Our Glasshouses are currently closed but a lot of work from the Glasshouse team continues inside, including caring for the plants in our Reserve Houses which are in a private part of the Garden, behind the Glasshouse Range.
Inside our Reserve Glasshouses, are rows of cacti and succulents, which are nurtured and looked after by Alex and Barbara from our Glasshouse team. Watering these plants can be tricky, so we asked Alex for his top tips on how he and Barbara look after them.
“We split succulents and cacti into winter and summer growing groups – this relates to dormancy and watering” says Alex.
“Our Winter growing species come into growth in autumn (September) – and are dormant in the UK from mid-Spring (March-April) until the autumn. We water these mostly in autumn and spring and sparsely over the winter period being mindful of temperature. We stop any watering during overcast and very cold periods.
“Cacti and summer growing succulents are in growth from March (at the earliest) to late October. We water these plants weekly to fortnightly over this period.”
Alex advises that the watering must also be accompanied with maintaining an appropriate temperature regime.
They maintain a winter night minimum (the coldest temperature received) of 6 degrees C and during the winter months make sure all the succulent material is kept cool – “if kept too warm, the summer growing material is confused and easily rotted off and winter growing material stretches” says Alex.
Good ventilation is also key.
Alex adds: “It’s also important to say that if succulent material is plump and turgid – it doesn’t need watering at this time of the year. Too much water and the succulents will split.”
All the cacti in these images were raised from seed by the team, mostly sown in spring, 2015. They are kept in sand to moderate moisture and temperature levels for their root runs.
These final two pictures are of the world’s smallest cactus – Blossfeldia liliputana, its species name is reference to the fictional island of Liliput (Gulliver’s Travels) and is native to the arid regions between Bolivia and N. Argentina. Ours are still young plants, are very slow growing and yet to flower but thankfully, like all gardeners, we are patient and happy to wait…
We hope you find these top tips helpful!