Where to Position Cacti and Succulents

Keeping succulents in rooms

It is quite easy to cultivate succulents in rooms, except the highly adapted forms. The main requirement is sunlight, and therefore a southerly aspect is best, placing the plants as near the window as possible.

A collection of pots can be accommodated in earthenware pans, and if these are filled up with coarse sand or gravel, a generous layer being left below the pots, they will look more attractive and will not dry out too quickly. This applies particularly to the very small plants often sold by florists. Alternatively, they can be planted direct into pans or bowls. Containers of window-box shape can also be used.

The window-sill is the best place for them, but it is often too narrow. However, a wide wooden board, supported on angle brackets, may be fixed to the sill, or if this is undesirable, legs may be fitted, either to make a removable table-like support or so that one side rests on the existing sill. Such a board may be treated just like the staging in a greenhouse and, if equipped with upright sides, may be filled up with grit.

During the summer, air is as important as sun. At least the windows should be opened at all opportunities; if possible, the plants should be placed outside. If the window-ledge is not wide enough, some sort of board, tray or even a projecting frame with glass sides and removable lid can be fixed outside, making sure the supports are strong enough. The lid is useful in heavy rain.

With all these adjuncts, a waterproof lining, such as zinc, may be added to prevent damage to the wood from water dripping through. Watering follows the normal rules for succulents. If the room is heated in winter, the pots will dry out rapidly and should be watered more often. But be very cautious, as over-watering in poor light conditions leads to soft growth which rots all too readily. It is really best to withdraw the plants to a room where the temperature is fairly constant and cool and the need for water is reduced.

In winter, guard against frost and draughts. Plants on window-sills may have to be removed, or protected with paper or curtains, if it is very cold outside. Do not draw curtains so as to leave plants overnight between them and the window: if it is freezing outside the plants will certainly suffer.

Plants on a window-sill or ledge should be turned periodically so that each side receives an equal amount of light.

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