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Basic Care of Cacti & Succulents

Always keep in mind that the aim in growing cacti & succulent plants successfully is to provide them with the most optimum growing conditions. The fact that these types of plants can endure drought conditions should in no way be construed as a basis for how you should grow them in your home. Although they can survive extended dry periods the quality and appearance will suffer. It’s the difference between “thriving” or “just surviving”.

Correct watering procedures are crucial to the successful culturing of cacti and succulents. Cacti and succulents do not necessarily culture in like manners, so it is therefore important to treat each group differently.

Most cacti actively grow during the long, hot summer months and tend to become dormant during the short days of winter. It is therefore most important that you recognize when your plants  are actively growing. This is difficult since cacti tend to grow at such a slow rate, but during the time between early spring and late fall you can be pretty well assured that your plants are in a growth stage. During this time, water the plants whenever the soil becomes dry. Do not extend this dry period for too long or your plants will begin to suffer from lack of moisture. Only during their dormant periods will cacti be able to successfully withstand long periods without water.

When the soil is sufficiently dry, water the plant thoroughly. Be sure that excess water drains from the hole in the bottom of the pot. Be sure that the soil is completely saturated. Never water cacti by giving minimal amounts of water. It is an incorrect notion that one should try and duplicate desert conditions in order to grow cacti. Conversely, methods such as this often lead to failure. Repeat this watering procedure when the soil once again becomes thoroughly dry.

During the winter months when cacti often become dormant, it is advisable to water much less frequently: Two to three times less often than during the summer. Most persons attempting to grow cacti suffer the greatest amount of plant losses during the winter, usually the direct result of incorrect watering techniques.

Succulents are usually less demanding of careful watering schedules than cacti. Succulents do not necessarily become dormant during the winter. In fact many succulents are more active in their growth during the winter as opposed to summer. Therefore, the most general rule of watering succulents is to water the plants thoroughly when the soil starts to become dry, by careful observation. Be sure that the plant is actively growing when you water in this manner.

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