Many of my friends and family consider me "odd". I just heard many of them say "Amen". That is okay, I wear that badge with honor. However,I am like many of my fellow gardeners and plant freaks. We all go through phases of different favorite plants. For me I will always hold Citrus as my most favorite, however, there comes times when other plant families grab our attention. Don't deny it, you know it is true.
Along with my Citrus, I am heavy into Camellias. This helps soothe my competitive side. I enjoy showing and competing in different flower shows.
I also have a very extensive collection of different exotic fruits, many of which I am sure you have never heard of, Pacay, Jabotica and Mamey, just to name a few. These all live next to some of my more normal fruits, Strawberries, Blueberries, Figs, etc.
The past year or so, I have kind of gone back to my roots. Pun intended.
I really cut my horticultural teeth on Cactus' or Cacti if you prefer and Succulents. Though this time, I have aimed at the Mini Succulents.
To begin with succulents and cacti are very easy to grow. Mini succulents are even better! They hardly take up any room and if you are lucky, many will flower for you!
To start, you need to buy from a reputable nursery. there are many online. Just type in mini succulents and a slew of them will pop up. The hardest part is going to be choosing just one plant.
A succulent is any plant with thick, fleshy water storage parts. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. These plants have adapted to survive in very hot, dry conditions throughout the world, from Africa to the deserts of North America.
After you have chosen one or two of them or maybe fifty of them!! I am telling you, it will be tough just to pick a few! You will need to start them off right.
Find yourself a nice pot, make sure it has drainage holes. You can use clay or plastic, it is completely a personal choice, the plants don't care. Many cacti and succulents have shallow fibrous roots and do not require or use the full depth of a standard pot, half pots or pans can be a great choice. Putting a shallow rooted plant in a deep pot can be counter-productive as the soil below the reach of the roots will stay wet for prolonged periods of time after watering and may become stagnant.
Buy a commercially packaged soil mix that is made especially for cacti/succulents or, make your own using equal parts of both coarse sand and potting mix. The biggest thing to remember is, LOTS of drainage. Succulents will develop root rot very easy and they do not like constantly wet feet.
Most succulents need as much light as you can give them. The more they get, the happier they are. Let me give you a word of caution here. You may want to bring them in during the Winter, especially if you live somewhere that gets very cold. More on their cold tolerance in a minute. Even if you put them in the sunniest window you have in your house, they will not be getting as much sun as they do being outside. When you bring them back out the following Spring, be careful not to sunburn them.
To avoid this, bring your plants out gradually. Place them under some taller plants or trees and move them out farther and farther into the full sun every couple of days.
I mentioned earlier that they are easy to grow, unless you have a heavy watering hand. I have literally gone weeks, almost months not watering some of my succulents. I don't suggest this, but it is nice to know that they will survive such harsh treatment. There is no hard and fast rule as to when they should be watered. There are many variables to consider, like, type of pot used. Clay will dry out faster than plastic. The type of soil medium used. If you use more sand, it will naturally dry out faster. Weather plays a big role. Lots of sun and heat will dry the soil out faster than if you have had a week of clouds and cooler temperatures. The bottom line is, the potting mixture should dry out between waterings.
Succulents are much more cold tolerant than many people think. In the desert, where there is sometimes a large fluctuation between day and night time temperatures, succulents can live through cold nights. I am sure you have seen pictures of snow covered cacti. NO!!?? Okay, here was some of mine a couple of years ago.
I only lost one and it was not healthy before the storm anyway. In my greenhouse, it has dropped to 30 degrees with no ill effect on any of my other cactus or succulents.
They do like to be fed. If you feed your succulents every 4-6 weeks with your favorite liquid fertilizer, that will be plenty.
Other than the dreaded root rot from too much watering, succulents are pretty much problem free. The only real pests that they encounter will be the occasional Mealy Bug or Aphid. The best thing I have found to use on these is a strong spray of water. Oils and soaps can actually damage the plant more than the insect. You can also pick them off if the infestation is not too severe. If you must use a chemical, please follow the directions...It Is The Law! I would also suggest trying a small spot on an inconspicuous location on the plant and wait and see if it hurts it.
No matter what kind of succulent or cacti you're growing, the rules are pretty similar between the different species. They are all easy to grow and will give you years of happiness. I will admit, I had one other reason for writing about these cute little plants other than informing you how to grow them. It is called a little bit of bragging.
I mentioned my competitive side earlier. If you are as bad as I am, you might want to look into your local or state fair. There might just be a category for your little guys.....Like a small container grown plants category. At our local fair, this category was for small growing or classified as dwarf or miniature plants. I went one step farther and entered into the Collectors Showcase Award.
This was the one I won this year!