Saturday, April 23, 2016

Growing succulents at home

What would you be looking for while choosing plants for your garden? In case easy-to-maintain and good-looking top the list of requirements, then succulents totally fit the bill. Plants whose leaves and stems store water to become juicy and swollen are called Succulents. They do this to store excess water which they can use later in conditions of water scarcity. Plants from over 50 families come under this category, and include the ones native to dry terrains as well as some which thrive in rainforests. A few grow along the coast, where their succulent tissue adapts them to the high salinity in soil. Cacti are a subset of the succulents.

Succulents make for great house-plants. Some of the commonly available succulents are Agaves, Aloes, Echeveria, Sedum, Sempervivum, few Euphorbias and some type of Orchids. You can find them in many shades of green to purple to orange and more colours that you can think of! This wide variety in this family makes them favourites to experiment with in the home garden. Trendy planters made of concrete, ceramic or terracotta adds to their elegance.

As with any other plant, Succulents have their list of requirements, which when catered to, produce delightful results!

  • Succulents are from Central and South America. Hence they are not used to freezing conditions. They can tolerate day-time temperatures in the range of 20-35°C.
  • Some hardy varieties can tolerate night-time temperatures as low as 5°C. During harsh winters, the plant can be kept indoors, next to a window, or where it can get ample light. 

  • Succulents prefer bright light. Some species can tolerate harsh sunlight. Some get scorched in extended periods of direct sunlight. Such species prefer conditions of shade with sufficient light like window sills.
  • Low amount of light can cause a phenomenon called Etiolation. The leaves and stems become stretchy and seem to be reaching out to light, or the rosettes (wherever applicable) seem to be thinning and downward-curving. In such cases, a change in location is recommended such that the plant gets sunlight in increasing doses. The container can be rotated periodically for even exposure to the light.
  • Initially, one should carefully observe as to which conditions work best for a particular species. Green coloured succulents can grow in indoor spaces, while those in the orange and purple colour family are better suited for outdoor spaces.

  • Succulents grow well in well-drained soils. A good quality potting soil or a Cactus mix seems to work for these plants.
  • Repotting at least once a year will keep the plants healthy.

  • One should water succulents only when the soil feels dry to touch. They do not like excess water in the soil. The right method of watering is to pour water till it drains out. This should be repeated a couple of times. It should next be watered only when the soil becomes dry again.
  • Wetting the leaves or rosettes must be avoided while watering the plant. Settling of water on the leaves lead to their rotting and at times, irregular white rings caused due to mineral deposits from evaporated water droplets.
  • Underwatering can cause loss of leaf sheen, shrivelling of leaf tips; and wilting and shedding of leaves.

Pest control
  • Succulents are susceptible to mites, aphids and mealybugs. A diluted soap solution or an insecticide specific to the infestation should help.
  • In cases where most of the leaves are affected, they should be pruned and the plant should be replanted in fresh soil.

Succulents can be grown in many ways. Different species with similar requirements can be grown in one large container, to give a gorgeous Mixed Succulent Bowl. It’s alright if a small plant is grown in a large container, provided a well-drained soil has been used. Succulents can be used to decorate indoor and outdoor spaces to create stunningly beautiful landscapes. For the latest in container gardens, visit Mudfingers today! Keep gardening!

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