Cultivation tips!

Whether you own cacti or you are thinking of buying cacti this info may be useful. This info is general in nature and based on our experience cultivating cacti and succulents in Jordan.
Still, we can not accept liability for any plant loss or damage or personal injury arriving from the use of this info.

Let's start...

Day one: You have decided to buy a cactus! Or, you have got a cactus as a present!
The healthy plant :
It should have a healthy fresh green (or art typical colour) looking surface with no brown, yellow or red spots or injuries new or old. Try to avoid plants with parasites and bugs. It should have a big enough pot filled with soil that is corny. Luckily it will be some mixture from different materials: peat, quarz, sand, small stones, perlite, kompost, lime and should be fresh smelling.
In the growing season you can take a look at the growing point of the plant.
New healthy looking spikes are a sign of good health.


Transport:
Transport your plant in a paper bag so that the weather and sun have no influence. At home:
If it is your first plant: no problem. Just find a suitable place.
If you have other plants then you should take care to isolate it for some time so that you are sure that the plant has no pests or illnesses.
It happens all to often that you buy with the plant a lot of unpleasant visitors.
The next few days you just observe your new plant. If everything is ok, then you can start spraying it with a bit warm water. You continue doing this for the next 7to 10 days. Then you can start watering it carefully. This way the plant has a chance to heal from any injuries that may have occurred during transport.

General instructions.

Position:
It is very important that you give the plant a position that is suitable. Most Cacti, Succulents and Lithops are very light hungry plants, even direct sun in the morning and the afternoon is well tolerated. Be aware from the midday sun because only very few plants like it, the most become sunburned. Don't forget that here in Jordan we live in a high altitude.
In Jordan you can put most of the cacti and succulents in summer outside. The most suitable place is one with light shadow so that the plants are protected from the hot midday sun.
In winter you can let some of the cacti outside with no protection but most of them you have to protect from temperatures under 0 and rain. Sensitive ones should be put inside. A good protection is simple boxes of polyester.
You use the first box for putting the plants in and the second to cover them. In this way they have some protection from the cold. You have to take care that no water, or rain comes to them until the beginning of the watering season.

Watering:

Cacti:
From end of November to the beginning of February our cacti get their winter resting season. They should have their winter rest at 5-15 Celsius. Most cacti are thankful for this rest.
With the weather starting to get warmer the watering has to change.
First we choose a warm day and spray the cacti with warm water in the morning.
We choose the morning-hours so that the plant can be dry by night.
This we repeat every few days.
After 3-4 times we wash the whole plant with the hose.
Then we wait again 10 days and we start watering every 10 to seven days depending on the temperature.
In June, July, August until mid September, we water in the late afternoon and if it is very hot sometimes even twice a week.
From end September we start again to minimize. First every 10 days then every 14 days and off course we water again in the early morning. In that way we are sure that the plants are dry in the evening when the temp will be down.
In the beginning of November we normally water for the last time if the weather is still warm it may be until end of November.
If you want to be sure that you are watering in the right sequences simply check if the soil has enough chance to dry in between watering.
Succulents:
The most succulents need the same watering instructions.
A simple observation helps to decide if a succulent is to be watered more like cacti or more like a normal plant.
The more leaves the more you have to treat them like no succulent plants.
The less leaves, the more you can treat them like cacti.


Lithops:
We water them in the same way as cacti. Please wait with watering in the time they are becoming new leaves until the old leaves are dried out.


Hoya:
Hoyas are plants with light succulent leaves. They should be watered 2 times a week in the summer period and once every 7-14 days depending on the temperatures in winter. We water them when we see that the soil starts drying out, on a not to cold day.
Hoyas like light shadow and no direct sun, with the exception of late afternoon sun or very early morning sun.
During the spring and summer months you should fertilize them regularly so that you get lots of flowers.
Tip: do repot them as seldom as possible because they react very sensible to repotting and generally like to be potted in for their size small pots.
For the plants we cultivate you will find tips in the photo gallery.
Please keep in mind that our cactus and succulent collection is in Jordan.
Our experience is based upon the Jordanian conditions.
We are no experts and speak just from our personal experience in growing cacti and succulents.


Potting substrate:
We use a substrate that is mixed from different components that varies with the needs the plants have.
The easiest way to mix a potting substrate suitable for cacti succulents and lithops is to use some good quality pitmus and some cross sharp white quarz sand that you should wash first.
This is the basis of the mixture. Then you can add some perlite, compost, tuff, quarz, lime, etc depending on the plant.


Potting:
When you see that your plants roots have filled all the space of the pot then it is time to change the pot.
You wait until the substrate is dried up. Then you hit gently the pot on a surface. Hold in the left hand a newspaper and let the plant slide in it.
If you are using plastic pots then it should be easy.
If you are using clay pots then it may be necessary to break the pot so that you can repot the plant unharmed.
Try to clean as much of the old substrate as possible without damaging the roots of the plants.
Take a good look at the root system. If you see any roots that are not ok cut them off. If this is the case then put the plant on a clean newspaper and wait for one week so that the wound can dry before potting in. It is helpful to powder the cut roots with a coal powder so that there is a protection of infection.
Use now a bit bigger pot and put first some small stones on the bottom then some substrate. Now you hold the plant with the left hand in a middle position in the pot and with the right hand you fill in the substrate around it. Pushing it gently filling all gaps in the pot. Hit the pot with the newly repotted plant softly on a hard surface so that the soil fills all gaps.


Tip!
Never use too big pots for repotting. If you have for example a 6 cm diameter pot take the next bigger. In this case it is a 8cm pot.


Tip!
Try to buy plants with a name tag on them so that you can easily find their needs or ask the sales person the name of the plant and what needs it has.


Tip!
After potting a cactus plant do not water it. Follow tips for new bought plants.

Pests:
Good cared cacti and succulents should have no big problem with pests.
Still you should take a good look at your plants at regularly intervals.
If you see any pests you can ask in shops for agricultural products for advice.
There is a big variety of insecticides etc.
You should inform the salesperson where your cactus stands so that he can advise you on what the right and least harmful insecticide is in this case.
Before using the chemical alternative you can also inform yourself in the internet. There you will find a lot of alternatives that are better for you health.
We always try to use alternative methods before using chemical insecticides. The healthier the plant the better it is protected.

Sunburn
Cacti can get severely sun burnt here in Jordan if they stand in the wrong place.
The plants get first yellowish then go over in to reddish or in a brown dry state at the places the sun rays hit them.
Never forget to check the side of the plant that is near the glass of the window or to the side of the sun.
If you see any signs of color changing to the yellowish or reddish move the plant to the shadow and let it there until it recovers. When the plant has recovered, after quite some time, find a better place with no direct sun or find a way to give it shade. If it is severely burnt it may have livelong scars or may even die. Get new plants used slowly to sun light, extending the time everyday a bit. You can use a light cloth to protect them in the beginning.

Rotting.
Sometimes a plant looks great at his top part but near the soil you can observe that it gets first yellowish then brownish. The surface is rotting.
This is some kind of infection that comes through the root system and works its way up, or there was some small injury near the soil that got wet and infected before having the change to dry out.
Stop watering and take the plant out of the pot.
Take a look at the roots.
1)If the roots are damaged then the best thing to do is to simply cut the plant a bit over the rotting spot.
Take a look of the new cutting. If you see in the middle of it a whitish or light yellow ring that it is ok! If the ring has the same color like the rotting spot that means that you have to cut another piece of until you get a healthy surface of the cutting.
Let the cutting dry for at least 14 days and then put it in a pot with white clean sand. Do not water just spray it with some water every few days until you see roots coming. After that you can pot it like any other cutting.
2)If the roots are not damaged and are healthy then try to cut out the rotting surface, then you have to take care that no water or soil comes to the wound until it is absolutely dry. If you have to cut more then the half of the diameter of the cactus then maybe it is better if you cut the plant in two pieces. The bottom piece you clean out from the infection as well as possible and wait what will happen. The top piece you handle like a cutting as we described above.
Tip
Be very careful while buying plants so that you don't buy plants that have this problem already.
Take a good look so that the cactus is good rooted (has a firm stand in the pot) and has no spots that are rotting.

If you see a bark like surface at the bottom of the cactus near the soil, don't worry! That is something normal for some kinds of cacti. With age they get a bark like surface near the soil.


Tips for Cactus and succulent seeds.
Cactus seeds come in very different sizes and shapes.
They need soil temperatures of 18 to 25 degrees Celsius over day.
At night it can be cooler.
This is ease achieved if they are sawn, in the spring months.
In Jordan the temperatures are ideal starting at the end of February to the middle of April and again in autumn, in September to end October. We prefer to saw in spring so that the seedlings have then the whole season to grow. Succulent seeds we saw a bit later from end March to beginning of June.
Most cacti seeds will start growing in the time of 2 weeks, in few cases it will be only a few days like Astrophytum and or more then a month like Opuntia.
Store seeds all times in a cool dry place. When you open a seed envelope, do it carefully and all times check the corners because there may be seeds.
We use a mixture of peat 50%and quarzsand 50%.
Sterilize the peat and quarzsand (we use a steam method), so that the soil is well moist. Clean and sterilize also the pots you will use. You should use pots with wholes on the bottom.
For small portions we use small pots for each kind of seed so that they don't mix.
All times write the name and genus of the cactus on each pot with a water and sun prove pen. If you have dark pots then use white plastic stripes for each pot, if you don't have any then you can use stickers. Any way you choose is fine, as long as you know what kind of seed is in every pot. It can be very difficult to find out later what it is and it will need lots of time. Some cacti must first flower so that you can be sure what kind they are. Fill the soil in the pot but let 2 cm free from the top.
Take care that you get an even surface, take now the seed envelope, open it and take a look at the seeds. If they are very fine then you can put a bit of sand with them so that you can put them more evenly on the surface of the soil.
Then we put a very thin layer of quarzsand on them.


Cacti seeds need light to grow. Light passes the quarzsand if it is a thin layer and it makes a good microclimate. The layer should not be much thicker then the seeds.
The soil should be good moist. If it is too dry then put the pot in a dish with clean sterile water until you see that the quarzsand changes color. Do not water on the top, you may loose your seeds because they may get covered with soil and then can not grow.
Then we cover the pot with plastic kitchen wrap or we put the whole pot or tray in a plastic clear oven bag that we close. In this way we have a miniature glasshouse for the seeds.


Now, you place the whole near the window in the shadow.
Every day you should check it. If there are drops on the inside of the plastic then tip on it so that they run down the sides.
Do not open it until the seeds have grown and they are near the plastic cover or they started getting spikes.
As long as the cover is on you don't need to do anything, just observe them.
When it is time to get the cover down do it gradually, every day a bit more so that they get used to the normal atmosphere.
In the same way you get them used slowly to more sun etc.
The best way to water young seedlings is to put the pot in a dish with water so that the soil takes the water it needs. After you see that the sand has changed color you put the pot out of the dish and you let the excess water drop out.
We mix some chinosol with the water we use to water the very young seedlings.
After 5 to 6 waterings I start using normal clean water.
Water should have all-times room temperature.
You should water them when the soil feels dry and not before.
On very hot days in summer we spray seedlings with some water.
When your cacti have got spikes and are bigger so that they start pushing each other you need to change the pot and distance them or put each cactus in his own pot.
We usually distance them first and later when they are bigger we put them alone in pots.
You need to take care not to damage the roots doing it.
New distanced or potted plants should not be watered for at least 10 to 14 days. You can spray them every few days with a bit of water during the time you should not water.
Usual Trouble with seeds.
Seeds don't grow: to cold. Direct sunlight can heat the pots to much and destroy the seeds. Soil not moist enough. No wholes in the bottom of the pot, soil to wet.
Some seeds don't work in this climate or altitude.
Only few seeds grow : be patient seeds don't grow at the same time there are quick ones and some come later. Seeds are no good Soil contaminated with fungi which destroys the seeds (smell at soil, take look at seeds): Simply try again with more sterile soil and pots, use aatiram powder or something similar for the disinfection of the seeds.
Seeds have something like white spider web around and on them fungi. If it is just a bit you can try to get the part out and let the pot open for a day and then close it again so you may safe some seeds. If this happens with still very young seedlings you can pull back the plastic wrap or open the oven bags some hours every day, sometimes it helps.
Usual trouble with seedlings: They get long and longer being very thin with little or no spikes. To little light :They start rotting at the base until the whole seedling rots: To much water and or fungi. The best thing is to simply pull the seedling out and let the soil dry a bit so that the rest is saved.
They get a reddish brown color. Too much direct sunlight. In general cacti seeds are easy to grow. Never forget that cacti are slow growing plants, don't like to much water and need lots of light. Succulent seeds we saw in the same way. Most succulents are growing quicker so that they have to be spaced and repotted in shorter time.
Lithop seeds grow very nice but they are very sensitive as seedlings.
It is a good idea to try to space the seeds so that they can stay as long as possible in the same pot. If they are to crowded try to get some out from in between and let the rest. So the chance is bigger that some survive.
Do not water your lithops when they get new leaves. Wait until the old ones have dried and then water them.
We wish you luck...