Monday, April 23, 2007

Watering for Cacti and Succulent

The last article relates to watering plant. It can give you an idea when and how often to give water to your plant and shrub, recently repotted one, grass and etc.

Today, it's time to learn watering to the lovely cactus and succulent. They needs the different ways to water them and that is one of the most important secret of these plant to grow up.

Normally, I water my cactus 3-4 days/time. It depends on the season and temperature. In summer, I may give them water more often than in winter because it is warm and the plants usually grow up in summer also they need more water.

Cacti, agaves, aloes, sedums and other succulents have special abilities when it comes to storing and utilizing water. To one degree or another, they all have thick, fleshy, water-storing leaves and, or stems. Surfaces exposed to the drying effects of sun and wind are small in proportion to their total mass. This is especially evident in plants like saguaro and barrel cacti. Thick waxy cuticle layers on outer surfaces help seal in moisture. And a smaller than normal number of pore openings in leaves and stems further restrict moisture loss.

When cactus are not getting enough water, their outer skin begins to wrinkle. This is caused by the shrinkage of water-storing tissues in the plant. In the case of segmented cacti, like prickly pear and cholla, the outer pads or segments may also begin falling off. Lack of sufficient moisture in leafy succulents will result in wilting. As water levels in plants such as agave and aloe drop, so does the internal water pressure holding the leaves straight. As a result, leaves begin to bend downward.

Cacti and succulents showing signs of moisture stress can be revived by providing them with a good soaking of water. Keep in mind that the roots of these plants are shallow and widespread, extending out a distance several times their height. Therefore, watering a large area out from the plant, but only a foot or so deep is best. A soaker hose works well for this purpose.
Watering cacti and succulents when they show signs of stress is the way to ensure their survival. However, if you want your cacti and other succulents to thrive, some regular watering will be necessary.

The easiest way to gauge whether or not it's time to water is to stick your finger in the top 1/2 inch of soil. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water. If it's not, wait! Don't let your Cactus go too long without water. If the stem segments are shriveled and the soil is dry, it is probably in need of water. Be careful! If the plant is over watered, the stems will also look shriveled, but the soil will be damp. If this is the case, do not give it more water. An over-watered plant will start to turn yellowish, then get more and more mushy and dark reddish-brown like a rotten apple. This is because the cells took in so much water they broke and are now dead and rotting. This usually happens from the ends first. This will continue even after you stop watering too much, but often you will have enough plant left to start over.

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