cactus collection, cactus and succulents cactus and succulents

Water, Soil and Fertilizer Requirements for
Cacti & Succulents

The general "Rule of Thumb" is: "When you water, water well." However, with succulent plants you must be careful to make sure the plant needs water. Feel the weight of the pot when just watered and when it is dry. A totally dry pot weighs considerably less and is one sign of a thirsty plant. Feel the soil at least one inch down and if the soil is dry it is time to water the plant. Let the water thoroughly drain through the roots and out the bottom, making sure the entire pot of soil is saturated. Drain thoroughly; never let plants sit in water. Use a soil mix that drains well and allows some drying out between waterings. Top dressings, such as small pebbles or coarse gravel, offer quicker water penetration, slower water evaporation, elimination of a crust on the top of the soil, and a neat, attractive appearance. When plants are vigorously growing and blooming, they will need more water. During their non-growing or resting stage, usually in cold winter weather, they will need very little water.

For practically all intents and purposes, any good cactus and succulent mix, prepared and bagged, and available in many nurseries and garden shops can be used for your cacti and succulents. Or, you can use a high quality planter mix or humus. For this, add two parts perlite or pumice and one part washed building sand. Adjust the ratios according to your growing conditions, climate and the plant in question.

Most succulents and cacti are benefited by the addition of diluted liquid fertilizer added to the water every second or third watering during their growing season. Any standard houseplant fertilizer with balanced amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potash (20-20-20) can be used. It is also convenient to use one of the slow release granular fertilizers. To induce bloom and improve flower size, a fertilizer with low nitrogen and high phosphorous content can be used. Always dilute more than the stated instructions advise, as recommended dosage is too strong for these plants. One caution! If your plants are growing too lushly and/or are losing their characteristic shape, this may be the result of over-fertilizing. As a rule, it is safer to under-fertilize than over-fertilize. We do not recommend fertilizing Mesembs or Stapeliads.

Proper proportions of good drainage, generous but infrequent waterings, regular, diluted feedings, good light and fresh air are the basic needs of your succulent plant.

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