LIGHT Always remember that cactus needs as much sunlight as possible all year round. Most will grow quite adequately on a sunny window. But if you would like ideal conditions it is best to grow your plants under cover with full sun. A greenhouse is easily the best option, but it is also possible to grow plants outdoors using various forms of temporary cover. Growing cacti outdoors without cover (in our UK climate) is a daunting task, and if contemplated, it is best done during the growing season. If left outside during the winter very few cacti will survive. Most plants will be seriously damaged. If you have to, choose a spot very well protected from the elements, wind, rain and cold.
WATER/ FEEDING Regular watering and feeding should take place during the growing season (April – September). After watering they should be allowed to dry out completely before watering again. Cactus feed is available at most garden centre. You can choose from food in powdered form diluted in water (at least once a month), or once a year with a slow-release granular, cactus fertilizer.
WINTER During the winter all plants should be given a rest (December to February), and kept very dry and cool (7 - 10 degrees is ideal). If kept above 15 degrees in a regular room they should be watered sparingly to prevent them from shrivelling (every three or four weeks). Please note that wet and damp plants kept at a low temperature during the winter are liable to rot.
COMPOST When re-potting plants use a
gritty mixture, as this will allow water to drain through very easily.
Different cactus mixes are available commercially, but you can make your own by
combining two parts of soil with one part grit.
PEST AND DISEASES The best method is, of course, prevention. Take time to inspect each plant regularly. All desert plants are superbly equipped to adapt to a life in ‘captivity’ but sometimes they become the target of mealy bugs, aphids, scale or fungus disease from growing conditions. There are natural and chemical ways to remedy the situation. There are lots of pesticides and fungicides, which are commercially available. Follow instructions carefully when applying.
REPOTTING Plants need re-potting at least every two years, and in some cases every year. Always choose a pot one or two inches larger than the last. Be careful that the roots of the plants are not damaged in moving. Cover the plant carefully with fresh soil, and press firmly all around it until it reaches one inch from the top. Please leave for a few days before watering.
Please note these are only general information for the growing of cacti/succulents.