Cuckoo for cacti

Better Homes and Gardens (Australia) - - Contents -

Cacti and suc­cu­lents are both fleshy desert plants but cacti have are­oles (cush­ion-like buds) from which their shoots, spines and flow­ers grow.

Both are at home in an en­vi­ron­ment of low rain­fall, low hu­mid­ity and no frost. You can grow them in­doors but make sure they are not sub­ject to hu­mid con­di­tions.

PO­SI­TION

Give cacti a po­si­tion in full sun with pro­tec­tion from strong winds. Al­ways check the la­bel be­fore plant­ing, as cer­tain species will have slightly dif­fer­ent light re­quire­ments and there are many suc­cu­lent va­ri­eties that tol­er­ate shadier po­si­tions. The best spot in­doors for cacti is a north-fac­ing win­dowsill.

SOIL

Cacti and suc­cu­lents must be grown in free-drain­ing soil. An easy way to im­prove drainage in the gar­den is to build a raised bed and fill with sandy soil or a cac­tus mix. In pots, use a spe­cial blend for­mu­lated for these plants.

WA­TER

Dur­ing the cold months, cacti are dor­mant, so can sur­vive on lit­tle or no wa­ter. But dur­ing their grow­ing sea­son, over the warmer months, they ben­e­fit from pe­ri­odic soak­ings.

Wa­ter in the early morn­ing or late af­ter­noon, ev­ery 1-2 weeks, let­ting the soil dry out in be­tween. For pots, re­move the saucer and al­low wa­ter to drain through for 20-30 sec­onds. In­door cacti also need reg­u­lar wa­ter dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son.

FER­TILISER

Wait un­til young cacti are es­tab­lished, about 3-4 years, be­fore feed­ing. Use a low-ni­tro­gen fer­tiliser in spring. For in­door plants, use a slow-re­lease fer­tiliser at half strength or liq­uid food di­luted to quar­ter strength.

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