Carefully cultivate succulents - plant, water and fertilize

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Succulents are not a separate plant family. Succulents are considered to be all those plants that share a common characteristic: they can store water in the tissue. There is a simple reason for this, because succulents grow in areas with little or only periodic rainfall.
Over 50 different plant families have developed succulent species in the course of evolution. The best-known succulents in our rooms are the cacti, which have rebuilt their trunks to store water, while the leaves are stunted or turned into thorns. Among the succulents there are a number of quite bizarre-looking plants. If you do not want to do without the beauty of exotic flowers, succulents are the right choice. Often the most inconspicuous plants produce the most fascinating inflorescences.

  • no plant family, but different plants with similar characteristics
  • Succulent comes from suculentus and means juicy
  • come from areas with seasonally varying rainfall
  • almost all growth forms possible
  • some are also frost-tolerant
What are succulents?
Worldwide, the most diverse plants are native, which have formed organs for water storage due to the climatic conditions. Differences become according to storage organ:
  • Leaf succulents (for example the money tree)
  • Root succulents (such as Pelargonium rapaceum)
  • Stem succulents (like cacti)
Often the plants combine different storage organs. Cacti are also succulents, but they make up only a small percentage of the group. In linguistic usage one distinguishes between cacti and other succulents. In this group of plants include many whimsical plants, ranging from living stones to caudex plants and the well-known aloe vera.
Succulents are very grateful indoor plants, whose care is not really difficult even for a beginner. Most succulents love sunny locations. The exception are only a few species from the family Liliacae, especially Gasterien and Haworthien like shady places. Sunny window sills, a place under a skylight or conservatories are best suited. Gladly the plants can be put on the balcony or the terrace also in the summer.
  • Location: very bright
  • Succulents from Madagascar tolerate only partial shade
  • normal room temperature
  • are used to large temperature fluctuations
If a succulent plant gets long, thin shoots, this is mostly due to the lack of light. If the lighting conditions are too weak, even the flat rosettes (for example of echeveria) suddenly become sparsely white. In this case, the plants must urgently be brightened.
Succulents feel the better the closer the substrate is to the composition of the soil in their home country. In many cases, succulents grow on humus-poor or even humus-free soils, which are also very mineral-rich. Normal potting soil does not meet these specifications. Here is a special substrate is in demand, which has a reduced proportion of humus. Succulent soil, cactus soil, pikier soil or even normal soil can be used as a basis. It is also beneficial if the substrate contains a component that changes its color (brightness) when changing from wet to dry, such as expanded clay. A good succulent soil has the following characteristics:
  • good water permeability
  • high mineral content
  • Mixture of potting soil (60%), quartz sand (20%) and coarse perlite (20%)
  • Mixture of succulent or cactus soil (60%), lavalite or pumice (20%) and quartz sand (20%)
  • for very wet-sensitive succulents, increase the mineral content to 70%
Tip: Especially with the sand, care must be taken to ensure that it is free of lime (such as quartz sand), otherwise the soil pH value increases too much.
to water
In their homeland, succulents grow only in the wet season. During the dry season, they go into a rest period. It follows that the plants are also (moderately) watered in our growing season. You just get so much water that the root ball does not dry out completely. Succulents are poured regularly with so much water that it just runs from the bottom hole in the pot into the saucer. After about 10 minutes, the water is removed from the saucer. Re-casting is only necessary when the upper layer of soil has already completely dried out. Too moist succulents - especially during the resting phase - but lazy fast and die.
  • pour about weekly in the growth phase
  • do not pour in the rest period when the plant is cool
  • Water every four weeks when the plant is warm in the resting phase
  • always check the soil for moisture with finger before pouring
  • pouring through
  • immediately remove excess water from the saucer
Water sensitive succulents
Especially those succulents that have fine hairs on the leaves or shoots, get after wetting with water often unsightly stains. Although this does not harm the plant, it does not look pretty. Such plants are best placed with the planter in a dish that is about ten inches high filled with water. At the latest after ten minutes, when the surface of the substrate becomes moist, the pot must be taken out of the bath again. Drain well to prevent waterlogging.
The right irrigation water
Most succulents are sensitive to lime. Therefore, normal tap water is only partially suitable for watering. The best would be rainwater, but that is the least hobby gardeners available. An easy way to reduce the calcium content of drinking water is to heat it up. So who has a boiler for hot water production in the apartment, can fill the hot water in the watering can. Alternatively, the water can be boiled. If the water is very calcareous, the lime deposits on the vessel or bottom and can be filtered off with a coffee filter. The water should be stale for at least a few hours, better a day before pouring. With the heating not all lime is removed, but only a part. Nevertheless, the water is now much better suited for the succulents than the original water. Some gardeners also swear by a mixture of distilled water (90%) and normal (cold) tap water (10%).
growing season
Some succulents are native to the southern hemisphere and have their growing season during the extensive summer rains. These would grow with us then in winter. This can be difficult in many cases, because at this time the lighting conditions are very bad. However, most succulent plants that would have to grow in the winter - such as succulent euphorbia (wolfberry plants) - can usually be easily converted to a growth phase in our spring and summer. It is important for almost all succulents of the wet-dry rhythm. If this is adhered to, everything else is rather secondary to the plant.
Of course, succulent plants also need nutrients. Here is the rule: the faster the plant grows, the more it should be fertilized. Especially fast-growing species are grateful for the additional nutrient supply. Fertilization takes place every two to three weeks with cactus or succulent fertilizer. For slow growing succulents, it is sufficient to fertilize them about every four to five weeks. In the resting phase, the fertilizer is completely adjusted.
Planting and repotting
Repotting succulents is not difficult unless they have spikes. Cacti require thick gloves or special pliers to grip. Fast-growing succulents should be transplanted into a slightly larger vessel about once a year. Such plants, which grow very slowly, only need a larger pot every two to five years.
  • Time: spring
  • Carefully pull out of the pot
  • While doing so, hold the plant just above the ground, if possible at the base
  • Shake as much soil as possible out of the roots
  • Check roots for decay, if necessary, cut out foul
  • Lay out the bottom of the pot with drainage layer (clay, gravel)
  • fill with fresh substrate
Tip: Who pours his succulents with normal tap water, they should repot once a year. The plant then only needs fresh soil, no larger pot.
The care at a glance
Most succulents fall into the following care scheme:
Spring (March to May):
  • Location: sunny and warm
  • repot
  • start fertilizing in April
Summer (June to August):
  • Location: warm, lots of light and fresh air
  • sunny window seat, terrace or balcony (rain-protected)
  • Water a lot in the heat
  • fertilize
Autumn (September and October)
  • Location: bright and warm
  • from the end of September, bring the plants indoors
  • no longer fertilize
  • Reduce watering, stop from mid-October
Winter (November to February):
  • Location: bright, dry and rather cool (8-15 degrees)
  • do not pour
Hardly any other plant takes a neglect so calmly as the different succulents. Set up in a very bright place by the window, actually only too generous watering can cause real damage to the plants, because in this case they will rot fast. Especially important is the wet-dry rhythm, which the succulents need in the course of the year in order to thrive well.

Video Board: Common Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Succulents.

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