Cactus and Succulents growing tips

– Many cacti will flower only if kept cold in winter; allow the temperature to fall to 2-4°C (36-39°F), even to freezing, provided compost is dry – this does not apply to rat’s-tail cactus.  Christmas cactus, epiphyllum and prickly pears, all of which prefer to be kept at a temperature of at least 5-10°C (41-50°F).

– Drainage is very important. Put one-third part extra of grit into soil-based composts, and use drainage material such as old crocks in the base of the pot. Break up the compost surface occasion ally with a table fork to prevent a caked layer from forming.

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– Use gravel on the compost surface to prevent caking and to ensure that the area close to the base of the cactus or succulent is dry.

– Water cacti and succulents in the growing season like other pot plants – whenever the surface of the compost is dry. In winter, water at intervals of two to four weeks.

– Give cacti plenty of sun. but be careful with the midday sun in summer, even for cacti it can be too strong. In winter, give all the sunlight possible.

– Cacti with many prickles or spines are difficult to handle. When re-potting use either kitchen tongs or wind a thick collar of paper round the base.

– Cacti grown for their long, silky or cobweb-like hairs lose their attraction when these become dirty. Clean them by spraying with a mild deter gent such as diluted washing-up liquid. Leave the solution on for a few minutes, then wash it off with plain water. Do this in summer. laying the plant on its side or covering the compost with plastic.

– Feed plants during their growing season in the same way you would feed any other pot plant.  Use tomato fertiliser for flowering species.

– To ensure that cuttings root, the cut surface must dry out. So leave a cutting to dry for a day or two if the cut surface is small, or for up to a week if it is large. Pot up the cuttings when the surface has formed calluses.
Re-pot cacti and succulents in larger pots only when they have completely filled their pots with roots – no more than about once every three years.