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Treat succulent plants
Widespread in all continents, many botanists are passionate about their characteristics and above all the ingenuity of the methods that these green creatures have developed over the centuries to survive.
Their correct name would be "succulent plants" because their essential common characteristic is to be swollen and therefore rich in "juice". The part swollen for some of them is the stem, think of the cacti, for others they are the leaves, as for example in the Crassulaceae.
The succulents are therefore equipped with organs able to retain a considerable quantity of liquid by means of their tissues. These constitute real reservoirs (in the stem and in the leaves) that can absorb and release liquid according to the needs of the vegetable. To keep the humidity inside them as long as possible and survive in the warmer habitats, these plants have reduced the number of stomatal openings, that is to say those tiny holes that allow perspiration and therefore the evaporation of liquids. This is the explanation for the presence of thorns, which replace the leaves, for some of them. Others, instead, have covered their surface with waxy substances or a dense down.
Succulent plants do not require much maintenance to grow well, but must receive enough light, heat and ventilation. To best take care of these varieties, nourish them and irrigate them in the right amount and keep them under control to check that there are no signs of diseases or parasites. Transplant them as soon as they grow too much for their container, thus avoiding the suffering of the roots.
Lighting and temperature
To best treat the different varieties, arrange the succulents according to the cultural needs of each species. Light is the best ally of succulent plants: many of them are native to desert places. In principle, almost all of them want full sun, although for some it is a decidedly better light shade.
If you want to grow them indoors, place them in front of a window pane, possibly facing south-east. For outdoor locations, if the specimens are small in size, arrange them in groups in large vessels, thus ensuring greater stability for the containers.
The maximum temperature during the day, in the warm seasons, should not exceed 27-30 ° C; during the night the ideal temperature is between 13 and 19 ° C. Some succulent plants tolerate greater cold: for example, the Agave can approach zero.
Good ventilation is essential, because the air promotes transpiration and the processing of organic substances. Furthermore, aeration helps to lower the temperature in outdoor plants during the warm seasons and in plants grown in greenhouses; if ventilation is not enough, you can wet the floor of the greenhouse itself to cool it. But be careful to avoid drafts, which damage plant tissues.
The succulent plants should be watered only during the vegetative period, which usually coincides with the summer: in the resting phase the irrigations are almost zero. Keep in mind that the fat varieties of the wooded areas flourish especially between late autumn and early spring.
The frequency of watering and the amount of water to be used are affected by the size of the vessels and their raw material, more or less absorbent. In curing your specimens, moisten the soil evenly and only when the ground is dry again proceed with a new watering: this also applies to the saucers.
The best time to water is early morning or late in the evening, because the specimens may suffer due to the contrast between the heat of the sun and the coolness of the water drops. Gently steam the species that want shade but not those covered with a waxy substance, which would be consumed.
Soil and fertilization
The characteristic of these plants is that they live in the most diverse environmental contexts: it is therefore difficult to identify their optimal soil. In principle, a land that favors drainage should be chosen; unite, therefore, rather coarse sand or fine fragments of brick. The earth must have all the nutrients in a balanced way.
These plants should be transplanted as soon as their roots reach the vessel walls; this usually happens every two or three years for the fastest growing species, for the others every four years. Repot by gently removing the plant from its pot: on this occasion, check the condition of the roots and check that there are no signs of pests or diseases. If you notice the presence of dehydrated or dead roots, cut them and spray all the others with fungicide. When preparing the new container, create a layer of fresh compost on which the plant is placed.
Fertilization promotes healthy and vigorous growth and helps the flowering of succulents. Generally speaking, a standard liquid product is sufficient for this kind of plants, well balanced in all the main nutrients. It should be administered with watering every two or three weeks; it is fertilized only during the vegetative phase and never in winter because the product would damage the plant.
Pests and diseases
Check with a certain regularity that succulent plants do not show signs of pests or diseases. The parasites that can most frequently attack these species are the powdery mealybugs, the common cochineals, the red spider mites and the dipterans.
If the cultivation conditions are highly inadequate or if there is nitrogen in the soil, the phenomenon of black rot could occur, which deforms the plants until they die. In this case there is no cure and the best way to limit the damage is to take all healthy shoots or sections from cuttings from the plant and cultivate them in another pot.
Finally, dust is an enemy of succulent plants. The best way to keep your creature clean is to spray the green part gently at each point. This operation should not be performed during the hottest hours of the summer and in any case never under the direct sun.