Gardening

This will be my last article for the Standard Journal because I will be retiring at the end of this month. I looked at all the articles that I have written for the past 30 years, but needed inspiration for my last article.

My inspiration came from my son. He just received his first cacti as a gift and wanted to know how to care for it.

Cacti come with many sizes, shapes, growth characteristics and different blooms. This provides choices to start a collection or just enjoy in your home.

You can obtain different types of cacti from your local garden store. Look for plants that have a bright green color and show no insect or disease symptoms.

Many times a cactus plant appears to be priced too high, but if you stop and think how slowly cacti grow, then you can better understand why larger cacti of certain varieties have a higher cost.

Many experts recommend that cacti be replanted in new soil every year or two. This is not absolutely necessary, but if the cactus is not growing properly, then it is a good idea to repot it in loose, sterile soil. The most important characteristic about a soil mix for cacti would be the looseness of the mix.

The soil must be loose and porous. Some people plant cacti in sand, but a proper mix is much better than all sand. A proper soil mix for cacti would be one part course sand, one part organic matter (leaf mold, peat moss, fine pine bark) and one part perlite or vermiculite.

Our clay type soils in Polk County are not the best for cactus growing.

Cacti require full sun to grow and prosper in our homes. Most are originally from very dry, hot areas. For best growth, provide as much light as possible. If you do not have enough windows where your cactus plants can get full sun, then you may want to place them under fluorescent tubes.

They require the maximum light that you can provide, so put the lights close to the plants. Most cacti flower only in full sun. Even night blooming cacti require full sun in the day time. Many people claim that their cactus never flowers and not enough light may be one of the reasons.

A cactus must be a certain age before it flowers, but it must also receive an adequate amount of light-either sunlight or artificial light.

For more information on cacti or other plants, contact Polk County Extension Office at 770-749-2142 or uge2233@uga.edu.

The information from this article was provided from Paul Thomas, UGA Extension Horticulturist.

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