clear that he’s someone who knows about it because his videos has the right lights and Kubrick seems to have done the editing for him. Joking aside, how much nonsense do we still have to hear today about the cultivation of cacti? How many improvised “influencers” ride the crest of social media driven by the Mistral of likes (yes, likes, which in jargon are called “the metrics of vanity”…) and, supported by legions of followers and big thumbs up, they deliver lessons and conferences winking from the monitors, revealing “5 fantastic tricks you don’t know about cacti” or “how to go from seed to flowering plant in 35 seconds”. Or, with an attitude halfway between the conspiratorial and the revealer of esoteric secrets, they promise to teach you everything, absolutely everything about the cultivation of these splendid plants. Then, perhaps, you dig a little and discover that the influencer on duty has been growing cacti for 2 or 3 years – a gift from grandmother -, keeps them next to the PC or television (“you know, they absorb magnetic rays”), he can’t distinguish a Rebutia from a Begonia and has never bothered to leaf through any book on cacti and succulents. There are also influencers for plants, right? No. There are likeable and well-prepared characters, there are pretty faces who know something, but there is also a lot of “fluff” (forgive the old reporter’s term). So much wrong information, so much confusion and so much unpreparedness.

So, without any desire to offer you “The Word” with this article, here is a handbook, a list of ten things you need to know (or you should already know!) if you really want to cultivate your cacti in the best possible way. Without tricks or deceptions: here we are at the fundamentals, come on. But without these you go nowhere. And I am convinced that even those who, scrolling through the 10 points will say “ah yes, I know” ten times, will find in this handbook a useful tool for reviewing, asking themselves a few more questions and pushing themselves to improve. And rest assured, what follows does not come from the web, but from 30 years of experience in the field, of experiments and failures, from discussions with growers and scholars far more expert than me and from reading a few dozen manuals in Italian, English, French, Spanish (and also German, although in that case, I confess, I limited myself to photographs and captions, not knowing the Teutonic language!) (…)

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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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How to make cactus and succulent plants bloom: what you need to know and what tricks to use

How to get cactus to bloom is one of the most frequently asked questions among succulent plant enthusiasts. Here are the precautions to take to make our cacti flourish.

Colourful, flashy, ephemeral. Cactus blooms are sudden bursts of energy. Often the buds develop in a few days to open within few hours, amazing the newcomers to the cultivation of these plants and, above all, those who are not familiar with succulents. In these last few years, I have noticed that there is a lot of misinformation about cacti, in particular about their blooms. Those who do not cultivate these plants can even be surprised that they can bloom, no more or less than the specimens of all the other plant families, forgetting that the flower is the basis of the reproduction of almost all plants. Others are impressed to learn that even cacti can bloom in abundance and several times during the growing season, thinking perhaps that the flowering of a cactus is an exceptional event, almost unique. Nothing could be more wrong: all the cacti regularly bloom, and if there are relatively stingy species, that can produce few flowers for limited periods during the year, there are also really generous species, able to give blooms several times for entire months (for example Echinopsis, Astrophytum, Strombocactus, Gymnocalycium, Trichocereus).

In the following article we see in detail how to make cacti and succulent plants bloom abundantly. (…)

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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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