Suc­cess with suc­cu­lents

Gardeners' World - - Contents - Emma Craw­forth

Did you give your suc­cu­lents a sum­mer va­ca­tion in the gar­den? If so, now the hol­i­day must end. Aloes, cras­su­las, cacti and ha­wor­thias have adapted to live through drought and while some can sur­vive cold, none will thrive in pro­longed wet weather. Adap­ta­tions to con­serve wa­ter in their na­tive habi­tats lead to rot­ting and death when they’re ex­posed to Bri­tish win­ter rain. For ex­am­ple, suc­cu­lents have few pores through which to lose wa­ter, and they open at night, when cool air means less evap­o­ra­tion. Some have a hairy sur­face to catch desert dew, and the mois­ture cap­tured makes a good home for fun­gal spores. Leath­ery and waxy sur­faces re­tain wa­ter by re­duc­ing evap­o­ra­tion. Even spines and thorns have evolved to at­tract mois­ture, which drips down to the plants’ roots. And un­like most other plants, suc­cu­lents don’t have leaves, which lose mois­ture rapidly. So, bring your suc­cu­lents un­der cover now and re­duce the wa­ter­ing over win­ter, too.

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