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Plant care
What are cacti and where do they grow?  
 

The major part of all cactus species comes from the Americas. The plants have slowly adapted to extremely dry & hot living conditions by means of;

  • Thickening of the stems to columnar or barrel shaped plants, specifically designed to store water for dry periods.
  • Leaves have been reduced to thorns, in order to minimize evaporation and serving as a protection against animals that are looking for water.
  • Another technique to reduce loss of water through evaporation is a protective wax or hairy layer.
  • Strongly developed root system with many fine roots stretching far, enabling the plants to reach even the slightest bit of water in the often rocky soil.
 
Caring for our cacti in the living room:  
 

Cacti need 3 important conditions: light, temperature & water, varying according to the season;

  • Summer; May through August (growing season). The plants will start growing again. If the plants need to be put in bigger pots, always make sure to use a well-drained soil (adding sand or rocky material). The best soil is slightly acid, you can use the specially developed cactus soil. (Note: cacti love small pots, because small pots dry quickly even when watered abundantly.) In order to thrive, cacti need as much light as possible. The temperature is now higher than 15C° and the plants can be watered once every two weeks (make sure the soil is dry before watering again). During the growing season cactus fertiliser may be given once a month.
  • Autumn; September through October (transition from growing season to dormant season). Water less now, about once a month and do not use fertiliser any longer. Weather permitting, the windows can be opened.
  • Winter; November through February (cacti are dormant). Our plants are hibernating, which means that they should be kept on a light and cool spot (5 - 8C° for cacti and 10-12C° for euphorbias). The plants must be kept in a dry place, such as an entry hall or unused bedroom near the window. Do not water the plants and open the windows weather permitting. Our cacti are hibernating and survive thanks to the water that is stored in the cactus body. (Cacti may shrivel, this is a natural reaction and serves as a protection against the lower winter temperatures)
  • Spring; March through April (transition dormant season growing season). Our cacti slowly awake from their winter sleep and can be occasionally fogged in March. In April we can gradually start watering the plants (do not fertilise yet).

The cactus body starts to swell and the first flowering buds will appear ( we can move the plants to their summer stand ).

In short; Cacti prefer a sunny spot.
In summer we can water the plants if the soil is dry ( occasionally add fertiliser to the water ). Most cacti prefer to grow outside in a sunny spot.
During the transitional periods the plants should be prepared for the following season.
Spring; water in order to wake the plants and to help them start growing again.
Autumn; move the plants to their winter quarters and gradually stop watering.
In winter the plants should be kept completely dry ( dormant season )
 
Diseases:  
 
  • Rotting stems and roots are usually caused by a combination of low temperatures and excessive watering.
  • Burning marks on the cactus body are caused when the plants are suddenly moved from a dark to a bright and sunny spot ( this should be done bit by bit ).
  • Fragile and pale growth results from shortage of light. The plants should me moved to a sunny spot.
 
Insects:  
 
  • Plant lice (aphids) thrive on new growth and can be treated with a specially developed insecticide.
  • Woolly aphids frequently occur on cacti and thrive on new growth and between the stems and roots. They can be easily detected as white, woolly insects and should immediately be treated with a systemic insecticide ( the insecticide is added to the water ).
  • Root aphids settle between the roots and extract water from them. Treat in the same way as as woolly aphids.
  • Red spider is a very small insect that causes spots on the plants. Treat with a specially developed spider-killing insecticide.
  • Scale insects do not occur as frequently on cacti and are characterized by small scales on the cactus body. Treat them using a systemic insecticide that is added to the water.

Snails usually occur on cacti that are grown in open air. They attack the young and fresh parts and leave a slimy track on the plants

 

 
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