Fat plants

Special on fatty paints


Botanical and habitat notes


These plants, although belonging to different botanical families, have in common the adaptation to arid climatic environments. In order to survive in such adverse places, almost all have undergone particular morphological changes, transforming the leaves into thorns and transferring the chlorophyll function to the stem, which in this case is called Cladodo.
Among the other adaptation peculiarities these plants have reduced the respiratory and transpiration processes to a minimum, therefore, in particularly rainy periods, they are able to accumulate considerable amounts of water in their tissues, which serves as a reserve during long periods of drought. .
Among the numerous succulent plants, some of the most commonly grown in the apartment are: Cactaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Liliaceae, Crassulaceae, Apocinaceae, Agavaceae, Aizoaceae, Portulacaceae and many others.
The size of these plants is generally reduced, as is the growth, which makes it easier to grow them in pots. However, there are numerous exceptions, given by giant specimens, in the families of cactaceae or agavaceae, with sizes that can exceed 12 meters in height under ideal conditions.
The origin of these plants is varied: the cactaceae generally come from the Central American sub desert areas, the Aizoaceae and the others succulents without thorns, they originate from the Euro-Asian continent or from Africa.
It is a common opinion that these plants are not able to bloom, nothing more wrong, if they are well maintained they are able to bloom repeatedly with large flowers and bright colors, even if the flower has a short duration and flowering occurs for some only at night, just to reduce water transpiration.


Cultivation of succulent plants




Their extreme adaptation to the arid environment means that this type of plant is considered robust or tolerant to inattentive watering or exposure to high temperatures.
For opposing considerations, they present instead many difficulties in low light situations and at low temperatures (the vital minimum is generally 5 ° C).
Among the first conditions of success of the cultivation of fat plants in general we will have for an optimal setting:
Light: optimal in all seasons but not excessive, there are only rare exceptions for some that still require light from good to diffused.

Temperature




it must be not too high in the summer months and not too low in the winter months. It would be erroneous to keep them constantly at medium-high fixed temperatures, precisely because in the winter months there is induction to growth and flowering and the optimal temperature must remain between 5 and 10 degrees.
Always pay attention to frost. Except for very rare exceptions these plants do not tolerate minimum below 0 ° C.

Watering




in the wild they are used to long periods of drought before being flooded with floods. In amateur cultivation, it is always good to moderate the watering, keeping the soil moist during the winter with 1 to 2 baths a month, to then progressively reach the maximum of 4-5 wettings in the hottest months.

Ground


the substrates must be characterized by a permeable and porous structure, in order to avoid dangerous water stagnation: almost all succulent plants prefer acid soil and mixtures with draining material such as sand or lapillus are recommended.

Fertilization of succulent plants


Fertilizing this type of plants is an indispensable practice and should be done with fertilizers rich in phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen is required in limited quantities, because it stimulates the plant to grow, inflating tissues and increasing transpiration. To respect the growth and vital rhythm, the fertilizations must be optimal without exceeding, from the end of winter to the spring period to stimulate growth and flowering.
Liquid fertilizers are preferable because these plants do not tolerate the persistence of salts in the soil, and demonstrate high requirements in microelements, sometimes washed away from very permeable soil.
A fertilizer designed for these plants must contain a good amount of phosphorus and potassium, a low amount of nitrogen and combine a balanced supply of micronutrients, including all the indispensable ones such as Iron, Boron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Molybdenum.

The repotting of succulent plants


They are plants that do not need frequent repotting due to their slow growth; however the operation can be carried out every 2 years with certain well-being for the plant due to the elimination of any parasites and the restoration of optimal soil conditions.
The recommended soil is composed of universal soil mixed with about 30% with expanded clay or lapillus and sand.
The size of the vessels, unlike leafy plants, can be greatly reduced
The best season for the repotting of succulents goes from late winter to early spring, before they have developed new roots.
In the repotting operation, care must be taken not to excessively compress the soil since they have very delicate roots.

Propagation of succulents


Some succulents can be propagated from seed, but the most widely practiced technique is that of the cuttings, because many Cactaceae have a marked rhizogenic activity and, following simple tricks, their cuttings usually take root easily.
This operation is recommended to recover malformed or stringy plants due to lack of light, but equally useful in cases of regeneration of plants damaged by diseases or insects.
The cuttings should be taken during the vegetative growth period (spring), using parts of plants not damaged by diseases and which do not present flower buds.
Unlike other plants, Cactaceae cuttings must never be placed directly in the soil, but must be placed to dry in a dry and shaded place for several days (depending on the section of the cut) until complete cutting healing.
Later the cuttings will be placed to root in a substratum of peat and sand, keeping the soil slightly damp with fertigation (water and fertilizer) at low concentrations.
The optimum temperature for rooting is around 20 ° C and to encourage rooting it is recommended to use hormonal stimulators.
Not all succulents propagate for cuttings, many propagate through lateral sprouts such as Echinocactus or Mamillaria. Others like Crassula or Echeveria are easily propagated by leaf cuttings, placing the leaves directly in the soil without any drying.
In the propagation of Agave Aloe or Sempervivum it is advisable to detach basal shoots with a portion of roots.

Adversity and care


In the first part, the cultivation of cacti was described, with various references to the main cultivation difficulties, mainly due to the problem of the setting in our climates for this whole group of plants.
In this second part, we will describe the symptoms and adversities of an environmental nature, those pathological of a fungal nature and animal parasites that can affect these plants, with the aim of providing useful elements for the passionate of cultivation and therefore remedy, or rather prevent, problems arising from these adversities.
The cultivation of succulent plants has always been mistakenly considered an easy cultivation, we reiterate immediately, in line with what has already been stated in the first part, that the setting and nutrition are not absolutely easy for these plants, since the natural habitat deviates considerably from ours and from that of other ornamental plants.
Furthermore, the interpretation of the deficiency states of nutrition is not easy on these plants, because the lack of leaves or, better, the transformation of the leaves into thorns, completely masks the visual diagnosis of the vegetative-nutritional state.
Adversity and care
As for the other plants, also for the succulents, we distinguish the various adversities according to the cause that originated them; we will therefore have environmental, parasitic diseases due to fungi and parasites caused by insects or animals.

1) non-parasitic diseases: nutritional or environmental.


There are many causes of this kind, all inherent to the fact that these plants require optimal lighting in summer and especially in winter, moderate availability of water, loose draining soil, and specific fertilizers.
Most of the errors derive precisely from the excessive quantity of water, so it is a good rule to immediately indicate to the non-expert that the lack of excess water is preferable, because in conditions of water stagnation, the plants get sick for fungal problems, if instead the plant suffers the dry it is sufficient to restore the ideal water level to bring it back to the optimal conditions of development.
Among the main debilitating symptoms and causes in terms of setting we point out:




























symptom on
plant


Group
pathological fungi

Blackish areas that
they widen with the formation of soft rot in the center
of the stems

Gloeosporium cactorum

Blackish speckled areas with formation of
soft rot that
penetrates to the center of the stems.

Medullary cancer

Yellowish stains
of drying on the stems

Spots of cladodes

Grayish molds to
rings that spread over the whole plant

Botrytis


Basal rot with
browning and folding

Base rot
or Phytophtora cactorum

as a solution to various nutritional problems, it is obtained with specific products for fat and succulent platters that provide the main useful macro elements in a balanced way, favoring balanced growth and, above all, high potassium content, which improves the sturdiness and consistency of the stem.
The micro-nutrient content must also be balanced, which, in addition to completing nutritional requirements, stimulates good flowering and increases the resistance of plants to various adverse conditions.
As for the chlorosis or yellowing due to iron deficiency, we recommend the use of iron chelate based products, to be used with watering.
To avoid sunburn problems, it is advisable to progressively expose all plants that in winter have remained in poorly lit environments, or better to place the plants in places with intense but diffused light.
For the remaining aspects of soil, watering and temperatures, see the first part.

2) Parasitic aversion due to fungi


Succulents are very sensitive plants to water stagnation and immediately show their intolerance with various rotting and molds.
The debilitation is then aggravated by the fact that the stem has a poor consistency as it is normally very rich in water and therefore easily curved under the weight of the same plant, with irremediable damage due to the translocation of the elaborates from root to aerial part.
Sometimes then many diseases are involuntarily spread by the various cutting operations of the stems for the production of cuttings or for the simple elimination of supernumerary jets at the base of the plants.
For this reason it is recommended to use disinfected or even better sterilized flame shears.


























Special on fatty oils: 3) Insects or animal parasites


Insects fortunately are not very numerous on these plants. However, the most fearful are suckers such as aphids and scale insects. The latter can affect every part of the plant, including the root.
In the following table the symptoms and the main agents of the damage are summarized:


symptom on
plant


Group
pathological fungi

Blackish areas that
they widen with the formation of soft rot in the center
of the stems

Gloeosporium cactorum

Blackish speckled areas with formation of
soft rot that
penetrates to the center of the stems.

Medullary cancer

Yellowish stains
of drying on the stems

Spots of cladodes

Grayish molds to
rings that spread over the whole plant

Botrytis


Basal rot with
browning and folding

Base rot
or Phytophtora cactorum



















symptom on
plant and on the bunches

Guy
of insect

Insects than with the
their bites up
young stems and floral stems produce wilts
and deformations.

APHIDS

Fluffy whitish masses
or insects covered with badges of various white colors
or reddish

Scale insects

They are tiny spiders
that they cause with their punctures on the stems
yellowing stippled a
followed by a suberous dryness. They are very mobile
and when they massively attack the plant they produce
even small spider webs.

RED MUSHROOMS or ROOTS
AND YELLOW

All these adversities can be prevented and / or cured for insects or fungi with specific products for ornamental plants, carefully following the warnings and the methods of use.
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