It is never too late to start admiring and collecting these little plants. Succulents arrive in an array of shapes and colours and derive their name from their fleshy leaves that store water.
These plants are perfect for beginners of any age and once you have a few, they will more than likely leave you wanting more.Succulents are considered to be some of the easiest plants to grow but they do have a few requirements. In nature, most succulents grow in full sun on rocky slopes, meaning that there is no water build up around the roots so they only rely on rain. Growing any plant means that we need to mimic their natural environment, which for succulents, means well-drained soil, not too much water and enough sunlight.
Watering your succulents will depend on the type of plant you have. If it has delicate leaves, you should place the pot in a bowl of water as bottom watering is suggested. This way, the soil will absorb the water from the bottom. This can also avoid fungal diseases on some succulents. Another option is top watering with a hosepipe or watering can, always be wary of how much water you give your succulents, as flooding them will not help. If the soil around the plant has been compacted, loosen it up so that the water can drain through freely. Always let the soil dry completely before the next watering.
Succulents do need a fertiliser from time to time. You could make liquid fertiliser part of your watering cycle or feed with a slow-release fertiliser pellet by working it into the top layer of the soil with a hand fork. Be careful not to damage your succulents when doing this.
Although succulents enjoy the snugness of a pot, they do need to be re-potted every couple of years. Happy succulents will produce many pups that can then be taken off and potted up too, growing your collection. Be sure to remove these pups carefully from the mother plant and ensure that they have good roots. If they are still too small, let them grow or a few more months before removing. Use a well-drained succulent mix when repotting and never reuse the old potting soil. When repotting cacti, always use tongs, gloves or a piece of newspaper to avoid injury from the thorns.
Displaying succulents can be great fun when mixing their colours and textures and choosing the pots they will be planted in. The best part is, some of these succulents, like the Haworthias and Gasterias, tolerate light shade and are proudly South African!
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