Home > Greenhouse Growing > How to Succeed With Cacti & Other Succlents

How to Succeed With Cacti & Other Succlents

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 23 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Growing Cacti Growing Succulents

Although most people will associate cacti and other succulents with deserts and other extremely arid areas, they are some of the most adaptable and hardy species around and can thrive in most climates.

Additionally, as they store their water supply in their thick leaves and stems and can do so for a considerable length of time, they are some of the easiest plants to look after and can be kept either indoors or outside in a greenhouse without requiring too much tending.

This makes them ideal if you like plants but haven’t got the time or the inclination to spend too much time looking after them. For these kinds of plants to thrive, there are basically three main things you need to consider - water, heat and light.

Water

One of the most important things you shouldn’t do is to overwater them. Basically, all you need to do is to stand them in their pots in a shallow tray of water and when the top of the soil is wet, then that’s sufficient. You also need to remember that it’s only really during their growing season over the spring and summer months where they’ll require watering as they lie dormant over the winter months and it’s only if you keep them indoors that they may require a little water perhaps once a month. In the summer, a good watering once a week is usually sufficient.

Heat

If you keep cacti and other succulents indoors there should be no problem with heat as your normal room temperature will be perfectly adequate for them. However, if they’re kept in a greenhouse or perhaps in a conservatory, then over the winter months, you should make sure you use some kind of heater that doesn’t allow the temperature to dip much below 10C or 50F as they do not acclimatise well to any sign of frost.

In the summer, in the UK at least, there will be little to worry about but if there is an extreme heatwave and they’re being kept in a greenhouse, make sure you leave the windows open so that they can receive some ventilation.

Light

Because their natural origins were borne out of existing in sunny climates, it’s beneficial if they receive as much daylight as possible. Kept in a greenhouse, this is unlikely to present much of a problem but if you keep them indoors, make sure that you place them on a window sill which receives the most light during the daylight hours so in the UK, for example, a south facing window is preferable, although they won’t die if they don’t get access to a lot of sunlight, they’re just unlikely to fare as well.

Soil

It’s not so much the type of soil that is important when growing cacti and other succulents as they are designed to survive in harsh, arid landscapes where the soil may be of a poor quality but you do need to ensure that they’re potted in sandy, free-draining soil because if their roots remain wet for too long, they’ll eventually rot. Likewise, if you decide to re-pot them, you should try to keep any disturbance to the roots as minimal as possible.

Potting

Clay pots are better than plastic ones for cacti and other succulents as water can soak through them and evaporate which means that the soil will dry out more quickly which is better for these types of plants and don’t forget to choose a slightly larger pot than the previous year to allow for the continuation of plant growth.

Feeding

Because cacti and other succulents have evolved to be very adept at absorbing the nutrients from even the most sub-standard type of soil, they require very little else above watering. A much reduced strength of tomato feed once a month or even using the water from a fish tank if you keep one will help them though as these types of plants can even extract nutrients from any of the fish waste products that remain in the water.

However, overfeed a cactus and it will grow too quickly and become too spindly and they might grow so tall then that they might not be able to support their own weight.

Pests

Red spider and mealy bugs are probably the biggest dangers in terms of pests that can harm these types of plants but your local garden centre will be able to offer you a number of products to choose from and other ideas which should keep these insects at bay and it’s obviously much better if you choose an organic solution as opposed to using chemicals.

By following this advice, you should find that your plants thrive with very little effort required on your part which is why they are so popular with both gardeners and non-gardeners alike who simply like to have a few plants around the house without them having to take too much time and effort to tend to them.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • BabyGirl
    Re: Designing a Greenhouse for Disabled Access
    When I was eleven I started experiencing severe pain in my lower back. Doc said it had something to do with my…
    23 November 2018
  • GreenhouseGrowing
    Re: Growing Climbers in Your Greenhouse
    scramble - Your Question:I am seeking the same information as Squirrel: flowering climber for greenhouse that gets v hot…
    4 April 2018
  • scramble
    Re: Growing Climbers in Your Greenhouse
    I am seeking the same information as Squirrel: flowering climber for greenhouse that gets v hot in summer and cold in…
    2 April 2018
  • Squirrel
    Re: Growing Climbers in Your Greenhouse
    Dear ???? I have a sunny greenhouse on the 4 floor and wish to grow flowering creepers and plants.It gets very hot in…
    20 March 2018
  • zizi
    Re: Growing Flowers in Your Greenhouse
    l cant imagine world without flowers and plants.My major is agriculture engineering .I need some informstion about develop…
    11 March 2018
  • GreenhouseGrowing
    Re: Greenhouse Vegetables
    Jim - Your Question:I have tried to grow potatoes in my greenhouse for Christmas which appeared to be doing very well. However al I cropped…
    6 March 2018
  • Jim
    Re: Greenhouse Vegetables
    I have tried to grow potatoes in my greenhouse for Christmas which appeared to be doing very well . However al I cropped was lots of very…
    4 March 2018
  • GreenhouseGrowing
    Re: Starting With Orchids
    Pop - Your Question:It is now October is it too late to grow chrisanthimum's in my greenhouse. If not where can I get some cuttings
    10 October 2017
  • Pop
    Re: Starting With Orchids
    It is now October is it too late to grow chrisanthimum's in my greenhouse. If not where can I get some cuttings
    7 October 2017
  • Jay
    Re: Common Greenhouse Problems
    I've just brought an old house with a greenhouse in the garden. It's not been touched for ages I turned it the other day and was…
    19 July 2017