Succulents & Cacti

Succulents, with their striking forms, unusual colors and easy care reputation, are becoming an increasingly important design element in many gardens. Whether planted in mass, as specimens in the garden, or featured in containers, they have much to offer any gardener. The great variety and forms of succulents make them extremely attractive and useful for the gardener with a dry area to cope with. Most succulents thrive in dry sunny areas and tolerate a greater degree of neglect than any other plants. They do show their appreciation of a little tender loving care by growing stronger and with better texture, form and color, although over watering and over feeding should be avoided.

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Succulents have fleshy leaves that store water. Give Succulents the same care as you would cacti (the cacti are a distinct group of succulents!).

Most succulents have a rosette shape. With age, the stems may become woody, others grow as trailing or bushy plants.

  • Give succulents full sun (6 or more hours of direct sun)
  • Allow them to moderately dry out between waterings
  • A slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote is recommended every few months
  • If using a liquid fertilizer such as Miracle Gro, apply once every two to four weeks
  • In containers, use a light soil that drains well and doesn’t hold moisture for long periods such as Fafards Complete Container Mix
  • Be sure to pair succulents with other plants that can tolerate less moisture so that you avoid over-watering

Requirements for growing cacti successfully

  • Do not over-water
  • Free-draining soil
  • A cold and dry resting period (most houses are  too warm for cactus in the winter)
  • Best kept around 50-55 deg. F.
  • Fresh air
  • A period outdoors in the summer months

The Cactus family is divided into two groups – the Desert Cacti and the Forest Cacti. The original home and care requirements of these two groups are different.

Desert Cacti

  • Native habitat is the semi-desert regions of America.
  • Most cacti belong to this group.
  • Need very little water between mid autumn and early spring.
  • Require as much sunshine as possible. Suitable for south-facing windowsills.
  • Examples: Opuntia sp., Cereus sp., Euphorbia sp., Mammilaria sp., etc.

Forest Cacti

  • Native habitat is the forest regions of tropical America where they grow as epiphytes on trees.
  • Trailing growth habit and flattened leaf-like stems.
  • Need water and occasional feeding during winter months.
  • Require some shade during hottest months of the year. Suitable for north and east facing windowsills.
  • Examples: Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus, and Orchid Cactus.