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Cacti and Succulents on Display

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Cacti and Succulents on Display

The camellias in the Linnaean House are just starting to bloom and will be in full-flower in February (continuing into early April) but now is a great time to explore the wonderful world of cacti and succulents on display there as well. Of course there are cacti on display but a great many succulents are not true cacti but members of several other plant families. These plants have many features that make them look like cacti, namely, swollen stems and spines or thorns but their origins, ancestors and close relatives are quite different from cacti.

You will find many succulent plants in the euphorbia family (related to the holiday poinsettia). Many of these have a milky sap, which can help distinguish them from true cacti. Others belong to plant families that are common such as the crassula (jade plant) and agave families, but others belong to families that gardeners may not be as familiar. When viewing the succulents take note of the family a plant is in. Many may surprise you.

Cacti and succulents make wonderful, undemanding indoor plants for gardeners who are blessed with a south or west window with good light. If you haven’t tried growing some, why not give some a try? In addition to good light they like a well-drained soil. During the winter they require less water and little or no fertilizer while they rest. When spring comes and the plants begin growing again, increase watering and fertilize about once a month. Allow the soil to dry some between waterings to discourage root rots, the major demise of cacti and succulents. They do have a few insect pests.

Many gardeners get hooked on growing these easy to care for plants that come in so many colorful, fun and even bizarre forms. On your next visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden be sure and stop to marvel at our wonderful examples of cacti and succulents from the world’s arid and desert areas.

We can help answer your questions about growing succulents. By phone, call the Horticulture Answer Service (M-F from 9-Noon @ 314-577-5143) or visit the “doctors” at the Plant Doctor Desk (Monday-Saturday from 10-3.) in the Center for Home Gardening.

Posted in: Winter | Tags: cactus , succulents , camellias | Comments (0) | View Count: (2587)
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