The cultivation of succulents

The characteristics common to the numerous succulents

Of succulent plants, or more precisely succulents, there are thousands of species, belonging to different botanical families, very different from each other in shape, size and characteristics. However, they have in common for the ability to survive even long periods of drought, thanks to the particular tissues from which they are composed, the aquifer parenchyma, which absorb the little water available, store it and release it when necessary. These tissues also determine the original appearance of the leaves, stem and roots of these plants, which are thicker and more fleshy than other plant species. The peculiarities of these plants are the result of the evolution undergone to adapt to living in arid and sunny territories, characterized by a short period of rain, more or less intense, followed by a long drought.

The most known and loved species of succulents

The origin of the different species of succulents is quite mysterious and new ones are always being discovered. One of the most numerous families is that of the Crassulaceae, native to the northern hemisphere and southern Africa, very beautiful and easy to cultivate, including the Kalanchoe, which produce a beautiful flowering; the Echeveria with a rosette shape, suitable for borders and flower beds; Sempervivum and Sedum, suitable for beginners as they grow easily, even on stony soils. Very decorative are the Lampranthus, with a bushy habit and spectacular and colorful flowering, perfect in a rustic garden. Among the most resistant there are certainly the Cactaceae, commonly called cactus, divided into about 3000 species, characterized by a very deep root system and a single stem, of very different shapes and sizes, from the centimeter of the Blossfeldia liliputana to the 19 meters reached by a specimen of Pachycereus pringlei; they have solitary flowers with bright colors, but with a very short life. Also very popular are Agave, from the Agavaceae family, and Aloe, among the Aloaceae.

The cultivation of succulents: the right environment

The most important aspect in the cultivation of succulents is the choice of the right place to place them, which must be as similar as possible to the original one, which although different for each species, is generally dry and sunny. The plants, therefore, should be placed in a very bright position, with temperatures that should not fall below 5 ° C, even if there are species that are quite tolerant of the cold. Where winters are particularly harsh and rainy, it would be better to shelter them at home or in small greenhouses or at least with a canopy. The most important thing is in fact that the soil always remains well drained, avoiding the dangerous stagnation of water, which succulents fear more than the cold, being in fact very sensitive to rot. Watering must therefore be moderate, on average 2 per month, maximum 5-6 in summer. Succulents are generally characterized by slow growth, so they do not suffer from being kept in pots. Given the great variety that distinguishes them, there are species of succulent plants that are more resistant to cold, others more suitable for creating gardens and flower beds, others that grow well even in the midst of stones.

The cultivation of succulents: maintenance interventions

The cultivation of succulents does not require excessive attention but is of great effect. Although robust and resistant, succulents can be attacked by parasites and fungi, especially if the right environmental conditions are not guaranteed, particularly if they live in the presence of excessive humidity. Once the problem has arisen, it is necessary to intervene with specific products; you can also choose to carry out preventive interventions, with systemic insecticides and fungicides in early spring or winter. These plants do not require repotting, but it is still good to do it every 2 years or when the roots begin to come out of the drains of the pot, in fact it means that the plant needs more space. They do not even need to be pruned, except in exceptional cases, to eliminate diseased parts or take cuttings, the most practical and fastest method of reproduction, particularly effective for succulents. Although often originating from arid soils, it is still advisable to fertilize at the beginning of spring to favor vegetative growth, with a specific product for succulents.

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