Below we will discuss some important aspects of owning Cacti and Succulents.
This includes: potting, watering, fertilizing, dormancy, and typical growth patterns
The more you know about your plant, the more successful you will be as it grows! For answers to more specific questions pertaining to your plants, feel free to bring in photos and speak directly with a Garden Seventeen representative!
Succulents and Cacti do not thrive in your typical potting soil medium. The soil you use in your landscaping or even your indoor plants is too dense and will retain too much moisture for these types of plants. Without the correct potting medium, Cacti and Succulents are in constant battle with root rot and fungal issues. We suggest a mixture specifically mixed for these types of plants. These mixtures are usually more chunky and sandy which allow the roots to dry out more rapidly.
Cacti and Succulents prefer to be slightly root bound, so keep your pot size similar or slightly larger to what the plant is currently in. We also recommend a more shallow pot. The deeper the pot, the more soil that needs to dry before watering.
Watering your succulents may seem intimidating, but it can actually be very straight forward!
Simply follow this simple rule: Only water when the soil is completely dry and the leaves of the plant appear to be slightly wrinkly & squishy.
The term “overwatering” refers to the frequency at which you are watering, not the quantity of water used.
Once the plant’s soil is completely dry, soak the rootball well. It’s much easier to bring a succulent back from dehydration than it is to save one that has root rot from being overwatered. Additionally, avoid watering the leaves or the top of the plant. This can lead to both fungal rot and sunburn. To avoid this, soak the rootball from the bottom up while also watering around the base of the plant. The easiest way to bottom water is to place the plant inside a bowl of water, making sure the water line stays below the top of the pot. The plant will suck in water through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Doing this while top watering allows for the soil to soak up water to all parts of the soil and roots.
When Succulents and Cacti are grown in ground, it’s not necessary to fertilize them much. However, when you’re growing them in containers, the plant can quickly and easily deplete the soil of its nutrients. Containerized cacti can benefit from feeding from time to time. Microlife Liquid Cacti & Succulent Fertilizer is a great option and can be applied every 2-4 weeks throughout the growing season, as long as your plant is not dormant. Over-fertilizing can sometimes cause a plant to become leggy and unattractive when dormant. It’s recommended to start feeding every 4 weeks to see how your succulent responds before feedings are made more frequent.
Like many other types of plants, succulents also experience periods of dormancy. Dormancy is a period of time where growth and physical activity of the succulent slow down, similar to how animals go into hibernation when colder temperatures arrive. The plant’s metabolism slows in order to conserve energy, and consequently it requires less water and little to no nutrients to survive.
Not all succulents go dormant at the same time of the year. They are broken down into two main categories: winter growers and summer growers.
Winter growers (those that actively grow when temperatures are cooler but go dormant in warmer temperatures) are normally growing between October and April in Central Texas.
Summer growers in Central Texas are actively growing between April and June. It’s important to note that even during the summer-growing months, most succulents will go dormant once daytime temps are consistently above 95, especially when nighttime temps also remain warm.
During these periods of dormancy, your succulent may still look perfectly healthy, but you won’t notice much growth. This is normal! You should refrain from fertilizing and reduce your watering. Your succulent should begin growing again once temps drop back to a comfortable level.
Summer vs. Winter Growers
Some examples of summer growers in Central Texas are: Adeniums, Echeverias, Sempervivums, Agaves, Euphorbias, and Lithops to name a few.
Some examples of winter growers in Central Texas are: Aeoniums, Crassulas, Anacampseros, Cotyledons, Gasterias, Graptoverias, Graptopetalums, Haworthias, Kalanchoes, Sedums, and Senecios.
Continue to keep in mind that regardless of either category, most of these will go dormant in the middle to late part of the summer in Texas when temps are above 90 or 95 degrees.
Additionally, it’s important to keep a closer eye on your cacti and succulents in the hottest parts of the summer. Most varieties originate from places such as South Africa and don’t encounter the same kind of intense sun that we do in Central Texas. This kind of sun exposure can sometimes scorch or sunburn your plants. If you notice this happening, focus on moving your plant somewhere that gets morning sun rather than afternoon sun. In order to better protect your plants from the intense sun and heat, consider adding a dose of liquid seaweed to your fertilizing schedule. This will help your succulent or cacti acclimate better to stress and the heat, and will strengthen the root system.