Cactus flowers
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

Best Tips For Caring For Cacti And Succulent Houseplants

Follow our hints and tips for success with cacti and succulents

Planting

  • Cacti and succulents need very well draining compost otherwise they rot.
  • Plant indoor cacti in a 50/50 mixture of loam based John Innes No 2 and horticultural grit.
  • Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
  • Cacti and succulents are one of the few plants which can tolerate a baking hot south facing windowsill.
  • Watch the video and read the blog showing how to re-pot cacti.  

Schlumbergera (Christmas Cactus)

Schlumbergera (Christmas Cactus)

Aftercare

  • Make sure they are almost completely dry before watering.
  • Don’t over-water otherwise they will rot; especially if temperatures are not sufficiently high to evaporate any excess water.
  • Feed monthly from spring to autumn with a specialised cacti fertiliser.

Cacti

Problems

  • White fly can be a problem in a household environment so spray with an insecticide at the first signs.
  • Red spider mite is also a problem and very difficult to spot. Take a fine mister and lightly spray the plant and the webs should show up clearly. Spray with an insecticide. If the infestation is heavy you may have to destroy the plant.
  • Rotting is the result of overwatering and is not treatable, so you will have to throw the plant away.

Aloe vera

Varieties

  • Schlumbergera (Christmas Cactus) and Rhipsalidopsis (Easter Cactus) are classed as succulents but do need slightly different conditions to the cacti. They need more water and will tolerate being constantly damp.
  • Try growing Aloe vera on the kitchen windowsill and just cut the tip off a leaf to soothe burns.
  • The succulents make excellent starter plants to get children interested in gardening.
  • Group a few together in a shallow terracotta bowl to make your own desert scene; decorate the surface of the compost with gravel and  rocks.

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