Cultivation of suculents in greenhouse and home

Despite all the differences of family and habitat, most succulent plants can be grown in similar soil, temperature and air conditions: they are nothing if not adaptable. To get the best results, with steady growth and regular flowering, the needs of some groups must be properly studied; but few succulents can be killed if the basic essentials are followed.

In the winter especially, the main difference to natural conditions is lack of light. Fortu-nately, in many cases these plants adjust themselves readily to our seasons, and our winter becomes their resting period. At this time, freedom from frost and considerable if not total reduction of watering are all that is necessary. The imitation of the resting period is the most important aspect of cultivation indoors. Plants which will not rest in the winter need great care.

The greenhouse

A greenhouse is the best place in which to grow succulents. It should be in a sunny position and should permit the entry of the maximum amount of light. For this reason large panes are best. Good ventilation is equally essential, for even our relatively weak sun may damage succulents if they are in a stuffy, moist atmosphere; also soft growth may result, liable to rotting in winter. Thus a wide span is desirable, with side, roof and, if possible, wall ventilators.

These are ideal requirements: almost any greenhouse will do. If the house is very small, however, ventilation becomes even more im-portant, as it is so easy for conditions to become stuffy, and also for pots to dry out.

Attention should be paid to the floor, so that surplus water drains away freely. A concrete floor, with slight slope into a drainage channel and drain, is ideal.

For most plants staging at about waist height is adequate. The usual wooden slats will do, but a solid base on which a layer of small gravel or coarse grit is spread is better, and it is useful to have a section of staging which can be built up to form a bed into which pots can be plunged. This is particularly so with the smaller Aizoaceae, as explained later. High shelves close to the glass are useful for ripening such plants in their resting period, and also to accommodate plants which hang or trail. Water must be able to drain away from solid staging or beds.

If very large specimens are in question, they are best set either in pots or planted direct in a prepared bed at ground level.

It is not advisable to mix succulents and other greenhouse plants, for the latter require far more atmospheric humidity, but it can be done if necessary.

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