Cacti and Succulents: Prickly Plants and their Not-So-Prickly Friends
Cacti and Succulents have been very trendy for years now, and no wonder! They ask for so little and yet offer us so much through their amazing array of shapes, sizes, colours, and even style of spines (those prickly things that make a cactus, well, a cactus). There are thousands of species and varieties in existence, and while we here at Belgian would love to have one of each to call our very own, even our 5,400 sq. ft. Cactus & Succulent House isn’t big enough to hold all of them! Even so, we are able to showcase many, many varieties in our selection of individual pots and dish gardens, as well as in our display gardens.
Walking through our Cactus & Succulent House is a very unique experience; we’ve tried to recreate the beautiful and majestic environment that many of these varieties call home. As such, our glass walls and roof ensure that every ray of sunlight is utilized and appreciated, so much so that we need to cut the gardens back every year before they break through the roof! Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your viewpoint) we know these conditions are not always possible in the average home or office. If you can give your cacti and succulents at least 4 hours of bright, direct sunlight, and only give them a deep thorough drink after they’ve dried out very, very well, you too will be rewarded with your own desert oasis.
As you enter our Cactus & Succulent House, the first thing you’ll notice is the HUGE established gardens throughout the space. They’ve had nearly 30 years to grow and expand upwards, outwards, and especially downwards as their roots are now firmly embedded in the earth. Most of the varieties are surpassing 40 years old, with the exception of “Killer”. Have you met Killer? She’s the huge tree-like cactus (Euphorbia Wakefieldii) way in the back, and she’s probably in the 100 years or more age bracket. And yes, her babies are just as prickly as she is!
You might get a little overwhelmed by the sheer assortment of cacti and succulents; don’t worry, everyone does! We always recommend wandering through the varieties and seeing which one speaks to you. Maybe it’s the tall single Chocolate Drop that would perfectly fit in that sunny corner of your house, or that really cool Zig Zag Cactus in the hanging basket, or that dish garden because you can’t decide on just one variety! Still overwhelmed? Maybe you’re brand new to this world of desert beauties, in which case we like to recommend Haworthia – they actually thrive on neglect!
Whatever your style, there’s sure to be something that catches your eye in our Cactus & Succulent House. It’s a warm desert escape all year long, so come and explore our selection, or even just relax and enjoy it’s beauty!
Houseplants in Autumn
As we travel into the cooler days of fall, we all notice that the days are getting shorter and the sun is setting earlier. Our indoor houseplants are also feeling the need to adjust to these changes. As days shorten, they will slow their growth and water requirements, and it’s up to us to adjust the frequency of our watering schedules. We can also give some varieties a trim to further help with their adjustment.
Shorter days mean that the sun is now less intense, meaning that it’s giving off less energy than during the hot summer. This change in energy levels directly affects our indoor houseplants, which will begin to slow their growth in response to this change. Make sure that you are checking the moisture content of the soil and watering deeply and only when the plant needs it. Some plants may use significantly less water in the fall and winter months, so it’s important to change your watering habits to match your plants’ current needs and not what they needed back in that summer heat wave.
Autumn is also a great time to consider trimming plants back. Some plants like Ficus, Schefflera, and Ivies that grow multiple leafy stems may have grown a lot over the long, high light days in summer. Trimming them back and pruning to shape will help the plants adjust to lower light levels. If left untrimmed, a lot of these plants will drop off their older interior foliage in order to make their own adjustments; trimming your plants helps you control the plants’ shape and fullness. Some plants don’t need to be cut back at all, such as Snake plants, ferns, dracaenas, and palms.
Tropical plants that have been outdoors for the summer months benefit from being moved indoors in early September, before the temperature starts to go below 10 degrees Celsius. Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Mandevillea, Passion Flower and Jasmine, are just a few of the flowering high light plants that are often placed outdoors for the summer and indoors for the rest of the year. These plants have been out in the heat, humidity, and intense sun for months and will greatly benefit from being pruned when they come indoors. Over the winter months you can do some light pruning to keep them bushy and full. These sun loving plants will also show a big difference in their water consumption – they can go from needing daily watering in high summer to going every 5, 7 or even sometimes every 10 days between waterings. It’s very important to check the soil moisture and only water according to the plant’s requirements, not according to a calendar schedule. Misting the leaves on these humidity loving plants during this transition period is also beneficial to their adjustment to indoor life.
A common problem in the later fall early winter is rotting roots due to overwatering (watering too frequently or allowing plant to sit in water). This can be avoided by having pots with drainage, emptying saucers after watering, and making sure the plant is drying out between deep waterings.
Repotting can be done at this time of year if necessary, but only a small increase in pot size is recommended. As the days shorten so does the plant’s growth rate; it will take your plant much longer to grow roots in the later fall and winter than it does in the spring and summer. Many people prefer to repot more in the spring or early summer, using the longer days to give their newly potted plants plenty of time to grow their roots and absorb that gorgeous sunlight.