Fat plants

Cactus succulents

Succulent plants: characteristics and generalities

Succulent or succulent plants are plants made up of tissues containing liquids stored inside leaves, stems and roots. Liquids are essential for the survival of the plant, especially in the case of long periods of drought. The name with which they are designated therefore refers to the swelling containing juice, completely devoid of fat.
It is usual to distinguish between cacti and non-cacti succulents. The latter have almost all foliar succulence, they grow in areas with not prolonged dryness which survive resorting to the fall of the leaves as the last defense mechanism from the external environment.
Most cacti have succulent stems instead, with thorns to reduce transpiration as much as possible. Chlorophyll gives the classic green color of these plants, with a column barrel.
Some cacti are instead defined as caduciform and are characterized by a swelling at the base called caudex, almost never green in color due to the lack of photosynthesis.
Other species are typical of desert regions, with fibrous roots that expand below the surface to use night dew. In the face of poor environmental conditions, the outside of the plant dies, while the roots continue to live in expectation of favorable weather conditions.
The cacti belong to the cactaceae family, comprising over a hundred genera and at least two thousand different species as regards stem, leaves and size. These are plants capable of camouflaging in the surrounding environment, growing in unimaginable places and covering themselves with thorns or poisonous tissues. The flowers that grow on the stem ensure the survival of the plant, attracting pollinating birds or insects. The seeds are dispersed by the wind and some of them do not sprout in the absence of the most suitable conditions for growth and survival.
Cactuses and succulents in general do not belong to our climatic zone, therefore we will have to take care of them with particular attention. In general, to cultivate succulent plants it is necessary to have a good sense of observation, learning to identify small changes that are potentially dangerous for the health of the plant.

Cultivation and cultivation practices

Succulent plants live in quite different substrates, consequently there is no ideal or specific soil that can guarantee optimal growth. The ideal would be to experiment on your own, taking into consideration the environmental conditions in which we will grow plants.
However, there are factors that should not be underestimated in the choice of soil. First of all, it is better to opt for a porous structure without too much organic substance, a substrate that allows water and air to pass through without drying too fast so that the ions it contains are not washed away too easily by water.
Since this type of soil is not readily available at our latitudes, we can choose to mix field soil, sand, leaf soil and possibly substitutes, possibly adding trivalent fertilizer, fungicides and pesticides in powder form.
Succulent plants generally also like a neutral or slightly acid pH, easily controllable by means of a piccametro, which can also be purchased in pharmacies. To reduce an excessively high pH we can add plaster or peat to the soil, while to increase it will be sufficient to mix marble powder, lime or oyster shells in the form of flour.
However, cacti and succulents show extraordinary adaptive abilities and a possible error will not affect their growth.
Succulent plants purchased in shopping centers or on stalls are often subject to harmful interventions, such as the presence of fake flowers or caps stuck in the plant itself. Marketing needs even enclose plants inside glass ampoules that do not allow them to breathe, crammed against each other, agonizing to death. The best thing to do in these cases is to not proceed with the purchase, in the hope that sooner or later these practices will cease.
But how to behave once the purchase is made? remember that succulents are living beings, they do not act as ornaments and above all do not absorb the radiation of electronic devices. Many people buy succulent plants and cacti to place them alongside their computers, driven by urban legends according to which these plants would be able to absorb their radiation.
And what about water? it is better not to trust the rumors that circulate because in most cases they prove to be false. Like all plants, even cacti and succulent plants generally need to be watered and to see sunlight, otherwise they will grow stunted and with an increasingly tapering shape.
In winter we will therefore have to place the plant indoors, especially if the average temperatures are below 10 ° C. Let's make sure that it is exposed to light and that it maintains its turgidity, in fact in winter these plants are in a state of rest and it is not necessary to water them frequently, it will suffice to moisten the soil.
Once the warm weather arrives we can move it outdoors and water it regularly, usually whenever the soil is too dry. During the first few days it is necessary to pay attention to burns, avoiding that the sunlight gets to hit our plant directly. Possible burns appear as lighter patches on the surface of the plant which, in younger subjects, will tend to detach autonomously. If the plants live in a greenhouse, it will be advisable to open it during the hottest days, to prevent them from burning due to aeration defects.
The most inexperienced growers will have to be careful that the plant does not rot, avoiding excessively wetting the soil. In the absence or shortage of oxygen, in fact it is not uncommon for fungi to develop at high speed to develop. So let's remember to water our plants at least twice a month and abundantly, taking into account the season and any exposure to the sun. Instead, the water intake will be reduced during the winter season, a period during which the metabolism of succulents decreases.

Cactus succulents: Pests and cures

Cochineal is undoubtedly the parasite that is most frequently found in the cultivation of succulent plants. It is an easily recognizable infestation as it manifests itself as small cotton balls attached to the aerial part of the plant. In the case where only a few areas are affected by cottony cochineal we can crush them with the help of a toothpick, otherwise it will be more effective to use an insecticide. In general we always remember to check the apexes of the plant and eliminate parasites as soon as they are visible.
Cochineal can also attack the roots of succulents. In this case it is not possible to detect the presence of the parasite, but we will notice a halt in growth while the plant will be weakened. To eliminate the parasite we will therefore have to flare the plant in order to clean the roots and apply an effective insecticide.
Mites or red spider mites are equally widespread and the attack can be effectively prevented by spraying water on the surface of the plants. As is known, the mites reproduce thanks to a dry surface, while the dirt that accumulates on the surface of the plants constitutes a favorable ground for the proliferation of these parasites. Spray and clean the surface of succulents carefully is the ideal method to keep away mold, fungus and parasites,

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