Abbey Brook Cactus Nursery
Rules for Success
Cacti and Succulents make
splendid subjects to grow in a house, office or greenhouse, as long
as certain conditions are maintained.
1. GROWING MEDIUM
: - With only a few exceptions, all cacti
and succulents should be planted in a rich but well-drained compost,
eg. a mixture of 3 parts peat/peat-substitute compost to 1 part of coarse
horticultural grit. A top dressing of sand or grit should be applied
to the surface to prevent rotting around the base of the plant.
2. LIGHT CONDITIONS
: - Most species must be grown in as light a position as possible. A
greenhouse/conservatory is the best place, but a sunny south or west
facing windowsill will be quite adequate. Some cacti, such as Cereus
peruvianus and succulents such as Aloe and Haworthia species can grow
happily at lower light levels. Cereus peruvianus plants should be placed
within 1m of TV/computer screens.
: - Growing in greenhouse/conservatory conditions, the plants are often
subject to very high temperatures during sunny weather. Adequate ventilation
must be provided otherwise the plants may become scorched. During the
winter a minimum of 6-10 C (42-50 F) frost free conditions should
be maintained. Cool, dry conditions in winter are necessary for flowering
- if your house is centrally heated, give your cacti a winter break
in an unheated spare bedroom, and they will reward you by flowering
: - Cacti should be watered thoroughly once a week from the beginning
of April to the end of September. During the remaining
winter months NO water should be given if frost free conditions are
maintained. Plants kept in a centrally heated room continue to grow
in winter and should be watered sparingly about once a month or so.
Most other succulents
: water once a week in summer, once a month in winter
Aeoniums : These are
winter-growing succulents, and should be watered about once a week all
Lithops (Living Stones)
; From October to April absolutely NO water should be given. They also
need to be kept in the sunniest position possible; otherwise the culture
is the same as for cacti.
Christmas and Easter Cacti
: These are winter-growing jungle cacti. Water weekly from autumn through
to early summer. Christmas Cacti can be placed in a sunny position in
the garden for the summer, but Easter Cacti require more shade.
Cactus Bowl Arrangement
: - During the growing season apply a low nitrogen, high potash feed
once every two weeks, such as CHEMPAC CACTUS FERTILIZE.
6. PESTS AND DISEASES
: The main pests are Mealy Bugs - these are small insects looking
like miniature white woodlice which suck the sap and weaken and disfigure
the plants. The first signs of attack are usually bits of "cotton
wool" which cover the eggs. They will attack cacti and succulents
and also other plants such as Saintpaulias which are nearby. They can
be treated either by spraying with an insecticide which kills aphids,
or with a biological control predator.
Red spider mite
is often a pest in hot, poorly ventilated greenhouses. Infested plants
have a brown crusty appearance, and sometimes cobwebs are seen, although
the mites themselves are microscopic. Use either a proprietary insecticide
or a biological control predator.
There are no major disease
problems with cacti or succulents - Botrytis may appear if succulents
are given too much water in the winter. Avoid this by watering on sunny
days only and try to keep drops of water off the leaves.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CACTUS
Healthy plants are usually
deep green in colour, under their spines, and are firm to the touch.
Dead cacti are completely
brown and shrunken in appearance (rather like a dead hedgehog!). They
are often soft, hollow or slimy and have no roots.