Succulent Plant Site | Cultivating Succulents
Cultivating Succulent Plants
The successful cultivation of succulents requires patience, knowledge and a little luck. To me, there is no guide that you are able to follow to cultivate succulents, you have to learn from your mistakes. The fact that succulents occur in wide variety of areas with different types of soil and different annual rainfall amounts around the world should give you an idea that not just one type of soil or just one type of watering regime will suffice for all succulent plants.
In this section, I am going to try to give you some tips on growing your plants but you will have to form your own watering guidelines, soil type preferences etc. The reason I write that you must form your own watering guidelines, soil types, etc is simple, we all grow our plants in different micro-climates. Some of us live in hot and humid areas, others in hot and dry areas and some live in areas where it gets really cold.
Succulents vary in their need for light. Some species occur in areas where the light is very strong others grow under bushes, in the shade of hills and in the shade of rocks. Lithops, for instance, requires full sun to very bright light while Haworthias thrive in shady spots.
Keep an eye on your plants, if they start going lanky and pale green in colour then they need more light. Be careful when this happens, do not move the plant into too much light as it may burn or be scorched. Rather introduce it gradually into stronger light. If your plants (especially newly bought or seedlings) show signs of discoloration, a reddish-purplish tinge or white blotches, then you need to move it to an area with less intense light.
Many factors influence how often you should water your plants; temperature, growth media, humidity, air circulation etc. The best guideline is one gained through experience. The water you use should have a PH of between seven and six. Water that has a high PH (above seven) neutralizes many pesticides and locks up trace elements, adding a bit of vinegar or citric acid to your water will lower its PH.
Brackish (water with a high sodium or sodium carbonate content) or hard water will, overtime, leave a residue of mineral salts that could be detrimental to your plants. To help prevent this flush you plants out with fresh water regularly. The use of a water softener is not recommended as sodium chloride (table salt) is used to recharge the water softeners and table salt will do damage to your plants.
Feeding plants: (a bit about fertilizers)
As with watering your plants, you have to develop a fertilizing guideline. Some plants require more fertilizers than others. the use of a well-balanced fertilizer (20:20:20) with chelated trace elements is recommended. You can fertilize your plants with a dilute fertilize solution at every watering but you must "rinse" your plants out occasionally with a clean watering, this prevents a mineral build-up which can be detrimental to your plants. Alternatively you can fertilize your plants a few times during their active growth season with a stronger fertlizer solution, whichever works best for you. Do not fertilize plants that are dormant or that are going into dormancy. Plants that are over-fed will grow well but they may become more susceptible to disease and pests.
One of the most highly discussed subjects between succulent enthusiasts. You will with experience, sigh, find the perfect mix for your plants. Asclepiads (Stapelia, Huernia, etc.) like a gritty, porous well-drained soil mix while plants like Gasteria and Haworthia like a soil-mix that is high in organics.
My Gasterias and Haworthias are grown in a medium that is rich in organics while my Asclepiads are grown in a mix that is very low in organics.