WATERING SUCCULENTS

After their enforced winter s rest, most succulents usually start their new growth in March, when watering should commence. To begin with only small quantities of water should be given, for the plants are not fully active yet. During April and May they might require watering once a week, and throughout the summer more frequently; if the weather is sunny and hot the plants may need watering every day.

It is always best to give a thorough watering, and then allow the compost to become nearly dry before watering again.

Beginners may be perplexed when water takes a long time to penetrate the surface of the compost. This may be due to faulty drainage in the pot, or to excessive dryness of the soil.

If the former is the cause, the plant should be repotted; if the latter, then stand the pot immersed to just under the rim in a container of water, until the compost is thoroughly wetted.

About the end of September, water should be gradually withheld in order to prepare the plants for their winter s rest. The plants have to harden their tissues, and become more or less inactive. If they are kept active by frequent watering, they are in no condition to withstand low temperatures and winter humidity.

During winter, the plants should be kept almost dry, in a cool and airy place; but in order to prevent the roots from drying up completely, a little water may be necessary about once a month. Excess water and warmth, if given, will start a winter growth, and may result in few flowers being produced the following spring.

It must be pointed out, however, that some succulent plants differ with regard to their resting periods. This is because habitat seasons vary. For instance, in South Africa, in the broad coastal area on the western and southern regions, the rainy period is from April to September, and in the interior region from October to March; these rainy seasons are the growing and flowering periods of plants endemic to these areas.

It is, however, easy when growing plants indoors to imitate these conditions as found in nature by withholding or giving moisture in accordance with the dormant or growing periods.

If rain-water is available, it is best for the plants; otherwise use tap water.

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